“If you start to take Vienna, take Vienna.”
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 am filled with it … almost all the time. I only sleep 4 to 5 hours a night, seldom get tired, never get jet lag, and 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: sign up for my two-day program, “The Journey To The Extraordinary.” Of course, that sounds self-serving, but the fact is … participants are always highly energized by the “Journey.”
But I won’t be offering the “Journey” for a few months. So what can you do now to increase your energy level now? There are four things.
=> 1. Recognition
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.
Beyond the recognition of your gifts and talents, you need to RECOGNIZE the kind of work you love. As motivational guru Napoleon Hill stated many decades ago, “The starting point of achievement is desire. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desire produces weak results, just as a small amount of fire produces small amounts of heat.”
Ask yourself what kind of work you love and desire. You need to know. And once you recognize it … and do it … your energy level will soar even more.
The problem is … it’s not possible to spend all your time on tasks you love. That’s not reality. Every job and every day comes with some tasks that you and I do not love. So where can you get the extra energy you’ll need? From strategies 2, 3, and 4 I outline below.
=> 2. Generation
In other words, you’ve got to do some things to BUILD your energy reserves.
At the physical level, that includes regular physical exercise and B-complex vitamins. Or as stated in “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life” by Dr. Amen, “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.
Dr. Charles Garfield, an associate professor at the University of California’s medical school, found that “peak performers” knew how to relax, could leave their work at the office, prized close friends and family life, and spent a healthy amount of time with their children and spouses.
Beyond generation, another way to enhance energy is…
=> 3. Conservation
As Pritchett says, “The idea here is to preserve the fuel supply — contain it — so it doesn’t leak out or get drained off into low-pay activities.” Just as serious marathon runners conserve energy by wearing light clothes and avoiding wasted motion, you need to get serious about preventing energy waste.
For starters, however, you need to FOCUS. As social psychologist Michael Ray has discovered, “In some magical way, by slowing down you become more efficient, productive, and energetic … focusing without distraction directly on the task in front of you.”
Did you get that? “Focus without distraction.”
At the very least, it 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.
In addition to FOCUSING as a way to conserve your energy, 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.”
LET GO. That’s what one motorist failed to do, and so he squandered away his energy. As reported in “Your Life’s Support System,” two cars were stopped at a red light, one behind the other. When the light turned green, the first car didn’t budge. The man in the second car began honking, which prompted the driver of the first car to turn on her hazard lights. Rather than simply going around the woman, the man chose to scream at her and beat on his dashboard.
Suddenly a police car pulled up. The officer approached the man in the car and tapped on his window.
“Is there a problem, officer? Is honking and yelling suddenly a crime?” sniped the driver. The police officer responded, “I just need to see your license and registration, Sir.”
The driver handed over the items, and the officer walked back to his squad car to get on the radio. He returned a few minutes later to return the driver’s items.
“So, are you giving me a ticket or what?” asked the driver. The officer said, “I never planned on giving you a ticket. I just thought this car might be stolen — so I wanted to check it out.”
“Why would you think my car was stolen?”
“Well, I saw you sitting there making such a fuss and I noticed your bumper stickers: ‘Say something nice’, ‘Remember the Golden Rule’, and ‘Lend a hand. Make a friend’. It didn’t add up, so I thought to myself, ‘This car must be stolen because the person who believes what those bumper stickers say surely wouldn’t behave in that manner.’”
The driver snapped back, “Today, I’m trying to get somewhere and that … that … inconsiderate driver in front of me has been holding me up.”
The officer shook his head and chuckled, “And today you’ve given me my first case of mistaken bumper-sticker identity.”
And finally, when it comes to energy enhancement, you must wisely use…
=> 4. Application.
You must focus your energy on the most important things at work and at home. You don’t have time for everything, so you need to focus on those things that really really count.
And with the APPLICATION of focused energy, you get noticeable results in fairly quick order. It’s kind of like using a magnifying glass to concentrate the sun’s rays on a pile of wood chips. You start a fire rather rapidly.
Yes, concentrate your energy … and add some bold strokes. Pritchett says, “Your opening moves should be strong enough to overcome inertia, give you instant momentum and create excitement inside.”
Audacious action energizes a person. 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: 1) start immediately, 2) do it flamboyantly, with 3) no exceptions.
Action: Which stage of energy enhancement do you need to spend more time on? Phase 1 – Recognition? Phase 2 – Generation? Phase 3 – Conservation? or Phase 4 – Application? Determine that.
And then decide on two things you’re going to do about it.