Win the Morning, Win the Day

June 28, 2022

by Stephen T. Messenger

“It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.” –Aristotle

We Do More Before 9 AM than…

Productivity in the morning equates to productivity for the day. The old adage “Win the morning, win the day” rings true.

The United States Army televised a now iconic (and a bit cheesy) 1980’s commercial with the tagline, “We do more before nine a.m. than most people do all day.” The advertisement begins with an Air Force C-130 flying into the sunrise loaded with parachute-equipped soldiers about to jump.

The aircraft drops the vehicles, and the troopers launch out the side door assembling on the ground with their equipment in the early morning hours. It’s here, that a smiling paratrooper turns to his non-commissioned officer and says, “Hey, First Sergeant! Good morning!” as the sun crests the horizon in the background.

The military knows they are training to compete in a life-or-death struggle against an enemy force. The key to any victory is being more prepared than the enemy—physically, mentally, and emotionally. Good leaders understand this and pride themselves on being ready.

They plan for meetings, rehearse important conversations, and seek opportunities to forward their organization’s interests. If you look closely, the best leaders prepare for every engagement and have a game plan when they walk in the room.

Controlling Time

Yet, just as many fail to use the most important resource they have—time. Great leaders wake up early every morning and hit the ground running.

When I say running, I mean this in the metaphorical sense. Whether you lead an infantry platoon or a small business, waking up early and preparing yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and nutritionally is imperative.

The difference between starting each workday one hour earlier over a year is 260 hours or 32 extra days of productivity. At a micro level, that’s five hours of productivity per work week, more if you wake up earlier. Leaders use this time effectively to prepare their minds and bodies to lead.

Physical Exercise: Studies have shown that exercise is linked to less depression, better memory, and quicker learning. Physical activity also improves emotional stability by the body releasing chemicals into the brain which can lighten moods and relieve stress. Just a few minutes per day can improve overall mind and body performance.

Mental Preparedness: Leaders have a wide breadth of information they need to be familiar with. In addition, there is always data at the periphery that fill in gaps and create more knowledge, assisting in decision making. Great leaders know what they need to know—and more. Taking time in the morning to expand your intellectual horizon by reading various topics will benefit the organization.

Emotional Stability: Different activities calm different people. Whether it is prayer, yoga, or deep breathing, a morning routine to align your emotions with your life can bear fruit both to you and those who work for you. An emotionally stable leader is one people want to lead them.

ETP – Eat To Perform. Have the breakfast that best suits your lifestyle whether for diet or calories. Feed your machine with what it needs.

Bonus Time: Gaining hours every week propels yourself ahead. A popularized phrase, “Hard work beats talent when talent isn’t working hard enough” applies here. Small businesses need to outwork and out-advertise their opponents. Athletes need to gain physical advantages against their competitors. Leaders need to prepare their minds, bodies, and souls. Two hours per day adds more than a full workday to your schedule every week!  

The Body Needs Rest

A quick warning: there are days when sleeping in is required to refresh. Vacations are essential to recharge. We all need to get our body batteries in check at times. Not one of us is Superman and getting rest is an integral part of physical and mental growth.

There is also the added complications of family and schedules based on your season of life:

– New babies can disrupt waking up early (and sleeping in general) very quickly.

– As children age, bedtimes change and teenagers are wired to be night owls—if they want to talk at night, you should talk with them.

– Every individual circumstance is different, and families need leaders too.  

Use the Hours You Have

However, the best leaders are the first ones up and productive before everyone else. To be successful at early morning productivity, you must go to bed at a decent time, wake up with the alarm, and most of all, be productive in those hours.

Don’t waste valuable time in the morning or it’s all for naught—have a plan before you go to bed on what you’ll do. Make every morning minute count and launch yourself past the competition.

Leaders do more before nine a.m., than most people do all day.

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