I was usually out drinking, watching movies or playing Xbox games. That lifestyle was ok for college, but I thought it would translate to the working world.
I was dead wrong.
Staying up past midnight meant I’d often arrive into work with bloodshot eyes, exhausted, tired and unfocused. On more than one occasion, I even locked myself in the bathroom of a dead-end job to catch up on sleep.
I wish I knew then about the Panda Power Hour.
Enter Garrain Jones
In 2011, Garrain Jones was 40 pounds overweight and living out of his car in California.
Today, he runs a seven-figure coaching business, has spoken in 32 countries and is about to release his new book Change Your Mindset, Change Your Life.
Jones’s journey from the backseat of his car to this stage started with studying how successful entrepreneurs spend their days. He was surprised to find they often rise between 4:30 a.m. and 6:30 a.m.
For example, Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, rises at 4:30 a.m. Adams said about his early morning routine, “Typically speaking I’m happiest, smartest, most creative and most optimistic between the hours of 4 and 8.”
Similarly, Virgin founder Richard Branson rises about 5:00 a.m., while Apple CEO Tim Cook rises about 3:45 a.m.
So Jones started rising early too. After he found employment, he began training for a triathlon, but he didn’t have enough hours in his day for both.
“One day I was in my car. I started the engine, and it took ten times the velocity in starting the engine before it settled into the drive,” he said.
“I started thinking about what stimulates me. So if I was a car, how would I start my engine in the morning?”
Jones is a big believer in the power of self-reflection, too. He broke his key physical, mental and entrepreneurial pursuits down into 30 items on a list, which he reviewed each night before bed.
In an interview, he told me,
“I put everything on the list that’s connected to my mind, my body, my spirit. Whether it was jumping jacks to increase the serotonin, whether it’s doing push-ups and calling ten people to acknowledge them for an impact that they made in my life. I had about 30 things on that list.”
Jones used the first hour of his day to train for a triathlon and later to start a coaching and speaking business. After that, he branded his early morning routine “Panda Power Hour,” a metaphor drawn from his childhood.
“When I was a little kid, my mom said I used to cry a lot. She said when I saw a panda on the TV screen, I’d stop crying. Then, she got a [toy panda]. Every time I would cry, she’d show me a panda, and I’d stop crying.”
Today, this story resonates with attendees at his events and his social media followers. “People just come up to me with panda mugs and panda hats and panda socks and they’re like, ‘We know that you love it, so we give it to you,’” he said.
How To Create Your Panda Power Hour
Essentially a Panda Power Hour involves rising early to work on a personal or business project before life interrupts. It doesn’t necessarily have to take place before 5:00 a.m. either.
“It wasn’t about the 4:30. That was a number that came up with me,” Jones said.
He went on to cite the example of an entrepreneur who plans to write a book to promote their business.
“So before you go to bed, if you know you’ve got ten pages to write … be in full ownership over it. Then, you write that inside of your list,” he said. “Write everything that you know that you want to accomplish and get a couple of successes … so that your body is used to you winning and succeeding and progressing.”
Many entrepreneurs note that an early morning win enables momentum for the rest of the work day. Jones believes this is because the brain craves progress.
“The brain doesn’t respond to big progress or little progress. It just responds to progress,” he said.
“On a day where you accomplish three things three days in a row, your energy level will be ten times higher than when you’re not doing anything.”
Call it a Panda Hour. Call it a power hour. Rising early and working on an important project for 60 minutes appears key to the success of many entrepreneurs.
So if you’re finished college and want to earn a promotion faster or start a profitable business, put what matters first on your schedule for tomorrow morning.