We are defined by our habits. The routines we adopt and follow make up who we are in our professional and personal lives. The extent of our success is often predicated upon these activities. Such is the case with many of the top CEO’s.
Thee lifestyle patterns of successful CEO’s can give us a thoughtful glimpse into how they became so successful and the methods by which they manage to achieve so much in any given day. We all get the same 24 hours, it’s what you do with them that determine your accomplishments.
We cannot rely on merely mimicking the actions of others; it takes initiative and ambition to truly excel at something. The ability to meet obstacles and failure head on and persevere despite everyone telling you otherwise. The will to win must be found within and if you don’t have something that drives you to get out of bed each day then no amount of inspirational actions on the part of others will be enough.
You have to want to succeed, it doesn’t even really matter at what, just as long as you’ve placed a goal ahead of you that needs to be met. That’s the one thing common to every successful CEO. They have an aim, a purpose, and something to strive toward. Without that goal or vision, any routine or habit can often be meaningless.
Every daily habit has a motivation behind it. Think about why you get out of bed every day. What’s the reason? How do you do it? Is it something you dread or do you wake up ready to tackle any challenge put before you? Attitude has a lot to do with success or lack thereof.
All good CEO’s of any major organization understand how best to approach their day, first and foremost. You can’t start the day without the proper mindset and good habits begin the moment you wake up. It’s one of the most common behaviors among successful CEO’s – you have to want to make a difference from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed.
How they go by making that difference is where things can get wildly varied depending upon who you ask. No matter the industry or the company, every CEO brings equal parts organization, creativity, exceptional time management skills, an analytical mind, and a positive attitude to their daily habits. Without these traits, it doesn’t matter how much you study the behavioral patterns of the best of the best, you’re going to have a tough time emulating similar levels of achievement.
A strong grip on positivity can lead to success in solving problems, coming up with new ideas, and inspiring everyone around you to perform at the peak of their abilities. When they say that attitude is everything, it’s especially true for those in a position of leadership. As a leader, the way you carry yourself will be seen by those who look to you to set an example.
If you exude negativity, negativity will follow. Not just in your own attitude but in that of those around you, too. It can be just as contagious as total positivity, which is a far more effective motivational tool in getting those who look to you for example to foster the same traits that every top CEO demonstrates on a daily basis.
What, then, are these attributes that the men and women at the height of their industries practice on a daily basis to maintain their position at the top? For the most part, the daily habits of highly successful CEO’s are pretty straightforward and involve a level of commitment and dedication in sticking to their chosen routines without fail.
Repetition is very important and adherence to their chosen patterns is the blueprint to each individual’s success. If you are seeking a change in your life or simply looking to enhance your success at the office and earn a job in a top leadership position, then perhaps one or more of these activities are worth adopting for your own personal growth and achievement.
The following examples may not be the only key to your success; there may be others that you find much more agreeable and beneficial. However, as you read on think about which of these routines you can readily practice each day and those that probably won’t work for you. You might find something here that speaks to your perspective and could prove to be of great benefit for years to come.
Perhaps the most common of habits among almost every top CEO is that they start their day before you and me. We’re talking anywhere from 3:30am to the slackers who stay in bed all the way until 6:15am.
Those who set their alarms to go off between 4:00 to 4:30am are a veritable who’s who – considered to be the cream of the crop in their fields. In fact, they’ve accomplished a lot by the time the rest of us are just waking up.
Starting the day that early brings with it many advantages and benefits for productivity and allows for time within those additional couple of hours to get a myriad of things done. For some, this time is sacred and provides them with the opportunity to start the day on the right foot by tackling a variety of simple yet very important tasks.
It’s during those quiet hours of the morning, when the rest of the world is still asleep, that many CEO’s take the time to begin their respective routines. A majority of them will check their email as one of the first things they do when they wake up.
Doing this first not only lets you clear your inbox, which can be a rather daunting challenge when you’re the CEO of a major corporation, but it brings you up to speed on all work-related issues so you are able to disconnect for a period of time to get to the other routines that you might practice before the pace at the office begins to hasten.
Have a Daily Exercise Routine
Many of the top CEO’s will also take some portion of the morning to get in some exercise before they head into the office for the day. This is another reason waking up early is such a smart idea, it allows for time to get to the gym or at least a treadmill in the living room or office.
Some type of physical activity is a vital component of the day that CEO’s rely upon as part of their formula for success. A number of them will even stop what they’re doing and go for a jog if they’re not satisfied with how the day is progressing from the outset.
The obvious health benefits of exercise don’t need to be recounted here, but doing so can also clear your head and help you think better, make smarter decisions, and give you a general feeling of well-being and inspiration before the workday begins in earnest.
The morning isn’t the only time to get in your exercise either, as there are just as many CEO’s out there who take a break in the middle of the day to get in some activity. That includes the President, who gets in a 45-minute workout six days of the week, focusing on cardio and strength development exercises when he’s not shooting hoops. The same goes for Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi who takes a 45-minute power walk each morning and plans her day while she’s doing it.
Reflect and Meditate
You don’t need to be into some new age yoga groove to meditate effectively. The wee hours of the morning are the perfect time for CEO’s to gather their thoughts and reflect on the moment, the day ahead of them, even big decisions and events that are upcoming.
Oprah Winfrey has been particularly vocal in her appreciation of transcendental meditation as she believes it helps to improve everything from her sleep patterns to her business acumen to her relationships with the people around her. She recommends it to everyone who works for her and offers her employees the chance to participate in meditation sessions because she believes it helps with productivity and creativity.
Some individuals don’t go that far but instead simply take some time, maybe fifteen minutes, maybe a half hour, to just sit quietly and be alone with their own thoughts. This personal time has done wonders for some of the biggest names in business because they feel it allows them the ability to get focused on the work day with total clarity.
Make Time for Family
This is a vital part of the day for a number of top CEO’s as they stress the importance of family in their lives. Those who have children, particularly younger ones, are sure to spend some time with them over breakfast, help them get ready for their day, even drive them to school or walk them to where the bus picks them up.
These moments are a necessary component that play into the successful routines of CEO’s because making time for family helps to nurture and enrich your day and puts you in a good mood before it begins. When the day is over, leaving work out of the home or minimizing it greatly so you can focus on your loved ones will help reduce stress and allow you to focus your undivided attention on the people and things that really matter in your life.
Always Eat Breakfast
Waking up early has shown to provide some of the most prosperous CEO’s a chance to get a jump on their inbox, give them some time to exercise and gather their thoughts, even enjoy breakfast with their families. However, when it comes to breakfast, is there a common choice among the top CEO’s as to the best meal for getting the day started? It turns out that less is more and you won’t see many of these powerful men and women sitting down with bacon and eggs.
Smoothies are the preferred breakfast of choice for many CEO’s who understand that nutrition is vital to starting the day with enough energy and drive to tackle adversity head on. Healthy is the buzzword for CEO’s who prefer fresh fruit and other light fare to fuel up and boost the mind and body as they head to the office.
Details are Important
Every CEO understands that good organization is the first step to keeping your life in order and making you better equipped to carry out the tasks that need attention throughout the day. When you’re organized, it makes things easier to address.
CEO’s are often juggling a lot of things at the same time and, unless you have a good system of organization in place, it’s easy to lose sight of something that needs to be handled on time. Therefore, the best CEO’s have different platforms in place to help them stay on top of everything that needs their attention.
Some opt for an assistant who is always there to send a reminder, taking time to set each day of the week to handle a different aspect of the business, while other CEO’s simply make their own comprehensive to-do list in the morning that they work their way through as the day goes on. Whichever method you choose, having all of your proverbial ducks in a row ahead of time ensures that you don’t miss any details and everything that needs to be handled is taken care of accordingly.
All of the top CEO’s also have something else in common – they strive for inspiration and creativity in everything they do. These are two of the most important leadership attributes to demonstrate in today’s business world.
The drive to come up with the next big thing, to do that thing better than the other guy, and to create new products and services to present to the public is the lifeblood of industry. Some of the most celebrated visionaries from Steve Jobs to Richard Branson to Elon Musk are relentless in their passions to innovate and revolutionize their respective fields. That takes a lot of trial and error, experimentation, and a willingness to fail.
Creativity is about simplicity, coming up with different ways to make the things we rely on most, and when you fail that means you’re making progress. Failing is acceptable and expected, because without it you’re not evolving as a leader or a company. Ask any of the most successful CEO’s and they will tell you that failure is a major component of their craft and they relish creativity to help them solve the complex issues that come part and parcel with being an industry leader.
Experimentation doesn’t just come with the product line, either. A good CEO is always experimenting with new ways to build the workforce and get them motivated to give 110% in everything that they do. Any CEO who doesn’t evolve with the needs of his or her team is being lazy and neglecting what is expected of a true leader.
Flexibility is a trait that many of the top CEO’s count on to get through each week at their most creative and productive. For some of the best and brightest, flexibility is essential in having the ability to perform your best. Scheduling things like meetings and phone calls can be a drain on your productivity. That’s one of the reasons why many smart CEO’s try to do their best not to get bogged down by both.
Holding too many meetings can make things stagnant around the office, taking away from the creativity of the staff who could be putting their time and effort to bigger and better things. Routines are good, but when they start to feel routine that can be detrimental to creative spontaneity and that’s a bad thing. That’s why good CEO’s never allow each day to look the same.
There should always be something new and different happening and if that bucks the typical practices of doing business among the status quo then all the better. Becoming stagnant is a death sentence and when each day is similar to the last, that can also affect the company’s future.
Complacency in routine can lead to a lack of vision. When a company is unable to see the trends and pitfalls before they arrive that company is at risk of dying out. Flexibility is about adaptability – if you can’t do that as a CEO then you won’t be able to get your company to adapt and grow with the needs of your customer base.
Leaders aren’t leading unless they have good people around to whom they can delegate tasks and feel confident in their skills to get those things done. The top CEO’s value their personnel as allies in whom they can trust.
They’ve chosen people who hold similar values and have strengths that fill in the gaps that a CEO considers as his or her own weaknesses. We all have them. Knowing your own strengths and weaknesses is crucial for building a great team because only then can you find the right people who can make your ideas take shape and thrive.
Take Time to Self-Audit
Self-auditing is more than identifying your own strengths and weaknesses, it’s about analyzing what you’ve accomplished at the end of each day. Improving yourself means improving your business.
The CEO’s who audit their actions and achievements when they get home from work are the CEO’s who are the most willing to adapt and change to better themselves and their organization. Find the strengths and weaknesses in your actions and routines just like you would with your own assets and liabilities. Being able to point to where you were the most and least effective in your day can help you avoid making those same mistakes tomorrow.
That will also allow you to be better prepared to take on tomorrow’s challenges as well. You should always look ahead, but be sure to take stock of the past in a bid to always be improving yourself and your business.
Burning the Midnight Oil
Bedtime comes eventually, but many of the top CEO’s like to work late. Sure, we know they get up early but there are late hours involved in their daily habits as well.
For some it’s about planning the workday tomorrow, coming up with new ideas that they want to pursue, or getting a jump on the work that needs to get done by starting it before they go to bed. Some CEO’s like to read either to themselves or to their children and others simply like to enjoy the quiet time of late nights where there are no distractions, meetings, or phone calls, and they can take some time with their own thoughts.
It’s important to decompress and disconnect from work, otherwise you can get burned out all too easily. When you’re burned out, you’re no good to yourself or your business.
Our Final Thoughts
These are just some of the traits of today’s business leaders. If you share some of them, then you might have the makings of a great CEO someday. If not, that’s all right, too.
Being a strong leader is about finding the methods that work best for you and the people around you; no method has a one-size-fits-all capability for success. The top CEO’s found their own habits in time and some of them honed these routines after months and years of trial and error.
You can look to these habits as a guide for sparking your own inspiration, because what may not work for one leader may work for another and vice versa. Some habits come as a response to the personal and professional challenges that are unique to your own experiences and knowing how to adopt the habits that are most effective is the first step towards becoming a top CEO.