I recently attended the Fortune Leadership Summit in Orlando, Florida and had the opportunity to hear some phenomenal speakers share their thoughts on a variety of topics. The one that topped my list was given by Dr. Jim Loehr. Jim is the author of “The Power of Full Engagement” and “The Only Way to Win.” I think the reason his talk hit home is that I have always been interested in trying to achieve balance in life - notice I said trying - and maintaining a fitness regimen to perform at my personal best.
Jim’s talk was on Human Performance and the ability to exert energy and recover effectively to be a true corporate athlete. He explained that energy, not time, is our most precious resource, and we must manage our energy effectively to be fully engaged. He also encourages us to spend energy like a drunken sailor, not conserve it. Information and demands from our corporate lives come at us faster than ever before. Our bodies were not built to perform at this level. The answer to cope with this and thrive is to manage your energy properly in order to maximize performance, health and happiness.
Four key energy management principles drive this process.
Principle number one: Full engagement requires drawing on four separate but related sources of energy:
You must make sure that from a physical standpoint you get enough rest, sleep, exercise and hydrate properly while managing your blood glucose levels. Exercise produces positive endorphins, increases blood flow that in turn helps us think and develop a positive attitude. It is all about quality as it relates to emotional energy. You must see the world in a positive manner, exercise hope and opportunistic emotions while using laser focus to be present in the moment. Multi-tasking is the enemy of extraordinary. We must strive to stay focused in the moment while resisting negative and backward looking feelings and thoughts. Mental endurance is about focus, using a strong positive coaching voice, as you are the master controller of your own thoughts. Enable yourself to embrace multiple points of view, not just your own. Spiritual strength is being aligned with your values while exercising tolerance for other values and beliefs that are different from your own.
Principle number two: Because energy capacity diminishes both with overuse and underuse, we must balance energy expenditure with intermittent energy renewal. We need to live life as a series of sprints. Expending as much energy as possible while giving our bodies time to recover. Humans do best when they function in 90-minute intervals. Focus hard on the task at hand for 90 minutes, then get up and move around and give you your mind and body time to recover; get the blood flowing before beginning the next sprint.
Principle number three: To build capacity, we must push beyond our normal limits, training in the same systematic way that elite athletes do. Most of us think that stress is bad, when in fact it is stress that enables us to grow. Stress hormones are the hormones of life. It’s chronic stress that is bad for us. We must push ourselves beyond our limits, but give ourselves time to recover, just the same way that a weight lifter works alternate muscle groups while giving each one 24-48 hours to recover.
Principle number four: Positive energy rituals - highly specific routines for managing energy - are the key to full engagement and sustained high performance. The idea here is that we must develop rituals that are aligned with our core purpose to direct our energies. Look at how we spend our energy and decide what changes we need to make to achieve a more positive outcome. The next step is to take action to close the gap between how we currently expend our energy and how we want to expend it in the future. Remember, it is not about the time we spend on earth, but the energy we put into the things we do. We give life to whatever we put our energy into. It is about determining what those things should be and focusing on them accordingly.
The most important predictor of success is the amount of drive you have, even more so than intellect. The key is to define your mission with purpose, harness that drive and expend as much energy as possible on the right priorities. Do this while exercising the four principles above to balance your energy management. Functioning at your best will enable you to contribute everything you have to executing your personal and company annual and long-term goals.