I am starting a short series of blogs on Energy Management. We all talk about “energy” in different contexts, but for this series I will speak of energy in relation to the executive coaching I do in corporations.
“To be fully engaged in our lives, we must be physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focused and spiritually aligned with a purpose beyond our immediate self-interest.” – Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, The Power of Full Engagement, 2003.
Some executives thrive under pressure, others wilt. There is an epidemic of stress and burnout in our personal and work lives. While we pride ourselves on our ability to multi-task, the more efficient we become, the more responsibilities we take on, and with it more stress.
Even when we manage our time well we still end up exhausted, stressed, unable to concentrate, keep focus, and be productive. That’s because the problem isn’t time management, it’s energy. One major quality that executives seek for themselves and their employees it is sustained high performance in the face of ever-increasing pressure and rapid change, and that takes energy.
Some of the secrets of sustaining energy and high performance come from studying professional athletes. Professional athletes spend most of their time training and, at most, a few hours a week actually competing. Corporate executives, however, have almost no time for training and must perform at peak levels under intense scrutiny and competition for often 12 or 14 hours a day.
According to authors Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, in The Power of Full Engagement (2003), we need to rethink much of what we’ve believed about organizing our lives. We need to learn two new rules:
- Energy is the fundamental currency of high performance.
- Performance, health and happiness are grounded in the skillful management of energy.
LACK OF ENERGY – LACK OF FULL ENGAGEMENT
Full engagement ought to be a bottom line priority. Companies incur unnecessary costs in the billions because of unengaged people who are just showing up for work—estimated at $350 billion a year by the Gallup Organization. Few executives or managers understand energy management and how to build it into daily routines. Yet the ability to sustain drive and passion throughout the work day—and have some left over for family at the end of the day—is based on acquiring a few positive habits and understanding energy management concepts.
THE FOUR PRINCIPLES OF ENERGY MANAGEMENT
The same principles can be applied to corporate executives. Here are the basic concepts, from Loehr and Schwartz:
- Energy has four dimensions: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. It is necessary to draw energy from each domain and to manage it in all four.
- Energy is best managed when there is oscillation between stress and recovery. Stress in this case is meant in a positive sense. Stress is what makes us stretch ourselves and use our talents and skills; however, it must be balanced with recovery and rest, and most of us don’t know how to do this.
- Pushing beyond our usual limits builds our strengths. Building mental, emotional, and spiritual capacities is similar to physical training to improve our strength or cardiovascular abilities. We must push in order to grow.
- Creating specific positive energy replenishing rituals sustains and expands our energy. This is the key to recuperating and making our energy reserves fully available to us.
My next post will be on becoming a “corporate athlete”. Your thoughts??