Leaders Pay Themselves First

Originally published June 27, 2017 by The Montrose Daily Press

Pay yourself first. That’s rule No. 1 of successful saving. This ensures your money is securely tucked away before life gets ahold of it. Likewise, leadership is built over time, not instantaneously deposited into our psyche. We must work at it through continuous learning, self- reflection and self-care. And we must pay ourselves first.

How might you reserve an hour each day before life can get ahold of it? Invest in yourself first thing in the morning. And by first thing, I don’t mean the five minutes you spend brushing your teeth and combing your hair. Get up earlier and put time aside.

How to pay yourself first (and what to do when you get there):

1. Buy some really good coffee.

2.  Find a place in your home where you can be comfortable and uninterrupted. Leave your phone in another room.

3. Map out how you will spend this time. You can start with just twenty minutes a day.

4.  What is one habit most successful leaders share? They read. A lot. When asked about the key to success, Warren Buffet said, “Read 500 pages like this every day (referring to a stack of books). That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.” Pick a book on a subject matter pertinent to your career (or future) goals and read a few pages each morning. It might take you three months to finish the book, but it isn’t a sprint.

5. More than likely, you will find yourself getting up earlier and earlier to capture more time for growth, learning, and quiet thinking. If this evolves, consider the practice of gratitude. Buy a journal and begin each day with: Three things you’re grateful for. Next, write three things that would make today awesome. Or what is going to be awesome about today. Finally, write, “I am…” and follow with three positive words or phrases about yourself. I adapted this process from Tim Ferriss (www.fourhourworkweek.com). Some people will also reflect in their journal at the end of the day as to what went well and what they could have done better.

6. Consider some type of physical exercise before you leave for work. This potentially involves a very early alarm clock, and for some that just isn’t possible. If it is possible for you, treat it as part of paying yourself first.

Smart small: 5 pushups, 20 sit-ups, 20 squats followed by some light stretching. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

7. Watch your results multiply, build on each other and eventually make you rich with knowledge, and I would wager, happiness.

Even the sleepiest of midnight oil burners can set their alarm clock for twenty minutes earlier than usual. Consider adjusting bedtime as well. You manage what you measure.

You are an important person. You are worth investing in, growing, and taking care of. If not for yourself, make the investment for those you’re responsible for leading. The worst decision you can ever make is believing you have all the knowledge you’ll ever need or that you don’t have time for learning.

 And I’m serious about the good coffee. Fill up your cup and settle in for the journey. And like a solo road trip, you will be rewarded by mental clarity and a soul left better than before.

Chelsea Rosty is the executive director of the Montrose Chamber of Commerce and director of Business Innovation for the City of Montrose. Reach her at chelsea@montrosechamber.com