While self-examination and awareness can be uncomfortable, they are essential to great leadership. Here, your simple guide to self-mastery...
Ever looked at a powerful woman and thought: How does she do it? It’s an obvious question as we witness inspirational women smashing their goals while keeping the balance. The answer? A solid morning routine.
Beyonce has 24 hours in a day like the rest of us, but although she’s made us believe “she woke up like this”, even she has a ritual/routine to get into the zone.
It’s evident that deciding on the best morning routine (and positive attitude) will increase your chances of success. Find inspiration to start your day from these 17 empowered leaders’ morning rituals.
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1/ Reabetswe Mooketsi, Executive Director, I Bar Publicity
“I ensure my space is clean; I can’t operate or think when I’m around dirt or clutter. I make my husband breakfast before I get busy – feeding him makes me the happiest – [then] emails! That’s how I start my day to align myself… and a to-do list so I can get comfortable with the day and be more effective.”
2/ Inge Wulff, Founder and Creative Director, Know Scrubs
“Lately I’ve been going on daily 30- to 40-minute walks each morning. This helps me to clear my head for the day, and process all the tasks I need to action and the meetings I need to manage. It also helps me step back from the nitty-gritty and get that bird’s-eye perspective I need to lead a team and manage multiple workstreams.”
3/ Catriona Boffard, Clinical Sexologist, Psychotherapist and Speaker
“Most mornings I meditate on my verandah and get a workout in – either weights, a walk, or yoga. I never regret doing this. I love meditating alone at the start of the day. Doing these two things really makes me feel energised and productive before the workday starts.”
4/ Danica Helfrich, Senior Marketing Executive, Travelcheck
“I’m not a morning person. For so long I felt bad that I don’t belong to the 5am club; I thought something was wrong with me. But now I believe you just need to accept how your body works best and listen to it.
“During summer, I wake up at around 6am. At 6:30am I force myself out of bed and I go for a one-hour fast-paced walk on the Sea Point Promenade. This is my me-time – I get to sort out my thoughts. I think about the work day ahead or start planning my next holiday. Sometimes the most creative ideas come to me during these walks.
“As tough as it is to get up, I’m full of energy by the time I get back home – and usually in a very good mood. Once back home, it’s time to catch the latest local and international news on TV before I head into the shower. [Finally, I have] a quick breakfast before checking my emails and getting my mind into work mode.”
5/ Dr Hildegard Witbooi, Organic Agricultural Advisor
“Mornings allow me to start fresh. Every day is a new start, but if I had bad experiences the day before, I like to put them behind me. I always wake up and name three things I’m grateful for. Having experienced mild depression, this helped me out of the darkness I created for myself. Being grateful allows me to cherish all the little things I’m blessed to have. A grateful heart sets me up for a happy, successful day. Today I am grateful to still have both my parents in my life; today I’m grateful for my healthy, sexy body; today I’m grateful for all the love and support from my husband. “
6/ Phila Tyekana, Radio Producer
“I start work at 5am as the producer of the Metro FM breakfast show, The Morning Flava. I wake up at 4am and go through social media and news sites to see if there’s been any breaking news overnight. At 5am the show kicks off and I drink a cup of warm water to kickstart my digestive system. At 9am, when the show’s done, I go to the gym for an hour’s swim to destress and rejuvenate. After that, I have breakfast, shower and do errands (if any). Around midday, I start prepping for the next day’s show.”
7/ Adele Barnard, Senior Financial Planner and Investment Specialist
“I plan everything the day or evening before, so I always have “go-slow”/no rush mornings. I find that works best for me. My day doesn’t end up running away from me, or bringing out the worst in me. I recently tried exercising in the morning, so I know that’s out of the way too.”
8/ Charmaine Ramalope-Makhubela, Founder and Owner, Glam Foodie SA
“I start my day off with training. It’s a great way to prepare my mind and body for the day ahead. I use the time at the gym (especially when I cycle) to plan my day. I find I’m able to block out distractions and concentrate better after a workout. I also have lots of energy after my gym sessions. I’m typically not a morning person, but I’m more productive now that I work out earlier. “
9/ Gugu Mfuphi, Conversation Strategist, Global Moderator, Broadcaster
“When I’m done snoozing my alarm, I take my time waking up and getting out of bed. I use this time to think; to prep my mind for the day ahead. Usually, I open my curtains slightly – the sunshine helps me to wake up.
“After a moment spent psyching myself, I get up (usually at 4:30am). At around 5:15am I’m at the gym either doing a Grid/step class, or at Sweat 1000. I prefer group classes to keep me accountable, and they get the endorphins going in the morning. I prefer knowing I’ve worked out hard for 45 to 50 minutes and have the rest of the day to myself, versus training for long periods later in the day. By 6:45am, I’m home to shower, get dressed and do a radio crossing at 7:40am on all things business!”
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10/ Olabisi Emenanjo, Healthcare Provider and Founder, AJO Getaway
“My morning routine usually involves gratitude, setting intentions for the day and stretching. The practice of gratitude has always been my lifesaver. It usually evokes positive emotions in me, making me feel expectant for the day ahead. I spend a few minutes focusing on what I’m grateful for, then setting intentions for my day. In the words of Oprah, the more thankful I become, the more my bounty increases. Stretching in the morning has also been beneficial to my overall wellbeing – especially with my fibromyalgia. Stretching is proven to improve blood flow, eliminate aches and pain and increase energy levels. That’s a fact!”
11/ Meg Kritzinger, Founder of Stellski Coffee
“I wake up to a good cup of coffee. From there, I practise a few yoga stretches and find some quiet time to close my eyes and be still for 15 minutes. I thank the universe for all that it creates and ask my inner spirit to shine bright. I am a big believer in affirmations; every morning I affirm that I am brave, bold, resilient and optimistic about the day. Sometimes it’s tricky to find time (especially with a six-month-old baby that’s crying!), but I make sure I do – I know my sanity and my day depends on starting with a clear mind and a happy heart!”
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12/ Ronell Swartbooi, Strategic PR Communications Manager and Curator at TEDxCapeTown
“I’ve decided to learn a new language that’s completely out of my comfort zone: Korean. In the mornings I play music from some of my favourite Korean artists. It’s a great way to learn the lyrics of songs that have a positive meaning while easing into the day. The beats energise me and I feel like I’m moving forward with my goal to embrace a new language. (The goal is to speak Korean and live in Seoul for a few years before I’m 45. I’m turning 40 this year.)”
13/ Zola Thekiso, Founder and Managing Executive, Great Seed Talent
“Part of my morning routine is to read [religious text], exercise/stretch via an app, drink water and review my plan for the day. Before lockdown, I would walk outside, which I miss and will be getting back into – the fresh air was so refreshing. It makes me feel energised, focused and ready to face the day.”
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14/ Robyn Ashdown, B2B Business Consultant and Owner of Tomboy Ltd
“My mornings are so diarised it’s crazy! Up at 4:30am every day, coffee, shower, catch up on emails, then it’s my ‘me time’ at the gym. After a great refresher session, I get home, cook a healthy breakfast of either oats or eggs, have a protein shake, more coffee, shower again, then set up my laptops to dig into my workday.”
15/ Sisonke Pota-Nkonki, Deputy Director in Public Service and Founder of SiiSonke Women Round Tables
“I usually wake up and pray. I also post a positive, inspirational status update on my WhatsApp – one that conveys a message of hope and inspiration. This has proven to uplift the spirits of many (friends have actually echoed such sentiments). After that, the hustle and bustle of motherhood kicks in as I get my babies ready for school.”
16/ Trudy Blake, Purpose Coach and Co-founder of Story Lab
“I like to rise early and take the first hour to greet the day. In my favourite gown and partnered with a good coffee in a special mug, I place myself in a corner of the garden and pray – [being thankful] for the day. This connects me to nature, my creator and myself and infills me with positivity and hope. I do 15 minutes of exercise (a walk around the garden talking to the plants and trees) and 15 minutes of breathing and meditation. This releases endorphins and brings me contentment, connection and calm.
“[Then] I move on to my journaling – releasing my ideas, concerns and thoughts allow me to feel lighter and gives me perspective on my emotions. Only after a shower and breakfast do I face my phone, laptop, diary and to-do list, aligning myself with what’s going on, and my daily and weekly priorities. This makes me feel organised, empowered and [a step] ahead of the day.”
17/ Sibabalwe Sesmani, Group Chief Executive Officer at Unorthodox Group
“I wake up at 06:00am and say a short prayer of gratitude before listening to music while making my bed and putting on my gym gear. I exercise for an hour, dance for a few minutes (it always puts me in a good mood), read my daily devotional, meditate for 15 minutes, then make coffee, take a shower and eat breakfast.”
What does your morning routine look like?