Managing Energy To Accelerate Growth
Energy = [(Physical Health) + (Mental Health) + (Emotional Health) + (Spiritual Health)]
I still remember lamenting to a mentor, “I always feel bad for not being productive enough.” He looked at me with seriousness and stated, “You are not a machine. Don’t try to be one.” The tradeoffs for assumed “productivity” (working constantly, not taking breaks, etc) can be severe: burn-out, physical illness, subpar performance, depression - the list goes on. As a leader of an organization, managing personal energy effectively can impact an entire workforce and lead to significant organizational impact by accelerating productivity and growth. As a person, managing personal energy effectively can lead to a transformation in our relationships, improve how we deal with adverse situations, and ultimately, define how we live our lives.
Research has shown that the costs of a disengaged workforce leads to losses of up to $450-$550 billion. Exacerbating the situation is that the longer employees tend to stay within a particular workforce, the more disengaged they become. While this will vary by organizational and incentive structure, as well as company culture, “rest and vest” is a serious barrier to accelerating organizational growth. Rethinking vesting schedules and restructuring the incentives of your team to avoid rewarding employees with mediocre performance to stay longer (a factor correlated with higher disengagement and lower productivity) becomes crucial to achieve continued growth with a highly engaged, productive team.
Simple Steps to Mindful Management
Identify Overtraining And Undertraining: Where are you off balance? For some people, they may be overtraining professionally but undertraining emotionally and physically. Figure out which quadrant you currently are in in order to begin focusing on what strategies can maximize personal improvement. Become highly self-aware of what your mind and body is telling you - do you need to get up a stretch? Are your eyes bloodshot? Are you feeling bored because you’re taking on too little? Be honest with yourself and listen to any signs you have been ignoring.
Work In Sprints: Athletes spend the majority of their time training (up to 90%) so that they can perform. In other words – they perform in small sprints. In between, there is significant recovery time in order to reinforce growth and incremental improvement. Schools actually happen to create sprints quite well. While there seems to always be the inevitable burnout of students towards the end of the semester there is always a lengthy vacation for recharging (Spring Break, Summer Break, Winter Break). What if organizationally, within companies, we were able to construct similar regimens for the workforce? Allowing them more time to recharge, giving meaningful, goal-driven deadlines throughout the year, and enforcing a culture that enforces sprints as opposed to marathons. (What’s worse than an unproductive, repetitive meeting that drags on for hours on end? Or feeling obligated to only take one vacation per year?)
Build Efficient, Focused Recovery Routines: Between each work sprint, building an efficient and focused recovery routine is key. It’s not enough to just take a break. Walking to the kitchen to grab a cookie while chatting with a complaining coworker may actually leave you more drained than not taking a break. Instead, figure out what re-energizes you. Is it taking a quick walk around the block outdoors? Finding a quiet space to do a 10 minute meditation? Discover and stick to an efficient, focused recovery routine in order to maximize the time in between sprints and rebuild energy.
Stick To The System: Once you’ve developed a system for what works, practice it - every day. Once it becomes a habit, you will automatically begin performing more optimally. Remember the consequences and domino effect of slipping away from honoring what works: fatigue leads to negative emotions, which ultimately leads to poor performance. Practice moving from peak concentration into valleys of relaxation so that you begin to become highly self-aware about when you might need a break to become more productive.
To quote The Power of Full Engagement, “Because we have overridden the natural rhythms that once defined our lives, the challenge is to consciously and deliberately create new boundaries. It is in the spaces between work that love, friendship, depth and dimension are nurtured. Without time for recovery, our lives become a blur of doing unbalanced by much opportunity for being. Intermittently disengaging is what allows us to passionately re-engage.”
In a frenetic, constantly connected world, recognize the important role recover plays in improving performance and achieving growth.