The Bold & Courageous Leader Podcast: Episode 19
Rhonda: Welcome to the Bold & Courageous Leader podcast from rhondapeterson.com. This is Rhonda Peterson, your Bold & Courageous Leader coach, along with my co-host Andee Marks. Today, we want to address two questions that have been asked by our podcast listeners. The first one is, how do you know you're a morning person? The second is, how do you know your "why"? We're going to start by addressing the how do you know you're a morning person? That came from a podcast where I was talking about how I approach things and I just mentioned in passing that I'm a morning person. Someone responded back and said, "How do you know you're a morning person?"
Andee: It seems to me the logical place to begin is to explain what is a morning person.
Rhonda: That's a really good question, Andee. It probably would be helpful. We cannot make the assumption that everybody knows what a morning person is. A morning person is someone who wakes up ready to take on the world. For me, my energy levels are high, my motivation is strong, and I'm ready to go right out of the gate. People who are not morning people are annoyed by me, because I say things like, "Good morning!"
Andee: You're ready to go without massive amounts of caffeine. That's not necessary to get you going in the morning.
Rhonda: This is true. That's probably why those people don't like when I say, "Good morning!"
Andee: On the other hand, there are people for whom massive amounts of caffeine are quite necessary, just to pry their eyes open and to get their mind barely engaged. As I started thinking about this topic of morning people, and those who are not, I was reminded of my friend Pat. Years ago, we were working a retreat together and we were sharing a room. In the morning, Pat would kind of stumble out of bed. I was always the first one to get up, take my shower, and get ready for the day. I would just sit and watch Pat as she stumbled out of the bed and she would walk over to the closet and open the door and just stand there and look into the closet. She would stand there for the longest time. It's just trying to get her mind to engage and pick our something that she was going to wear that day. I remember so clearly standing there laughing at her, because she was just standing in front of the closet, staring in there.
Rhonda: I'm glad to know that you were laughing because I was really trying very hard to not snicker just as you told the story. I feel sorry for poor Pat that she had to stand there and try to figure out what was going on, but wow, it is a funny picture. I also, just the other day, had a friend who was talking about, she was so excited because she found a new app for her phone. It was an alarm clock app. I know that this friend is not a morning person. She freely acknowledges that she's a night owl and she's very productive at night. Give her something to do and it's night time, and she is getting it done. She is clearly productive at a different part of the day.
She was so excited about this alarm clock, because there are times when regardless of whether you're a night owl or a morning person, you got to get up in the morning. This alarm clock app that she'd found for her phone not only had sound, which of course we all need in an alarm clock, but it also had mind puzzles that you had to do and math problems that you had to answer in order to get the alarm clock to stop ringing. Then, on top of that, you had to shake the phone for long enough for it to get to 100%. You couldn't shake it just a little bit, you had to shake and shake and shake and it had to be serious shaking. You couldn't just go... just a little, tiny shake of your phone. it had to be shaken for a period of time, until it got to 100%.
The theory is if you've done all these things, you're going to be at least at a level of awakeness and awareness that you can function. I was just amazed by the fact that number one, this app exists and number two, that this person was so excited about it because that's what she needs to be able to wake up in a time when she needs to be able to get up and get moving in the morning. Clearly, that person's not a morning person. Knowing our own energy levels and when they're high and when they're not high is very important. There are those people who say that you can become a morning person. I'm not sure that I agree with that, to be perfectly honest with you. I think you may be able to train yourself to function more effectively in the morning, but really, is that the best use of your energy if you can find a way to do your work and be productive and not have to be up and chipper first thing in the morning, if you're not a morning person.
Really, the underlying question here is, how do I know my most productive time of the day, time of the week? I think that's really what the underlying question was. My answer to that question is, the way you figure that out is by observation. Becoming more self-aware, being aware of the times when you are getting the most done, when you are feeling the most energized and ready to go, when your motivation is strong. It requires being aware and noticing when you tend to get things done the most effectively. It's noticing not only the kinds of things that you're doing, but the time of day and the amount of mojo you feel when you're doing it. It's the way you approach your work in that time. There actually have been studies done about biorhythms and how you learn how to get in step with that. I'll link to an article from Psychology Today that talks about your biorhythms and how to get connected to them.
Andee: So knowing your bio rhythms is a part of this self-awareness. I think it's also helpful to look at what you need in order to accomplish your task. What is required of you physically, mentally, emotionally, in order to complete the task? For instance, I need to have creative energy when I'm writing posts for my blog. I usually feel more creative in the morning, so I block out the morning for writing. I'm also much more energetic in the morning with a strong motivation to get something accomplished, so that's a good time. I know I can sit down and knock out a post and it won't take me that long to get it done. It wouldn't take me as long as it would if I had tried it in the afternoon.
On the other hand, when I'm working on a sewing project and I sew for pleasure, for fun, not for profit. When I’m working on a sewing project, I need to be sharp and focused so that I don't make mistakes when I'm cutting and sewing the pieces together. I also need to feel relaxed. Again, because it's something I do for fun and relaxation. I don't want to feel rushed. Afternoons are a good time for me to sew. My mind is engaged, because I've been productive during the morning so my mind is engaged, even though that most productive period is over. Now I can relax and enjoy the time at my sewing machine. You can look at it in terms of what you need during the day, but you also need to think about that from the standpoint of the week. What time of the week is more productive for you?
We have staff meeting on Monday because my senior pastor and I have found that after some Sabbath time over the weekend, we are most productive on Monday. It's the ideal time to review the previous day's worship service and then plan for the next one. To share people concerns and to touch base about what work needs to be done in the coming week as we make progress towards established goals. By midweek I’m beginning to slow down a bit, so I have a small group meeting scheduled on Thursday evenings for instance. I do all the prep work for that earlier in the week when I am more energetic and more productive. When Thursday evening comes, it's easier for me to just relax with my small group and enjoy our time together without worrying about being necessarily productive. Early in the week, just like early in the day, works for me in terms of being the most productive, the most energetic and motivated to get things done.
Rhonda: It's really an interesting observation on the time of the week, because I too am most productive on Monday, probably because we've got that fresh start effect going on, don't you think? It just all depends on where you mark the beginning of your week, but for many of us, Monday is the beginning of our work week and so that is a fresh start effect, and it's a fresh week and we're going to get something done. It's interesting that you and Pete meet on Monday, so you set it so that you're meeting with someone on Monday. For me personally, I try to block my Monday and not do much in the way of meeting with other people on that day, because that's my big productivity day, to get things done when I need to really concentrate and work on writing something or laying something out or planning, I try to do that on a Monday, Tuesday maybe at the latest. That's my time to really bare down and get things done.
Andee: Along those same lines, we just tweaked our staff meeting. We used to meet on Monday mornings, and Pete realized that... he usually preaches, much more often than I do, and he realized that Monday mornings are his prime time to study and prepare for the next Sunday's sermon. He asked if we could meet on Monday afternoons instead of Monday morning. That's an example of recognizing when you're most productive and adapting your schedule to allow yourself the flexibility to make the most use of that time.
Rhonda: Yes, in any way that you can, when you have control over it, to manage it in that way. There's always going to be times when you don't have the opportunity to do that, but as much as possible in any place where you do have control to, once you have that awareness of self from that standpoint and your best times, to be able to plan that way can be really beneficial for making the biggest difference possible in the things that you're trying to get done. There's all kinds of planning tools out there. There's the time blocking concept, there's the ideal work concept, there's the expression of plan your work, work your plan, and all of these work best when you know your own biorhythms and work with them. If you're doing time blocking, if you're doing the ideal week, you look at what are the times that I need to do what, so that you can make the biggest difference possible.
Andee: What do you do if you're in a situation where you're required to do something that you know you're not at your peak to do? What do you do then?
Rhonda: I was reading an article on inc.com and one of the things that it suggested seemed so counterproductive, but you know what? If you think about it, it does make sense. When all else fails, take a nap. This is something, Andee, that you're going to talk about in our margin podcast. A really interesting factoid that they had in this article was that one of the biggest peaks in our melatonin production happens between one and three in the afternoon, which explains why people feel sleepy in the afternoon. Melatonin is a substance in the body that prepares us for sleep. That just blows my mind. When I read that, I'm like wow, that is crazy. If you're not able to get enough sleep during the night, you're going to feel that overwhelming desire to sleep in the afternoon.
Instead of fighting that thing you don't feel you're at your peak to do, take that short power nap so that you can get some rest and what you're doing is, you're shutting down all that stuff that's going on in your brain for fifteen minutes, and you'll come back with a fresh start. It might not be the same fresh start that you have first thing in the morning, but you will be more energized and able to think clearly and take on that issue by doing that little power nap. That simple little act in that situation. That kind of reminds me of kindergarten class. Remember when you were in kindergarten and you took that naptime on your little mat? When I was in kindergarten, we had nap time, rest time on our little mats that we had so that we could be energized for the rest of the half day that we had of kindergarten.
Andee: I don't think we necessarily outgrow that need. I'm a big fan of power naps. For instance, yesterday I was struggling to stay focused on some reading that I needed to do. It wasn't boring reading, it was something that I was interested in. I realized that I was just feeling really sleepy and I was reading the same paragraph over and over again and it still wasn't registering. I just laid my head back and allowed myself to doze off for a few minutes, no more than 10 to 15 minutes. That is the critical piece of this, and I'll talk more about that in just a moment. I woke up feeling really refreshed and I had no problem finishing my reading and then going on to the next task for the rest of the day. It did not interfere with my sleep at night either.
Here's how to train yourself to take a powernap. For some people, it won't come naturally. You will have to train yourself to do it. I read this, I can't tell you how many years ago, but I remember reading it in Reader's Digest. It was an Air Force Colonel or something that had trained himself by taking an aluminum pie pan and putting it underneath, or on the floor beneath the arm of his chair. He would hold a fork in his hand and rest his arm on the armrest of the chair and just lean back and allow himself to go to sleep. What would happen is that as soon as he began to drift into a deep sleep, his hand would relax, the fork would fall into the pie plate and it would wake him up.
Rhonda: That is crazy.
Andee: Now we have smart phones. We can set an alarm on the smart phone. It's a lot simpler.
Rhonda: We don't need a fork and a pie plate.
Andee: The idea is that you need to have something that will wake you up in about 15 minutes. You don't want to drift into that deep sleep, because then obviously you may not wake up for eight hours or somebody's going to come in and perhaps try and wake you out of that sleep. You're going to feel a lot worse.
Rhonda: You'll be groggy under those… if you sleep longer, you get into the groggy when you wake up as opposed to the refreshed of just that short power nap. That is a fascinating process.
Andee: 15 minutes, that's all it takes.
Rhonda: So how do you fit that into your work time and for many people into your workplace?
Andee: My office is at home now, which makes it a lot easier for me to take a power nap if I need to. When my office was in a business setting, I still took power naps. The way that I did that, I had an office that had a door. I would close my office door; I would turn my chair so that the back of my chair was facing the door. That way, if somebody came in without knocking, they didn't see me sleeping. Some people just don't understand about power naps. Anyway, I would just turn my back to the door, prop my feet up, and just allow myself to relax and take a quick nap. It really works wonders if you can figure out how to make that work in your workplace.
If you work in a cubicle where you don't have that kind of privacy, maybe there's another place where you can go in your office building, where you might have some privacy. I even, when it was particularly noisy in the office, so even with my door closed, I found it difficult to drift off. Sometimes I would take my break and go out and sit in my car. We were in a secure location. I didn't have to worry about anybody intruding or anything. Particularly in the winter time, the car would be warm because it had been sitting in the sun, so I would go and lock the car doors and lean the seat back and take a power nap. Sometimes you just have to be a little creative.
Rhonda: Isn't it interesting that we just talked about all kinds of things to answer the question, how do you know you're a morning person? Basically, it comes down to, how to do you know when your biggest time of productivity is? That's kind of where we got into this whole conversation about understanding when you're at your best and knowing your biorhythms and understanding what it is that you're doing. I hope that answered our friends question and I will definitely be putting some links in the show notes for information and places that you can go to look things up about this.
Andee: How about question number two? How do you know your "why"?
Rhonda: You know, understanding your "why" is something that's a really big thing. I mean, there's a book written about it. 'Start with Why' from Simon Sinek is a whole big process. I'm going to just talk a little bit about the process that I take people through in order to help them identify their why, their purpose, their passion. This process is looking at your key life experiences because the life experiences that stand out to you, are going to point toward what your "why" is. Just as an aside, or maybe we should say as a really important thing about it, we're going to look at this process that I'm going to describe to you in depth at the retreat that's coming up October 1st and 2nd. We'll talk more about that at the end of this conversation. I just wanted to point out that as you listen to this, know that there's a place that you can go to dig into this more if you're interested in knowing more about your "why."
The way that I have folks go through this is I have them think about five experiences in their life. These experiences can be things they've done at work. They can be things within their family. They can be projects they worked on with a team. They can be something they did in the community or in their church. It doesn't matter where this happened. Matter of fact, it is important to look across your life and not just at your work life, because sometimes our work life really isn't pointing toward our "why". We've gone down a road where we're moving away from our "why" and we need to be looking very broadly in this process. Then I have people look at a series of questions for each one of those events or experiences. These questions are things like; what made you choose this project? What motivated you to do that? What strengths or skills did you use in doing this? What were the circumstances surrounding your involvement with this? Who did you work with on this project? What kind of results did you get in this?
Each one of these questions, when you answer it for that specific event, is going to trigger your thinking about why this was important to you. We have a big grid that you fill out with this. Once you fill that out, I ask you to step away from it for a little bit. When you come back, what we're looking for, is what you see in these experiences that points to your why. What kind of recurring themes do you see that emerge? For most people, there is a thread that runs through each one of these projects and that is pointing toward their “why”. Then, once you can see what those themes in that thread is, you can think about how you leveraged those themes so that you can become more intentional about your “why”.
It can also help you understand more about the challenges that you can address for an employer or for your customer if you work for yourself, or for those that you serve if you're in a non-profit or ministry role. Once you understand this more fully, you can think about how can you make your environment a better place based on what you see there. Whether it's your environment or whether it's the world as a whole, you'll be able to see what it is that you contribute and how you're "why" is pointing toward that one thing. That is the process that we use to identify your "why". It's a process that takes some time, but it's a process that looks at it through the lens of your life and how you've experienced it up to this point, because really, the things that you're doing that have meaning to you, they point in that direction. There's an arrow there, but you have to take the time to reflect so that you can see it.
Andee: One of the things that I appreciate about this process as I was listening to you go through it, I was reminded of several years ago, the big thing that was going around at that time, was to develop your personal mission statement. The thing that I like about your process is that it really encourages you or encourages the participant to look at all of life. Not just at what they're good at. I did the mission statement exercise in the context of my work and it was really more about my work than it had to do with my personal life or my life apart from the workplace. It's very detrimental, I think, for us to compartmentalize so much. We need to look at ourselves in our entirety, we need to have a holistic approach to our "why," not just the why I'm doing this particular job. That may be the very reason why if you're dissatisfied in your current work role, that may be exactly why, because you've compartmentalized to the point that you're denying who you really are at your core in order to meet the needs or fulfill the requirements of your job.
Rhonda: That is a really good point, Andee. A lot of the people who want to know what their "why" are people who are talking to me and seeking out that information on their “why”, that's part of it. They've got this discontent or this frustration in their work role, so they need to figure out, if I'm going to move, where am I going to go? Especially if you get quite a ways down a path of a particular career, and you realize, this is just not getting it done for me. To be able to figure out your "why" so that when you make that next move, it's not into another equal level of frustration, that's really important. Looking holistically across your whole life is a really important part of that process, of the sifting and sorting so that you can figure out the direction you need to go. Even if you're staying where you are, you may need to figure out the direction you need to go so that you can focus effectively and do those things that are most important that are part of your personal "why" so you can make your biggest and best contribution.
Andee: You're going to talk more about the retreat that's coming up in October, but one of the things that excites me about going through this process in a retreat setting is that there will be the time and the space needed to get quiet, to listen, to hear what God has to say about his plan and his purpose for your life. I think that's something that's really missing often times when we go through these kinds of exercises. Again, as my experience was doing it in the workplace, there wasn't that margin if you will, that white space of silence to listen to what God had to say about it. That's where we're going to find our true fulfillment.
Rhonda: Absolutely, and we've talked about that in all kinds of different ways on the podcast when we talked about vocare, when we talked about the definition of a Bold & Courageous Leader, there are so many times when we come back to that core piece of information. We will be working on this at the treat. I don't want to set the expectation that you're going to walk away from the retreat with the absolute answer to the question, because this is knowledge that takes a while to become obvious to you, but we will definitely start the process, we'll plant the seeds, we'll establish the way of thinking about it, and we will start down that path together on figuring out what your "why" is, so that you can then use that for decision making.
Andee: A critical thing that you just said, "We will start down that path together." I am reminded again of the importance of sharing this kind of a process with some other like-minded people. The ideas that you get as other people are sharing about their process, "Oh, well that might work for me. Why don't I try that? Why don't I see if that applies to my situation as well?" Just seeing the encouragement that comes from all of us being on a journey together.
Rhonda: Absolutely true. Even if whatever somebody else said doesn't necessarily work exactly for you, it can be a springboard to an idea or I can use that idea in this way in my process. They may be using it here; I can use it over here. Your right, the whole community of like-minded people is a very helpful and encouraging way of doing it. Walking together is important in this whole thing. Even though we're going to be together at the retreat for two days or three if you come for the pre-retreat fun, we will still be connected together because we'll be connected together through an online community.
There will be additional ways of continuing to be in community together. I am really excited about that and if you are interested in finding your why, Andee and I would love for you to join us for the Bold & Courageous Leader retreat that's going to be October 1st and 2nd here in Ohio at the Sawmill Creek Resort on the shores of Lake Erie. We're going to be digging in to this process and there are lots of other things we'll be doing as Andee was describing some of the things. For more information on this and to register, you can find us online at rhondapeterson.com.
To find out more about today’s topic, get downloads of our previous podcasts or to learn how you too can become a Bold & Courageous leader, visit rhondapeterson.com. Our ever-growing community is waiting for you. If you liked today’s show, there are three things you can do. You can subscribe to the podcasts on iTunes or Stitcher. You can give us a rating or a review on iTunes. The subscriptions and ratings help others to find us more easily. And you can help us get the word out by sharing the podcast with your friends. This is Rhonda Peterson, your Bold & Courageous Leader Coach. Thank you for listening. We’ll see you for the next Bold & Courageous Leader Podcast.