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7 Critical Components of a Powerful Morning Routine 

morning

One of the most important habits of developing consistent high performance in your life is to put your self-esteem into your work habits rather than your production.

The reason is because we want our confidence tied to things that we can control rather than things we can’t.

Production often fluctuates up and down but our effort, work ethic, and intensity needs to always be consistent.

The decision to embrace this philosophy can be something that you demonstrate in the first few moments of every day.

I first learned the power of a morning routine from my time in college working in The Southwestern Advantage summer program.

They taught us to have and focus on a “mini-victories list” every single morning.

To this day, I follow a regimented routine every single morning that includes many of those original habits I developed selling door to door in the summer:

 

Gratitude – The very first thing I do when the alarm goes off is immediately start saying “thank you”. I thank God for as many specific blessings as I can possibly come up with in those first few moments. In addition to being a powerful way to start the day, it also keeps my mind from being occupied with negative thoughts about how tired I might be or what I have to do that day.

 

Scripture – For me it is a very intentional choice that the first input into my brain each day be scripture. Not email. Not Twitter. Not news. Scripture. Not only does it help charge my soul for the day, it is also an external representation of an internal decision to prioritize my spiritual walk and relationship with God above all else. After reading scripture I pray. It’s an important discipline. (Tip: Timothy Keller’s book Prayer taught me to focus on reading each individual word slowly and one at a time instead of speeding through sentences.)

 

Affirmations – Over the years I have amassed several lists of different affirmations. Some speak to the person I want to be, some speak to the company we want Southwestern Consulting to be, and some are very specific to reprogramming my brain about certain fears, current limiting beliefs that I have or new habits I’m focused on developing. I read those next.

Goals – I’ve always then spent a few minutes reviewing my short and long term goals. What has been very powerful for me in the last couple years is that I read my wife’s goals first. And when I know of them, I read specific goals of my business partners as well before I read mine. This is another discipline that I practice to try and cultivate more selflessness in my life. It’s important because I’m embarrassed and ashamed to admit that absent an intentional decision to think about other people, I unfortunately naturally default to thinking mostly of just myself.

Schedule – I spend a few moments reviewing my schedule and making sure I’m consciously aware of everything that is supposed to happen that day. A great piece of advice that I’ve been trying to practice that I learned from profiling a Multiplier for the Procrastinate on Purpose book is to “throw everything off my calendar and make it fight to earn its way back on.”

Exercise – This is another habit I learned directly from Southwestern, which is to do something physical first thing in the morning every single day! Even if it’s only a few push-ups, sit-ups, or weightless squats, it’s a major victory to do even some small physical activity. And you should never underestimate the power of consistency in your life; literally a few minutes of exercise every day does wonders for helping you maintain your physical state.

Vitamins – Taking vitamins and veggies is not something I particularly enjoy; but I do it every single day. Because staying healthy requires discipline and it’s a choice I want to consistently make first thing in the morning. My body is something I choose to protect and preserve and supplements are an important part of the routine. As mama always said “enjoying it isn’t a requirement of doing it.”

Making it through this entire list (including a 20 min workout routine) takes me about 45 minutes.

(In full disclosure, there is one other step to this routine that I’ve been doing the last couple years that I left out since it’s not ubiquitous to everyone: I also write 1 little inspirational social media post each day on Instagram that I also share to Facebook and Twitter. It takes about 7 minutes a day but I find that writing a little each day adds up tremendously over time. Those little thoughts often later get expanded into blog posts, which then many blog posts get put together to become a book, which is then made into keynotes, virtual trainings , and coaching modules.

Part of the power of this routine is programming your brain for success each day.

Another part of the power of this routine is preparing yourself to have a positive attitude each day.

But perhaps the most powerful part of this routine is that it helps you start “winning” right away.

Because all of these things are things that you can control.

And all of these things are mini-victories.

They are demonstrations of discipline that happen every morning.

They are resolutions that I will not let my life happen by accident but by design.

I will not be confused about where I’m going; I will be clear.

And I will not lose to the natural voices of fatigue, negativity, and distraction in my head; I will silence them.

This process helps remind me of how much I’ve been given, why my life counts, and who I am focused on serving.

You don’t have to follow this exact process, but I would highly recommend that you and your coach create some process – and that you follow it relentlessly.

Because success is never owned; it’s only rented – and the rent is due every day.

How to Save Your Company $1.5 Million in 3 Minutes

million

People often say that “time is money.”

They are wrong.

Time is not money.

Time is worth way more than money is.

In fact, via compounding interest, time is the one thing that takes money and effortlessly turns money into more money.

Money that is lost, can be earned back. But time that is lost is gone forever.

Which is why our team at Southwestern Consulting believes that the next generation of cost savings scrutiny in organizations will not be as focused on saving money as it will be on saving time.

Think about this… almost every organization in the world has an entire team of people whose job is solely dedicated to counting the financial costs of a business. This is the accounting department of course.

Yet almost no organizations have even a single person who monitors, tracks, and manages all of the different ways that people throughout the organization lose time every day.

Not even one person whose full effort is dedicated to figuring out detailed ways to save everyone time.

Why is that?

Especially given the fact that one of the most expensive financial costs to any business is human capital and the money we spend on our labor force in wages.

The Money Value of Time (MVOT) from Procrastinate on Purpose teaches us that regardless of how we derive income, we all have a calculable hourly rate of pay. And that we are always either paying someone else at their rate of pay or we are paying ourselves at ours.

Which means that every single task and every single moment costs money. And anything that wastes even a second of your time is a waste of your money.

So that means there is opportunity throughout the organization to save massive amounts of money by saving massive amounts of time.

But where might we find these massive time savings?

Is it in cutting insignificant projects and unnecessary meetings? Sure.

But an overlooked area – with perhaps even more opportunity – is cutting mere minutes or even seconds spent on repetitive tasks that recur on a frequent basis.

For example let’s say you have a task that a team of 50 people each do 10x a day that takes them 180 seconds each time. This could be something like copying and pasting and then sending an email to a prospect or client with an attachment or something.

That’s 1500 minutes total for the team each day x 250 working days in a year for a grand total of 375,000 minutes each year spent on that one recurring 3-minute task.

If the average person on the team makes $50k a year then that person has an MVOT  of $24.04 per hour or $0.40 per minute.

Which means that a recurring task that takes 50 people (who make $50k) just 3 minutes a few times a day could be costing an organization $150,000 a year!

Plus, keep in mind those are hard dollars being paid to real people which means there is a legitimate opportunity cost of using that money.

If a company could save that time, and instead invest that money then (using a simple investment calculator) we know that $150,000 invested one time at an 8% rate of return for 30 years would be worth $1,509,398.53!

Think about that…

A task taking people 3 minutes could be worth over $1.5 million in the long run.

Now think about this…

If you have a team bigger than 50 people…

Or

If you have regular recurring tasks that take longer than 3 minutes…

Or

If you have more than 1 recurring task a day that everyone does…

Or

If you have people in the organization that make more than $50k per year…

Or

If you could do better than an 8% return on your money…

Or

If you invested that money for longer than 30 years…

Or any combination of these factors…

Then losing that time could cost you even much much more than $1.5 million of opportunity cost over the course of time.

So, what’s the point?

The point is that we should place as much value on saving time as we do on making more money.

The point is that we are potentially missing out on millions of dollars in cost savings by looking at things differently.

The point is that we should potentially apply even a higher level of scrutiny to how we spend our time than we do with how we spend our money.

But most companies don’t.

Most companies track every single penny spent on paper clips and pens and completely ignore the question of “what recurring tasks are sucking up our people’s time?”

It’s a massive opportunity for profit growth in the future of business.

We believe that the future of cost savings is going to be more focused on saving time then it will be on saving money.

Which is one reason why we believe that there is going to be a continued boom in the world of workflow automation.

We believe, as mentioned in my Ted talk, that “automation is to your time exactly what compounding interest is to your money.”

Saving salespeople time by training them on the best communication strategies and interpersonal skills has always been a space that Southwestern Consulting has been known to specialize in.

But when it comes to saving salespeople time by coupling it with automating things like lead generation, lead tracking, workflow, pipeline management, customer follow up, CRM and content marketing, that’s also a service we provide for small and medium sized businesses.

If you’re interested in more on that, you can check out our free 1 hour training on turning your business into an Automated Revenue Machine.

But no matter who you are or what type of company you have, what we all need to know and understand is that time is not money.

Time is, and will always be, worth way more than money.

Make sure you’re valuing it accordingly.

The Gift Great Leaders Give

Gift

People don’t need help being realistic.

We’re all already negative enough.

Our typical default is towards why things won’t work and why they’re not possible.

Most of us do just fine on our own coming up with reasons, excuses, and justifications for why our dreams won’t come true.

And we don’t usually need much assistance thinking about the worst case scenario or knowing what the ultimate failure might look like.

No, most of us do that just fine all by ourselves.

What we need help with is believing.

What we need assistance with is dreaming.

What we need affirmation with is what could be possible.

Which is why a part of leadership has to be helping people believe in a bigger future.

We have to help people see what could be possible for their own lives.

We have to show people a plan for how something magnificent could actually come true.

And we have to do the work to take people with us on the path as we embark towards the new.

Because there is no shortage of naysayers in the world who will tell them it can’t be done.

There is no lack of critics who will point out every reason it won’t work.

And there is no absence of realism that will remind us that we’ve never accomplished anything like this before.

But naysayers never advance the world.

Critics don’t create change.

And realism always betrays a person of their chance to reach their full potential.

Which is why we need to lead.

We need to help people believe.

We need to convince them that it’s possible.

And we need to put in the work to show them how.

If you can do that…

If you can show someone a plan for how the impossible can be achieved…

If you can convince someone that their dream can come true…

If you can demonstrate the kind of work it takes to break belief barriers and explode limiting beliefs…

Then you have changed everything for them.

You have led them.

And you have redefined realistic for them.

And that is a great is a great service.

A tremendous gift.

And perhaps a once in a lifetime blessing.

Because people don’t need help being realistic; they need help believing in the bold.

It Gets Better

better

Life can be tough.

Life can be hard.

Sometimes there are just days where we feel beat down and bogged down by the monotony and minutiae of keeping up with everyday living.

But those times never last.

At least not for the people who are focused and disciplined.

We have tough days, sure.

But it always gets better.

Even when we feel like it won’t get better; it will.

Even when we wonder if we’ll ever come out of tough times; we will.

Even when we think briefly about quitting, we won’t.

Because it always gets better.

That is the nature of things.

The dark becomes light.

The storm becomes sun.

The uncertain becomes clear.

It gets better.

It may not feel like that right now.

You may not feel like that right now.

But if you just keep working…

If you just keep trying…

If you just keep going…

It always eventually gets better.

Things get better because you get stronger.

Things get better because you get smarter.

Things get better because you get better.

And as you get better you start to realize, know, and believe that there will be tough times.

There will be tough days.

But you won’t allow them to bring you down for long.

Because you know that you are strong.

You are focused.

You are determined.

You are resilient.

You have inside of you a burning strength that gives you the power to be disciplined, dedicated, and perseverant.

Because of that, it always eventually will get better.

Tough times never last. Tough people do.

And you, my friend, are as tough as they come.

What’s More Powerful than Inspiration?

inspiration

I love inspiration.

I love to inspire.

I love to be inspired.

There is nothing quite as fun as working when you have an inspiring reason to be working for.

Yet successful people know that inspiration is a luxury; not a necessity.

You don’t have to feel inspired in order to do great work.

You can just do great work.

You don’t have to be inspired in order to act.

You can just act.

You don’t have to be inspired in order do.

You can just do.

Inspiration is great.

Inspiration is wonderful.

Inspiration is something that you hopefully find.

But if you don’t, it doesn’t mean you can’t work and do great things in the meantime.

Because there is something that is more powerful than inspiration.

Discipline.

Discipline shows up on bad days as well as good days.

Discipline shows after you just had a “loss” as well as after you just had a “win.”

Discipline is what you can run on when you don’t feel like running.

Yes, discipline is more reliable than inspiration.

Discipline is more steadfast than inspiration.

Discipline is more consistent than inspiration.

And the unexpected truth about discipline is that when you focus on being disciplined, inspiration often eventually shows up.

It’s like Southwestern taught me when I was in college “if you act enthusiastic you will become enthusiastic.” It’s similar that if you work as if you were inspired you will eventually become inspired.”

But if you focus on inspiration, you may or may not be disciplined.

And if you wait around for inspiration to show up, you may never get started.

Discipline keeps you going inevitably, perpetually, and habitually.

Inspiration keeps you going only conveniently.

So be inspired.

Inspire others.

And seek inspiration.

Just don’t wait for it before you show up and go to work.

All you need is discipline for that.

6 Characteristics of a Great Life Purpose Statement

purpose

People often struggle with articulating their life’s purpose.

A single unifying statement that helps clarify for them what they want their life to have counted for at the end of their days.

In a recent podcast interview with one of my business partners at Southwestern Consulting, Steve Reiner, he and our coaching client were talking through the process they used to help our client identify his purpose.

It’s become one of Steve’s specialties and he laid out 6 characteristics of what make a great life purpose statement that I thought were fantastic:

1. Useful – It should talk about your relationship with other people. Specifically it should address how you will serve and help others beyond just yourself.

2. Universal – It should apply to every area of your life and it should set a mode of operating for you that carries over into both your personal and professional life.

3. Aspirational – It should speak to the person you want to become and the impact you want to have. Almost as if it were a projection of your future self.

4. Formidable – It should be a challenge to achieve and be something that will require you to work and operate at your very best levels.

5. Controllable – It should be something in your power and that relies on you. For example you can’t have a life purpose to make someone happy because that is outside your control. You could say to dedicate your life to providing certain things for someone.

6. Inspirational – It should be something that when you read it, it breathes life into you and causes you to feel compelled to take immediate action.

If you’re interested in learning more about our coaching process and how we might work with you one on one to create your life purpose statement click here.