After graduating high school, Andrew Wittman was supposed to follow his parents into missionary work.
But he realized he wanted something completely different.
“I was the fat kid in high school that always got bullied, but I was never allowed to fight back,” Wittman tells Business Insider. “I didn’t want to live my life like that, so I joined the Marine Corps.”
During his stint in boot camp, he picked up a morning habit that’s stayed with him ever since.
“I was on the top bunk, so my face was six inches away from the double fluorescent light,” Wittman tells Business Insider. “What they would do every morning is flip the lights on and throw steel garbage cans down the center of the room. On the first day, I was like, ‘Oh my God.'”
To avoid the shocking boot camp wake-up call, Wittman trained himself to always wake up two minutes early. For example, if he has a 5:30 a.m. wake up, he’ll get out of bed at 5:28 a.m.
After getting through boot camp, Wittman served in the Marine Corps for six years and saw combat during the invasion of Panama and Operation Desert Storm. After leaving the military, he went on to become a US Capitol Police special agent, and protected big name members of Congress, including Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and Joe Lieberman.
Nowadays, Wittman is the CEO of The Mental Toughness Training Center and author of “Ground Zero Leadership: CEO of You.” He says that he sets himself up for success every morning by spending his extra two minutes on a daily affirmation.
“I get my ‘boardroom’ — my mind, body, and emotions — to all act in concert,” Wittman says. “Every day, I remind everybody who’s in charge. I’m the CEO of me. I’m in charge. I want the mind running the ‘boardroom’, but it’s not that the emotions and the body don’t have places — they have very important roles.”
Wittman says that by kicking the day off with this ritual, he’s able to mentally prime himself for success.
Forbes reports that the average human brain takes in about 11 million pieces of information per second.
“If I wake up thinking today’s going suck, my brain will literally filter all that information, find the exact bits of information to prove myself right, and now it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy,” he says. “Every morning, I’m force-feeding my filter. I’m making sure that it’s the 11 million bits that I want.”
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