By Susan Hatten
I recently read an article in Esquire magazine on Mister Rogers and the heroic acts of kindness and empathy he performed throughout his life. The story also featured how he lived his daily life: in splendid routine.
At the time I read this, I was also doing some research on ritualistic behavior, and how this relates to business professionals and success. You could practically time Fred Rogers’ sequence of movements from the moment he entered the front door of his neighborhood backdrop to when he buttoned his woolen Henley and laced up his impeccably spotless navy blue sneakers.
This led me to consider how ritualistic tendencies relate to business, to achieving life balance and ultimately to success. I’m clearly not the only person interested in the rituals (specifically morning) of others, as there are several websites dedicated to the daily routines of celebrities, CEOs and other successful people.
What do CEOs eat for breakfast? How do business leaders manage the constant ping of incoming emails throughout the day? How does one maintain health, happiness, and the delicate balance of business and a volatile political landscape?
Fred Rogers chose to maximize his mornings, both on and off-screen. He swam nearly every morning of his adult life prior to going to work to gain clarity and uphold his healthy lifestyle. Inc. magazine recently reported that morning people are notoriously more positive and productive.
And Forbes offered a similar article, noting the “Five Things Super Successful People Do Before 8 a.m.”: exercise; map out their day; eat a healthy breakfast; visualize and embrace positive thinking; and make their day top-heavy.
While I already had four out of five on this list covered, I am now compelled to better equip myself for success by making my days top-heavy—to do the tasks that seem overwhelming or unpleasant earlier in the morning hours, so as not to create looming stress or anxiety throughout the day. I know that I am offering my better self when I can make decisions with clarity and fortitude.
I will never quite carry the same waking hours as Benjamin Franklin or current Disney CEO Robert Iger (who starts his day at 4:30 a.m.), but I will continue to manage my mornings with conviction.
We each have 24 hours every day. The sequence and priorities that we give each moment are ours to discern. As Fred Rogers said: “You rarely have time for everything you want in this life, so you need to make choices. And hopefully your choices can come from a deep sense of who you are.”