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Energy: A human resource

Erin Gibbs //February 18, 2015//

Energy: A human resource

Erin Gibbs //February 18, 2015//

As my company focuses on culture and our collective mission and values as a strategic goal for 2015, I decided to bring in the most energetic and enthusiastic speaker and professional I know – Colleen Reilly, President and Founder of Total Well-Being, a wellness company that specializes in creating physically healthy employees and financially healthy companies.

“There’s an energy crisis in this country and it’s not oil or gas,” Colleen says. “The crisis is a lack of positive human energy in the workplace.”

Colleen came to speak at our Q1 management meeting, where she touched on common themes that everyone in attendance could identify with – even those new to the concept of employee wellness.

In her work, research and use of the book The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, Colleen found that the average American worker has all or a combination of the following thoughts throughout the workday:

·      Frustration

·      Exhaustion

·      Anxiety

·      Disengagement

·      Fatigue

·      Distraction

·      Overwhelm

·      Pressure

·      Worry

·      Burn Out

Such deep negativity creates barriers to productivity, positive energy, better business volumes, enriched relationships, job satisfaction and workplace culture. I know I don’t want to work with people – or employ people – described by that collection of adjectives. Do you?

So what to do?

Likely the first thing to do is recognize that time is a great equalizer. Every human has the same number of hours in the day. And as Colleen says, “Unlike time, energy is dynamic. It can be expanded, renewed and used with efficiency for positive or negative effect.” That equalizer is also a strong variable, as people choose differently how they use their 24 hours in a day. “We aren’t designed to use energy for long stretches of time; rather people ‘pulse’ between expending energy and renewing it,” Colleen says.

Just as workplace design, workflow and demands have changed, so has conventional wisdom for the best way to manage a typical job’s endless demands. A marathoner approach (i.e. energy conservation over the long haul to avoid burnout) was once preferred. However, this can prevent engagement as, we tend to stay “surface” in order to not get too deep into a project and run out of interest or energy. Contemporary research indicates that high performance may instead require a sprinter approach. This principle creates that “pulse” that Colleen discussed, which drives greater efficiency, more flexibility, improved health and happiness, and sustained high performance. 


Colleen’s citation of The Power of Full Engagement points to human energy as being generated in four interactive ways:

·      Physical fitness

·      Emotional health

·      Mental acuity

·      Sense of purpose

These four dimensions of energy work together to create “The Ideal Performance State.” How we get there is the magic we possess as human beings: We have the will and ability to choose our way to generate, manage, renew and expend energy – whether positive or negative.

It starts with “Physical Energy Management” – meaning, take care of your body. Without physical energy, you can’t manage emotional and mental energy. But put a little mindfulness into your physical day and the effect is amazing.

1. Get enough sleep (8-10 hours).

2. Bedtime and wake time should be at the same time daily (routine).

3. Eat frequently and don’t get “hungry.” (5 to 6 small meals daily).

4. Always eat breakfast.

5. Eat well. This means a varied, balanced, healthy diet. (Everything in moderation.)

6. Avoid sugar.

7. Drink water.

8. Take breaks every 90 minutes during work.

9. Exercise daily (30 minutes is enough).

10. Exercise your heart (cardiovascular) and your muscles (strength training) at least twice each per week.

It is simple if you make the time.

Once you have physical energy, you can work on the energy that powers your brain:

1.     Take time to relax and settle – this is considered recovery.

2.     Create rituals and routines that you enjoy and that help you keep commitments.

3.     Think positive. Look for silver linings and shift from negative to positive thinking.

4.     Focus. Stop multitasking. Doing more than one thing at once decreases your effectiveness at all those things.

5.     Know what matters. Define “extraordinary” as it means to you and think about what measures success in your life. What do you want to be remembered for?

6.     Beat “Energy Vampires.” Be aware of what sucks your energy and then make good choices as a result. Eliminate people or work that doesn’t give you energy and are not aligned with your values or desires.

7.     Use stress as a form of energy to improve and grow. Remember, there is no good or bad – just opportunity!

This is when “amazing” happens! And in our company, it’s how we accomplish Healing With Energy – to and from the heart.