Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

I looked in the mirror and didn't like what I saw.

"You miserable failure, " I grunted at myself. "You could have been somebody. As opposed to this body."

It wasn't a heartening start to my day. 7.30 a.m. and I was already disappearing down the hole of inadequacy.

How could I halt this inexorable fall?

Fortunately, that morning I bumped into the answer. Apparently, the truly successful get up at 4 a.m

One of those is Apple CEO Tim Cook. He claims to get up at 4 a.m. just to see what real people are saying about his company.

I can do that, I muttered. I would do that, I stammered.

Day Number 1.

I set my alarm for 4 a.m.

It rang in the middle of the night. 

Well, that's what 4 a.m. is, right? A time where the world is still dark and the brain is still in the fog of the night before.

My wife stirred for a second. My mind demurred for several seconds, but no, I was determined to leap out of bed.

Normally, I only get up at such a time in order to catch a flight. I'm never in a good mood and I never get enough sleep.

This was no exception. I dragged myself to the shower and, I confess, cursed.

This is what it takes to be successful? It hurts.

Still, I have a morning routine and I decided to stick with it. 

The first thing I do is jump in the car and go down to Starbucks. Once that grande almond milk latte disappears into my veins, Klieg lights come on in my head and I'm ready to function.

I pushed on the door to Starbucks. It was closed. 

It doesn't open until 4.30. 

I hovered outside for a few moments and decided I was losing valuable time in my pursuit of success.

I got back in the car, hoping to find something else open. My hopes were as elusive as my successes.

After 15 minutes of driving, I had to go back home. We have a Nespresso machine, but it doesn't make big cups of coffee.

Or, if it does, I don't know how it does. 

Still, there was no other option. I put the little coffee tub into the machine and started.

Then I went to the fridge to get milk.

There was no milk. 

This wasn't going well. 

Still, I made the rest of my breakfast and sat down, ready to work. 

I'm working on a couple of projects. I had things to write, too.

But my head was throbbing and, before I realized what was happening, I sank into an internet stupor.

It was five hours before I did something productive.

There were a couple of calls. At least, I think there were. I didn't feel I made much of a contribution. 

I want to tell you how great this all felt.

The truth is I felt like my head had an unhappy sheep inside it.

I wasn't thinking clearly. And goodness, did the typos mount. 

I fell asleep at 2 p.m. I woke at 4, feeling worse than I felt at 1. Or noon. 

I tried working. Really, I did. Then I drifted off into considering how dreadful Tim Cook's life must be. 

How can he do this every day? And his work must involve so many decisions, so many panics and it never stops. 

My wife came home from work at 6.30 p.m. 

"How the success thing going?" she said.

"I'm not succeeding so far, but it's only the first day," I said, attempting bravado, but emitting desperado.

Indeed, she looked at me as if she was concerned I'd incurred measles.

I was asleep by 9.30 p.m. On the sofa, naturally. Then I woke up again to stagger to bed.

My day had been less productive than usual. But this was a new beginning. I could feel it.

Well, inasmuch as I could feel anything.

Day Number 2.

The alarm went off.

It was dark.

I cursed.

I showered.

I cursed again.

I opened my laptop for the 23 minutes I had to wait before Starbucks opened. 

I stared at it. 

This wasn't productive.

Otherwise, the day was the same as Day 1, but with almond milk.

The latte didn't work. Neither, really, did I.

But this was still just the beginning. I merely had to stay the course.

Day Number 3.

The alarm went off.

It was dark. 

I cursed.

I moved an arm to turn the alarm off. 

I cursed again.

I stretched my arm toward the edge of the bed, a first gesture toward getting up.

I cursed.

Then I went back to sleep.

This (ridiculously) early morning thing isn't for me.

I imagine Tim Cook's been doing it since he determined he was going to climb to the top. I'm sure it's part of his psychological regime.

I also imagine he doesn't have too many Wednesday nights out where he can have a giggle with his loved one in a restaurant and linger over a glass of port, while debating the merits of the San Diego Chargers, cyclists, yoga pants, Portuguese wine and the Federal Reserve with a server, a bartender and the people on the next table.

Mine was, I admit, a predicable result. 

I used to work as a garbage collector.

Our truck left the depot out at 6 a.m., which meant I had to get up at 5.

I was intensely irritable on waking and startlingly useless for the rest of the day.

I'll carry on getting up with the dawn(ish). I think that's what my ancestors did and they survived.

No, I may never be the CEO of a major company, a billionaire or a public object of derision for my taste in music. One Republic, Tim Cook, I ask you.

Too often, though, we use other people's definition of success, instead of our own.

Perhaps there's a New Year's Resolution in that. 

Published on: Dec 30, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.