The second habit for success stems from the recognition that the early morning, immediately after we wake up, presents us with a special opportunity to go deeper, be creative, and connect with the source of life itself. Successful people use that opportunity to their advantage. Successful people respect the morning.
Respect the heat. That’s a lesson many runners learn the hard way. They head out to a race or a training run with certain expectations. Those expectations may come from prior race results or a training schedule. But they may not always be appropriate.
This morning my schedule called for 14 miles in 140 minutes • a long, slow run at a 10-minute pace. I had no reason to think that it would be anything other than a breeze. I’ve been running well in recent days. Why should today be any different? I stretched in my air-conditioned home and got mentally ready for the run. Everything was on track until I opened the front door, to face a heat index of more than 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat and humidity were insufferable.
To respect the heat, I immediately turned around, changed my shirt, and revised my plans. This was not going to be a day for even 10-minute miles. I made sure to take along plenty of water and to map out a course with two water fountains. 2• hours later I gave it up • drenched and happy to get out of the steam bath — having not even traversed the entire 14 miles.
Runners who fail to respect the heat, stubbornly refusing to adjust their expectations and behavior, risk disappointment as well as injury. Dehydration takes a tremendous and occasionally permanent toll on the body. Missing the pace can force an early end to the run and make one glum for days after. Success requires more than the ability to accept the things we cannot change. It requires the ability to work creatively with the situations and opportunities of life.
One opportunity that comes along every day is the morning itself. Successful people have morning habits that connect them with the vitality of life. Last week I talked about the habit of reviewing your values. That’s a good morning habit. But there are many other morning habits that can make or break the day. To jump out of bed and immediately get busy is like a runner who refuses to respect the heat. Successful people respect the morning. They take advantage of that time to bring themselves gradually back to life, with breathwork, meditation, writing, drawing, exercise, or other creative activities.
It may seem strange to think of the morning as an opportunity that needs to be respected, but successful people know the truth I am writing about. My favorite poet, David Whyte, has a powerful poem that expresses this wisdom better than any words I have been able to find.
What To Remember When Waking
By David Whyte
In that first hardly noticed moment in which you wake,
coming back to this life from the other
more secret, moveable and frighteningly honest world
where everything began,
there is a small opening into the new day
which closes the moment you begin your plans.
What you can plan is too small for you to live.
What you can live wholeheartedly will make plans enough
for the vitality hidden in your sleep.
To be human is to become visible
while carrying what is hidden as a gift to others.
To remember the other world in this world
is to live in your true inheritance.
You are not a troubled guest on this earth,
you are not an accident amidst other accidents
you were invited from another and greater night
than the one from which you have just emerged.
Now, looking through the slanting light of the morning window
toward the mountain presence of everything that can be
what urgency calls you to your one love?
What shape waits in the seed of you
to grow and spread its branches
against a future sky?
Is it waiting in the fertile sea?
In the trees beyond the house?
In the life you can imagine for yourself?
In the open and lovely white page on the waiting desk?
I have memorized this poem and recite portions of it to myself as I go to sleep at night and as I wake up in the morning. It is proving to be the inspiration I need to not go immediately from the bed to the newspaper or the computer. The email on the waiting monitor may be lovely, but once I start reading email my opening into the new day closes and I am about the business of my plans — those very plans that are too small for me to live.
What closes that opening into the new day for you? Perhaps it’s time to root out those distractions from your morning routine. Successful people take regular advantage of the opening that the new day presents. They respect the morning, knowing that it presents them with a special opportunity to go deeper, be creative, and connect with the source of life itself. Squander that opportunity and you can never get it back • at least not until tomorrow morning. Carpe mane!
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers
Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
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