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The Power of Routine

Posted by George Parker on
<b>The Power of Routine</b>

General Douglas Haig commanded the British Expeditionary Force in World War I. The daily stress and danger for everyone involved, from the trenches to general headquarters, are unimaginable today.

This makes Haig's daily routine more remarkable in the face of this daily life-and-death struggle. As Peter Hart recounts in his book The Great War

"Punctually at 8.25 each morning General Haig's bedroom door opened and he walked downstairs. He then went for a short 4 minutes' walk in the garden. At 8.30 precisely he came into the mess for breakfast...At nine o'clock he went into his study and worked until eleven or half past...At 1 o'clock he had lunch, which only lasted half an hour, and then he either motored or rode to the headquarters of some army or corps or division. Always on the return journey he would stop about 3 miles from home and walk back to headquarters. On arrival there he would go straight up to his room, have a bath, do his physical exercises and then change into slacks. From then until dinner time at 8 o'clock he would sit at his desk and work. After dinner, he returned to his room and worked until a quarter to 11."

Punctually. Precisely. Always. That's a routine.

And notice, every day, he got in a 3-mile brisk walk and his strength work. He and his army were living through hell, yet he still trained. Why? I think we runners understand. The routine provides some order while living in chaos. The physical exertion brings some enjoyment and relief in the face of despair. In a world where nothing is in our control, the routine keeps us moving forward, onwards to another day, and, for the men and women of World War I, a better world.

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