Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom): an understanding that energy, vitality and passion cannot be given; they can only be found. [Your liveliness comes from inside you. No amount of urging by outside forces can make you vital, can make you care. You have to find it in yourself, for yourself.]
Here’s the thing: If you don’t really care whether some idea or conceptualization becomes a reality, if the process of getting to the finish line only induces a body-shuddering yawn, then it’s unlikely that you are going to convince your Inner Two-Year-Old that this boring, seemingly unending bit of road you’re walking is any kind of fun.
There’s going to be a lot of foot-dragging, whining, whimpering, time-wasting, and all-out, go-for-the-gold tantrum-tossing.
If you’re physically exhausted, if your mind is whirling around totally confused, if your heart is muddled and your spirits are low, you are just not going to be able to move effectively.
It all gets very, very disheartening and none of this is at all conducive to the good stuff like “mastery,” “achievement,” “leadership,” and “peak performance.”
It really does seem that in order to actually have more than ho-hum and humdrum in your life, you do have to learn how to find and nurture your own kind of lively.
COMES A BOOK
In 2015, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, world-renowned self-development experts focused on performance, motivation and self-generated personal energy who spent their careers working with super-athletes and other high-performing individuals and organizations, put out a book, THE POWER OF FULL ENGAGEMENT: Managing Energy, Not Time Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal.
The book laid out the principles behind their “Corporate Athlete Training System,” a practical, highly effective program that developed out of their work helping clients perform more effectively under brutal competitive pressure that very often led to meltdowns and assorted other forms of implosion. It wowed the business world, that book.
TIME MANAGEMENT? HA!
It also put the kibosh on the notion making the rounds at the time that all us busy, busy people have to do is somehow manage our Time properly and, by golly, we too can reach the ever-receding end of our ever-evolving To-Do List and achieve all of our dreams and goals as well as happiness, joy, and The Good Life.
As most of us have discovered (if we’ve spent any time in the world), Time doesn’t take to herding very well. (Frankly, neither do we.)
As Loehr succinctly puts it, “It’s not about time! Time management is crap….It is about energy management.”
IT’S ALL ABOUT ENERGY!
The authors lay out the Real – that human beings are complex energy systems and the only thing we’ve got to fuel this journey we are making through the world is our own innate, self-generated energy.
The wise guys through the ages have always said that our personal energy comes from four separate but interconnected dimensions of our lives that are all a part of every one of us. Our bodies, our emotions, our minds and our spirits affect the amount of energy we are capable of producing.
This energy has cycles – sometimes there is a lot of energy available, sometimes not so much. How we use our energy affects how much energy we have available to us when life demands that we move. How we nurture ourselves also affects our energy reserves.
Loehr and Schwartz tell us that if we understand how our personal energy systems work, we can develop supportive and nurturing methods and techniques that allow us to grow our energy output exponentially. Doing that, as their work with their clients have shown over and over again, allows us to do amazing things.
Since a lot of the work by the authors has been done with super-athletes and others who are pushing themselves to greater performance levels in sports, in business and in everyday living, many of their metaphors and methodologies are easy to understand (unlike some bits from more esoteric sorts).
“Full engagement,” according to the authors, means using all the dimensions of your being to produce and to maintain and nurture the energy you need to get to whatever goal you’ve set for yourself. In this book, there are many suggestions and lifestyle hacks that can help you do it better.
One of the best animated video overviews I’ve seen about this book was published by Callibrain on YouTube shortly after THE POWER OF FULL ENGAGEMENT was released.
Callibrain, it says here, is a software platform offering tools and such for corporate leaders, managers, and corporate employees to “enhance employee engagement through social collaboration and execution discipline.”
(All I really know about them is that they have produced some excellent animated reviews of books that explore thought-provoking concepts that are very useful for those who are interested in developing themselves in ways that help them reach their own excellence.)
On re-reading this book, I was struck by the number of similarities between the practices Loehr and Schwartz advocate and those that are suggested by other teachers exploring the human condition and how we can best deal with the world as it is and as we are.
My own favorite riff is the one about how the primary markers for physical capacity are the following: strength, endurance, flexibility and resilience. Those same markers can be used to measure capacity in the other dimensions of being as well.
An interesting exercise is to find the equivalents for each of these markers – strength, endurance, flexibility and resilience – in the areas the authors examine – body, heart, mind and spirit. Developing and expanding your capacities in each of these areas will give you a better chance of reaching “full engagement,” they say.
Here’s an example:
Physical flexibility means that your muscle has a broad range of motion.
Emotional flexibility means you can move freely and appropriately along a wide range of emotions rather than responding rigidly or defensively.
Mental flexibility is the ability to move between the rational and the intuitive and to look at other points of view.
Spiritual flexibility is the ability to tolerate values and beliefs that are different than your own.
Try thinking on what abilities each of the other markers — strength, endurance and resilience — would give you when you apply them to your body, heart, mind and spirit.
I find it interesting that these capacities also seem to be the same ones that many wise guys encourage you to develop and expand as you work on living a life with meaning and mana.
Here’s a poem:
I KEEP DANCING
I keep dancing.
(It’s what I do.)
So my feet swell up…
My legs get tired…
My arms feel like lead…
And my head’s been gyred.
I keep dancing.
(There’s really no other choice.)
For me, my dance is all
About timing, rhythm and space,
I keep dancing.
I see you’re dancing too.
Maybe your song’s different
And our moves don’t synchronize.
Still, it’s cool to know
You’re dancing just as strongly as I do.
And it pleases me to think you’re dancing
To the song that is just you.
SOME OTHER POSTS TO EXPLORE
(Click on each of the post titles below and see where it takes you….)
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