In 1998 I started my third career in consulting. I remember buying a book at the time which stared something like:
“As a consultant, your clients pay you mainly
for the energy that you bring to bear on their problems”.
Not for time, not for skills nor expertise, but for ENERGY. The idea struck me deeply at the time and has stayed with me ever since.
So it was a few weeks ago, I was re-reading a book called “On Form” by Jim Loher and Tony Schwartz which digs a bit deeper into the idea and has some great worksheets at the back of the book.
The whole premise of the book is taken from great athletes – who have to manage their energy to achieve peak performance. Here are a couple of key ideas:
Managing energy, not time, is the key to high performance
Full engagement requires drawing on four separate but related dimensions of energy:
Because energy capacity diminishes with both overuse and underuse, we must learn to balance energy expenditure with intermittent energy renewal.
To build capacity, we must push beyond our normal limits, training in the same, systematic way that elite athletes do.
Positive energy rituals – highly specific routines for manning energy are the key to full engagement and sustained high performance.
Four Sources of Energy
Physical capacity is defined by quantity
Emotional capacity is defined by quality
Mental capacity is defined by focus
Spiritual capacity is defined by force
What particularly struck me was the different types of energy that we need to balance in order to perform at our highest levels. So many businesses focus on financial targets, operational objectives and stakeholder satisfaction. I have seen very few that have taken the idea of energy to the heart of their business to achieve the results that they want – and help each individual to achieve optimal personal performance so that they can be more effective in achieving the objectives of the organisation.
Aside from early morning exercise rituals in Japanese companies and the Military, few have physical rituals that are embedded in their culture. Most require employees to turn up – and keep their energy up through the fashionable cup of Starbucks (or equivalent) caffeine shot. Emotions are required to be left outside the door so that that people can focus on mental tasks. Spiritual energy is deemed to be a private matter – yet those companies that strive for a higher purpose (over-and-above making a profit) consistently do better than this with less worthy ambitions.
For me, I gave up caffeine for Lent – and have carried on without it. My energy levels are more stable, and more balanced. One of the best changes I have made to my routine in years. Highly recommended!
Interested to know readers views on any of this – and what rituals they have found keep up their energy levels – not just physical!
Source: “On Form” by Jim Loher and Tony Schartz, Nicholas Brealey Publishing 2003, pp197-198 – also available on Kindle