A monday morning “Pick Me Up” for the soul
A while ago I read an interview given by Bill Warner that got my attention. Bill spoke about a topic that is well known — how difficult it is to start up new businesses. But Bill’s explanation for this difficulty was different. For Bill, the difficulty is in maintaining the flow of energy from founder to client.
At first, this seemed a bit mystical. Where does this energy come from? Why do we lose it? Bill argued that the energy comes out of the discovery by the founder of a new way to help other people - and this key idea forms the “intention” of the founder. BTW, this is the big “why” of the mission statement of a business plan. The founder translates the why into “how” we will deliver this value and “what” it all will look like. According to Bill, the trick is to refuse any change to the why, while adjusting how and what as needed. But lose focus on the intention (the why) and you are finished.
This is a great application of the more general idea that Simon Sinek spoke about in a recent TED presentation. I posted about Simon’s remarks here. Simon also argues that starting our problem solving with a good answer to the question “why we are doing something” gives the needed energy to experiment to find solutions that are not immediately obvious. Dan Pink refered to this in terms of how having a great purpose is motivating. Perhaps this is also what Sir Kenneth Clark was going on about when he said that great civilisations need to have the confidence to see through great projects, and why religion has so often been the source of that confidence (I think “confidence” and “energy” are essentially the same thing).
Last night I dipped into Jim Loehr’s book, “The Power of Full Engagement”. Here is a link to Jim’s interesting web site at “The Human Performance Institute”. Jim’s point is that we often ignore that we fail at tasks because we are oblivious to our energy levels. More simply, we allow ourselves to become exhausted. Sounds stupid, doesn’t it? As if we see no value in helping ourselves? But, sad to say, Jim has a point.
Jim makes the argument that we can better pace ourselves by becoming “sprinters” rather than “marathon runners”. As sprinters, we should alternate between high engagement and serene rest (both states where we feel positive emotions) and minimize the effects of negative emotions (anger which arises from a high energy state with negative emotions and depression from the low energy state and negative emotions). BTW, laughing is a great way to get a release from high energy states. And if you think that you cannot control your emotions, see the “2d FOLLOW” below.
So, to the point. Good morning! It is Monday and time to get back to work. Are you feeling exhausted already? If so, you may have a few things to think about.
FOLLOW - BTW, if you are working on your mission statement today, Dave Logan offers some interesting thoughts on the subtle distinction between what we think others want and what they will respond to. Ho hum! Another issue to keep in mind.
2d FOLLOW - Many, many years ago William James wrote how emotions derive from decision rather than reaction. In other words, if you want to be happy, just laugh. If you want to be engaged, engage. If you want to be serene, be serene. Jim Loehr might advise “don’t get distracted” He would also suggest that we “choose not to be angry”. Try gratefulness instead. After all, gratefulness opens the mind to new possibilities. Anger, we know, makes us very stupid.
3rd FOLLOW - Ken Burke writes about these concepts in more broad historical terms in his book, Attitudes Towards History. Reader alert - it is a bit dense. But some terms from the book may be useful here, such as the idea of “spiritual currency”. This form of currency is embedded in the words that we use to motivate. They are injected with purpose and we see their value as intrinsic. They stick in our minds. Stickiness? Before you laugh, you might take note that “stickiness” is, after all, one of the keys to understanding what is going on around us. You can phrase the ultimate question this way, “What is sticky, and what is not?”