It’s All About Energy Management!

Higher Demands, Less EnergyExhaustion

The American culture is becoming increasingly a place of higher demands.  Employers are trying to squeeze more and more from their employees.  Expectations for productivity are higher than ever.  Competition is fiercer than ever.  And compensation isn’t keeping up with the demands.

The average American worker is not only given less annual vacation time than counterparts around the world, he or she actually takes less of this time than the others.  Americans are working harder and longer than ever before.

A consistent theme I hear from the leaders and senior managers I coach is the insane amount of work they are engaging in on a daily basis – almost to the point of complete breakdown.  And they all feel somewhat trapped in this never-ending cycle.  It is definitely not a sustainable strategy.

Energy Is Renewable

One of the things I’ve learned is that life is all about energy management.  Truth is, time is a finite resource.  But energy is renewable.  We all have the opportunity to make choices that can actually increase our energy.  It all depends on how we manage this amazing resource.

I read a profound article in the Harvard Business Review written by Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy, “Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time” (Oct. 2007).  In the article, they suggest that “energy comes from four main wellsprings in human beings: the body, emotions, mind, and spirit. In each, energy can be systematically expanded and regularly renewed by establishing specific rituals— behaviors that are intentionally practiced and precisely scheduled, with the goal of making them unconscious and automatic as quickly as possible.”

I love this perspective because it provides hope that we all have it within our power to do something about our energy which is so often lagging and drooping from the incessant demands we face regularly:  we can learn to recognize the energy-depleting behaviors / activities we engage in; and we can learn what instead energizes us and so develop ways to more intentionally step into those.

It’s all about energy management.

How Strengths Renew Energy

This is why I coach and consult people and organizations around strengths.  Strengths are in fact wired into us – they are our natural preferences – innate talents that come from the natural flow of electricity (energy) via certain neural pathways (each one leading to certain specific behaviors).  Because of the chemicals released in these pathways, the pathways become ingrained in us.  If they’re our natural preference pathways, they’re pleasant for us to stimulate so we tend to stimulate them more than others.  And the more we use them, the more we strengthen them.  It’s a powerful feedback loop.

So when we pay attention to what our natural strengths are, and when we choose to use them more intentionally, we are putting ourselves in an energy flow that is not only more efficient and fulfilling but also more sustainable, renewable.  Using our innate resources (like strengths) actually increases energy because it’s aligning with our unique individual biology – it’s stewarding our brains effectively by leveraging those neural pathways with their accompanying electricity and chemicals.

When we are not using our natural preferences, according to neuroscientists our brains are actually expending 100x the energy than when we’re leading with our natural preferences (our innate wiring and talents).  One hundred times!  So instead of making deposits, we’re making massive withdrawals from our energy bank unnecessarily.  Our brains are wearing out.  And consequently, our whole feeling of energy lags and droops.  We’re not being “fully alive.”

It’s all about energy management.

Take the StrengthsFinder Assessment

If you  haven’t taken the strengthsfinder assessment yet to discover your top natural strength preferences, you need to!  There are two ways to take the test:  buy the book StrengthsFinder 2.0 from Amazon for $14.00, or go directly online to the Gallup site, pay $9.99, and take the test.  What a small price to pay to radically increase your ability to renew your energy!

My work as a coach and consultant is to unpack these results for people and organizations.  I give them opportunity to think through and strategize how they can be more intentional about using their strengths in every aspect of their lives – work, relationships, spirituality.  When people take this work seriously and really engage via their strengths, the results are always amazing – people have more energy, more fulfillment, more effective productivity, less stress, more of a feeling of flow, more of being, as Schwartz and McCarthy describe, “effortlessly absorbed.”  Who wouldn’t want all that??

It’s all about energy management.

It’s time for people to stop trying to simply work harder and start working smarter.  Leverage your natural preferences, your strengths.  Let your brain work effectively and efficiently the way it was designed to.  Learn what makes you unique from everyone else.  And then embrace it, step into it, stand in your truth, and let yourself be the powerful person you are.  Develop a truly sustainable life.

You want more energy?  Try managing and stewarding the energy you have.  I guarantee:  you’ll find your energy is in deed a renewable resource.

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If you or someone you know in your organization is looking for keynote speakers or workshop teachers for events in your company, congregation, or association gatherings, I would be happy to come speak on this theme or others like it.  And interested in strengths coaching?  Feel free to email me at greg@gregorypnelson.com.