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Former President George W. Bush Secret To Work-Life Balance


Today I’m going to talk about how President Bush read 95 books a year and how his productivity secret will enable you to leave work at a decent hour and enjoy your personal time stress free.

What you’re going to learn:

  • Why successful people always seem so calm and stress free (and their secret to achieving this)
  • How to leave the office at 5 PM, EVERYDAY

Key Quotes:

“There will always be more to do and more than can be done.”

“There will always be another crisis, another fire. Life is a marathon. Life needs to be balanced.”

Read Full Transcript

Hey there everybody. Kevin Kruse here and I’m sharing the surprising things ultra-productive people do differently. Based on my original survey research of thousands of working professionals and on my interviews with over 200 super high achievers. Now in the last episode I shared the nine step cure for procrastination and today I’m going to talk about how President Bush read 95 books a year and how his productivity secret will enable you to leave work at a decent hour and enjoy your personal time stress free. First remember you can get the quick start action plan that includes the one-page tool that millionaires use to schedule their day just by sending a text message. Send the word achieve A-C-H-I-E-V-E achieve to the number 44222 or go to the website
Have you ever wondered how the world’s most important people always seem so calm, stress-free, so fully present in the moment. In other words they are completely opposite of who I used to be when I was starting and running companies back when I was young and dumb in my 20’s. Things go so bad. Business was going well but at a tremendous cost. I didn’t know how to be productive. I would literally be jogging down the hallways, the hallways in my own building, racing back to my office to jump on a call that had just come in or to make the next meeting. That’s how tight the schedule was. I was physically jogging through my own office.
I can visually distinctly remember so many times when I would be driving to work or driving back from work or in to the office and I would have a sandwich in one hand and my mobile phone in the other and I’m steering with my knees. Not a good idea. Children do not try this at home. I used to go round and my constant state I always tell people I was fatigued, I was frazzled, I was so frustrated, I was totally F’d, the three F’s. Worst of all and I bet you can relate, a lot of you out there can relate. I was on this emotional yo-yo between guilt and stress. If I was working late in the office I felt guilty that I wasn’t home with my family. Then Sunday when I’m sitting on the floor with my toddler stacking blocks for hour after hour I’m jumping out of my skin inside stressing out that endless to do list. I got so much to do and here I am stacking blocks for 2 hours this morning.
Guilt or stress. Stress or guilt. Yet so many of the super high achievers around me didn’t have that going on at all. I started to talk to them, investigate, how do you have time to train for a marathon, to go golfing every weekend, to be reading books all the time, to sit across from me at a lunch meeting and be completely focused and mindful of me and the restaurant and the food and not even worrying about your smart phone or text messages or what was going on back in the office? This is an interesting story that caught my eye and it stayed with me.
Back in 2008 Karl Rove, that republic political strategist, he wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal and Rover had been working for President George W. Bush and in this article Rove talks about a little competition between him and the President. This is what Rove described. He says, “It all started on New Year’s Eve in 2005. President Bush asked what my New Year’s resolutions were. I told him that as a regular reader who’d gotten out of the habit my goal was to read a book a week in 2006. Three days later we were in the oval office he fixed me in his sights and said ‘I’m on my second where are you?’ Mr. Bush had turned my resolution into a contest and the outcome of the bet, at the year’s end I defeated the President 110 books to 95. My trophy looked suspiciously like those given out at a junior bowling final. The President lamely insisted he had lost because he had been busy as the leader of the free world.”
This article blew my mind. The leader of the free world, the President of the United States has time to read 95 books in one year and Karl Rove, a very powerful important man in his own right, he read 110 books in one year. I was totally blown away and you know the President of the United States, imagine what his calendar must look like. How many meetings are scheduled? How much time is needed to ponder all the decision that have to be made? You know that at the end of every day there’s still more foreign leaders to call back and to influence, more CIA briefings to read, more campaign contributors to call and suck up to or more wounded veterans to write letters to, voters to rally. There’s so much to do and there’s a ticking time clock. Presidents must feel tremendous pressure in their first term. They’ve only got four years to deliver some goods otherwise there won’t be a second term. In their second term they’ve only got four more year to leave a legacy. How will history remember them? Their minutes count and yet they’re reading 100 books a year. How can this be?
I didn’t talk to President Bush. He didn’t return my email I did try. I’m sure he valued reading two books a week because to him it was important. It was a way to relieve stress or to get smarter or to just have some fun. He knew that learning and recharging the batteries, his batteries, was an important task. This is what all the Olympic athletes told me that I interviewed for the book. They said very often the thing they can do to get closer to winning a gold medal is to take a nap. Didn’t really talk about it as napping or sleeping or being lazy. It was called recovery.
In short President Bush had clearly defined what he valued in his life and he allocated his time accordingly. He didn’t respond to endless calls for attention, the endless to-do list. He figured out what was important. He knew that life was marathon not a sprint and he just allocated for the long haul. A life changing quote from the book High Output Management from Andy Grove who was the founder and former CEO of Intel, High Input Management. He talks about he goes home at a reasonable like 6, 6:30 every single day. Doesn’t matter what’s on the to-do list, doesn’t matter the crisis of the day. He said basically he goes home when he’s ready to go home not when he’s done because he’s never done. He says there will always be more to do and more than can be done.
It’s simple words but when you really let that sink in, when you realize you’re never going to catch up. There will always be more things you could do. It just changes the way you think about your time. When I was running around totally F’d, I had a believe system that the next items on my to-do list was more important than other items in my life like my health, my marriage, my kids, helping other people. I didn’t have this consciously in my mind. It was subconscious but you can’t argue with it because you looked at how I spent my time. I spent 100 hours a week desperately working to grow my business because of my because of my passion to make money and to achieve financial independence, to be an entrepreneur. I probably gave, I don’t know, 10 hours a week to my family? In those 10 hours, how present was I when I was constantly thinking about work?
Physically how much energy did I have to have fun with my kids or to connect with my wife when I was just totally exhausted and wanted to sleep. I’m sure from their perspective it was like hanging around with a zombie, me shuffling through the hallways and kind of groaning and drooling as they tried to tell me about their day or whatever it was. I didn’t have it all right because I just always felt I could solve the problems. There’s a crisis I could fix. There’s another thing I could do. I didn’t set limits. Listen, I know now a lot of self-made millionaires, guys who started and sold their companies or went public or whatever. On the outside they all look great with their $100,000 sports cars and race horses or they collect art or they have articles written about their success in the business magazines. I know a lot of those guys who have completely messed it up.
My friend Alan who had a heart attack in his 40’s and his doctor said, “Here’s the number one thing that you need to do to not die. Stop eating pizza.” That stinks because I really like pizza. He had to completely-he almost died. May die young from another heart attack and completely had to change his lifestyle. Tony has a teenage son who’s a phenomenal young man and his son doesn’t speak to him anymore. That’s his relationship with his son. Ned blew up his marriage to the point where his grown daughter didn’t even let him come to her wedding. He wasn’t even invited to his own daughter’s wedding. I’ve got two teenage daughters. I cannot imagine the pain of being disowned by them not being able to walk them down the aisle. I can think of almost nothing worse.
You can never catch up. You can never get it all done. There will always be another crisis, another fire. Life is a marathon. Life needs to be balanced. The solution, the take-away from President Bush reading 95 books a year is that you need to think about and identify what do you value in your life recognizing that life is a marathon and then allocate your minutes your 1440 a day to those areas. You might value your health not just because people say you should but it’s going to give you more energy. You’re going to think and perform better. You’re going to take fewer sick days and yes hopefully you’ll live longer. You might value time with your family because you feel happy when you feel connected to people. You feel good giving love and guidance to your kids. We need our families when we get low in times of crisis. We need our families to celebrate with. Why are we doing all this if we can’t celebrate and enjoy it along the way?
You know what, for those of you who think, “Oh, I’ll connect with my kids when they’re not toddlers when they’re older when they can speak more like adults.” Believe me, if you’re trying to connect with your kids for the first time when they’re teenagers ain’t going to work. Figure you’ll connect with them when they’re adults and you’re retired, it’s too late. They’ve connected with other people in their life. Connections take time. You might value hobbies, golf, scrapbooking, reading, whatever it is because that helps you to recharge. It’s okay to have fun and listen there’s no judgment here. If you truly value business and financial success maybe you’re not married, maybe you don’t have kids, maybe you’re an introvert and you don’t have a lot of friends and you get charged up by your mission, your passion which is your business, good, but just be intentional about it. I was not intentional. I was working 100 hours a week and it felt like I was running from a freaking grizzly bear nonstop for 5 years.
Be intentional about what you value in your life. Realize that it’s a marathon and then allocate your time accordingly. This year I’m going to read at least 52 books. How about you? All right that’s another episode of the Extreme Productivity Podcast. If you want to instantly download the one-page planning tool that millionaires use to schedule their day you know what to do. Just text the word achieve to 44222 or to go Listen in to the next episode where I’m going to reveal Richard Branson’s number one tool for success. He said he would not have been able to build the billion dollar Virgin Group without this tool which actually costs just a couple of bucks. Tune back in and I will let you know what his secret to success is. Until then, remember master your minutes to master your life.