If you could incorporate the common thread between Jeff, LeBron and Arianna that guarantees success, would you do it? Of course you would (but almost nobody does).
All three are the absolute best at what they do, but what is the ONE thing that ties them together?
- Do they work 24/7/365 to stay ahead of the competition?
- Did they have a personal coach that pushed them at the top?
- Do they possess more “passion” towards their craft than anyone else?
The answer is no, no and no.
We need to dig deeper.
Of course Jeff, LeBron and Arianna have an undying hustle. But hard work alone is just your ticket to the dance — you’ve still got to get the girl.
And each of these three built their empires through a collection of personal mentors and coaches. In fact, their first comment whenever receiving praise is to give gratitude towards those that helped them along the way. But many people have coaches / mentors — this doesn’t guarantee success.
Lastly, following your passion is horrible advice. Jeff, LeBron and Arianna have a constant yearning to be the best in their field — but so do all of their competitors.
So if it’s not 24/7/365 hustle, personal coaches or passion, what is it?
The (Not-So-Sexy) Secret to Success
What ties Jeff, LeBron and Arianna together in their success is bland and boring — but absolutely essential.
The common element between them is the age-old (often ignored) advice of getting a good night’s rest. That’s right, all three of them prioritize sleep, especially when their best performance is required.
In today’s post I’ve invited my friend, Eric Conley, to debunk the fallacy of high-profile CEOs and athletes burning the ‘midnight oil’ to get ahead. He’ll dig into the habits of Jeff, LeBron and Arianna and how they propelled their careers to achieve true mastery. And perhaps most importantly, he will teach you the secret to unlocking your hidden potential (note, it’s not simply getting enough sleep).
Eric — take it away.
Cutting Sleep May Bring Success, but at a Cost
Ranjan Das is by all accounts an overachiever.
As the CEO and Managing Director of SAP for the India Subcontinent he led all the market-facing functions. His responsibilities included crafting the go-to-market strategy, driving customer satisfaction and managing the profit and loss for all revenue-generating functions.
His relentless work ethic provided him the reputation of driving SAP India’s business ahead of its rivals in the country.
In addition to his success at work, Ranjan was a health freak — he ate perfectly, worked out daily and ran marathons to satisfy his competitive spirit. His ambition to succeed trumped everything. He even refrained from bad habits like drinking and smoking.
So why is it, at the ripe age of 42 Ranjan died from massive cardiac arrest?
The 4-Hour Sleep Myth
In today’s culture a lack of sleep is a form of braggery. We often associate sleep deprivation with success or superhuman abilities.
Candidly, I used to be in awe of people who are uber successful who claim to get by on 4-5 hours of sleep.
But stories like Ranjan’s are becoming more and more frequent.
If you haven’t guessed already, Ranjan’s death is cited towards his sleep (or lack thereof) habits.
He boasted he “only needed 4 hours of sleep”. Sadly, his position on sleep became a vicious downward spiral — each time he was quoted on his late night routine he was applauded from peers and rewarded with continued success, eventually becoming a leader in the juggernaut company that is SAP.
To Ranjan, the fallacy of less sleep equaling success led to an early death, despite his reputation of being a “health freak”.
What’s unfortunate for Ranjan is that the consequences of sleep deprivation (including his death) were overshadowed by the lifelong societal and career praise he received.
Keep this in mind the next time you overhear a co-worker boast that “she was up all night” to complete a project. Her decision to do so caused WAY more harm than good.
How Jeff Bezos, LeBron James and Arianna Huffington Use Sleep to Catapult their Success
Amazon.com rivals Wal-Mart as a store, Apple as a device maker, and IBM as a data services provider. Founded just 20 years ago and with revenue expected to hit $90 billion this year, Jeff Bezos is the posterboy for self-made success.
Yet night after night he dedicates 8 hours towards sleep.
This is quite admirable, considering the ruthless pursuit by Bezos into making Amazon an e-commerce powerhouse.
“I’m more alert and I think more clearly” as a result, Mr. Bezos says. “I just feel so much better all day long if I’ve had eight hours.”
The key lesson here is to prioritize clarity and focus to achieve your best work over being fatigued, but busy, with directionless tasks.
And when athletes combine sleep with nutrition and exercise their results skyrocket.
Consider the following:
- Tennis players get a 42% boost in hitting accuracy
- Sleep improves split-second decision making ability by 4.3%
- Football players drop 0.1 off their 40-yard dash times by sleeping more
And most impressive, a 20-30 minute power nap improves alertness by 100%.
The advantages received from increased sleep can be the difference maker for professional athletes.
That’s why LeBron James, arguably the best basketball player, repeatedly gets 12 hours of sleep a day.
At just 30 year’s old, LeBron is in his 12th NBA season and has accumulated 34,332 career regular season minutes (14 among all active players). Sleep — perhaps more than anything else — is the reason he is able to perform at an MVP level everytime he steps on the basketball court.
As the President and Editor-in-Chief of Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington leads a busy life.
So much so that in 2007, Arianna passed out from sheer exhaustion. She broke her cheekbone on her desk and got five stitches under her right eye.
This was her wake up call — no pun intended.
Since the incident, she gave a TEDWoman Talk, “How to Succeed? More Sleep” which has received nearly 3 million views.
In her speech, she negates the boasting, one-manupship of sleep deprivation stating:
“..f you try to make a breakfast date, and you say, “How about eight o’clock?” they’re likely to tell you, “Eight o’clock is too late for me, but that’s okay, I can get a game of tennis in and do a few conference calls and meet you at eight.” And they think that means that they are so incredibly busy and productive, but the truth is they’re not, because we, at the moment, have had brilliant leaders in business, in finance, in politics making terrible decisions. So a high I.Q. does not mean that you’re a good leader, because the essence of leadership is being able to see the iceberg before it hits the Titanic. Ad we’ve had far too many icebergs hitting our Titanics.”
Huffington admits that by making sleep a priority she’s had to say “no” to good opportunities — but the benefit of doing so is profound.
Unlike her former zombie-self, she is able to focus on the critical business decisions she makes at HuffPo AND have energy for family time and playing with her kids.
In her own words, “As I got more rest, I could work and come home — and become the human jungle gym again”.
If Arianna, one of Forbes most influential women for 2014, allows adequate sleep in her life, couldn’t you?
How Sleep Unleashes Your Inner Genius
I recently went on a week-long trip back home to Ohio. While staying there, my little sister was kind enough to let my fiance and I sleep in her full-size bed — a little snug, but much better than the couch.
And let me tell you, I went WAY beyond my normal sleep routine. Night-after-night I slept for at least 10 hours and woke up whenever I wanted to.
My body quickly adapted with the late to sleep / late to rise routine almost overnight. What’s odd is that I found myself tired in the afternoon — even though I slept in.
Not only did I have less energy during this interim period, but I also shortened my days:
Rise n’ Shine: 5 AM
Bedtime: 10 PM
Total Waking Hours: 17
Rise n’ Shine: 9 AM
Bedtime: 11 PM
Total Waking Hours: 14
Did I miss my alarm clock while in Ohio? Absolutely not.
And I didn’t go back home to be productive — I came to relax and enjoy time with my family.
But during this time I realized just how valuable my *normal* routine is. I make sleep a priority and turn off all electronics, including my work iPhone, by 9 PM — no excuses.
To the contrary, when I was in Ohio I stayed up late to watch movies that I’d already seen multiple times.
This reminds me of the advice I found on Reddit:
“If you wouldn’t wake up early to do it, you probably shouldn’t stay up late to do it.”
The moral of the story: It’s 100% acceptable (and encouraged) to stay up late every once in a while. But if you continually watch late night TV or have your eyes glued to your iPad you need to ask yourself, “Would I wake up to catch the next episode of The Walking Dead or scroll through Kim Kardashian’s latest Instagram pictures?
And although the intent behind this question is to keep you mindful of your priorities (i.e. sleep) we know that knowledge without action is useless.
With that, I’ll share with you my personal, advanced Stop and Snooze Routine to ensure you wake up with creative energy to complete your life’s work.
Stop and Snooze Routine
The Stop and Snooze routine begins with a simple, but profound idea — an evening alarm on your alarm clock.
You are probably using your alarm clock to wake you up in the morning, but you haven’t considered using your alarm to help you get to sleep.
Setting up your evening alarm is easy — just work backwards from the time you wake up.
For example, if you want to have seven hours of sleep (recommended minimum) and need to be awake by 6 AM, then you’d need to fall asleep by 11 PM the night before. To be asleep by 11 PM, you’ll need to set your evening alarm to 10 PM to trigger your Stop and Snooze Routine an hour before sleep.
A Day in the Life
Ninety percent of the time, I’m asleep by 10 PM during the week. I get at least seven hours of sleep before I wake up at 5 AM for CrossFit.
To help me get to sleep by 10 PM, I have my evening alarm clock prompt me to begin my nightly routine at 9 PM:
- Pack gym bag with office clothes
- Set workout clothes and shoes out in the living room
- Have boiled eggs (peeled), oatmeal with blueberries and a protein shake ready in the fridge
- Drink Sleepy Time tea
- Read until I fall asleep
As mundane as this routine might seem, I get excited anticipating my 9 PM alarm. Even if I’m working on my laptop, I know that when 9 PM comes around, it’ll be time to quit. The rest of the evening is “my time,” and I get to cap it off with reading — something I always claimed to “never have time for.”
And when my 5 AM alarm goes off, I’m out of my bed and out the door in less than 15 minutes because I had set everything up for myself, leaving me with zero excuses to miss a workout.
What’s more is that when I workout in the morning I virtually guarantee myself to have a great day. I’ve been compiling notes in my Five-Minute Journal for months and there is a definite correlation between CrossFit in the morning and increased productivity / happiness for the day.
- Determine what time you want to wake up in the morning. Count backwards the number of hours you wish to sleep plus one and set your alarm (i.e. wake up at 5 AM while getting 7 hours of sleep requires a 10 PM snooze time and 9 PM evening alarm).
- When your evening alarm (i.e. 9 PM) goes off, begin taking care of all the items you would normally put off till morning and get them done now. This includes picking out your clothes for tomorrow and setting out your breakfast items (dishes and preparing your food) and shouldn’t take longer than 15 minutes. Even as someone who preaches good sleep habits, I’m never motivated first thing in the morning. Why fight against yourself in the morning when you can get your morning tasks out of the way at night?
- After spending 15 minutes getting your things ready for the morning, it is now “your” time. Enjoy it reading, meditating, taking a warm shower, talking to your spouse — whatever! This is your guilt-free time, and you can choose to do whatever you like, just make sure the lights are out by 10 PM (or whatever time allows you to get the hours of sleep you need).
How YOU Can Fall Asleep in Minutes
We’ve seen how poor sleep habits (allegedly) brought a high-profile CEO to an early death, even though he was considered a “health freak.” Unfortunately, this story will be forgotten. The culture we live in praises sleep and believes it is required to get to the next level.
Luckily we have three of the most influential people on the planet to model after — Jeff Bezos, LeBron James and Arianna Huffington. All three of them sleep MORE than the average person and attribute their success to a good night’s rest.
It’s time to stop making excuses. Let’s use sleep to launch our own success and get started right away by using my advanced Stop and Snooze Routine.
And if you’re trying to go to bed earlier, but find yourself tossing and turning for hours on end, download my FREE e-book How to Fall Asleep in Minutes.
This book will help you:
- Stop worrying about the endless list of thoughts racing through your head so you can fall asleep quickly.
- Avoid the snooze button in the morning and wake up at 6 AM to get hours of work done while your competition is still asleep.
- Have consistently high energy while others struggle with the afternoon slump.
Sleep is a force multiplier for everything in your life, and will effectively double the results for all of your work and health goals.
When you’re ready, download my e-book How to Fall Asleep in Minutes and get started today.