“I spent a long time as a journalist, and there was a lot about being a journalist that I liked, and I was good at it, but I never felt a burning passion about what it was I was doing. I never felt that what I was doing was making a significant contribution to a better world. I didn’t really realize that that was what I was missing, I just knew I was missing something.”
That was the start of our rich and inspiring interview with Tony Schwartz, last Thursday. He then continued to share with us his ideas about high performance, and the need to manage our energy, instead of our time. Time is a finite resource: whatever we do, we will only ever have 168 hours in a week.
At the same time, things are ever getting more complex, and that puts more demands on us. Physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Those are the four types of energy, or ‘gas tanks’, that Tony distinguishes:
- Physical: the quantity of your energy
- Emotional: the quality of your energy
- Mental: the focus of your energy
- Spiritual: the purpose to which you put your energy
What Tony’s organization The Energy Project is saying to organizations, is that rather than getting the most out of people, they need to start investing in people.
“If their ultimate goal is to get the highest productivity from their employees, for the longest period of time, the best way to do that is not to demand more of them, but to actually meet their core needs so that they’re not preoccupied by those needs, and so they’re freed, and they’re fuelled, and they’re inspired to bring all they’ve got to work every day. Very different kind of approach.”
The key to solving the ‘personal energy crisis’ mirrors the solution to the energy crisis in a world of finite resources: renewable energy. We need to learn how to renew our own resources, our ‘gas tanks’. A world of more, bigger, faster, eventually leads to depletion, to emptiness, and burn-out. A world in which people are renewing creates sustainability.
One of the things we can do to wake up the workplace, ironically, is to take naps in the workplace. The body is designed to sleep twice every day. It’s meant to sleep for a long period at night, when it’s dark, and for a short period in the middle of the day. People who take naps are dramatically higher-performing during the three subsequent hours after the nap. The Energy Project actually has a renewal room with a comfortable bed for people to take naps!
The responsibility for managing our energy resources is ultimately our own, but organizations can do a lot to support their employees in bringing themselves to work fully. Some of the questions Tony addressed in the interview include:
- How do we create an environment in which people can physically take care of and renew themselves?
- How do we create an environment that grounded in high positive energy and appreciation for one another?
- How do we create an environment in which we give people the opportunity to focus on one thing at a time, for significant periods of time?
- How do we define the mission we’re on, in a way that resonates more powerfully and more clearly for people, so that when they show up for work, they feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves?
Tony: “If the organizations we go into say, well you know, I don’t want to deal with this spiritual stuff, that’s soft, that’s stuff that people should handle for themselves, what we say is, well, here’s all we mean by spiritual: what we mean by spiritual, is the energy derived from the experience that what you do really matters.
So let me ask you this, Mr. Executive: do you think that your people bring more energy to the table, when they believe that what they’re doing really matters? And that’s a no-brainer, isn’t it? That’s an unequivocal ‘yes’!”
The experience that what you do really matters: that’s what had been missing for Tony in his earlier years as a successful journalist. Tony: “Let me say this without a moment’s hesitation: the companies that thrive a decade, or two decades from now, are going to be the companies that embrace these principles, as sure as I’m sitting here talking to you right now. It’s only logic. They won’t be able to survive without it.”
Want to hear more? Listen to the recording of the entire interview with Tony Schwartz! Register for free, and you’ll get an email with a link to the downloads page.
Wondering about your own physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual ‘gas tanks’? Take the free Energy Audit on the website of The Energy Project, where you will also find loads of other awesome resources for managing your energy!
That’s what we took from the interview, but what about you? Share your insights and questions below!