Early in his career, author and consultant Price Pritchett said he had the privilege of working for a very skilled management psychologist. Time and again, Pritchett heard him say, “In my opinion, the single most important factor for success in the business world is a high energy level.”
From the psychologist’s point of view, energy contributed the most to career success — more than intelligence, advanced degrees, personality, or social skills. And after 25 years of consulting, Pritchett now says, “I can’t guarantee that energy level is absolutely THE single most important factor for career success. But I have become convinced it belongs in that small handful of most critical factors.”
I totally agree. In fact, I consider my energy level to be one of my “secrets” to success. Anyone who knows me will comment on my energy level. I’m filled with it … almost all the time. I seldom get tired or feel overwhelmed. And I never get jet lag … I can work or play from early morning to late at night. I pack a lot into every day and I live life to the fullest.
And yet I realize that lots of people do not have the energy they need for greater career success or even family success. So how can you pump up and keep up your energy level?
Quick answer: my keynote and seminar on UP Your Attitude does an amazing job of energizing my audiences. But, more importantly, it gives them the exact tools they need to keep their energies high, any time, in any circumstance.
But what can you do to increase your energy level now? There are four things.
Recognize what you’re good at. You’ve got some natural gifts and talents. Figure that out and use your gifts. As philosopher Bertrand Russell pointed out, “Anything you’re good at contributes to happiness.”
And I would add, when you’re doing what you’re good at, your energy level soars.
But if you want your energy level to sky rocket, you must also recognize the kind of work you love and do more of what you love.
General Colin Powell, the former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is a person I greatly respect. We have both been inducted into the Speaker Hall of Fame, an honor that has been reserved for a mere handful of people in the last 40 years.
Powell puts it perfectly. He says, “Find that which you love doing and that which you do well. When you put those two together, you have put into place the roadmap for a successful and satisfying life.”
The problem is … it’s not possible to spend all your time on tasks you’re good at and tasks you love. That’s not reality.
So where can you get the extra energy you’ll need to keep your work-life balance from burning out?
Go on to strategies 2, 3, and 4 below.
2. Generate Energy
In other words, you’ve got to do some things that will generate more energy and put in your reserve buckets.
At the physical level, that means you’ve got to feed your body and mind the right kinds of fuel. As Dr. Amen says in Change Your Brain, Change Your Life,
“Many people struggle with energy and mental clarity after lunch. I have found that eliminating all simple carbohydrates at lunch (sugar, white bread or other products made from white flour such as bagels and white pasta, potatoes and rice) can make a dramatic difference in energy and focus in the afternoon.”
At the emotional level, you generate energy when you actually accomplish something. As cleric and writer William Ralph Inge noted, “The happiest people seem to be those who are producing something. The bored people are those who are consuming much and producing little.” Plainly put, don’t let a day pass by without some sense of accomplishment.
And at the interpersonal level, connect with positive, encouraging, productive people. Avoid workaholics who don’t have a life because they may suck the life out of you.
After I spoke at Boeing, Myra Burris, a Business Operations Analyst, sent me a note, saying, “Before I arrive at work each morning, I try to get myself into a good frame of mind. However, my energy is always zapped by the end of the day due to negativity. I’ve been using your attitude and energy techniques and it’s making a world of positive difference. Thanks so much.”
Beyond generation, another way to enhance energy is to…
3. Conserve Energy
The idea here is to conserve your fuel supply — contain it — so it doesn’t leak out or get spent on trivial, meaningless, or worthless activities. Just as serious marathon runners conserve energy by wearing light clothes and avoiding wasted motion, you need to get serious about conserving your energy.
For starters, however, you need to FOCUS without distraction.
That means you’ve got to stop yourself from jumping from task to task. You’ve got to stop the interruptions to your concentration. And one of the best ways to do that … you’re going to hate me for saying this … is to read and respond to e-mails no more than twice a day.
You also need to LET GO. Let go of yesterday’s frustration or last year’s indignities. Refuse to wallow in bitterness because of what somebody did or did not do. It’s guaranteed to kill off your energy.
Desmond Tutu, the clergyman and civil rights leader, knew that. He says, “Having looked the past in the eye, having asked for forgiveness and having made amends, let us shut the door on the past — not in order to forget it but in order not to allow it to imprison us.”
And finally, when it comes to energy enhancement and more work-life balance, you must…
4. Apply Energy
Apply yourself. In other words, apply the energy you’ve gathered through the three strategies listed above to whatever task is in front of you.
And don’t ever say, “I just don’t feel like it.” That’s a cop out that will never work for you.
Just do it. If something has to be done, do it. Don’t sit around waiting for inspiration or waiting for your feelings to change. That’s not how you or any other human being is wired. First you do it and then you feel like it.
Apply yourself boldly. Because it works. As Pritchett says, “Your opening moves should be strong enough to overcome inertia, give you instant momentum and create excitement inside.”
In other words, if you start by boldly applying yourself, you will soon have the energy to keep on keeping on. That’s why William James, the father of American psychology, said there are three rules to follow if you want the energy to change your life:
- start immediately,
- do it flamboyantly, with
- no exceptions.
Action: Figure out which stage of energy enhancement you need to spend more time on. Do you need to Recognize, Generate, Conserve, or Apply energy? Determine that. And then decide on two things you’re going to do about it.
Dr. Alan Zimmerman’s Tuesday Tip, Issue 904 – Work-Life Balance Out of Whack? 4 Ways to Re-Energize Yourself