Success requires high energy level
By Kevin M
Of all the traits that make a person successful I think the most underrated is energy level. You can be brilliant, you can be a master salesman, you can be an inventor without equal, but it takes energy to convert those talents into success. Many talented people achieve nothing more than average success and I think that for many the missing ingredient is inability to take their ideas and talents and drive them forward. That?s where energy comes in. That?s how important it is.
How many good ideas have you had that you never acted on? High energy people can act on many ideas?often simultaneously?taking full advantage of the numbers game. They may fail at many more attempts than the average person, but ultimately find success through their relentless forward motion. They become the preverbal ?irresistible force?.
How to become a HIGHER energy person
Notice that I didn?t say you can become a high energy person?there?s something about body chemistry that seems to determine that. But if you aren?t a high energy type, it hardly means you?re doomed to failure. You can become a higher energy person than you are now.
Human energy is a product of physiology, behavior and emotion, but we?ll get to the behavior and emotional components in a bit. What are physical factors affecting energy level?
Diet. We?ve all heard the saying ?you are what you eat? and that?s something we need to take seriously. Foods that provide energy or improve body functions?like fruits and vegetables?should be emphasized over junk foods that do little beyond satisfying a craving. High water consumption keeps the body hydrated and clean, and that reduces fatigue. A larger number of smaller meals are better than fewer, larger ones that can leave you feeling over-stuffed and sluggish. Find an energy maximizing diet that works for you.
Exercise. Muscle capacity, circulation, digestion and a host of other functions improve efficiency with at least moderate exercise. Adding regular sessions to your schedule can have a multiplier effect?your energy level increases as a result of the energy you expend for exercise. There are also significant psychological benefits to getting in touch with our bodies, as well as the sense of well being that comes with looking better as a result.
Weight control. Energy is expended more rapidly carrying around excess weight. Being leaner means traveling lighter, and that means more energy for productive purposes.
What are behavioral factors affecting energy level?
Time management. Procrastination is the mortal enemy of good time management and an energy burner for no good purpose. We usually have one or two tasks we need to accomplish each day, the kind that can make a long term difference in our lives. But if we put them off while we pursue the trivial, we may not ever get to them. That can raise our sense of guilt and guilt is negative energy.
My good friend and frequent OutOfYourRut contributor, Dave Kelly, often says ?Do the dreaded thing first??a declaration that the most important action we take on any given day is usually the one we like the least. But once that task is done and out of the way, our minds, our time and our energy are free to take on new tasks. Do what?s most important first each day and see if your energy level doesn?t surge.
Focus. If you have an average energy level or less, you have less energy to burn than your high energy brethren and that means what you focus on is crucial. Think of focus as a sliding scale?you only have so much energy so to maximize your results, it?s critical that the greatest share of it is used on the most important tasks. Major on the majors, and let the rest fall where it will.
Energy wasting activities. Here?s a short list of activities that can soak up valuable energy for no good purpose:
- Working to create the nicest lawn in the neighborhood
- Maintaining the cleanest house in the neighborhood
- Having the cleanest car in town
- Getting involved in everyone else?s business
- Fixing things that aren?t broken
- Busy work/keeping your hands busy
- Worrying, and all the ways that manifests itself
Each of us has only so much energy to expend?be careful what you spend it on!
None of this will make you into Superman/woman but it will produce a more energetic you, and that should be the goal.
Let?s take a look at emotional factors affecting energy level?
Passion and purpose: the twin energy ramjets
OK, you?re already doing all of the things listed above, but you still don?t quite ?feel it??the energy surge that is; something?s missing! Two something?s actually: passion and purpose!
Find a high energy person who is successful in his career and in his life and you?ll probably have found one who is living life with both passion and purpose. Those are the twin fuels that power success.
Whether you?re a high-, medium- or low-energy person, having a purpose in life and doing work you?re passionate about will raise your energy level immediately.
Passion. No energy flows from just going through the motions?quite the opposite in fact. Showing up at work every day and passing the time until 5:00 can suck the energy right out of us.
Passion flows from doing what you love, doing what feels right, doing what you believe in. It may be that these can?t be had through your work, in which case you have some decisions to make:
- Change careers. By moving into a career you feel passionately about, your energy will surge and you?ll become more productive than you?ve ever known.
- Continue in your current career, but find your passion in something non-work related?charitable work, political involvement, training for marathons, or any activities that get you excited. The energy generated from these activities will carry over to your entire life including your career.
- Begin a new career as a side venture. You can move into your desired field without giving up the income and benefits of your job. Get it going gradually, then you can decide when the moment is right to make a complete change.
Purpose. Purpose is the big picture in our lives. Unfortunately, most people seem to move through life without an overriding purpose, or maybe the details of life overwhelmed it long ago.
For help in determining your purpose in life, consider the following questions:
- What drives you? What do you hope to accomplish? What do you want for your family, your health, your lifestyle, you?re spiritual journey?
- If you don?t have a purpose now, what might it have been early in life?before things got so hectic? Maybe it?s time to resurrect some old ideas.
- If you don?t have a purpose and never have in the past, what would you like it to be?
Having a written purpose?a personal mission statement?can be the item that unifies your life and provides that crucial forward motion that drives so many of success stories in life.
Purpose can keep us moving past the minutiae in life that tends to tie us down and suck the energy right out of us. Like a lighthouse in stormy seas, it can keep us focused on where we want to go. When we?re stuck in the weeds of life it can represent an all important escape hatch. Yes, I?m facing difficulty right now, but it?s just a detour on the way to my ultimate destination.
Not having that destination is probably the reason many people feel tired, overwhelmed, out of control and helpless. That?s why we need a purpose.
We don?t need just to survive, but to thrive–we can?t do that without energy, and we can?t have energy without better living habits and without passion and purpose. We can have all of these?and the energy they produce?and that will give us the fuel we need to accomplish that which we?ve only dreamed of in the past.
Do you think there?s a valid connection between energy and success? What do you do to raise your own energy level? What can you tell others about raising their energy level?
I’m not a high energy person by nature. I’m slow and methodical about most things. I like it that way because it allows me to complete tasks with a high level of quality. The trade-off is quantity. I get a lot fewer tasks done that my much higher energy husband. But it also allows me to take care of some of the things he misses in his rush to “get ‘er done”.
Overall, this works out pretty well for us. But I must say that I still struggle with focus. There is a lot of pressure to multitask in today’s society and I’m afraid I’m just not very good at it. When I try to do things faster or too many things at once, I end up feeling overwhelmed as you mentioned in the article. That feeling saps my energy level and then I don’t feel like doing much at all.
I’m going to think about and try to implement some of the ideas you raised here. Thanks for this. It was very timely for me. 🙂
Balance Junkie – I’m not a fan of multi-tasking myself, but it’s become a necessary evil in an increasingly complicated world.
I’m not a high energy person myself–which may be why I recognize the significance of energy as a driving force. But what I try to do with mutli-tasking is to use my highest energy bursts for the important tasks, then combine the multi-task stuff into a single hour or two when my energy is fading.
It’s so easy to spend our energy on the multitude of urgent-but-not-important tasks that fill the day.
We all have our own energy blueprint. The focus should always be on comparative results to your own standards, not someone else’s. However, also remember that your energy is never turned off – it emanates from you every moment you are alive – and is always affecting those around you. If you have bad energy, you bring that to your surroundings which, in turn, feed back bad results.
Stephen Covey’s concept of focusing on things that are important rather than things that urgent is a critical first step to monitoring and improving your energy level. I also believe that operating in alignment with your core values (those things that are most important to you including your passions and purpose) goes a long way towards improving the energy around you.
John – Covey’s book, Going Nowhere Fast, is a case study in our tendencies to concentrate our attention and efforts on the trivial. Somehow we need to flip that whole dynamic around to the point that we’re working mostly on what will change our lives in the most positive way.
Also, good point about negative energy. We often get back what we’re giving out, and if what we’re giving out is negative, then negative will come back our way.
As John D. Buerger points out, above, a key aspect to this topic of energy is the idea of living congruently with our values. We find that when we live congruently with our values we have optimum energy and passion. When we become overly distracted by societal norms and expectations (the manicured lawn, the pristine car, the expensive vacations, etc.) or obsessed with our own “rules” that really don’t line up with those values, is when our energy gets sapped the most.
Obviously, there are the mundane things that we “must” do, but we are becoming a bit more discriminating and militant in our evaluation of those tasks and their relationship to our more important values. We’ve found, over the years, that the “must do” list is getting shorter. In order to make the “must do” list, we have to find some correlation between that task and our core values. We ask ourselves continually, “Is this activity taking us closer to what we ultimately want or away from what we want?” In other words, if we take the activity off the “must do” list, what would happen? If the answer to that question seems to have rather insignificant consequences to our primary mission and purpose, it gets removed from the list.
The key, at least in our view, to maintaining a high energy level for those “must do” items we’ve absolutely determined as being a necessity, even if more remotely so, is to focus on gratitude. It is very easy to have gratitude for the primary drivers associated with our mission statements that evoke excitement and passion but is often much less so for those more distant and remote tasks that may only play a support role. For us, personally, that is where we have to constantly watch our focus and rekindle our gratitude in that particular area. Finding the gratitude in these more “mundane” activities is what fills our energy resevoirs back up. Finding the gratitude in these more “mundane” activities takes conscious effort, but it pays back big dividends in the energy department.
Steven and Debra – I’m going to venture a guess that many times when we get caught with overly lengthy must do lists, is has something to do with a sense of exaggerated importance. We think we have to do it all, or that only we can. That can look like confidence, and even breed dependence in others, but it’s a tangled web that catches us and keeps us from purposeful direction.
We need to do what we truly must do, and either delegate, automate or let go of the rest. You raise a good question, What would happen if we don’t do something? In most cases the world won’t come to an end! In most cases, others might not even notice.
We can’t put too much pressure on ourselves and think that we can thrive in that environment. Scaled down To Do and Must Do lists need to be the focus. Most of us can do a few things well, but we get lost and drained when the list is too long.
Excellent article! This is something that I struggle with constantly. I always feel like there isn’t enough time in the day for all of my goals, however, if I had more energy and focused my time better I could accomplish more!
Khaleef – I think we can only raise our energy levels gradually, and that means time management and focus become so important. If we only have a limited amount of energy, then we need to spend on the tasks that will have the greatest postivie impact.
I sometimes think we spend time working on lesser tasks just to avoid taking on the bigger ones. Maybe it’s fear of failure, maybe it’s something else. But we have to major on the majors if we hope to go forward.
Love the article Kevin!
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