Five Ways to Prepare for a Great Day, Every Day

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Great leaders take time every day, to sit alone and prepare for the day.

You know how vital it is to prepare for bidding, planning, and building work 
You prepare before presenting a proposal to a client. Your PMs put weeks into planning a project. Your foremen conduct tailgate meetings every day, getting ready for a great day of executing work.

How much time do you take, each day, to prepare yourself for your leadership responsibilities?
When I get up I don’t immediately check my email, social media, or texts. Instead, I go downstairs, make a cup of coffee, sit in a comfortable chair, and start a timer on my phone for 60 minutes. I set aside that hour to think.

In this post, I’ll share five things I consider during that time to prepare for my leadership duties. You may find them helpful.

They are:

  1. Gratitude 
  2. Pain 
  3. Love 
  4. Unique Contribution 
  5. Sobriety 

On Thursday, I woke up in a pissy mood. 
I hadn’t slept well, and as I began my hour of preparation, I had to force myself to stop whining. I looked outside and noticed how the leaves on the trees in my garden were growing in. They were tossed around by a gentle breeze, and the light of the sun was playing off of them. My spirits lifted immediately. I said, “Thank you.”

Then, I saw a crow on one of the tree branches. It bobbed up and down, cawing. It was not suffering angst; it was just “being a crow.” It reminded me that my anxieties are trivial and that I need to focus on my duties and responsibilities: “just be a man.” I was thankful.

Finally, I took a sip of my coffee. It was delicious and a snap to make. All I had to do was flick on the water pot, let it boil, and pour it into the press pot. How often we forget that we are surrounded by conveniences, like electricity, that makes our lives easier. A felt a wave of gratitude.

Every day, choose three things or people and be thankful. Vary them each day. You’ll find it makes an immediate difference.

Before getting into the hurly-burly, commit to the day’s discomfort
As you prepare, think about the hardest thing you have to do. Today, for me, it’s writing this article. For you, perhaps it’s an uncomfortable conversation, a challenging project, a pressure-packed presentation. Each day you have opportunities to embrace the pain associated with your responsibilities and your duties of leadership. Doing so will enable you to maximize your impact upon others and grow as an individual when you do.

Great leaders are great lovers
That may sound a little strange (especially in construction), but exceptional leaders are concerned about the welfare of others. They practice communicating that care. As you prepare for your day, consider three messages you can deliver to your team:

1. Encouragement: 
Look your folks in the eye (virtually or in-person) and spur them on to high-performance. Tell them, “You can do it.”  

2. Accountability:
When you hold someone responsible for their commitments, it is an act of love. Make sure you are regularly asking your team members: “Did you do it?” 

3. Recognition: 
There is a proverb that says: “When the king is pleased, it is like a refreshing spring rain.” Think about your folks. Which of them deserves a pat on the back, a conversation with you where give them specific, personal recognition. Tell them: “You did it!”

Every day, show love to others. To remember these messages of love, just grab your ear, and spell it out:

– Encouragement
– Accountability
– Recognition

​Unique Contribution
What are the one or two things that you do better than 80% of the people you know? 
In the past six weeks, I’ve conducted webinars for:

  • The Associated General Contractors of California
  • Sacramento Regional Builders Exchange
  • Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA)
  • Construction Financial Management Association (Sacramento Chapter)

​The topics centered around: 

  • ​Leading and thriving in crisis,
  • Managing a remote team,
  • Post-crisis strategic planning,
  • Running productive virtual meetings.

Each webinar was packed with actionable ways to achieve success. They were all very well received. I leveraged my ability to communicate complex topics simply and clearly; I made my unique contribution.

What is your unique contribution? Negotiation, planning, problem-solving, team building? As you prepare for each day, think about which tasks will allow you to use your ability. Commit to blocking out time to make that contribution. Determine that distractions and interruptions will not divert you from the highest and best use of your time.

Each day is precious, approach it with seriousness
Last month I turned 50. I vividly remember turning 30. Two decades went quickly. I feel like I’m just hitting my stride, and I look forward to the next twenty years of helping my clients, but long life is not guaranteed. Time must be redeemed. You have a tremendous responsibility as a leader. Daily remind yourself of this. Be sober. Consider the good you can do, and the evil you must avoid.

Be patient with yourself.
The practice I’ve just described is not easy. I didn’t start with a full hour right away. I began with 15 minutes and slowly added time in five-minute increments. Be willing to sit in silence, thinking, and preparing for your day. Practice gratitude, commit to embracing the pain, plan to love, determine to make your unique contribution, and soberly resolve to make the most of this day.

Have a great day, every day!