What do Marissa Mayer (Yahoo’s CEO), Indira Nooyi (Chairman & CEO PepsiCo), Barack Obama ( President of the US), Condoleeza Rice (Former US secretary of state), Thomas Edison( Inventor), Jay Leno( TV host) and Shah Rukh Khan (Bollywood Superstar) have in common?
They all sleep for only 3-4 hours a night. These are just a few of the numerous successful people around the world who barely sleep. The ones who manage 4-5 hours aren’t super successful maybe. Donald Trump, Chairman of the Trump Organization one asked, “How does somebody that’s sleeping 12 and 14 hours a day compete with someone that’s sleeping three or four?”.
It’s a valid question and an obvious answer. You can’t! There is no competition there. Even if the person who sleeps only 3-4 hours a day goofs around for a few hours here and there, is still in a better position to work towards being more successful! Now let us not get into the argument of what success means? It clearly means different things to different people. To me success might be to provide excellent education to each and every child on the planet and to others it might mean owing a private jet, an island and an Aston Martin. Both need crazy number of hours to be invested from the pool of time you have been given on this earth.
So the question really boils down to—how do you maximize the time you have? After only two weeks here at Darden, I have come to realize that the only way to do this is – sleep less!
Between your morning jog at seven, eight in the morning to one in the afternoon of rigorous classes, two hours of club meetings, sessions & human interactions/pleasantries, four hours of individual case study prep(for someone without a business background), two- three hours of evening learning team meetings, at least an hour of case review after getting back home at night, a couple of hours of getting through your email inbox & internet related activities (aka Facebook), two hours for all mundane chores like eating, getting ready cooking etc., you realize that you are only left with barely five hours to sleep. And I have not even included things that are yet to come like exams, definite ramp up in case and course rigor, recruiting, networking dinners, company briefings, networking calls, company research, reach-out emails, case competitions, job treks, club activities & meetings, international food days and numerous other things which I am pretty sure I can’t think of or even know about right now.
After a week of telling yourself that you are made for business school and that being among a bunch of “Type A super achievers” is what drives you to sleep less and desperately try to fit in everything else there is to be done for the fear of missing out (FOMO, another post on this soon), you start burning out. Averaging 5 hours of sleep a night, you decide that you don’t want to continue this way. So the first thing to go off your list is the morning jog. You start feeling great about waking up at 7:45am and still making it to class on time. And then ‘Hypnos’ and ‘Somnus’ the Greek and Roman gods of sleep lure you into sleeping a few more minutes every morning. Having skipped my morning jog three days in a row this week, I feel like I need a reality check. Every time I wondered how I could increase the time I had in a day, the only answer I got was to wake up early! But those first few minutes of waking out of bed are harder than they seem right? You feel like the world is conspiring against you and you are the only one fighting for your rights to snooze the horrid alarm on the iPhone. But I have to admit, once I did wake up and went for that jog, the whole world seemed like the most beautiful place there ever was. The pictures from my jog will vouch for that!
We may or may not become the Donald Trumps or the Indira Nooyis of the world when we grow old, but I sure do think we should strive towards getting some great stuff done. This might often involve very little sleep in the next few months and years to come. That brings me to the real question we all need to ask ourselves when our alarm goes off in the mornings – To sleep or to not sleep.