Not long ago I took a boat ride. When the ride was over and we were loading the boat, I couldn’t help but notice how small the rudder was. How could something so small steer such a powerful vessel?

My “rudder moment” reminded me of a quote from 19th century clergyman, Henry Ward Beecher. “The first hour of the morning is the rudder of the day.”

Don’t miss this … Your rudder determines your direction.

For leaders few things matter more than morning habits. What you do before 9:00 am determines the direction of the rest of your day.

For me the best days are ones that begin with a concentrated hour around the following four disciplines:

Reading – a few minutes of Bible or devotional reading remind me that my life is not about me.

Prayer and meditation – I can certainly relate to Abe Lincoln who when overwhelmed with his responsibility as a leader once admitted, “I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.”

Planning – having a plan keeps me focused and also gives me a measuring stick to look back on at the end of the day.

Exercise – 20 to 30 minutes of cardio, stretching, or strength training before breakfast gets my blood flowing and raises my energy level.

If you find yourself bored, tired, and disillusioned I suspect you might have a rudder problem. Make some adjustments to the first hour of your day and watch what happens to the direction of your life.

Leadership Begins at Home,


Are there other habits you try to incorporate into the first hour of your day?