Manny Matsakis

A Football Coach’s Blueprint to Win the Day

The Morning Ritual: Kick-start Your Day

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How do you “Win the Day”? Football coaches are notorious for being early risers, in fact, Jon Gruden is known as “Jon 3:11,” because that’s what time he wakes up in the morning. As I have researched early morning risers in football, I’ve noticed that not all coaches have a routine to start the day that actually sets them up for success. It’s interesting to note that many coaches will head to the office early just to get started before their opponent because they feel the pressure and grind of the profession or to show their players that they are up before them. They get to work early to start grinding away at the demands of the day. But what if there was a better way?

"Your first ritual that you do during the day is the highest leveraged ritual, by far, because it has the effect of setting your mind, and setting the context, for the rest of the day."

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Win the Day: Why get up early?

Why does one bother to get out of bed in the morning? If you are like most football coaches, you drag yourself out of bed because you have somewhere to be or something to take care of at the office. Given the choice, most people would just continue sleeping. Hit the snooze button and then run to the office and react to the demands of the day.

The saying, “You Snooze, You Lose” may have a special meaning in our profession.

If you are just snoozing every day, when are you going to develop yourself into the football coach you want to become? All these dreams wasted into the world of slumber. What if your coaching career could finally be something that you can’t wait to be alert for? Take the reins of your dreams and be proactive in developing the career path you aspire.

"When you wake up each day with determination, you'll go to be with satisfaction."

When you wake up early each day, you join a small percentage of high achievers who are living their dreams. By simply changing your approach to becoming an early riser with purpose, you will literally change the path of your career. Don’t just take my word for it. Here are a few famous early risers: Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein and my fellow Greek, Aristotle. Here’s a list of 24 successful people in the business world that are known for being the “early bird, that catches the worm.”

Win the Day: The morning ritual.

What do you think of when you hear the phrase, “early morning ritual”? Don’t think of this in a religious context. I see it as a prescribed procedure for a particular result – a “recipe” if you may. Rituals do not always produce the intended results, but they do increase the probabilities. Before you design your morning ritual, here is an article on the 10 benefits of rising early, and how to do it.

ACTION: To get in the habit of waking up earlier. Set your alarm a half an hour sooner than you currently do. Repeat this for 3-4 weeks and you’ve gained 2 hours for yourself to win the day. Ease into it.

Win the Day: Designing your morning ritual.

Here are seven steps to developing your morning ritual.

Acknowledge that you already have a ritual.

You pretty much do the same things every day. Maybe it’s as simple as you hit the snooze button on your alarm clock three times before you get going. Then you make a cup of coffee, brush your teeth, take a shower…

Document your existing ritual.

You have a recipe that is producing the results you are already getting. What are the key components of your ritual? From the time you wake up until the time you start your day. Be honest and write it down.

Evaluate your existing ritual.

If your current ritual is achieving the results you want, don’t change it for the sake of changing. But, if you see an area to get that extra edge, then consider changing your routine.

Determine the result you want.

This is when it gets interesting. Begin with the end in mind, as Stephen Covey used to say. Fast forward to the end of the process. Ask yourself, “How do I want to feel when I’ve completed my early morning ritual?” What state do you wish to be in? This is the target you are trying to hit!

My target: "I want to feel connected spiritually. I want to be optimistic, strong and sure of myself. I want to be energized and devoid of stress. I want to be resourceful to accomplish my mission in life."

Re-engineer your current ritual.

This is my favorite part. Put it all in there. Brainstorm a list of everything you wish to include in your early morning ritual. Everything from drinking a cup of coffee, getting dressed, reading your Bible or an excellent book… it could be any number of things. Your list will be different than mine, I will share that with you later. Now, identify how much time each activity will take. Then arrange your list in the appropriate sequence, this will let the force of habit work for you.

Here is a sample a friend of mine uses…

Make the bed. (5 minutes) Make coffee. (5 minutes) Be Still. (15 minutes) Pray. (15 minutes) Read the Bible. (15 minutes) Journal. (15 minutes) Plan the day. (5 minutes) Exercise. (45 minutes) Eat breakfast. (10 minutes) Shower and dress. (20 minutes)

NOTE: My friend is in the season of his life where he can spend two and a half hours conducting his morning ritual. He doesn’t have small children and he is at a point in his career where he can benefit the most from this lengthy routine. I personally don’t spend this much time, but I just wanted to give you an example.

Implement your ritual.

You’re never going to get it perfect. Get in the game and just start.

Tweak your new ritual as necessary.

You don’t have to be a slave to your morning ritual. Keep adjusting to align with your goal. Don’t just go through the motions. Be intentional about it. You should never dread this routine.

Win the Day: Jump-start your morning ritual

Every night before you go to bed here are three important tasks to reduce distractions that may show up when you awake…

  1. Shut down every application on your computer. You don’t want to awaken and have e-mails showing up or various social media alerts to distract your attention.
  2. Set out your clothing. If exercise is part of the routine, put out everything you need so you aren’t wasting time searching for what to wear.
  3. Set your Sleep Cycle app on your smartphone. Sleep Cycle is a secret weapon of mine that I use to feel much more energized every morning.

Here’s how it works:

As you sleep, you go through different phases, ranging from deep sleep to light sleep. The phase you are in when your alarm goes off is critical for how tired you will feel when you wake up. Since you move differently in bed during the different phases, Sleep Cycle can use the microphone or accelerometer in your smartphone to monitor your movements and determine which sleep phase you are in. Sleep Cycle wakes you when you are in your lightest sleep phase. Sleep Cycle was developed using proven sleep science and years of research and development. (Excerpt: Sleep Cycle App)

Here are a couple of links for the iPhone and Android. Try it, you’ll be surprised as to its effectiveness.

Win the Day: My morning ritual

In this season of my life, I have a three-year-old son so conducting my morning ritual at the office works best.

As promised here is how I currently conduct my morning ritual…

  1. Put on my clothes & brush my teeth. (5 minutes)
  2. Drive to the office. (5 minutes)
  3. Centering. (10 minutes) I sit in silence and eliminate thoughts when they enter my mind. Then I finish with a breathing exercise I learned from Tony Robbins designed to oxygenate the body. The routine is to inhale for 4 seconds. Hold the breath for 16 seconds. Exhale for 8 seconds. This is repeated 10 times.
  4. Set the Compass. (10 minutes) I review my goals with flashcards that contain the goal and deadline on one side and the purpose of the target on the other side. This is a visualization exercise.
  5. Bulletproof Coffee. I make this concoction to accelerate my energy during my last two phases of the morning routine. It brews during my next phase. Here is a link to the recipe.
  6. Priming Exercise. (10 minutes) I do a series of “basic” exercises I learned from Pete Egoscue followed by a quick bounding exercise (i.e., Jumping jacks) to get the blood flowing.
  7. Reading. (20 minutes) I read something spiritual or inspirational to set my mind in an optimistic tone.
  8. Scribing. (15 minutes) I write in my journal the thoughts of where I am and the direction I would like to move toward. I make sure to list achievements and challenges along the way.
  9. Plan the day. To conclude the morning, I review and prioritize the top 3 projects for my day. I check my schedule and adjust the tasks with Nozbe. Nozbe is my task management tool.

This routine takes an hour and a half once I get to my office.

Now it’s time for you to get started. Make the effort to adjust your current morning ritual so you can win the day!

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What is your morning routine? How can implementing the advice above improve your morning ritual?

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