Chapter OneFully Engaged:
Energy, Not Time,
Is Our Most Precious Resource
We live in digital time. Our rhythms are rushed, rapid fire and relentless, our days carved up into bits and bytes. We celebrate breadth rather than depth, quick reaction more than considered reflection. We skim across the surface, alighting for brief moments at dozens of destinations but rarely remaining for long at any one. We race through our lives without pausing to consider who we really want to be or where we really want to go. We're wired up but we're melting down.
Most of us are just trying to do the best that we can. When demand exceeds our capacity, we begin to make expedient choices that get us through our days and nights, but take a toll over time. We survive on too little sleep, wolf down fast foods on the run, fuel up with coffee and cool down with alcohol and sleeping pills. Faced with relentless demands at work, we become short-tempered and easily distracted. We return home from long days at work feeling exhausted and often experience our families not as a source of joy and renewal, but as one more demand in an already overburdened life.
We walk around with day planners and to-do lists, Palm Pilots and BlackBerries, instant pagers and pop-up reminders on our computers -- all designed to help us manage our time better. We take pride in our ability to multitask, and we wear our willingness to put in long hours as a badge of honor. The term 24/7
describes a world in which work never ends. We use words like obsessed, crazed and overwhelmed not to describe insanity, but instead to characterize our everyday lives. Feeling forever starved for time, we assume that we have no choice but to cram as much as possible into every day. But managing time efficiently is no guarantee that we will bring sufficient energy to whatever it is we are doing.
Consider these scenarios:
You attend a four-hour meeting in which not a single second is wasted -- but during the final two hours your energy level drops off precipitously and you struggle to stay focused.
You race through a meticulously scheduled twelve-hour day but by midday your energy has turned negative -- impatient, edgy and irritable.
You set aside time to be with your children when you get home at the end of the day, but you are so distracted by thoughts about work that you never really give them your full attention.
You remember your spouse's birthday -- your computer alerts you and so does your Palm Pilot -- but by the evening, you are too tired to go out and celebrate.Energy, not time,
is the fundamental currency
of high performance.
This insight has revolutionized our thinking about what drives enduring high performance. It has also prompted dramatic transformations in the way our clients manage their lives, personally and professionally. Everything they do -- from interacting with colleagues and making important decisions to spending time with their families -- requires energy. Obvious as this seems, we often fail to take into account the importance of energy at work and in our personal lives. Without the right quantity, quality, focus and force of energy, we are compromised in any activity we undertake.
Every one of our thoughts, emotions and behaviors has an energy consequence, for better or for worse. The ultimate measure of our lives is not how much time we spend on the planet, but rather how much energy we invest in the time that we have. The premise of this book -- and of the training we do each year with thousands of clients -- is simple enough:Performance, health and happiness
are grounded in the
skillful management of energy.
There are undeniably bad bosses, toxic work environments, difficult relationships and real life crises. Nonetheless, we have far more control over our energy than we ordinarily realize. The number of hours in a day is fixed, but the quantity and quality of energy available to us is not. It is our most precious resource. The more we take responsibility for the energy we bring to the world, the more empowered and productive we become. The more we blame others or external circumstances, the more negative and compromised our energy is likely to be.
If you could wake up tomorrow with significantly more positive, focused energy to invest at work and with your family, how significantly would that change your life for the better? As a leader and a manager, how valuable would it be to bring more positive energy and passion to the workplace? If those you lead could call on more positive energy, how would it affect their relationships with one another, and the quality of service that they deliver to customers and clients?
Leaders are the stewards of organizational energy -- in companies, organizations and even in families. They inspire or demoralize others first by how effectively they manage their own energy and next by how well they mobilize, focus, invest and renew the collective energy of those they lead. The skillful management of energy, individually and organizationally, makes possible something that we call full engagement.
To be fully engaged, we must be physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focused and spiritually aligned with a purpose beyond our immediate self-interest. Full engagement begins with feeling eager to get to work in the morning, equally happy to return home in the evening and capable of setting clear boundaries between the two. It means being able to immerse yourself in the mission you are on, whether that is grappling with a creative challenge at work, managing a group of people on a project, spending time with loved ones or simply having fun. Full engagement implies a fundamental shift in the way we live our lives.
Less than 30 percent of American workers are fully engaged at work, according to data collected by the Gallup Organization in early 2001. Some 55 percent are "not engaged." Another 19 percent are "actively disengaged," meaning not just that they are unhappy at work, but that they regularly share those feelings with colleagues. The costs of a disengaged workforce run into the trillions of dollars. Worse yet, the longer employees stay with organizations, the less engaged they become. Gallup found that after six months on the job, only 38 percent of employees remain engaged. After three years, the figure drops to 22 percent. Think about your own life. How fully engaged are you at work? What about your colleagues or the people who work for you?
During the past decade, we have grown increasingly disturbed by the myriad ways in which our clients squander and misuse their energy. These include everything from poor eating habits and failure to seek regular recovery and renewal to negativity and poor focus. The lessons we seek to impart in this book have proved to be profoundly useful in managing our own lives and in leading our own organization. When we follow the energy management principles and the change process that we share on these pages, we find that we are far more effective, both personally and professionally, in our own actions and in our relationships. When we fall short, we see the costs immediately, in our performance and in our impact on others. The same is true of tens of thousands of clients with whom we have worked. Learning to manage energy more efficiently and intelligently has a unique transformative power, both individually and organizationally.A Living Laboratory
We first learned about the importance of energy in the living laboratory of professional sports. For thirty years, our organization has worked with world-class athletes, defining precisely what it takes to perform consistently at the highest levels under intense competitive pressures. Our initial clients were tennis players. Over eighty of the world's best players have been through our laboratory, among them Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, Tom and Tim Gullikson, Sergi Bruguera, Gabriela Sabatini and Monica Seles.
These players typically came to us when they were struggling, and our interventions have often produced dramatic turnarounds. After we worked with them, Sanchez-Vicario won the U.S. Open for the first time and became the top-ranked player in the world in both singles and doubles, and Sabatini won her first and only U.S. Open title. Bruguera went from number 79 in the world to the top ten and won two French Open titles. We went on to train a broad range of professional athletes, among them golfers Mark O'Meara and Ernie Els; hockey players Eric Lindros and Mike Richter; boxer Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini; basketball players Nick Anderson and Grant Hill; and speed skater Dan Jansen, who won his only Olympic gold medal following two intensive years of training with us.
What makes our intervention with athletes unique is that we spend no time focusing on their technical or tactical skills. Conventional wisdom holds that if you find talented people and equip them with the right skills for the challenge at hand, they will perform at their best. In our experience that often isn't so. Energy is the X factor that makes it possible to fully ignite talent and skill. We never addressed how Monica Seles hit her serves, or how Mark O'Meara drove the ball, or how Grant Hill shot his free throws. All of these athletes were extraordinarily gifted and accomplished when they came to us. We focused instead on helping them to manage their energy more effectively in the service of whatever mission they were on.
Athletes turned out to be a demanding experimental group. They aren't satisfied with inspirational messages or clever theories about performance. They seek measurable, enduring results. They care about batting averages, free-throw percentages, tournament victories and year-end rankings. They want to be able to sink the putt on the eighteenth hole in the final round, hit the free throw when the game is on the line, catch the pass in a crowd with a minute to go on the clock. Anyth...
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