Mornings are an incredibly important time for everyone. We are encouraged to eat breakfast, do some cardio, read the news, and get to work early. While we know very well the recommended routines, we don't know which are the ones that truly work.

How, then, do great leaders do spend every morning? What is it they do that everyone else is missing? And how do they turn into the early bird that gets the worm?

As it turns out, the secret isn't blending your coffee with butter, doing exactly 24 jumping jacks when you hop out of bed, or putting the blinds face down or up.

It's actually just waking up early.

When we wake up late, we are psychologically and physically affected much more than we think. In addition to feeling groggy and the opposite of refreshed, we often wake up not feeling in our best form either. Often, the later we wake up, the less inclined we are to engage in exercise or other productive activity.

The loss of the morning, it seems, is something that causes us to slow down the pace of the rest of our day--something absolutely counterproductive to what most of us hope to do.

It's no coincidence that many of today's most successful businesspeople are early birds, including PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi (4:00 a.m.), Apple CEO Tim Cook (4:30 a.m.), Richard Branson (5:45 a.m.), and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz (4:30 a.m.).

Waking up feeling already behind--especially if you wake up late for work or school--leaves us much less willing to attack the rest of the day head on. Psychologically, we feel that the day is already lost before it's even begun.

Running from thing to thing constantly late and stressed out of our minds is no way to keep a cool head throughout the day. And a cool head is exactly what great leaders possess when the rest of us are too frazzled to think straight.

All in all, there isn't actually a tried-and-true regimen for success for everyone's mornings. It is, rather, simply more important that we have a morning at all. We need time to collect our reflections from the day before, to prepare for what's ahead, and to take a deep breath, so that we aren't caught off guard when things don't--or do!--go our way.