The One Thing These Crazy Successful People Do Every Day
President Obama is a self-proclaimed night owl—but he wakes up early to squeeze in a workout before getting in to the office at 8:30 a.m. or 9 a.m.
"Health is obviously important to Obama," writes Robert Pagliarini of CBS News. "So much so that it's the first thing he does in the morning. He doesn't hope to squeeze in a workout if he has time, he ensures he has time by doing it first thing."
Like her husband, Mrs. Obama puts exercise at the top of her morning to-do list. The first lady told Oprah that she wants her daughters to see her as a woman who takes care of herself, even if it means waking up at 4:30 a.m. to do it.
"I just started thinking, if I had to get up to go to work, I'd get up and go to work," Michelle said in an interview for O Magazine in 2009. "If I had to get up to take care of my kids, I'd get up to do that. But when it comes to yourself, then it's suddenly, 'Oh, I can't get up at 4:30 a.m.' So I had to change that. If I don't exercise, I won't feel good. I'll get depressed."
Disney CEO Robert Iger is also a member of the 4:30 a.m. club, waking up bright and early to enjoy a little quiet time to himself.
"It’s a time I can recharge my batteries a bit," Iger told The New York Times in 2009. "I exercise and I clear my head and I catch up on the world. I read papers. I look at e-mail. I surf the Web. I watch a little TV, all at the same time."
Before her daily blow-out at a quarter til seven to perfect that famous coif, Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour reportedly starts her day with a rousing 5:45 a.m. tennis match, according to The Guardian.
Health comes first for actress-turned-wellness guru Gwyneth Paltrow, who wakes up at 4:30 a.m. to practice her asanas.
”I’m really not a morning person at all,” Paltrow told In Style. ”It’s just sheer determination. I’m very strict with myself. When I practice six days a week and eat clean food, I feel much better.”
An outspoken advocate of transcendental meditation (TM), Oprah—recently named the most powerful celebrity of 2013 by Forbes—has said she sits in stillness for 20 minutes, twice a day. She's also brought in TM teachers for employees at Harpo Productions, Inc. who want to learn how to meditate.
After a meditation in Iowa last year, Oprah said, "I walked away feeling fuller than when I'd come in. Full of hope, a sense of contentment, and deep joy. Knowing for sure that even in the daily craziness that bombards us from every direction, there is—still—the constancy of stillness. Only from that space can you create your best work and your best life."
Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons has long practiced transcendental meditation, speaking out about the benefits of the practice and sitting on the board of the advisors for the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace.
"You don't have to believe in meditation for it to work," Simmons wrote in a Huffington Post blog. "You just have to take the time to do it. The old truth is still true today, 'God helps those who help themselves.' My advice? Meditate."
The Ford Motor Company executive chairman is a big proponent of meditation in the business world, according to Inc. Magazine. At this year's Wisdom 2.0 conference, Ford was interviewed by leading American Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield. Ford told Kornfield that during difficult times at the company, he set an intention every morning to go through his day with compassion. And to lead with compassion, Ford said he first learned to develop compassion for himself through a loving-kindness (metta) meditation practice.
In a 2011 Vogue feature, Huffington described early-morning yoga and meditation as two of her "joy triggers." Now Huffington has brought meditation into her company, offering weekly classes for AOL and Huffington Post employees.
Huffington has spoken out on the benefits of mindfulness not just for individual health, but also for corporate bottom lines. "Stress-reduction and mindfulness don't just make us happier and healthier, they're a proven competitive advantage for any business that wants one," she wrote in a recent blog.
Warrior, the chief technology and strategy officer of Cisco Systems, meditates daily and spends her Saturdays doing a "digital detox." In her previous role as Cisco's head of engineering, Warrior oversaw 22,000 employees, and she told the New York Times in 2012 that taking time to meditate and unplug helped her to manage it all.
“It’s almost like a reboot for your brain and your soul,” she said. “It makes me so much calmer when I’m responding to e-mails later.”
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