I gave the keynote address for the leadership team of the telephone banking division of CIBC yesterday. Impressive team. CIBC is one of Canada’s leading banks and the audience was full of energy, passion and intelligence. I shared my ideas on building a high-performance culture, developing deeper relationships and showing genuine leadership. Then I offered some insights on personal leadership – beginning with the imperative of getting up early if one wants to get to world-class as a human being. The room fell silent. Thought I lost them.

After my presentation, I had the joy of signing copies of “Leadership Wisdom from The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” that CIBC had purchased for each participant. Amazing how many people asked me what they needed to do to build the early rising habit. “I want to get a lot more from life” one manager said. “I loved your point about taking a Holy Hour each morning – 60 minutes to feed your mind and nourish my soul,” said another.

It’s so easy to forget that you cannot do good until you feel good. Organizational leadership begins with self-leadership. Getting up early to do your inner work, to sculpt your character, to sharpen your life’s philosophy or to review your goals is not a waste of time. That Holy Hour infuses every remaining minute of your day with a perspective that elevates each area of your life. It’ll transform you. Make you better as a leader. As a parent. As a human being.

Here are 5 practical tactics to help you get up early (5am is nice):

#1. Don’t eat after 7pm. You will sleep more deeply as well as more sweetly. It’s the quality not the quantity of sleep that’s most important.

#2. Don’t lounge in bed after your alarm clock goes off. Jump out of bed and start your day. The more time you lie in bed after the alarm clock goes off, the greater the likelihood that the chatter of your mind will say something like “stay in bed. Sleep a bit more. You deserve it.”

#3. Get into world-class physical condition. When I am in excellent physical shape – working out 5 to 6 times a week and eating ultra-well, I jump out of bed at 5am or even 4am with ease. Being superbly fit is a brilliant move.

#4. Set BHAGs. Jim Collins coined the term “BHAGs”, meaning Big Hairy Audacious Goals. Goals breathe life and energy into your days. Goals inspire you and give you something to get out of bed for each morning. Taking out your journal and articulating 10, 5, 3 and 1 year goals for the core dimensions of your life will focus your mind and drive tremendous results. It will light a fire in your belly and flood you with passion.

#5. Set your alarm clock 30 minutes early. I shared this point at a recent The Awakening Best Self Weekend where people had come from all around the world to learn how to break through their fears and live their greatest lives. I just got an email from one participant from Spain. This little trick has changed her life. She thinks she’s getting up at 6am. By the time she’s up and out of bed, she realizes it’s only 5:30am. She uses the newfound time to meditate or read or exercise. Her business is more successful than ever. Her family life is at its best. And she’s happier than she’s been in years.

Get up early. I dare you to do it for a few weeks. Your life is too precious a thing to waste. You know you were meant for your own unique form of greatness. You know you can do more, have more and be more. You know that you can be bigger than you currently are. So join The 5 O’Clock Club. Win The Battle of The Bed. Put mind over mattress. Get up early.  And as Benjamin Franklin once noted: “there will be plenty of time to sleep when you are dead.” Smart guy.

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