When I was young, I hated waking up early and would make up any excuse to lay in bed just a little bit longer — I dreaded having to wake up at the crack of dawn. I wasn’t a lazy kid by any means, but I saw no value in being up before the sun. As a teen, my mother met my Stepfather when I was 15 and my mother and I moved in with him when I was 16. I remember being woken up by him at 5am my first Saturday living with him — I was displeased, to say the least. My Stepfather said, “Get up True! There’s work to do, come on, we’re leaving in 10.” I remember thinking to myself that this man must be insane, but what I’ve come to learn over the years since, was that the only insane thing about this man was his dedicated work ethic.
Every weekend for many years to follow, we would go to his rental property in Martinez, California that he and his father built from scratch with their bare hands. Maintaining the lawn, fixing the plumbing and electric, painting, and so on. From then on, this was what a typical Saturday looked like for me and my stepdad. As time went on, weekend after weekend, waking up at 4 or 5am became second nature. Getting up at dawn to get to work came with a sense of accomplishment, knowing that I was up before the rest of the neighborhood doing something that mattered.
I’ve learned so much from my stepdad over the years, but the two things that have had the biggest impact on my day to day life are the importance of waking up early and having a strong work ethic. These two things go hand in hand, and my stepfather always told me that if you can win the first part of your day, then the rest will come easy. For many years now, I have been waking up before sunrise to exercise, meditate, and plan my day. I find that if I run a couple miles and work out, then anything else life throws at me that day is more than manageable.
Who knew that one Saturday, a decade ago, would be the beginning of a life lesson that would mold me into the person I am today? I bet my stepfather did.