morning-routineAs I grow in my leadership, I realize the importance of creating a daily routine that will  drive my thoughts and actions for that day.   What I do at the beginning of each day and throughout the day are very important to the others days, weeks and even months.  What we think and do now, has a direct outcome on the future.


I thought I would share what I do to ensure my heart and attitude are right for the day’s activities and the interactions with others.

Here are 6 things I do every day to ensure I am fully prepared to succeed in whatever is planned or whatever unplanned events may come my way.

  1. Up By 4:30 AM – I get up early. I love being at the office and watch the sun come up.  It seems to inspire me.  Getting up at that time also allows me to complete the next 5 steps.  In addition, scientific evidence has shown getting up early will:  help your performance, make you more reliable, be more alert, stress less and loose more weight (not that you ladies need to).
  2. GET MY HEART RIGHT – I’ve come to know the great importance of beginning my day in prayer and reading the word of God.  This prepares  my heart and soul for the day activities.  I spend 30-45 minutes doing this.  It ensures I have the right mindset and attitude to interact and work with people, solve problems and to fully engage myself in the conversations and activities throughout the day.  I spend a big part of my day providing coaching and at times guidance to fellow employees.  My heart must be right, to give the right advice or coaching.
  3. PRIORITIZE – I have a list.  Every morning I review it, add to it, subtract from it, move things up or down, write notes out to the side of some, put ? marks on others.  I identify what is essential for that day. I prioritize for the days activities.  However, I also spend a little effort and time to determine what items are critical for tomorrow’s activities and the weeks to come.  I found the tI must not only plan for today but also the future.  I also know the tI must realize that some things can b put off for another day.  YOU CANNOT TACKLE EVERYTHING…….trying to will drive you mad!! Check your list multiple times a day and be flexible to re-prioritize as needed.
  4.  PERSONAL GROWTH – If you don’t invest in yourself, then you can’t invest tin others. Part of my morning is spent reading listening or watching a video to ensure my grow as a leader and professional. I use to hate to read.  Now, I just dislike it.  But I also realized that reading stimulates my thoughts, ideas and affects my actions (consider what you read). It also stirs up a sense of adventure, encourages me and  grows my vocabulary.  Find what motivates you.  But remember, this is your time, use it wisely.
  5. BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS – This is different from networking. Networking is positioning yourself within a professional setting through acquaintances .  Networking is not relational, but can produce relationships. Relationships are investing in others. It is the glue that holds people together.  Relationships allow  you to build trust through adding value and eventually influencing. Spend your morning and time throughout the day to send that email or call that person and see how they are doing and what you might be able to help with.
  6.  FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS –  Distraction can be is disastrous!!  Be sure and know when social media is appropriate and when your focus needs to be completing the task at hand.  It seems these days that every free mental moment is used to accept friend request, check that snapchat picture or grow our linked network.  Hey….that stuff will be there later.  However, if you don’t perform it might mean you don’t have a job.  I am very selective when accepting calls or emails.  Every hour I th-45will check my voice and email mails and respond to those that require my attention. Social media and conversations are reserved for breaks and lunches.  Now understand, situations change and there are always exceptions to the rule.

When we get the right routine, results follow.  Unfortunately when we have the wrong routine or no routine at all, results can suffer.  Invest the time and effort to create a routine that ensures your success.  Stick with it.  Make adjustments when necessary.  However,
have a routine and you will benefit from it.


5 STAGES TO BECOMING A LEADERWithout influence there is no leadership.  John Maxwell states, “leadership develops daily, not in a day” Leadership is a process. In the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell states, “Champions don’t become champions in the ring, they are merely recognized there.” People who aspire to become great leaders, must relate to the boxer. They must progress through the stages with hard work and determination for success. One must however, realize the stages within the process and what each entails. After all, each stage within the process, ultimately allows the leader to influence.

Through my development of leadership training material, speaking on the subject and coaching business professionals, I have concluded that leadership is achieved through a simple five (5) stage process that culminates with influence.

The five stages to leadership are:

STAGE 1 – CONNECTING with people

STAGE 2 – Building a sincere RELATIONSHIP

STAGE 3 – Creating TRUST

STAGE 4 – Adding VALUE

STAGE 5 – Ultimately INFLUENCING their decision process

Let’s take a look at each stage within the leadership process;


Connecting with people is the first stage in becoming a leader.  There is no influence without first connecting.  In the book, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, John Maxwell states, “Connecting is the ability to identify with people and relate to them in a way that increases your influence with them”.   One must look for opportunities to come along side employees and meet them where they are.  An intentional effort must be made getting to know employees.  Spend as much times as possible getting to know them, their families, their hobbies, and eventually what they like and don’t like or what works and doesn’t work.  To efficiently connect with people, do the following:

  • Don’t take anyone for granted – Value everyone and every task they perform, regardless of their position.
  • Convince them that you want to make a difference – If you don’t believe in it, how will they?
  • Follow up and follow on – I say it all the time, “Action is Traction”. Look for small and quick things that you can address. Start getting their buy-in by winning in the little things.
  • Look for common ground – I look for things in common. For me it’s baseball, NASCAR.  Listen in your conversations and key in on things that you have in common.
  • Be honest and transparent – Honesty and humility go a long way in connecting with people. Leave the arrogance at home.
  • Once you feel a connection, move on – You must complete the connection  before moving on to any other stage. Without it, there is no other stage.

When you connect with employees, you position yourself to make the most of your efforts, thus creating an environment for performance.  Connecting creates the foundation for moving to the next step, building a sincere relationship.


In his book, My Personal Best, author John Wooden writes; “There is a choice you have to make in everything you do, so keep in mind that in the end, the choice you make makes you”.  Nowhere is this more evident and true than in the relationships you build.  Building a sincere relationship is the second stage of the leadership process.  Relationships are sacred. When we connect with people, we must maintain that connection by building a relationship. That simply means spending time with employees. Helping them solve problems, standing with them in the rain, snow and heat. Being there to hear their struggles and concerns. Relationships are the key to creating trust. In the relationship stage, employees begin to trust you. In the book, Beyond Talent, Maxwell outlines mutual enjoyment, respect, shared experiences, trust and reciprocity as the five signs of a solid relationship.   Steven Covey said, “The relationship neither makes the issue any less real or important, nor eliminates the differences in perspective.  But it does eliminate the differences in personality and position and creates a positive cooperative energy focused on thoroughly understanding the issues and resolving them in a mutually beneficial way.”  Building relationships creates trust.


Steven Covey said, “Trust is the glue of life.  It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication.  It’s the foundational principle that upholds all relationships”.  Trust is crucial in the leadership process. In fact, trust is the foundation of leadership. Trust can be described simply by comparing it to pocket change.  Every good decision puts change in your pocket.  Every poor decision takes change out of your pocket. The key is to increase your pocket change, rather than always paying it out. Sure we all make mistakes.  And each mistake cost us change from our pocket. However, employees are tolerant of mistake as long as we are transparent, quick to humility and strive to regain their confidence.

John Maxwell shares three qualities a leader must exhibit to gain trust; competence, connection and character. Violate anyone of these three qualities and you will loose the trust of those who follow. Trust is doing what’s right because it’s right.  I don’t think anyone can remain a leader if he or she continues to make poor decisions and break the trust of employees. In fact, a leader can’t be a leader if there is no trust, because trust leads to influence. If people don’t trust you, you can’t have influence. Without influence, you can’t lead.


Adding value is the work of the three stages above. If you have properly connected with your employees and built a sincere firm relationship through trust, then I believe you have the tools and knowledge to add value to them. Zig Ziglar said. “I had to live in the desert before I could understand the full value of grass in a green ditch.” Value is achieved by understanding what is important to those you influence or desire to influence.

Let’s make sure we are all on the same page. I am not talking about the monetary value of something, but rather the value gained through effort. You add value through respect. Respect is gained not in the normal things, but rather the difficult right things. One must be viewed as competent and credible before respect is given. John Maxwell said, “While poor leaders demand respect, competent leaders command respect”. As leaders become more and more credible their command for respect become more and more evident. Value takes more than just “telling” , but rather one must demonstrate commitment and consistency in the activities and actions relating to safety.

Proactive value should be the basis for all activities and goals and objectives. Proactive professionals are smartly driven individuals looking to read reality and know what’s needed. Professionals who look to manipulate begin a series of distrust which tends to cause relationships to dissolve and the loss of leadership. Albert Einstein said ,”Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value”. If the organization see’s the value in the direction, activities and actions, then the door to influence is open.


Ultimately, the goal is to influence all levels with in the organization in the direction that provides the most successful outcome. Influence is what we need to lead. Without influence no one can achieve anything.  Leaders must learn to influence without authority. If you want to lead, you must become a person of influence.

Leadership is achieved by completing these 5 stages.  But remember, leadership is influence………….

If you can’t learn how to influence, you can’t be a leader.