During a coaching call with a dear client and friend this morning, the question came up of “what do you have, first thing in the morning?”
And what I mean by that is: what do you ingest, not with your mouth but with your ears, with your mind and with your heart - first thing in the morning?
Do you hear the sound of the birds, some beautiful music or do you hear the news telling you what terrible thing has happened or is bound to happen?
Do you read a bit of poetry, a sweet inspiring article, or do you read what someone else is posting as their Facebook status?
A couple of years ago, following a re-read of Tim Ferris’ 4-Hour Workweek, I made a simple, quiet, life changing shift: unless 100% necessary (and this needs to be defined for each one of us), I do not check my email until 10 am at the earliest.
Before I committed to this change and experienced the profound difference it has made on my level focus and peace of mind, it seemed unthinkable. For sure, something super important was waiting for me there. For sure these extra three hours of not connecting to the outside world could be fatal to my business or social life. For sure…
For sure nothing. Nothing has changed in my effectiveness, unless it is an improvement of Focus, Presence and Enjoyment.
Here is what I have suspected for many years, and of which I have become a fervent believer in the last two years:
The couple of hours after we wake up are precious. These are the hours at which we are most vulnerable, most absorbent, most open. Just the way our stomachs are vulnerable when empty, after hours of night fasting.
What do you have first thing in the morning?
How will it nourish you? Will it put you in a state of Fear, a mild state of war - for the rest of the day? Will it propel you straight into the business of other people and their dramas or stories?
Or will it support you by giving you a healthy nutritious breakfast of Joy and Grounded-ness which will carry you through the day?
Today, I invite you to consider allowing yourself a kind and supportive first couple of hours of your day. Even it just means switching your car radio from the morning news to soothing music - or silence - on your way to work.
I would love to hear what you think about this.
Last week, I sat on the phone for fifteen long minutes, listening to someone close to me yell and curse. Part of it was directed at me and part of it was not. Sitting in the beautiful red leather armchair in the Ballroom, I let the flow of her words and intensity come over me, one violent wave at a time.
I knew what was happening.
I knew that the cap on a tightly sealed pressure cooker had finally popped. I knew that it was years overdue, maybe decades. I knew it had been a hard, shocking day. I knew a good thing was taking place. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I even sensed that it was an honor to be on the receiving end of this catharsis. To be the one chosen to witness it.
I listened. I stayed focused. I asked my mind not to engage and I asked my heart to stay open. I used a whole bunch of the tools I share in my work.
And it worked.
After fifteen minutes, I was able to end the call without having snapped back and without having taken any of it personally. I had been able to be a container for whatever she needed to purge. In many ways, it had been perfect.
Which is why I was so surprised by the toll this took on me.
I walked out of the Ballroom in a daze. I dove into a plate of Pad Thai as though the curly noodles could heal whatever blue-gray sticky stuff was starting to make itself at home inside of me. My mind was making all kinds of noise about “how good this had been.”
I was exhausted.
When we talked the next day, she was back to her calm self and expressed her surprise at the intensity of the moment. The conversation was easy and once again, I was glad to have been there for whatever needed to happen.
And I could still feel the cost. Awesome tools and all.
So here’s to having the tools, to using the tools, and to giving ourselves plenty of grace for the tenderness of our humanness.
Here’s to knowing that feeling things does not mean that we are not “enlightened” or where we should be.
And here’s to a nice steamy plate of Pad Thai noodles.
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