Do you want to be the leader of your own life? No problem. Just do the things you don’t feel like doing. That’s how you become your own leader. Of course, that’s easier said than done because we’ve all trained ourselves to do only what we feel like doing.
Consider this common morning routine as an example. The alarm goes off. The sound seems to start somewhere behind your eyeballs. You instantly press the snooze button. Silence returns and you consider your options. Today was supposed to be the fifth day of your new exercise program. But it feels awfully early to be getting out of bed and walking across the cold floor in your bare feet.
You think about that calendar on the closet wall where you stuck four gold stars after each run, and it suddenly strikes you as ridiculous, a cheesy strategy to trick yourself into following through on a commitment. You know that it’s important to stick to your goals, but there’s nothing inspiring at all about getting up in the morning. It sucks. Whose dumb idea was it to promise to exercise anyway? One day off won’t matter that much. You close your eyes and feel the welcome lull of sleep come over you.
A few minutes later the alarm sounds, and you hit the snooze again. You’re not feeling up for the exercise. Your knee was bothering you yesterday, so it’s probably better not to push it too hard. You fall asleep again.
The alarm rings, but at this point it’s too late to jog anyway. You hit snooze and drift off again.
No single invention has so perfectly captured the perverse power of the mind to defeat its own best intentions as the snooze button. Every grand resolution, every promise you’ve ever made to yourself, every good intention can be instantly wiped away with a simple press of a button. The snooze button is the perfect symbol of human resistance and the emblem of anyone who feels stuck—stuck in a dead-end job, stuck in a holding pattern, stuck in a stale relationship, stuck with a flabby body, stuck with a bunch of cool ideas that you never find the time to execute … just plain stuck.
Everyone already has a snooze button pre-installed inside them. It’s always there if you want to use it, and use it we do. We come up with every imaginable excuse to delay, avoid and stay stuck right where we are.
The fastest way to become a leader is to start acting like one. Try this variation on an exercise I suggested a few months ago: Set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier than you normally wake up. Tomorrow morning, as soon as the alarm sounds, open your eyes, throw off the covers, sit up, put your feet on the floor and stand up. Your day starts now. No pillow over the head. No snooze. If you lie in bed more than 10 seconds before standing up, you fail the test. If you can do this exercise successfully for fi ve days straight, you’ll see a significant shift in your ability to push yourself and your life forward.
Leaders don’t hit the snooze button in life, and now, neither will you.