If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.
– John Quincy Adams

The word inspiration can be defined as: a divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation, the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions, or the act of influencing or suggesting opinions.

InnerWill’s newest series, Inspired By, is dedicated to honoring the people and practices that have uplifted and influenced us into who we are and what we do every single day.

Early mornings inspire my soul. Something magical occurs when you are up and productive before the sun has decided to peak its beautiful head out of it’s cozy nighttime covers. There is silence in the mornings before the sun rises. Comfortable silence – silence that supports peace and thought. There is calmness and patience. Prior to the sun rising, the world sees no chaos, there is no rush. Often, all that exists is you, your reflection, your focus, and maybe the song of an early bird hoping to grab the first worm.

At any other point in the day, the joys I find in the early morning become stressful. Sneaky Silence does not come across as welcoming – he is heavy and demanding. I sense the passing of the moments as a waste and Pretty Patience, who, just hours before was twirling through the rooms does not present herself. So, I choose to honor the glory of the dawn, look to it with inspiration and awe, and maximize those moments which slip into brightness and noise every day.

I have found there are three proactive things that allow me to find inspiration in my mornings:

Sleep is one of the most important ways to continue to show up as the best version of ourselves. We each need a different amount of sleep, but the usual recommendation is 7-8 hours a night. If you decide to start getting up early, but you keep going to bed late, your body will fight you. And it is fighting you because it needs more sleep.

Morning productivity can be simple. You do not need to write a book, get to inbox zero, bake a batch of cookies, or finish your to-do list. Productivity is about making progress. It can look like making your bed. One small task and you should realize you can already check something off your to-do list! (and you should watch Admiral William H. McRaven’s 2014 Commencement Address at the University of Texas if you are looking for “making your bed” inspiration).  Other easy options include: having a full glass of water (hydration is key!), reading a chapter in a book, meditating for 10 minutes (check out headspace), or documenting three things you are grateful for (three words or three sentences – keep it simple!).

You are not going to get up early every day. Give yourself permission to miss a few days. It is a practice, not a perfection. The morning has beauty and strength to offer, and sometimes the best way to soak that up is to stay cozied up in bed and gather the rest you need.

Enjoying the hours before the world is up and moving is a gift I find available every morning. My ideal and inspired mornings include a nice tall glass of warm lemon water, my 10 minutes of headspace mediation, a workout, a walk with my family, a healthy breakfast, and a cup of hot tea. Dedicating that morning time requires I get to bed early, not cram too much into my mornings (I can get carried away with the desire to run a load of laundry, catch up on email, prep dinner, etc), and give myself permission when a morning doesn’t end up looking exactly as planned.

On those days when 8AM hits and I feel rested, awake, energized, and ready for the rest of my day, I take a deep breath, wish the beautiful morning well until I can excitedly greet it tomorrow, and head off to the chaos.


Danielle Aaronson

Danielle Aaronson

Danielle’s mission is to inspire leaders to make intentional choices that move them to positive action. She speaks at conferences, management summits, and leadership programs as well as facilitates efforts with executives and senior leaders at organizations seeking to influence their culture. Her mantra, “be the change you wish to see in the world” has allowed her to strive every day to be the best she can be and help others recognize the potential they have to make a positive difference. @deaaronson

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