Character Creates Opportunity® – Energy Part I: Thursday, March 20, 2014

I received some positive messages on last week’s blog about how the spring season can help reinforce the principle of the law of the harvest and encourage us to plant some seeds in areas we want to grow.  Also, most people in the country are actually starting to see a little of spring which I think is lending some support to people’s enthusiasm.  In southwest Michigan, we are actually seeing some grass for the first time this year.

In today’s blog, we have Part I of a two part message where I want to focus some thoughts on how we can channel a level of energy necessary to sustain our efforts towards reaping an “abundant harvest.”  Personal sustainability can be defined as the ability of a person to hold firm and endure in the face of a variety of forces that could compromise their health and well-being.  We all can probably relate to the experience of starting a project well, but somehow not seeing it to completion.  For most routine goals in work and home, like closing the financial books at the end of the month, delivering a presentation, taking a vacation, or cheering on a child at some sporting event, these goals have a definite finish line.  On most occasions, we can find the strength to wrestle down these goals and get them done.

However, the relevant challenge for all of us is that most of the really important things in life never have a completion date or a stamp that says, “FINISHED.”  For things like healthy family relationships, our personal health (physical, emotional, and spiritual), and our attempt to have a lasting impact in some capacity outside of the home, there is no finish line.  We are continuing to journey towards reaching our full potential, which appropriately seems just beyond our grasp.  That continual stretch to reach our full potential in the real important areas of life can, at times, be exhausting.  Unfortunately, for many of us, at that point of personal exhaustion, “quit looks good” and that usually involves convincing ourselves that “it is just not worth it anymore.”

There are plenty of well-researched methods by some very bright people that could help us all more effectively work through some of these “quit looks good” moments.  I would encourage you, as I do so myself, consult a number of resources and speak with others to help strengthen our resolve in the tough times in life.  My attempt is to not review a large number of resources, but to simply provide one area of focus that has been proven to be a good preventive measure to take to help minimize the number of “quit looks good” moments we encounter with the really important things in life.

We only have so much energy in our universe.  I do not want to go into the details of the 1st and 2nd Laws of Thermodynamics (my engineering professors at West Point would be laughing at the very suggestion that I could instruct others on the concept).  Suffice to say, we have some natural limitations on the amount of energy we can possess.  We can eat better, exercise more, sleep better, etc. and gain some additional capacity, but our personal energy is not unlimited.  Even our favorite motivational speakers or fitness gurus need some down time when they are not on stage.  Therefore, one critical choice we can make to improve our sustainability in the journey to reach our full potential is about our how we manage our own personal energy.

We all know the feeling when we are in a state of positive energy (as Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi described in his seminal work Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience and as Shawn Achor described in The Happiness Advantage).  When the conversation and the connection is easy and fun with loved ones, the feeling of a “runner’s high” when we exercise, the positive thoughts we have during a reflective moment after a job well done, the times when we really do “count our blessings,” and the seemingly boundless energy of a small team of entrepreneurs working towards building “the dream.”  That type of positive energy is what we want to focus our efforts on.  It lasts longer, it gets easier to create more of it as we develop the habits to cultivate it, and we strengthen our sustainability to keep moving towards our own “abundant harvest” in the important things in life.

Given that we have natural limits on our energy, in order to create capacity for more positive energy, we need to minimize the amount of negative energy we create and minimize the amount of unproductive energy spent.  This is where our Character Creates Opportunity® to maximize the positive and minimize the negative and unproductive use of our own energy.

Please tune in for Part II of this message where we will discuss some of the common sources of negative energy and importantly, what we can do to minimize them in our lives.

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