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J.K. Rowling Tweets What We’ve All Thought About Successful People’s 4 a.m. Morning Routines

Unlike Apple CEO Tim Cook, J.K. Rowling is not a fan of the super early start to the day.

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BY Marcel Schwantes - 08 Jan 2019

wake up at 4am

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

For anyone wondering about J.K. Rowling's morning routine, one viral tweet last month put the issue to rest.

That was in response to an article I wrote two years ago, which resurfaced on Inc.'s twitter feed with the teaser text, "The world's most successful people start their day at 4 a.m." (this was in reference to a few people in the piece, including Apple CEO Tim Cook, who start their morning routines as early as 3:45 a.m.).


As a result of her retweet, Twitter blew up. Fans of Rowling's and followers of Inc. sounded off on the controversial topic of famous people's questionable wake-up times.


For the record, the intent of the article wasn't to advocate for an ungodly start to your morning routine, like billionaires who sacrifice sleep and health under the guise of productivity.


What I did was to offer up productivity tips for busy professionals to take control of their schedule after they arrive at the office. The tips weren't actually my own, but courtesy of a reputable productivity psychologist who knows her stuff.


As I wrote in that piece, "Like most of us, you want and need your sleep. Perhaps your personal life doesn't allow you the luxury of an early bedtime and the crack-of-dawn morning ritual of famous entrepreneurs. I'm with you."


And if J.K. Rowling happens to be reading ... I'm 100 percent with you too.


Why 'Oh, piss off' was a deserving reaction.


Before Rowling became literally the best-selling author in the English language for her celebrated Harry Potter book series, she struggled financially as a single mother on welfare, and also battled depression.


While depression has never struck me, a few years back I supported a family of three on welfare-income, living in a 10x12 loft above my in-laws' house, battling a lawsuit and fending off creditors calling every hour.


As I learned more about Rowling to piece this article together, it was hard to ignore her heartfelt humanity. We've all struggled at some point in our lives; you may have been brought to your knees by an unexpected event -- the loss of a job or house, an illness, a death in the family. While our outcomes may differ, we relate to someone as famous as J.K. Rowling because she once was--and is--like many of us: a real human being.


Have you experienced rejection? J.K. Rowling's first manuscript was rejected by 12 publishers before she got a book deal. And yet she persevered and conquered her fears because her purpose kept her going.


"I was set free because my greatest fear had been realized and I was still alive. And I still had a daughter, whom I adored, an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life," she said in a commencement speech at Harvard.


While the Inc. tweet was meant to evoke conversation, it did much more; it triggered thousands of genuine reactions by real people with real-life struggles, perhaps different from the world's most successful people the tweet meant to put on a pedestal.


Maybe it stirred up righteous indignation on the part of the struggling entrepreneur juggling a startup with diaper-changing and bottle-feeding duties.

It may have evoked anger from a restaurant server exhausted and discouraged after a 10-hour shift waiting tables, wondering when she'll get her big break.


I asked for further clarification, but a representative for J.K. Rowling declined to comment.

For now, we can rally behind Rowling's rejecting of the idea that we should try to measure up to other people's unrealistic definition of success, including forcing ourselves to wake up when most of the world in our time zone is still asleep.

As Rowling has bravely done, we should create and pursue our very own definition of what success means to us, and boldly journey toward attaining our dreams.

And for that, I salute you, J.K. Rowling.

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