So we’ve figured out our biological prime times (BPTs). But how can we be fully engaged during those BPTs? After all, even though I’m a morning person, I’ll waste away some mornings distracted and disengaged. Why do we give more of ourselves to certain tasks then to others?
According to Dr. Jim Loehr, we have four types of energy that feed off each other:
- Physical (the quantity of our energy)
- Emotional (the quality of our energy)
- Mental (the focus of our energy)
- Spiritual (the force of our energy)
If any of these dimensions is under-stressed or over-stressed our performance suffers. For example, if we don’t get enough sleep or eat poorly, our energy store is depleted. If our energy is constantly precipitated by perception of threat, fear or survival, we’ll quickly burn out. And if we are constantly distracted or feel that our work lacks purpose, well, we know how that turns out… half-a-head or half-a-heart never produces our best work.
The most fundamental source of energy is physical; the most significant is spiritual.
Loehr proposes that our best energy is pleasant and positive energy – meaning that it flows from the perception of opportunity, adventure and challenge.
What does this mean for each energy dimension?
- For greatest quantity of energy (physical), it means that our diet, exercise and sleep habits are paramount.
- For highest quality of energy (emotional), it means experiencing the positive emotions of approach (enjoyment, challenge and opportunity), NOT the negative emotions of avoidance (perception of threat, danger, or fear of survival).
- For clearest focus of energy (mental), it means bringing the appropriate focus and a realistic optimism to the work at hand.
- For maximum force of energy (spiritual), it means connection to deeply held values and purpose beyond our self interest.
Loehr points out that most workers are understressed physically and spiritually, and overstressed emotionally and mentally. In other words, most of us need to be train harder physically (eat, exercise and sleep better) and spiritually (align our work with our deepest values) and make a point to renew (rest!) ourselves emotionally and mentally for peak performance.
As a competitive tennis player, I would be super conscious of when and what I ate before an important match (no more than 2 fistfuls of simple carbohydrates and proteins at least 1.5 hours before the match). Yet when I joined the corporate world I ate every lunch on impulse. Why don’t we think the same way about eating for our best work?
What are your top work-related performance barriers and their energy/performance consequences? Are they physical, emotional, mental or spiritual? What positive energy rituals (based on your deepest values) will support the desired change?
Loehr recommends a Purpose – Truth – Action framework for improving our work performance. First, start with your personal and career vision (purpose). Second, list out your performance barriers and their energy consequences (truth). Finally, write the positive energy rituals you’ll use to improve your performance and track your progress (action).
Below you can find a list of common performance barriers and deepest values to help you with this exercise.
Common Performance Barriers
Critical of Others
Low Stress Tolerance
Moody / Irritable
Poor Team Player
Inflexible / Rigid
Poor Time Management
Lack of Trust in Others
Lack of integrity
Poor Communication Skills
Poor Listening Skills
Lack of Passion
Lack of Empathy
Poor Work-Life Balance
Negative / Pessimistic Thinking
Deepest Values Checklist
Concern for Others
Respect for Others
Service to Others
Dr. James Loehr, The Power of Full Engagement