One of the criticisms Secretary Clinton received throughout her last presidential campaign was that she was too cagey. She didn’t come across as honest, trustworthy, and like a real person. Whenever she was asked a question during a debate or town hall meeting you could almost see the cogs whirring in her brain as she decided how best to answer.
The same was true of President Obama throughout his presidency. He could hardly be accused of being someone who said anything “off the cuff.” In fact, he was frequently known for over-explaining his answers; giving much more information than the interviewer could possibly want, which in turn hampered their ability to ask further questions.
This is not, however, a rebuttal of Clinton or Obama, both of whom I would have voted for if I were a citizen of this country. Quite the opposite; Secretary Clinton and President Obama have mastered the ability to think before they speak—that old chestnut that was repeated ad nauseam to us as children. While they, Secretary Clinton in particular, were sometimes criticized for this, it’s worth noting that they were criticized for their rare slip-ups—those moments in which they spoke without first thinking through their answer—even more. (Clinton’s “basket full of deplorables,” comment being a particularly well-circulated example.)
I remember the first time something I wrote was translated into a different language. It was a piece I’d written for the Huffington Post about a week before that was doing pretty well. I received an email in Korean with clear Huffington Post branding that directed me to this article (here’s its English counterpart).
I was excited. A few days later the same piece came out in Spanish and German. The excitement continued.
All this is to say that the first translation edition of My Morning Routine, pretty wonderfully titled Mein Morgen Ritual, is available in stores across Germany now! I received my copies in the mail a couple days ago, and it feels pretty great. Despite my co-author Michael being German, I can’t read or speak a word of it, but it’s fun to flick through all the same.
I turned thirty a couple weeks before my book was published. To mark the occasion, my wife booked us into a small wood cabin for a couple nights just outside of Mendocino (approx. three and a half hours north of San Francisco).
While the trip was primarily to celebrate my birthday, it was also used as something of an escape from everything that has been happening (and continues to happen) surrounding the book. I’m not at all ashamed to admit that we never actually went into Mendocino proper while we were there; we were quite happy in our little cabin, thank you very much.
Despite being situated just off a small road, the woods surrounding the cabin were silent apart from the sounds of nature lurking within. It was our sanctuary. When I wasn’t building up the log burning stove (and on occasion, dangerously overpacking it) I was simply staring in and around the cabin, opening up its windows and sticking out my head.
There was a moment, six weeks ago, while writing article after article and recording interview after interview, that I thought “I need to update my blog telling people that my book is on sale!”
While this may be a little after the fact now, I just want to say thank you to everyone who bought the book, gifted it to someone else, or (to be honest) even just lent it to a friend or family member, or picked it up from your local library. That was really cool of you.
The book has been chosen as one of Amazon’s best business books of 2018, one of the Financial Times books of the month, and one of Business Insider’s best business books to read this summer. If you’ve not done so already, you can order the book now in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and a number of other countries. We currently have translation deals in I think five different countries, the first of which, Mein Morgen Ritual, comes out in Germany on October 8.
If you seek tranquillity, do less. Most of what we say and do is not essential. If you can eliminate it, you’ll have more time, and more tranquillity. Ask yourself at every moment, “Is this necessary?”
This is a good question to ask ourselves at every moment, especially when we’re being pulled this way and that, and struggling from overwhelm in our work and daily life.
When we ask ourselves “Is this necessary?” we’ll invariably find ourselves answering that it is not, or at least, that it doesn’t have to happen now, or it can be batched to take place at another time, or it can be delegated to someone else.
External character traits are all around us. They’re what we choose to outwardly project to the world, whether in what we wear, what we share, or the causes we choose to side with or argue against.
Internal character traits are hard to define but easy to recognise. While first impressions can count for a lot, the longer you get to know someone the better an understanding you’ll get of the quality of their internal character traits over the external. Are they a loving mother, father, wife, husband, daughter, or son? Do they care deeply for their family, their community, and the world as a whole?
In post-war America and Europe, and in some instances even sooner, the focus began to shift from the internal to the external; that is, from building our internal character traits to choosing to display an external character that we believe (or simply hope) will be agreeable to those we want to impress. It’s been mentioned that Dale Carnegie’s 1936 classic How to Win Friends and Influence People marked a change in the self-help genre whereby many previous works had focused on how to build your internal character traits, many new works began to explore how your external character traits can be manipulated to get you to where you want to be.
This book has been a labour of love for over a year and a half. We were approached by an editor at Portfolio in the summer of 2016, and since then it has been all go. Between us we contacted 631 people in the space of six months, with a small number being whittled down and making it into the finished work. I was personally lucky enough to speak with everyone from retired U.S. Army four-star General Stanley McChrystal, to the president of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, Ed Catmull, to the life-changing tidying-upper herself, Japanese organizing consultant Marie Kondo.