THE POWER OF ROUTINE
‘Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition. A modern stoic knows that the surest way to discipline passion is to discipline time: decide what you want or ought to do during the day, they always do it at exactly the same moment every day, and passion will give you no trouble.’ —W. H. Auden
I encountered this quote during the daily informative podcast- The Tim Ferris Show. What I found to be particularly surreal about this quote is that it had come just shortly after a passionate debate I had had earlier with my elder sister. The bone of contention was with regard to the importance of routines and what role if any, they played in the cumbersome but ultimately rewarding odyssey that is entrepreneurship. While I advocated for routines as a necessary link in the cause and effect tug of war chain of entrepreneurship, she saw the contrary. She saw it as an impediment to success instead of a facilitator. She felt it served as a stumbling block to flexibility and adaptability in the brusque world that we live in. She felt it was an inhibitor to living in the moment and taking advantage of the opportunities that at times spontaneity may serendipitously avail. Whereas many might mistake this somewhat cavalier perspective as an adherence to the infamous YOLO (You Only Live Once) carpe diem, carefree philosophy, this was not the case. Being an ardent Christian she has a firm belief in the divine ethos of responsibility while also having an amor fati outlook on life that I at times envy as she seems to be able to embrace everything and anything that life throws her way as a pre-ordained tool for her edification and not destruction. Furthermore, being a mother of a pesky and mischievous five-year-old girl is quite an uphill task requiring all hands on deck, and does not allow for a fixed system instead it necessitates flexibility. An additional point she laid out was the fact that she found routine boring and found herself generally appalled by the humdrum of the mundane and liked the stimulation and excitement of the spontaneous. Whereas there was no outright winner in the discussion with neither side willing to cross the floor and concede defeat, it became a subject matter that intrigued me and as the days went by, my interest in the matter seemed to increase exponentially.
“Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines practiced every day” —Michael Flynn
As I had revealed in my previous post, I am currently attending the Michael Flynn Mentorship Academy and what is so interesting about the experience is just how much we think we know as compared to the labyrinthine of facts that we do not know that we do not know. It was mind-boggling. However, what really peaked my interest was when the orator and benefactor of the program, Michael Flynn, said, “Show me Your Plan Show me your Rituals.” It really struck a chord with me since this is the same issue my sister and I were debating on earlier in the course of the week. He further emphasized the significance of having a daily routine and how it can change your efficiency and enhance how you operate your business. He also elucidated on various habits that if incorporated into your routine can transform your life for the better. He touched on activities such as exercise, gratitude, affirmations and visualizations (similar to Tony Robbins’ routine which we will touch on later) that should be said preferably on a daily basis in the morning to keep yourself focused and committed to your goal. “Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines practiced every day….Certainty is in your body and we are attracted to certainty” his baritone boomed across the room all while he glowed as if a Pre-Raphaelite painting as he said these words. One would think he was destined for the stage basing on how he talked and sauntered on the stage not as a matinee idol but as a god waif. He seemed to be in his essence exuding virtue and confidence.He also urged us to do extensive research on the morning routines of various entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates; and that ladies and gentlemen, inspired me to write this article.
As I began preparation for writing this article having recently completed reading the book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, I felt the process would be quite straightforward. One of the most memorable things I managed to derive from the Power of Habit (Book summary and review coming soon), was the potent point that more than 45% of the activities that we are engaged in by the body are actually automated into habits.
This information was derived from a Duke University study in 2006 that established 45% of all our daily behaviors are automatic.
Thus, according to Charles Duhigg: We spend 1 out of every 2 minutes doing something that you’re not even aware of.
Therefore, with that being said, it is absolutely accurate to say that our habits define who we are and have the ability to make or break us.
“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” – Warren Buffett
Habits are essentially the sine qua non when it comes to establishing a successful routine while likewise, a routine is a quintessential ingredient in the entrepreneurial journey to turn an idea a posse ad esse.
According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, a routine is defined as a regular course of procedure or a habitual or mechanical performance of an established procedure. A routine inherently is a process. Nothing more nothing less, and like every process under the sun, the goal of any intelligent high achieving person should be to optimize the processes that form or are central to his/her life so that they can yield better results and increase efficacy. Hence, it behooves a man (or woman) who has great ambition, to seek an overarching controlled system with which they can use to achieve their respective goals and objectives for the day. Defining such actions for success and then putting in place a plan of executing those actions on a daily basis is the first step in the Laoism 1000 mile to success apothegm. If you can win the morning you win the day. The first 60-90 minutes of your day will have a great impact on your day either positively or negatively. I have taken the liberty of outlining briefly some of the daily routines of highly successful people and I also highlight some of the factors to consider while drafting your very own routine.
- Bill GatesAccording to the first-hand account of Microsoft’s co-founder Paul Allen, the two friends would spend the entire day coding until 7.00 pm from which they would take a break for dinner then watch a movie followed in quick succession with a resumption of their coding routine until 4.00am every day seven days a week. What is even more astounding about all this is that there seemed to be no work-life balance in the early days of Microsoft with a majority of employees including Bill Gates himself having no social life outside Microsoft. The only friends they interacted with were within Microsoft while the rest who they had known prior to their employment at Microsoft withered in the coldness of their neglect with family members barely even getting sufficient time to interact with their kin who were now Microsoft employees. It was reported once that a newly hired assistant was perplexed when she came into work only to find Bill Gates asleep under the desk. Also noteworthy is the fact that Bill Gates spends 2 weeks in a year as a special think week of some sorts, in which he is free from interruption and receives no calls or emails.
- Elon MuskThe prolific founder and serial entrepreneur has a reputation of working 80-85 hours a week as juxtaposed to his earlier over a 100 hours a week working schedule. In fact, during the 2008-2009 financial crisis, he admits to spending 7 day weeks exclusively on nothing but work and even going to sleep and dreaming about work. Being a night owl, he prefers working at night as compared to getting up very early in the morning, therefore, he goes to bed at 1.00 am and wakes up at 7.00 am. He further states that he does not have sufficient time to incorporate a heavy breakfast into his routine and well over half of the time he simply takes a cup of coffee. During lunchtime, he simply takes his lunch during a meeting and prides himself on consuming his lunch in a space of five minutes or less. When it comes to dinners, here Elon Musk admits to have quite a voracious appetite and he usually eats a lot and this is usually scheduled within a meeting including the appetizers and the main course. He also engages in physical exercises although only twice a week focusing mainly on the treadmill and cardio while dedicating a minor portion of his time on the weights. Moreover, he concedes that he needs to improve more on this sector of his life.
- Naveen Jain The Indian Billionaire Naveen Jain has quite an interesting routine which starts at between 4.30am-5.00am when he wakes up. Between 5.00am-5.15am, the time is spent looking at news blogs and emails then immediately afterward he engages in working out and in quick succession he embarks on meditation. Naveen believes that business is like a war and unless you have both your mind and body prepared then you cannot fight that war. He admits to being a workaholic and works for very long hours. He believes that there is no substitute for working hard.
- Tai Lopez This popular entrepreneur, advisor, and marketing genius advocates that one ought to customize their morning routine on the basis of their need and not to ape the routines or schedules of established and successful entrepreneurs merely for the sake of copying. There is no one-size fits all solution. He advocates for knowledge acquisition; maybe reading a book or magazine while catching up to the events of the day. Research has proven that we have maximum willpower in the morning and on this basis he resolves to undertake the hardest and most important tasks first as this helps to create a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction earlier on in the day.
- Tony Robbins Illustrious author, entrepreneur and philanthropist Tony Robbins has quite an odd routine and schedule as he does not have a specific time of waking up due to the copious amounts of traveling he is frequently subjected to and the consequent change in time zones. However, this does not inhibit him from establishing a routine nor does it obviate the need for one. When he does wake up, he always ensures that he takes a cold plunge for a full minute in ice cold water which aids to keep him sharp, awake and alert. This is immediately followed by expressing gratitude and prayer for the day ahead. He is a firm believer in affirmations and he regularly commands his subconscious mind before meetings and conferences to “direct me in helping as many people as possible today for the betterment of their lives….to give me the strength, the emotion the persuasion the humor and the feeling to get these people to change their lives”
- Patrick David The entrepreneur and motivational speaker sees morning routines and rituals as purely energy games and a mechanism to ensure that the level of energy you have for the rest of the day is extremely high. He wakes up between 4.30am-4.45am , embarks on some training exercises, checks his emails, listens to audiobooks, he says daily affirmations, then he leaves for the gym and onwards to work. Analogous to how investor extraordinaire Warren Buffet has mastered the art of the buy and hold, a successful entrepreneur has to be able to buy and hold on to the energy they possess throughout the day. The longer that your energy lasts, the longer your competitors are not going to last because your competitors are going to get tired. They are eventually going to make so much money that their stomach is going to get big, they’re going to have the nice cars, nice houses, and they will be done. But for you, a true entrepreneur, you would like to play at the highest level- 15, 20, 30, 40 years play in order to join the big leagues in your field. This is not the conventional “I will be a millionaire and everyone’s going to love and admire me”- mentality; that is a short-sighted boring approach. He advocates for the constant creation-recreation and constant energy throughout the day. Constantly creating, constantly coming up with new ideas, constantly engaging and sitting in the boardrooms even when the majority of people have left and they are tired. He reckons that a morning routine is vital in realizing such energy as it is at the stoppage time that the real game begins and you will need as much energy as you can get.
Morning routines differ from person to person for instance Mark Zuckerberg being a night owl wakes up at 8.00 am having done all his work at night and resolves to wear the same shirt in order to save on energy spent on decision making whereas Jack Dorsey the founder of Twitter wakes up at 5.30am to meditate and eventually jogs for 6 miles. It is all about picking the best routine that works for you but the most important thing is to have one as that is the first step to living a more fulfilled life as it gives your life a sense of purpose and meaning earlier on in the day.
According to the Kantian Philosophy of morality, it is not only proper to seek the truth but it is immoral not to do so, as more often than not we act based on these false truths. Thus, readers, it is not only our moral responsibility to dispel ignis fatuus such as these that impede the realizations of such truths but to also propel the revelations and discoveries of the truths themselves. Therefore, I urge you dear readers to share this article with your friends who like my sister may find routines an anathema and guide them to the path of truth. I would also like to give a brief shout out to the Michael Flynn Mentorship Academy for leading me towards this life-changing truth and fulfilling their Kantian duty. I now know that not only do routines matter but they are an indispensable resource in the journey to success.