Keith R Szewczyk

Executive Challenges Part 2: What Gets You Up in the Morning?

In General Topics on February 16, 2011 at 11:03 am

by: Keith R. Szewczyk

The morning is my favorite time of the day. I get up at 4:30 AM and lift weights in my home gym. I then meet my oldest daughter (age 9) upstairs in the kitchen for breakfast. This is valuable one-on-one time and is our special time as the others are still sleeping. I proceed to the bedroom to start my quick 30 minute routine of getting ready, and join my wife who is in her last hour of her 2 hour morning routine. I go downstairs kiss the wife and kids, and I am off to work. Every day starts off so perfect.

What gets you up in the morning? For me there is something very special and calm about every morning. The known state of continuous challenges is just a few miles away. My Blackberry is full of emails that came in over the night. Open issues that we were just addressing the previous day still await me in the office. The unknown of how late I will be at the office tonight is still a reality. However, that 30 minute drive in the morning allows me to ease into the daily grind.

As we discussed in the Part 1 post “What Keeps You up at Night?” it is critical for executives to maintain a clear vision and reflect on the strategy. If you can go to bed each night leaving the issues and challenges at work and allow yourself to visualize the end-state, the morning will be very motivational. Every day we face challenges and challenges are what create the opportunities. Therefore, it is important to wake up each morning with a clear vision so you can see each challenge throughout the day as important pieces to the strategic success of the company.

Executive jobs are full of stress and excitement. These ups and downs are something that our rear breed strives to experience. We need to wake up each morning excited about leading the company towards the vision. The following are some morning to-do’s that I made part of my morning routine:

  • Exercise in the morning: This is the first thing I do to start my day. Getting the blood flowing is energetic and keeping my weight and health under control counters the extreme stress I face. Plus, there are no plans in my calendar that early in the morning to make me cancel my workout…unlike the evenings.
  • Eat Breakfast: The most important meal of the day. Provides the energy needed for the long day ahead.
  • Family time: The mornings are crazy, but the best undistracted time with my family. This is very energizing!
  • Reflection: During my 30 minute car ride in the morning I spend that time reflecting on the vision and strategy in chunks of the anticipated challenges at the office today. I want to visualize the expected outcomes and work a mental strategy to help me understand the challenge.
  • Walk into the office with a smile: I love what I do and I want others to love what they do. I have a smile on my face and greet everyone I see in the hall. Getting to work and starting my day is what gets me up in the morning?

What gets you up in the morning?


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