Managing Your Energy (by Gregg Kershaw)

Today’s organizations are requiring from their people ever higher levels of performance in what is an increasingly competitive global environment. This of course has consequences for us all, as people attempt to maintain pace with the demands being made. One can think here of the ‘dance of Shiva’, Shiva the god of destruction in the Hindu faith whose dance can be seen as a metaphor for the cosmic dance of creation and destruction. The underlying point being that the world is engaged unrelentingly in endless motion and activity.

How often are comments made about the pace of life, the pressure of competing demands and the question of: how will I ever find the time to stop and smell the roses? Consequently we are suffering the price of our rapid movement into the future – people are attempting to keep pace by working more hours leading to increasing levels of exhaustion and fatigue, of disengagement, of being time-poor, overwhelmed and stressed out. How do we find time for ourselves to experience some healthy and quiet place of calm that restores our energy and vitality?
Schwartz and McCarthy in their article ‘Manage Your Energy Not Your Time’ argue that longer days at the office don’t work because time is in fact a limited resource and suggest however that personal energy is renewable. One of the article’s principal aims is to assist people to take greater charge of their lives in the face of relentlessly increasing demands by assuming more responsibility for how they manage their energy.

The authors suggest that individuals equip themselves to fire on all four cylinders by building their capacity and their renewal skills in four key energy dimensions: body, emotions, mind and spirit. The body dimension is focused upon physical energy, the emotional dimension on the quality of that energy, the mind dimension being about the focus of energy and the dimension of the human spirit about the energy of meaning and purpose.

The dimension of physical energy considers the impact of inadequate nutrition, exercise, sleep and rest and how this diminishes peoples overall energy levels. Becoming aware of our personal signs of flagging energy allows for early action, for example by taking brief but regular breaks away from the desk. The dimension of emotional energy considers how to maintain the quality of available energy by learning to defuse negative emotions and developing methods for fuelling positive emotions. The mind, being the dimension of mental energy, refers to the importance of developing the capacity for flexible focus by creating time for reflection, innovation and strategic development. The dimension that considers the energy of the human spirit, explores the notion that by doing what gives us a sense of purpose and significance, is potentially our most powerful source of energy.

By exploring these energy dimensions the authors encourage the reader to consider how we use our personal energy stores, how this use impacts upon us as individuals and how we might begin to develop practical and enduring ways to both restore and maintain our personal energy levels.

©Written by Gregg Kershaw, Integral Development

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