Extraordinary Team Blog

What Successful Managers Do in the First Hour of Their Day

Posted by Joseph Sherren on September 16, 2012

In my last blog posting, I asked – Why are some people successful, healthy, happy and financially independent while others are not? One thing I know for sure – there is no one magic bullet. However, there are many common activities that do differentiate those two groups.

The factor I will deal with this week is what successful managers do in the first hour of every day. I wanted to know if there are common activities. It appears there is.

I studied a number of business leaders whom I respect, and who I would put in the category of success as described in my last column. A summary of their feedback follows.

But, first some science. There is surprising, groundbreaking neurological research that has determined what people do in that first hour make’s a significant difference in their attitude and performance for the rest of the day. In the first 20 minutes after waking up is when the amygdale of the brain is most vulnerable to suggestion and mood setting.

The research also reveals that being sincerely grateful is the most powerful thinking you can engage in during that critical period. The first hour after waking is when your brain is most open and susceptible to outside input and suggestion.

This is not new. For years, the Jewish religion has a practice of reciting a prayer to start off their day known as the Shacharit, from the Hebrew, shachar, or “morning light”. Basically, this is a prayer of gratitude which is focused on readjusting the compass of their life.

So how did the managers I studied respond? Here are a few of the common trends I received:

  1. They do not turn on their computers or phones until they decide their priorities for the day. They believe what comes through those technologies is someone else’s priority, and are often problems which could set a negative tone for the day.
  2. Upon awakening, they reflect on at least one thing they are most grateful for in their life.
  3. They engage in an exercise or workout program. Some walk or jog while others engage in yoga or stretching.
  4. Most use this time to connect with key staff, recognize their work and strategize the day.

Zubair Siddiqi, General Manager of the Delta Prince Edward in Charlottetown says; “I sit back and appreciate all what I have and how much I have been blessed. I then look at the numbers, the guest comments, then do a walk around. This triggers how I prioritize the day”.

Do you remember when managers were able to begin each day planning their schedule, exercising, or completing an important task? In my past as a corporate manager, after exercising horses, I would arrive at the office early. I found I could do more in that hour than all the rest of the day. I could be more strategic and proactive and do what Steven Covey calls “putting first things first”. This was a time I could deal with important things, not respond to other people`s urgencies.

By getting my priorities out of the way, I was able to spend more time connecting with and coaching staff, which is a manager’s true responsibility.

Tony Robbins calls it the “Hour of Power”. He engages in exercise and motivational thinking. He says “the most important part involves 10 minutes of thinking of everything you’re grateful for”. He also states; “In that first hour, visualize your life as if you have already received everything you desire”.

In his book “Eat That Frog” my friend Brian Tracy says “if you eat a live frog first thing in the morning, it is then behind you and the rest of the day’s challenges don’t look so bad”! That first hour will set your navigation for day.

My question for managers this week is – What do you do in that first hour of the day that sets you up for future success?