Drawing heavily on the thinking of Tony Schwartz’s book ‘Be Excellent at Anything’ Miriam O’Connell from Mojo for Leaders delivered a 20 minute masterclass on recognizing the role of energy levels to increase performance entitled  ‘ENERGISE TO OPTIMISE – How to be Excellent at Anything!’.

Setting the context Miriam quoted Tony Schwartz saying “The way we are working isn’t working” reflecting the multitudes of demands we face daily with research showing that 20% of people are actively disengaged at work.

She also dispelled the myth that we are meant to operate like computers: at high speeds, continuously, for long periods of time and instead quoted the reality that human beings are designed to pulse between spending and renewing energy.

Using a similar hierarchy to Maslow Tony Schwartz proposes that our core needs are spread over an inverted triangle ranging from Survival at the bottom, followed by Sustainability, Security, Self Expression and Significance at the top of the pyramid.

This mirrors related energies levels ranging from Physical Energy, Emotional Energy, Mental Energy to Spiritual.

Miriam explained how this breakdown can be further analysed to explain behaviours with a separate quadrant structure for each level leading to an individual ‘Renewal Plan’.  The theory being that if we analyse our behaviour in each quadrant we can identify where the gaps are, acknowledge the natural ebbs/flow and understand that we need to replenish our energy levels.

In looking at the physical energy level Miriam breaks it into 4 quadrants, laid on X/Y axis of Active/Passive and High Octane/Low Octane. In the low octane/passive quadrant lies the ‘Numb’ zone where we depend on stimulants from alchohol to tv with the active/low octane ‘Spike’ quadrant similarly showing dependence on stimulants from caffeine, sugar to cortisol to enable us to perform.  On the more positive active/high octane quadrant the ‘Energy’ zone thrives on eating and exercising well from yoga to lean proteins which can improve our performance.  The final quadrant the ‘Chill’ zone emphasis rest covering regular breaks, sleep through to the importance of taking a vacation.

A similar quadrant approach is taken for Emotional Energy (axis of high/low and negative/positive) with quadrants broken into ‘Survival’ zone (impatience to worried), Burnout (exhausted, empty) to the more positive ‘Performance’ zone (calm, optimistic) and the final ‘Renewal’ zone (carefree to receptive).  These characterisations of our behaviours/feelings are important to recognise and give guidance about the actions we need to take in order to perform better (our Renewal Plan).

The Mental Energy quadrant (narrow/wide and distracted/absorbed axis) is broken into the ‘Reactive’ zone where our thinking is shallow, inefficient and short sighted while the ‘Scattered’ zone we are zoned out and overwhelmed. On the more positive axis in the ‘Tactical’ zone we are logical, analytical and methodical while in the ‘Big Picture’ zone we are intuitive, open ended, playful and metaphorical.  Different levels of mental focus is needed in our daily work lives and the visualisation of these helps us to take actions that help to bring us into the zones where we wish and need to be in order to perform.

The final energy quadrant ‘Spiritual’ questions who we are and what do we really want and is more akin to a personal mission statement laid out on Behaviour (external)/Values (internal) along with Deficit/Abundance axis.  The individual quadrant reflect value depleting, care free, value adding and value driven behaviours. 

Taking the insights from each of these quadrants attendees of the webinar were asked to populate a personal ‘Energy Renewal Plan’ answering:

  • How can I sustain myself better (Physical)
  • How can I accept that I am always enough (Emotional)
  • How can I nurture and protect my focus and attention (Mental)
  • What is my ‘North Star’ or sense of purpose (Spiritual) 

This type of exploration would take many sessions to dig deep into our psyche, acknowledge our strengths/weakness and behaviour but the brief session still offered insights into how we can immediately improve our behaviour and performance.

In the follow on questions and answers Miriam explained the role of this approach in helping teams and that renewal does not have to take place outside of work.

Understanding that we naturally follow a flow and as organic beings need to replenish on different levels can help us to chart a path for increased work satisfaction, increased engagement and ultimately have a better work/life balance.

Miriam’s slides from the presentation are below:

Miriam O’Connell Webinar Energise to Optimise – 5.3.19 REDUCED