Slay Your Dragons Before Breakfast

I awoke this morning to the dragon’s hot breath on my face. I was disoriented, not quite knowing where I was. I struggled to open one eye. Then another.

An Icon of St. George

And there he was. A dragon. A very big dragon. With three heads. Sitting in my bedroom, like so many mornings before, he was waiting. His heads swerved back and forth, dancing in the dim light. Each head alternately belching fire and hissing smoke.I groaned. Here we go again, I thought. If only I could shut my eyes and will him away. No such luck. His presence only grew more menacing.

I knew that I had to act. I leapt from the bed and ran straight at him. I have learned by experience that my only chance at victory is to slay the dragon while it is still dark. Before the first rays of sunshine strengthen his already substantial advantage.

Fortunately, once again I prevailed. But my victory is short-lived. I will face him again tomorrow. And the day after that.

Although this sounds like a fairy tale, it’s not. It’s my reality, day after day.

I face a dragon named Lethargy every morning. It has three heads: Pneuma (spiritual), Soma (physical), and Nous (intellectual).

If I don’t slay this dragon before breakfast, he usually gets the best of me. After breakfast—when the day’s activities are crowding into my life—my chances of doing battle and winning drop dramatically. Sometimes I can emerge victorious. But rarely.

My chances are better if I get in my basic disciplines before I get assaulted with the demands of the workday.

So, before breakfast, I complete the following:

  1. Read the Bible. I use this weapon to cut off the dragon’s middle head. I don’t know why it is so hard to defeat, but it is. A thousand and one distractions vie for my attention. That’s why I grab a cup of fresh tea, head to my favorite den chair, and begin reading at once.The Scriptures prime the pump and strengthen my resolve. If I can cut off the middle head of spiritual lethargy, the other two go down much easier. Currently, I am reading through the Bible in a year, using The NKJV Daily Bible (Kindle Edition).
  2. Engage in exercise. I use this weapon to cut off the dragon’s left head: physical lethargy. Sometimes, I think this is even more important than the middle head. Why? Because if I am not exercising regularly, it negatively impacts every other area of my life. It becomes more difficult to manage stress. I find that I just don’t have the energy to fight the other beasts I encounter.Currently, I am doing cardio four mornings a week for one hour and strength training two days a week for one hour. Weather permitting, I run outside. Otherwise, I am in the gym. Gail and I usually go together. It’s helpful to have an accountability partner.
  3. Listen to books. I use this weapon to cut off the dragon’s right head: intellectual lethargy. I learned a long time ago that “leaders read and readers lead.” By definition a leader (as opposed to a mere manager) stays out in front of his people. To lead, you have to set the pace. You have to be a thought leader.The problem I have is that it is difficult for me to sit still. I have a hard time finding a long enough stretch in the day to sit down and really read. I keep getting interrupted—or distracted.

    However, by downloading books from onto my iPhone, I can listen to books while I’m working out. Honestly, there are days when I hate to stop running or exercising because I am so engrossed in my book. It makes the time fly by.

Though I don’t do it before breakfast, I have one other discipline that I try to practice daily: prayer. I find that the best time for me to pray is in the car. This was easy when I had a commute. It usually took 35–40 minutes, so I had plenty of time. Now, I take advantage of any trip in the car. It’s become my rolling ”prayer closet.”

So what are your biggest dragons? What is your strategy for defeating them before breakfast? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • robert murray

    So you have clearly defined what is happening to me on my days off from work when I struggle to find motivation to do all of the things that I said that I would do when I am at work. I find myself struggling to get these three areas done, at least before noon anyway. Thanks for highlighting these areas! I needed this.

  • Kimberly Felton

    The analogy of the dragon is helpful to me — it puts me in this hero role, and I’m allowed to prevail…rather than groan and roll over. Fits well with another post I just read — — which begins the day with a blessing rather than burying my head in a pillow. I always love these ideas in the afternoons…tomorrow morning, though, will be my test.

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  • kimba the white lion

    the physical lethargy is not a demon at all for me, it’s a retro demon! I have made running my ‘job’ and it actually gets in the way of other responsibilities and sometimes I am too tired to get much done..just sayin’

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  • Bob LaForce

    My early mornings are sacred. I wake at 5:30 each day and check the weather and headlines on my iphone (TV is deadly!!) while making my coffee. Then I take a fresh cup of coffee and toast and do my devotions and prayer. I use Read the Bible through in a year, but I use different versions each year. Currently I am using The Message Bible edition. I also use a devotional from Africa that I have come to enjoy called, Our Daily Manna. It is a bit more pentecostal than I like at times, but usually it is quite good. I also read Oswald Chambers. Then I start my notes for the day, prioritizing what I need to do most. Its really a big to do list! Then off to the gym and from there to the office.

  • Fr Justin

    Well said!

  • EJM Photography

    Thank you very much-I needed this conformation!

  • Dragon

    Well I like dragons so they actually help me through the day. So sorry if this was offensive, but I think Lethargy does’nt like what you call and you think of him. Stop and think it over before you get the retaliation of the incorrect judgement.

  • Dragon 9

    Ok, so you forgot about 2 very important parts. 1: Without Lethargy, there would be NO relaxation or falling asleep. 2: Are you sure that he is only plaguing you because you slay him? (by the way, babies NEED Lethargy to get enough growth to be a child. I also like dragons. I personally think you are misjudging this situation by far. (by the way, i feel lethargic right now but i don’t care) Please do not delete this comment as it tells the full story that you forgot, or don’t want to, tell it to the audience. You want us to hate dragons because you are mad. You like slaying them. Imagine if you permanently slayed him, sleep won’t exist. And what happens if sleep does not exist? Think about it, then respond,

  • Futurestrader777

    Very true! My job has been very stressful recently and many people (not all) in the financial industry are lost. I have realized that my tiredness in the morning gets in the way of what matters. Such as giving myself to God in the morning and waking up with praise and thanksgiving. It is one of the most important things a Christian individual can do before heading into the battlefield and stresses of work. Sacrificing ourselves everyday makes those things at work seem minuscule when you have petitioned your worries,anxieties and doubts to the Almighty. Do it everyday and just see the blessings pour out in your life, outlook and workplace. Be a lighted city on a hill!

  • tammy

    O my!!! This how I struggle thank you by putting it into words I CAN see myself conquering my dragons!

  • Bill Johnson

    All I can do is say WOW! I needed that. Over time things et in the way and the dragon gets stronger. Pray for me as I begin to slay them early, before they take over.

  • Melinda Todd

    I pray through out the the day but always before I get out of bed. I hear my husband start his car at 5:30am every morning and I pray for him as he leaves. I can’t get up when it’s still dark out though. Every time I try to do this, I drag the rest of the day. It’s very wise that you know that you have to slay those three dragons every morning!

  • djump

    Great blog post. Thank you! Michael, what audio book are you listening to now? Would you pass on a couple recommendations?

    • Michael Hyatt

      I am listening to Eat, Move, Sleep by Tom Rath. It is a terrific book. Thanks.

  • Shane Sams

    Michael, I just wanted to thank you for this article. So much truth. Thank you for boldly putting the Bible and your relationship with God first.

  • MaryAnn Diorio

    One day years ago, when I was feeling
    overwhelmed, I read Proverbs 10:27 in the TLB translation. The verse changed my
    life. It reads: “Reverence for God adds hours to each day.” As a
    young mom with two small children and a writing career to grow and develop, I
    certainly needed more hours in my day. The very day I read that verse, I
    immediately began to reverence God by putting Him first in every thought,
    decision, and action, To my surprise and delight, I finished my most important
    priorities by 3:00 pm instead of the usual midnight. Ever since, I have been
    reverencing God and adding hours to each day. I compare this spiritual
    phenomenon to the multiplication of the loaves and fish. Reverencing God moves
    us out of the dimension of the natural into the dimension of the supernatural.
    It is there that miracles occur.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I love that verse. Thanks for sharing!

      • MaryAnn Diorio

        You are most welcome, Mr. Hyatt! :) Thank YOU for your inspiring post. You are a great blessing!

  • James Thomas Canali

    Love it thanks!

  • Matthew Weathers

    Great post still.

  • Nathan Shearer

    An oldie but a goodie!
    My dragons were similar but joining the 5 club and getting what your mind and body need into you makes for a life changing difference. I wrote about it here enjoy

  • Shawn Andrews

    I love the creativity of this post. I will never look at my mornings the same again. My wife and and I recently became morning people after listening to your podcast on the subject. I look forward to getting up at 5:30am. I never thought that as a father of four under six (including three year old triplets) I would say that but I am. Thanks for all you do Mr. Hyatt.

  • Amy Hollingsworth

    My dragon makes me toast!