Leadership and the art of shaving

ShavingZenI never get up and just go to the office. My days start with;
An executive coaching session.
A group coaching session.
A group leadership workshop.
A meeting with a potential new client,
Or a project planning meeting with an existing client.

And the rest of the day will be packed with more sessions, meetings and discussions.

So I wake up with a busy mind. Busy thinking about the whole day, the priorities and what has to be achieved.

Now I am definitely NOT a morning person. Even though my schedule means I frequently get up early, I don’t spring out of bed wide awake and raring to go. I need to take a few minutes to bask in the warm sunlight of a strong cup of coffee to get my system started. Then time is limited. As a typical male the whole shower, shave, get dressed process takes minutes, and I hardly ever look in the mirror. Sure, I stand in front of a mirror while I quickly wrestle my tie into a double Windsor, but I’m not really looking at what I do. Standing in front of the mirror is just a habit.

Then I leap into the car and head off to the first activity, mind still busy running over everything that has to be done today.

Problem? Every one of my activities requires a clear mind and absolute focus, so when I arrive to start the session I have to put effort into calming my busy mind and getting absolutely focused on the session in hand.

Triggered by an article in The Magazine last year I rediscovered the art of shaving. I’m not going to go into the whole story here, but re-learning how to shave, using a real badger brush, real shaving soap and a wickedly dangerous single blade “safety” razor transformed my mornings. The delight of a really good shave and how it feels afterwards defies description.

To shave properly, without cutting your face to ribbons, does not take very long (set aside the few weeks of practice required), but it does take focus.

So the busy mind had to slow down. All the hectic thoughts had to be put aside. And the resulting clarity was delightful. The journey to work was more enjoyable and when I arrived I was already in the clear state of mind needed to begin a session. The clarity and focus lasted, so I went to the second activity of the day clear and focused, and so it went on.

I discovered the benefit of paying attention to how to start my day, and change how the whole day continued. Start as you mean to go on takes on a new meaning. How we start our day often dictates how the entire day goes on.

As a senior leader your day is probably more hectic than mine.

You need to bring the benefit of clear minded focus to everything you do.

So what is your “shaving meditation” routine for starting your day the way you want it to continue?

Share your practice or ideas in the comments below.

About Tony Latimer

Master Executive Coach in Singapore and Asia to Leaders in Transition. Bringing Profitable Leadership to international organizations. Expert management and leadership coaching skills training. Co-Author of The Handbook of Knowledge Based Coaching: From Theory to Practice & Coaching in Asia: The First Decade.