Reboot Every Day

February 13, 2016

How we approach each new day is all about the human condition and spirit and how we respond to our fresh beginning.

Every day, there is a special moment for each of us. It is that first instant when we become conscious after sleeping. That very first blink of consciousness is something marvelous. Here is what I experience, and I suspect it is the same for you.

Blink. “Oh, I am here. Where is here? Who am I? What is my role here? Am I happy or sad? Do I hurt? What’s on my agenda today?”

Crossing that demarcation line between the unconscious and the conscious world is a kind of “rebooting” activity where we spend just a second or two getting our bearings and recalibrating our approach to life.

In that instant of first awareness, we each have a wonderful opportunity. We have the power to choose. Whatever external or internal conditions are facing us, we each have the opportunity to decide how to respond to them. I believe that is what separates humans from other species: the power to choose our attitude.

Watch short video – Story of Lou Holtz and the power to choose

The interesting part is the rebooting process. There is an instant where you are conscious but you really do not know what your situation is.

I believe that the freedom to choose my own quality of life is amazingly liberating. I may be waking up as a prisoner of war or a person with a terminal disease or a hangover. In that first blink, I may realize that I have been out of work for six months, or perhaps yesterday I won the Nobel Peace Prize or an Olympic Gold Medal.

Regardless of the miserable or delightful circumstances, as my brain reboots each morning, I still have the opportunity to choose how I wish to respond to those conditions. Unfortunately, most of us quickly jump to a fatalistic view that we are powerless to modify our quality of life. Here is where the opportunity lies.

If we can push the “pause” button in our thinking long enough to suspend the pain or the negative things that are lurking in a corner of our brain to ruin our day, then we might consider more motivating options.

For example, this morning I awoke at 2:30 a.m. with a stabbing pain in my right little toe. The pain actually woke me up. There was no reason why there should have been a pain in my toe today. I did not stub it or drop something on it, but there it was, pain big as life.

I recall lying there trying to figure out what the pain was. Since I had no clue, my brain continued with the rebooting exercise as I began to think about the good and not-so-good things that awaited me today.

When a computer reboots, it does not have options for changing attitudes. It just goes through the programs and determines the health of the system with no ability to change its response to certain failures or bugs.

I decided to let my human side take over and process today in a positive light. After all, I did wake up, which was a very good thing. I began to marvel over the choices I had today and the multitude of things I could get done.

For example, I could create this article, and though I am not revealing any rocket science here, perhaps my thoughts translated through this medium may be helpful to a few people. As a result, I would be using my energy as a positive force in the universe. What better way to start out a day?

Rebooting implies a huge level of trust because there is never a guarantee that the reboot will be successful. Computers can fail and people can die or become incapacitated and never wake up to the current reality.

A computer can have a backup system for such unforeseen emergencies, but we do not have an external heart or brain to use if the installed one fails while we are down.

As we reboot, there is often a moment of shear panic. All of a sudden we remember that the things we need to do today are far too many and too complex for us to do. We want to roll over and catch some more Z’s.

Here again, we have the power to choose how we react to the feeling of being stretched too thin on most days. It is either a prison of our own making or an amazing and motivating ride through a carnival of choices we make every minute of every day.

Try to make your first moments of every day a special conversation with yourself. Think about the opportunities you have rather than the difficulties you face. I think there is some powerful magic we all share as part of the human condition.

Of course, you can wallow in self-pity or depression if you wish. It is your life to live. I hope you will use this reminder to make a positive contribution to your mental process right now, and especially tomorrow morning.

The discussion questions here contain the seeds of your happiness. Most of us do not live in paradise, but it is not as far away as we might envision.

Key Concepts 
1. Rebooting every day may seem automatic, but we should not take it for granted.
2. We have a choice how we will react to our current condition.
3. We must intervene in the rebooting process to exercise our choices.

1. Try to think more consciously about the first few moments when you wake up tomorrow. Be mindful of how your brain catches you up with your current situation.
2. Modify your mindset around your current condition as a conscious effort. Try it for a few days and you will be amazed how liberated you will feel.


December 29, 2010

Every New Year’s Eve, I go through a kind of renewal ritual. It is my gift to myself for having done my best for the past year, and it allows me to look forward to an even better year to come. I have recommended some form of this for all people who take my leadership classes. It does not need to be done on the New Year; some people like to do this on their birthday or some other specific day of the year. The point is to designate one day to reflect on what you have done, where you are, and what you intend to do in the coming year and beyond.

I will step you through my specific ritual, but recognize I am not advocating anyone adopt this exact formula. I do believe it is critical for you to check in on yourself in a substantial way at least once a year. Doing this allows you to feel good about your past efforts and create a rational plan for the next phase of your life. I find it sad that many adults go through the motions every year and never stop to think seriously about what is happening. It is as if they expect the world to do right by them without putting any energy into it themselves. We all know the universe does not work that way. If you wish to live a productive life, it is necessary to do some serious planning.

My process starts early in the day on New Year’s Eve. I begin by going back over the calendar for the entire year and documenting all my key accomplishments. This is an uplifting start to the process, because I am reminded of the incredible forward momentum that has been built as a result of prior planning sessions. That encourages me to put more effort into the rest of the day.

I revisit the “Strategic Framework” for my business and my personal life, a document that I have been building for roughly 20 years. It exists as a PowerPoint slide deck because I am right brained and tend to think in PowerPoint. The actual slides should never be presented because they contain way too much information for anyone but myself to view. Besides, there are a number of personal issues involved in several sections.

My current Framework has sections on the following topics:

Objectives – what I am trying to get out of life and work
Values – my fundamental beliefs about the nature of people and how the world works
Vision – where I expect to be in several years
Mission – what I am trying to do right now
Behaviors – things I promise myself I will do (and hold myself accountable for doing)
Value Proposition – the contribution my business makes to society and my clients
Goals – for next year, and for 5 years out – (I do two sets of goals because the actions required to achieve my close-in goals are different from what is required to accomplish long term objectives.)
Major Accomplishments Last Year – what I have actually done, in detail
Revenue Projections – a specific financial goal for next year, and also a projection for the next 5 years.
SWOT Analysis – my strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats
Strategic Plan – the handful of strategic drivers I intend to pursue to accomplish my goals based on the SWOT analysis
Tactical Plan – a list of specific activities needed to accomplish my strategy
Marketing Strategy – the promotion strategy for several categories – media, advertising, logic for reaching target groups, etc.
Sales Plan – the sales dimensions strategy document (by segment)
Publishing and Writing Plan – how many articles, where, and any books etc.
Online Presence Plan – my search engine optimization (SEO), including use of upgraded website and BLOG capabilities
Plan for Local and National Associations – including what can I afford to
keep doing (both financial and from a time perspective) & what I should stop doing
Corporate Policies & Procedures – the rules and assumptions I use to run my business
Master Strategy Team – my “Mastermind Group” as advocated by Napoleon Hill
Strategy for Teaching and Academics – how many courses, or which universities, etc.
Strategy for Optimal Speaking – patterns and associations, fee levels and pro bono strategy
Possible Partnerships – groups or individuals I want to work with in the coming year
What Makes Leadergrow Unique – statement I can use in advertising, and speaking introductions
Directional Options for Next Year – listing at least 3-5 options for course changing in my business or personal life
Mind Map of Future Options – because I think best in pictures
Detail Pages – for each option identified along with advantages and
disadvantages of each

This exercise may seem like a lot of work, but it does not need to be done all at once. You can build it up over several years. Once the initial framework is constructed, it requires only about 6-8 hours to recast the material for the coming year.

The benefit of doing this work is that, after it is done, it frees up your mind to spend maximum energy on execution rather than debating with yourself over every decision. You can confidently turn down opportunities if they do not fit your strategic plan, which creates more energy for your key drivers. Most of all, you will have the feeling that you are really charting your own course through life rather than just reacting to things that constantly come up.

I advocate some form of individual plan for every person. It does not need to be as extensive as my process, but if you will carve out a few hours every year to think about your own trajectory, your chances of living the kind of life you want will be greatly enhanced.

The process will not stop you from having setbacks or periods of angst. Life has a few “curve balls” for each of us every year. As Lou Holtz stated in Do Right, “I’m going to have at least three crises in the next 12 months, and so are you. But let me say this, and I believe it from the bottom of my heart. I have never seen a crisis that did not make us stronger if we reacted positively to it. We can all benefit from crises in our lives because they are going to happen, and a crisis is just another way to test the greatness of an individual.”

The benefit of having a concrete plan is that the vicissitudes of life will be more like ripples than tidal waves. You will be able to accomplish more in a year or two than you would otherwise do in 10 to 20 years. That is well worth one day a year to focus on your goals and strategy. Besides, it is kind of fun to invest in yourself in this way.