Posts Tagged ‘energy’

Energy Is a Foundation for Leadership

October 28, 2016

A second-rate night club lounge singer from Las Vegas witnesses a mob crime, runs away, and hides in a convent disguised as a nun. She is persuaded to become the choir director, rocks the church, and performs for the Pope.

Who in the world would ever believe a story line like that? Well, it became a move starring Whoopi Goldberg called Sister Act.

I stared at our small collection of DVDs last night for some reason and the red title caught my eye. What was the essential element the Goldberg character brought to that convent?

It was energy. Her energy was contagious. It had been a lethargic and unmotivated group of women. She not only rocked the choir, she also got them involved in a number of neighborhood projects.

Don’t the best leaders you’ve known exude energy?

It shows in different ways.

  • They truly enjoy the work they are doing
  • They encourage everyone around
  • They see things that could be accomplished
  • They are prepared
  • Wherever they go, they promote the cause
  • They may be intense but never negative
  • They are not afraid to try new things, break new ground

Feel the need for some caffeine right now? This energy doesn’t come from chemicals in that manner. But energetic leaders do things such as:

  • Care for their bodies through good nutrition and exercise
  • Care for their souls through reflection, prayer, meditation
  • Care for their minds by constantly reading and learning
  • Listen to other people
  • Develop intense curiosity both about work issues and a variety of outside interests

Energy–the foundation of the universe. Capture some and pass it on.

Your Body Is God’s Temple-Take Care of It

September 20, 2016

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?  1 Corinthians 16

Last night I still had some work to do. But I needed to eat. I had returned to the hotel from the conference and decided to just walk down the street for something rather than drive back for conference food.

There’s an Olive Garden about a half-mile away and I had not been to one in years. Although I know that diet is like religion–we get something we believe and cling to it against all evidence–I’m not opposed to carbs. Spaghetti can be OK, it’s a “slow” carb in that it digests slowly. Problem is quantity. I had salad and spaghetti with marinara. Ate almost half the bowl and two breadsticks (that is the bad stuff).

Walked back to the hotel and was in bed within a half hour. My energy was shot. Should have had no breadsticks and only a quarter of the bowl of pasta. My, don’t we make bad decisions?

Food–too much or wrong kind–has both an immediate and a long-term effect on the body. As Paul teaches, in this new religion of Christianity, God does not dwell in a temple that is a building as in all the other religions. God dwells within us. Therefore, we are a temple. Therefore, we should take care of it.

Kevin Meyer, formerly president of a company and a Lean consultant, writes about Lean and leadership. He also just published a book, Simple Leader.

He writes, “During that time, being overweight impacted my personal and professional leadership. It hurt my self-confidence, lowered my energy level, and complicated my life. Clothes didn’t fit right, so business travel and presentations took more planning.”

The basic pillars of Lean thinking are respect for people and elimination of waste. My food choice was full of waste. Loss of energy was the result. Meyer applied the Lean goal of eliminating waste to his diet. Stop eating wasteful things. Eat nourishing whole grains, vegetables, fruits. Portion sizes are wasteful. Take only a little.

Years ago there was a cartoon strip called Bloom County. Opus, the penguin, was always jumping on the latest fad. In one strip he was jumping from one fad diet to the next. Meanwhile, Milo, the voice of reason, says, “Eat less, exercise more.”

There are medical conditions that create weight gain, so don’t look at everyone and judge. But judge yourself. Am I eating less and only the right things while increasing my exercise? Am I making the decisions required about 50 times a day about the right foods?

How do I feel? That is good feedback about whether you’re on the right path or need an adjustment. As for me, today it’s off to better decisions. First, time for that run…

Energy and Information

September 6, 2016

We are told that in the physical world everything is composed of energy and information. At least, that’s the quantum physics short form. That leaves out the spiritual realm, of course, but that ties in, too.

If we are energy, why is it that we so often out of energy?

This year I had some outpatient surgery in January and March. Then pulled a muscle in June or July that took a while to work through. Essentially, I was on reduced exercise for seven months.

Now I have much greater understanding of people struggling to recover from major surgery. Or even athletes in the prime of their conditioned lives taking months to recover from some injuries. Healing takes a lot of energy.

Often we just sit, though, and feel out of energy. We don’t feel like reading. We don’t feel like exercising. We can’t focus on work.

What do we do?

We know that energy comes from what we eat. It’s a pun in German (I first read in Ludwig Feuerbach), “Man ist, was er isst.” Man is what he eats. We know that high simple carbohydrates (aka sugars, etc.) give a quick energy boost followed by a letdown. Meals of high fat and starch will make you sleepy. Of course, both make you heavier.

So, we begin with diet.

Sometimes it’s our thoughts. We dwell on negative thoughts or worries or fears. Did you know that we have the power to change our thoughts? Paul often talked about setting your mind on things above. Jesus often withdrew from people to communicate with God his Father. Many ancient philosophers concluded that “we become what we think about.”

Then there is exercise. We all have different capacities for exercise. But, if we’re in an energy loss rut, then it’s time to change the exercise. Walk faster. Take up cycling. Run farther. Take a different route or a new location.

Then use your to-do list. Every week look at what you need to do. Make a list. Pick the day’s most important task. Work on it. Accomplishment is a virtuous cycle. You get one task done and you feel more like tackling the next–after an appropriate reward, perhaps.

Traditionally in the United States, Labor Day marks the end of “summer vacation” and the beginning of back to work. In Europe for the most part it’s just the first of September that marks the same thing. It’s Tuesday. Labor Day is behind us. It’s time to work up some energy and tackle those tasks.

Unleashing Energy, The Creative Leader

September 2, 2016

You’ve seen it, I hope. The type of leader who unleashes the energy of everyone around. The organization may have been lethargic. Or complacent. Or dying.

The someone new comes in. She has a vision of success. He is transparent–no hidden agendas, no spies among the employees, no sudden directives.

There is something about a feeling of trust that is darn near undefinable where people can have ideas and share them. You feel you’ll be listened to. In fact, you feel encouraged to come up with ideas.

These leaders pop up all over the place. Perhaps not enough, but they exist.

There is a leader whose blogs I read and podcasts I listen to who is such a leader. He exudes energy and positive emotions. He’s driven to provide the best solution for his customers. He’s also driven to find ways to unleash the creativity of his employees.

There exists a pure joy of learning and applying what he learns. Try an experiment. It works, great. It doesn’t, well, scrap it and try something else.

The point is for all of us, how do we achieve that as leaders?

  • Vision of what constitutes success
  • Create trust by doing what you say
  • Constantly encouraging
  • Quick feedback designed to help not tear down
  • Celebrate the little victories along with the big ones
  • Constant messaging of the vision through every means available
  • Always inviting others to go along on the journey

What could you add?

Power Others Have Over Us

June 20, 2016

Charles Shultz’s Peanuts cast of characters includes Pigpen. Pigpen is a boy who always has a cloud of dust around him.

Have you ever met someone who is similar except that the clouds are dark clouds of impending storm of negativity, criticism? They just seem to suck the energy right out of you.

I’ve been on a reading binge. Finished four books in two weeks (plus three murder mysteries). The books all took a look at personal productivity and leadership.

Henry Cloud is one of my favorite writers. He blends study, experience, and deep thinking and produces helpful books of good prose that are easy to read.

The Power of the Other contains the usual blend of research and insight from his practice of executive coaching.

Looking at my example, we all have people in our lives that suck our energy reserves. However, have you considered the people who seem to energize you?

Research confirms that relationships with the right kind of people actually boost our energy.

Relationship, the connections between people, not only enhances our mental functioning, but actually works to impart it, to provide it. Capacity is built through energy and intelligence.– Daniel Siegel, Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology: An Integrative Handbook of the Mind.

Cloud explains the quote, “I love the definition Siegel uses borrowing a phrase from physicists. [Energy is] the capacity to do something.”

Can you believe it? People–the right relationships–not only give us more energy, they also enhance our mental functioning. That reminded me of engineering school. The best score I received on a chemistry exam followed a couple of days of studying with a small group.

Recently I was working at a coffee shop near a table of young women. The energy around that table actually helped mine, and I didn’t even know who they were or what they were studying. Turns out they were Registered Nursing graduates studying for their State Boards. I think they all did well.

The same principle applies to Bible study.

Surround yourself with people who have positive outlooks and impart energy. As Cloud said in an earlier book, Necessary Endings, find a way to end dysfunctional relationships. Get out. Run.

Just Showing Up

May 18, 2016

I’ve heard it said that half the battle is just showing up.

Well, I’ve showed up today. There’s a lot on my mind, and yet not much.

We are taught about Sabbath. Taking a rest. That may not show up in the list of disciplines. But it probably is. After three weeks full of energy and commitment, I took two days with just a minimum of work and a lot of rest. It’s a good thing. You come out on the other end refilled with energy.

Rest is an essential component of refueling energy.

Another is proper eating. When I eat too heavy a meal whether for lunch or dinner, I can feel it dragging me down. I know better, but it just sounds so good at the time.

Appropriate exercise is another. An hour of Yoga refreshes the body and soul. As you stretch and work, energy is released. As the mind focuses on the body, day-to-day stuff is forgotten. You spend the hour residing in just the moment.

Relationships can be energizing. Just stay away from those people who suck energy out of you like a giant vacuum cleaner. A good conversation refocuses you.

Time alone. Just you and a cup of coffee or tea. Intentionally relax and listen for God’s whisper.

Vacations, paradoxically, may not be that refreshment if you stress over where to go, trying to see one more sight, organizing all the people around you, worried about money. If you are planning a vacation, make it a vacation. Intentionally allow spaces for relaxing, talking, reading. Leave the go-go world behind.

What gives you energy? Cultivate it.

Energy Is Key to Productivity and Much More

April 10, 2015

Last week I was driven to complete a lot of work in preparation for leaving town for a week. My energy level shot up several notches in intensity.

Much important work was accomplished. Items disappeared from my to do list at a gratifying pace.

Physicists know that energy is the underlying physical force in the universe. We know that energy is an underlying force for success in our lives.

Time management skills are good. Especially when tied to thoughtful construction of to do lists. But those skills don’t get things done. They organize you. Doing gets things done. And to do requires energy.

Ramping up energy has amazing benefits. After three days of higher personal energy:

  • My weight finally dropped below the plateau
  • My meditations, being active, brought more insight
  • Things got done
  • A consulting session with a client was fruitful
  • I was able to work through a travel schedule crisis calmly and effeciently

I teach young (and old) soccer referees to show energy on the pitch. When the players see that you have energy, they respond. They respect referees who are working hard. When you exhibit great energy, you’ll be in better positions to make better calls. You’ll manage the game better.

Same with our life in general.

That was good yesterday. Now what about tomorrow?

It Takes Energy to Lead

March 13, 2015

Nehemiah, a leader of the Jews during the time of the Persian empire, had heard about the sorry state of Jerusalem. His brother described how the walls were torn down and the gates burned. About how this made the city a laughingstock among the nations.

Chapter 1 of the book describing his work describes how he was motivated to do somehing about the problem. The next chapter describes how he traveled 800 miles to Jerusalem. He arrived, but said nothing for three days. Then he went out with a small group at night to survey the situation.

Today, I can get into a car and drive a mile over to I-75 then head south for 800 miles and stop at a hotel in south Georgia in one day and be a little tired. For Nehemiah and his troops and entourage, it was a long and physically demanding trip. He took three days to recover and rebuild his energy. Then he could cast his vision for the restoration of the walls to the people.

It takes energy to lead. Energy comes from attitude, fitness, nutrition, adequate rest. People feed off the energy of their leaders.

But, the energy must be positive and uplifiting. Many leaders have an energy that destroys motivation. The energy is perhaps nervous energy. Or perhaps self-directed. Maybe it comes from the “high” pole of bi-polar disorder. Maybe it comes from fear.

On the other hand, have you ever met people who seem to just suck the energy right out of you? They are exhausting!

If you take care of your body–as Paul describes it as the temple of the spirit, then you have the beginnings of energy. Next build prayer into the rhythms of your work. Your work, indeed, becomes prayer in action. Your service becomes prayer in action actually building more energy as you expend it on your service. (Another one of life’s paradoxes.)

Einstein worked out the math to come up with energy=mass times the speed of light squared. Leadership=energy times vision.

Finding Energy Amidst Dysfunction

May 27, 2014

For reasons I fail to fathom, God has placed a number of dysfunctional people into my life over the past few years. I’m not sure what’s going on there. One thing is true–relating with dysfunctional people drain my energy.

The essence of our being is energy. We need to keep our energy up to function effectively.

What to do when our energy sags? For sure, our practice of Spiritual Disciplines is deeply affected by our energy level.

The first thing is to be aware of our energy level. Do you feel the ebb and flow of your energy level?

Notice what you eat. When I eat a heavy meal in the evening, my evening studies or work are shot. Too much fat in the morning breakfast can bog you down for the entire day. There is a saying in German that is a play on words that translates to English, “Man is what he eats.”

When you notice energy lagging during the day, get up. Take a short walk. Get outside. The best way to work if you do thought work is to work in 25-45 minute bursts of concentration followed by a short break.

Meditation is a good energy booster. Sit back, close your eyes, focus on breathing. It’s a great way to refocus.

Many famous people have sworn by afternoon naps. A few years ago the concept of “power napping” became popular.

Keeping the body fit and healthy is a foundation for generating energy.

Thinking about things we are grateful about refocuses our mind and generates energy.

Then watch our attitudes. As we think, so we become. Where are our thoughts? Change our thoughts and attitudes, change our energy level.