5 Reasons You Should Show Up First

Whether you’re salaried and can start work when you want, or you’re required to wait till a certain time to punch in and start your real work, arriving at work bright (or dark) and early has some serious benefits. It can be the difference between a great day and an awful one.

Here are 5 reasons I try to be one of the first people in the office every day:

1. The office mood isn’t already decided when you get there.

This is the biggest one for me. You probably know the feeling all too well of walking in the door and feeling a shadow–you know something has already gone wrong. Maybe someone just woke up on the wrong side of bed. Or someone just got a bad review or a bunch more thrown into their work load. Maybe a couple co-workers have already butted heads. Whatever it is, everyone’s grumpy.

It’s really hard to walk in to bad vibes and stay positive and energized.

On the other hand, if you can be there to start everyone’s day off with a smile and some positive energy, you can help set a positive mood for the office–start everyone’s day with a smile.

2. Never racing the clock eliminates a lot of stress.

Whether you’re required to be there right on the hour, or showing up shortly after is frowned upon–making it just in time comes with a lot of stress. Every red light or slow driver frustrates you to no end. And if you’re pushing it too close, you spend your entire commute coming up with excuses (for your boss and for yourself).

Deciding to just get there well before you have to every day immediately eliminates all that stress. You’re never racing the clock, red lights, and slow drivers. Your day doesn’t automatically start with stressing and excusing. It starts with a nice, relaxing drive.

Heck, roll your windows down and chill. You have nowhere to be fast.

3. You get a ton of work done before distractions.

Especially if you work closely with a team, or if you work in close quarters with others, you can get double or triple the work done while nobody’s there to distract you yet. Adding just one hour of working before you have to interact might be a sacrifice, but it can mean getting literally twice the work done in one day. And that’s the kind of productivity that leads to pay raises and promotions.

If you’re not salaried, and you’re not legally allowed to start working before you’re supposed to clock in, showing up early still helps: Dedicate some time to your own development. Start the day off strong by reflecting on your accomplishments and areas of opportunity. Set some goals for your day. Read a chapter from an industry-related book. Whether it’s official “work” or not, dedicate some extra time every morning to your success.

4. People see you as dependable and hard-working.

When you get there and get started before the crowd, people naturally start seeing you as a diligent and hard-working person. Your co-workers know you as the one who will always show up early and ready. Your boss will never have to worry that you’ll show up late.

If people see you putting in extra, going above and beyond, they will be impressed. They’ll talk about it. They’ll see it as a good example.

You need to be known for your diligence. Opportunities will start throwing themselves at you.

5. You trick your brain into enthusiasm.

Finally, being the first one to work tricks your brain into enthusiasm: If you show up early, people see you as a hard worker. When people see you as a hard worker, you feel like a hard worker. When you feel like a hard worker, it becomes a part of your identity. Suddenly, whether you intended to or not, you’ve tricked yourself into working harder.

It’s also hard to lead the charge in the morning and not be energized. Your brain just can’t make sense of showing up early AND dragging your feet and being grumpy. They’re not compatible. So don’t give your brain the option of picking laziness in the morning. Kick it into high gear by showing up early, and you’re just helping yourself be happier, healthier, and harder working.

The list could go on, so why don’t you share? What else do you think showing up early could do for your career and your character?

And where does this apply besides the office? Can you make a difference being the first one up with a positive attitude in your house every morning?


“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive–to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” – Marcus Aurelius

You Have No Idea What’s Really Going On

I recently ran across a Yelp review from back when I managed a particular restaurant location.

The review was scathing. And I agreed with pretty much all of it. What rubbed me the wrong way was that the critic ended with: “Let’s all boycott this location until they get a manager in there who actually cares!”

Well that bites.

The lady looked around the restaurant and saw bad teamwork and bad customer service, and that’s not hard to identify. But its not fair to draw the conclusion that the current manager must not care.

I had been at the store for only a little while, and had already turned over half the original crew and most of the original management staff. The store was completely diseased when I arrived, and even though I cared immensely from day one, it was going to be a long, hard journey to get the store back into shape.

Her assessment that the manager just didn’t care couldn’t be further from the truth. I worked long hours I never should have worked and put up with frustrations you should never have to experience in the workplace–dealing with managers stealing from our safe, stopping a lot of intense verbal abuse, opening the store with about 25% of the required manpower on many occasions, receiving personal threats. I was trying hard.

I cared a lot. And it didn’t feel good to hear someone publicly say I didn’t care.


But reading the review made me realize something: I am just as quick to judge as my Yelp critic.

Be honest: Aren’t you?

When I go anywhere and see a mess, see bad attitudes, see mistakes happening, I am very quick to jump to conclusions: “This company sucks.” “They need a new manager.”

But I forget, like so many other customers and critics, that I only see the tip of the iceberg. I don’t know the whole story.

The same set of symptoms could be diagnosed in extremely different ways:

A) This manager is stupid and terrible, doesn’t care, and needs to be fired!

B) This manager is working really hard to clean up a mess (probably inherited), and needs all the support and encouragement I can give.


Remember: You only see the tip of the iceberg. You don’t see the massive reality beneath the surface.

So be careful about judging.

We can’t help jumping to conclusions, because we’ll never have all the information.

But which voice is going to come to you more naturally? Criticism and condemnation? Or support and encouragement?

Before you judge, look under the surface. Ask questions. Try to understand the real situation. And until you’ve looked thoroughly, be careful not to discourage someone who might be trying a lot harder than you think.


Can you imagine if your boss stopped jumping to conclusions about your work? If your co-workers stopped jumping to conclusions about your intentions? If your employees stopped jumping to conclusions about your character? If your customers stopped jumping to conclusions about your attitude? If friends would stop jumping to conclusions about your motives? If strangers would stop jumping to conclusions about your beliefs or your parenting or your social status or your personality? If your family stopped jumping to conclusions about what you do and say and who you really are?

Wouldn’t you love that?

Then stop judging others by the little tip of the iceberg you can see. There’s probably quite a story you don’t know beneath the surface.

3 Questions You Should Ask Before Work Today

Stop what you’re doing and ask yourself these 3 questions.

What habit am I going to break today that will increase my success?

What personal trait am I going to focus on developing today that will increase my success?

What conversation am I going to have today that will increase my success?

Now write down your answers, bring them with you to work, and add those 3 items to your day’s agenda.


What if we wrote our to-do lists with the big picture in mind? What if they looked like this

  • Send 3 co-workers encouraging notes.
  • Stay off Facebook till 5PM.
  • Focus today on asking clients questions that uncover their decision-making process?

just as much as they look like this?

  • Finish writing reviews.
  • Call Mary back.
  • Make 5 prospecting calls.


Look at yesterday’s to-do list. Does it look like it was written by an ambitious and intentional visionary or by someone just hoping to maintain job security?

Are you working on getting through the day or are you working on becoming the happy, excellent, successful person you dream of being?

“What Am I Doing With My Life???”

“I’m not happy with my career. I don’t feel satisfied at my job. Sure it’s a great job, I should feel lucky. But instead I’m just itching to get on with it. I’m good at my job, I’m proud of it, but is it really what I want to be doing? No!”

Have you ever felt this before?

“I told myself I’d be further in life right now. I set goals. I had a dream. I still have a dream when I can get enough time off to start reflecting on life again like I did before I was this busy. And this is not that dream.”

“It’s depressing hearing about all those entrepreneurs that just up and start living their dream. They say, ‘Be who you want to be! Don’t spend your life working for someone else’s dream!’ But it’s not that easy. I can’t just quit my job. I have bills to pay.”

“Why did I even take this job? Why did I think I’d be happy here? … Oh yeah, it was supposed to be a stepping stone. But that was two years ago. And now I’m just sitting here. Waiting. Wishing so bad to start living my real dream.”


I am a huge supporter of chasing your dreams and never settling.


We live in reality. And reality is: Good things take time. “Get rich quick” is usually a bunch of crap. And for some of us, a big fat wallet isn’t our dream anyway. Creating your dream takes time. It takes steps. Steps you know you need to take. Steps that, when viewed as steps, aren’t so bad. But steps that, when viewed as “where I am in life right now,” can weigh you down more than you can express.


If you’re frustrated with yourself for not having made it to your dream life yet, chances are you sat down a long time ago, like most ambitious people do, and wrote down your vision. Your end-goal. Your “5-year-plan.” “Where you see yourself in 10 years.”

You listed the steps you’d have to take to get where you want to go.

A) Graduate school. B) Find a temporary job that is generally related to the work I want to do. C) Get certified. D) Join a business doing the specific type of work I want to do. E) Build a network among my clients and colleagues. F) Take on a few private clients. G) Leave my company and launch my own business.

You looked at your long-term to-do list and you were pumped. You could see the finish line. You could taste your dream. “I can do this!!!”


Now it’s been three years. You’ve learned to adjust your to-do list as you go, and you’re doing a busy and stressful combination of steps B, C, and E. You can’t do D till you finish C, and that’s a lot harder than you expected.

You’re busy. Working 40, 50 hours a week, studying hard on your time off. You’re in a relationship now, so finding time and saving money is even harder. You could probably pass the certification test now, honestly, but it’ll probably take another year to save up for it. And who knows what will happen in between.

What are you doing with your life??? This sucks!


But is there really a difference between what you envisioned during the planning stage and what you’re experiencing now?

Sure, the vision may have been less stressful and slow. But talk to anyone else that has built their dream, and those years–the long years of the steps leading up to your goal–those years sucked for them to. They felt just like you feel at times. They wondered to themselves, “Is this really what I want to be doing???”


So when you feel like that–which I’m sure you do, if you’re ambitious and have a vision–when you feel like life is taking too long, remind yourself of these three things:

1. You’re in the place you are because you know it’s one of your steps.

2. Nobody ever said it would be easy.

3. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Right now, that light may seem a lifetime away. But when you sat down and planned it all out, you didn’t expect you’d get there tomorrow.


It is very important to remind yourself of your dream and your plan to get there. Remind yourself why you’re taking the step you’re taking.

You are where you are for a reason. (If you’re not, go back to square one: Figure out what you want to do, what steps you have to take to do it, and start taking those steps!)

Remember that reason and be encouraged.

Sure, your current job isn’t “Who you want to be,” or “What makes you feel satisfied.” But it’s a step you know you have to take to get there. Embrace it and keep stepping. Where you are right now is exactly where you DO want to be! It’s where you planned to be. Sure, maybe it doesn’t look and feel as easy as you dreamed, but it’s an important part of how you’re creating your dream.

Maybe your current job doesn’t make you feel alive. And sure, if you can speed up the process and reach the next step sooner, do it! But you started doing what you’re doing now for a reason. Don’t give up on your dream just because it’s not easy.


Take a deep breath. Appreciate the journey. Remember where you’re going.

That will give you the energy to get back to work with purpose and drive, like the unstoppable person you planned to be. :)


“Hey there Mr. Grumpy Gills. When life gets you down, you know what you’ve gotta do? Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” – Dory

What Your Boss Really Hears

A recent review got me thinking. The way I talk to my bosses has changed a lot over the last few years. A lot. I’ve learned the hard way that speaking instinctively doesn’t work. Knee-jerk responses are rarely good strategy.


For example, when you say: “I couldn’t help it! I tried my best!”

Your boss really hears: “I can’t help failing in this situation, so I’ll fail again next time.”

“We can’t really help our numbers. We’ve inherited a tough situation.”

Really means: “You’ll have to find another employee who is solution-oriented, not problem-oriented.”

“This change sucks! I liked it the old way!”

“I’m focusing on what I’m losing, not on what I could gain from this. I’m going to be no help from now on.”

“I’m done with all my stuff–there’s nothing else I can do.”

“Don’t trust me to innovate and be independent. I can’t come up with any ideas of my own, and I’m blind to the fact that there’s always more that can be done.”

“I have so much going on, I totally forgot about that.”

“I’m not organized enough, so I’ll forget more things.”

“I’m just having one of those days, you know?”

“I don’t have enough self-control. You’re going to have to light a fire under me or find someone with a better work ethic.”

“Here’s what happened: [This, that, and the other thing] happened to me, so [bad thing] ended up happening.”

“I see myself as a victim of situations, so you cannot trust me to take responsibility and make sure the right thing happens from now on.”

“I just can’t work well with that person. I really don’t like him. He’s really annoying.”

“I’m not a team player, and I’m not very friendly.”

“I’m sorry about today, I just have a bunch of personal stuff going on.”

“I can’t keep work and personal issues separate. You can expect poor performance whenever personal issues come up.”

“I’m sorry, I keep sleeping through my alarm!”

“I can’t be bothered to go to bed earlier or get a louder alarm. You’re going to have to deal with it.”

“That’s not my job.”

“I will always insist on doing the bare minimum in my job description. You’re the manager, it’s your problem.”

“That’s way outside my comfort zone, is there someone else who can do it?”

“I don’t look for ways to grow. Surely you have a more valuable employee you can ask.”

“That’s impossible. Nobody can do that!”

“I’m too small for this task. You need a bigger person.”


It’s not that your boss can’t sympathize when you’re having a tough time. And it’s not that mistakes aren’t okay. The point is, taking ownership of  situations, mistakes, problems, challenges, results, for you and your team–that, and only that, communicates a positive message about you to your boss.

In fact, sometimes all it takes is adding one sentence, and your boss couldn’t be happier: “I have so much going on, I totally forgot about that.” Plus: “I’m sorry. I’ll get more organized today and make sure I’m keeping tabs on everything I need to get done.”


What else do you say, or hear your co-workers say, that really doesn’t get the results intended? How could you approach things differently?

Moral of the story: Before you open your mouth, listen to yourself from your leader’s perspective.