Naijassador set out to discover what the most successful men in Africa are doing differently before 8 a.m. Here is what we found out: 8 Things African Billionaires Do Before 8 a.m.
1. DRINK LEMON WATER.
According to Strive Masiyiwa, Zimbabwe’s richest man, drinking lemon water as soon as you wake up spikes your energy levels physically and mentally. By improving nutrient absorption in your stomach, it gives you a steady, natural energy buzz that lasts the length of the day. You need to drink it first thing in the morning (on an empty stomach) to ensure full absorption. You should also wait 15-30 minutes after drinking it before eating (perfect time to squeeze in some exercise). Lemons are chock full of nutrients, such as potassium, vitamin C and antioxidants. If you weigh less than 150 pounds, drink the juice of half a lemon (a full lemon if you’re over 150 pounds). Don’t drink the juice without water because it’s hard on your teeth.
It’s not just Tony Elumelu, the famed Nigerian billionaire who exercises early in the morning; Aliko Dangote, Patrice Motsepe and Disney’s Bob Iger all wake up well before 6:00 a.m. to get their bodies moving. While their ungodly wake-up hours and exercise routines may seem crazy, research supports the extra effort. A study conducted at the Eastern Ontario Research Institute found that people who exercised twice a week for 10 weeks felt more competent socially, academically, and athletically. A second study conducted by researchers at the University of Bristol found that people who exercised daily had more energy and a more positive outlook, which are both critical for getting things done. Getting your body moving for as little as 10 minutes releases GABA, a neurotransmitter that makes your brain feel soothed and keeps you in control of your impulses. Exercising first thing in the morning ensures that you’ll have the time for it, and it improves your self-control and energy levels over the course of the entire day.
While Aliko Dangote starts his day with a motivational e-mail to his top employees, after this, he disconnects and dedicates his time to exercise and family. When you wake up and dive straight into e-mails, texts and Facebook, you are far more likely to lose focus, and your morning succumbs to the wants and needs of other people. It’s much healthier to take those precious first moments of the day to do something relaxing, which sets a calm, positive tone for your day.
4. EAT A HEALTHY BREAKFAST.
According to Mo Ibrahim, eating anything at all for breakfast puts you ahead of a lot of people. People who eat breakfast are less likely to be obese, they have more stable blood-sugar levels and they tend to be less hungry over the course of the day. And these are just the statistics for people who eat any breakfast. When you eat a healthy breakfast, the doors to a productive day swing wide open. A healthy breakfast gives you energy, improves your short-term memory and helps you to concentrate more intensely and for longer periods.
5. PRACTICE MINDFULNESS.
Strive Masiyiwa says mindfulness meditation has become increasingly popular among highly successful CEOs. Its growth in the business world is largely due to the huge dividends it pays in productivity and overall well-being. Research shows that mindfulness fights off stress by reversing the fight-or-flight response, improves your ability to focus, boosts creativity and increases your emotional intelligence.
6. SET GOALS FOR THE DAY.
Mike Adenuga is obsessive about planning his days. Each morning, he wakes up at 4:00 a.m. and meticulously piece together a schedule. There’s a clear message to take from Adenuga’s habit: prudent goal setting pays dividends. When you plan out your day as carefully as possible, your chances of successfully accomplishing your goals skyrocket. I like to set my daily goals after my mindfulness practice, because the added calm and clarity help me to set effective, specific goals.
7. MAKE CERTAIN YOUR GOALS ARE REALISTIC.
There’s no point in setting goals if they aren’t realistic. Take the time to ensure that your schedule for the day is doable by assigning times to your to-do list. According toFemi Otedola, good rule of thumb is to make your day as top heavy as possible. Think about the things that have the ability to advance your career, no matter how daunting the tasks, and schedule them first. When you complete difficult tasks first, you carry positive energy and a feeling of accomplishment into the rest of your day. Vague goals such as “I want to finish writing my article” are counter-productive, because they fail to include the “how” of things. The same goal re-phrased in a more functional way would read something like this: “I am going to finish my article by writing each of the three sections, spending no more than an hour on each section.” Now, you have more than simply something you want to achieve — you have a way to achieve it.
8. FINALLY, SAY NO.
Folorunsho Alakija, the richest African woman from Nigeria says no is a powerful word, which will protect your precious mornings. When it’s time to say no, avoid phrases such as “I don’t think I can” or “I’m not certain.” Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments, and your morning time is an important commitment. Research conducted at the University of California in San Francisco showed that the more difficulty that you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression.
Bringing It All Together
Developing a successful morning routine is essential. While the above strategies are tried and true, you should build upon them with other activities that work for you.