To improve the bottom line in your business, you have to have a balanced foundation.
Energy management — not to be confused with time management — is key to productivity, equilibrium and fulfillment, personally as well as professionally, said Sue Kiernan, president and founder of Centered on Success Inc.
Kiernan spoke at the latest BiggsKofford Entrepreneurial Breakfast.
The pyramid that leads to leadership excellence has a foundation of self, followed by relationships, then tasks, and is topped with results. However, most people find their days filled with tasks, she said.
“At the end of the day, if we’re not accomplishing tasks, we’re not productive,” Kiernan said. “A lot of us struggle with balance, but of all the levels, the self-foundation level is least accessible throughout the day — but it’s the most leverage-able.”
How leaders and business owners manage themselves has everything to do with how they interact at the other levels. And the self is nurtured by having values, vision, purpose, presence, intention, awareness, balance and being “fully engaged.”
Fully engaged means fully immersed in what you’re doing — professionally and personally — and able to manage your energy.
“To the degree that we’re making choices that are conscious, we’re more likely to have balance in our lives,” Kiernan said.
She recommends that business people adopt many of the components of the corporate athlete program, including the use of recovery time in between bouts of hard work.
Life and business are not a marathon — they are like sprints.
“Downtime is actually essential and critical in order for us to be productive,” she said. And the easiest way to incorporate short periods of recovery time is to embed simple rituals and routines into daily life, so they become automatic.
For instance, leaving the computer to get coffee or tea, going for a walk at lunch, and leaving the conference room to stretch and take a mental break during a long meeting — especially if one starts feeling angry or irritated.
Energy is the capacity to do work or get something done. People who focus on time are always focused on something that is finite. There are, after all, only 24 hours in a day.
“But energy is not fixed — it’s not finite,” Kiernan said.
Self-awareness, being able to recognize when you’re in a negative zone, instead of the optimal “high positive” zone, requires emotional intelligence — being mindful of where you are.
The four interdependent sources of energy are physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
“In terms of being able to get things done, the physical (realm of energy) is ground zero,” she said. Humans need to pay attention to their sources of fuel by getting enough sleep, adhering to Circadian rhythms — which show that humans are only effective for 90 to 120 minute cycles without a change in activity and position — eating healthfully, etc.
“This is about paying attention to this (physical) container we have that helps us get stuff done,” Kiernan said.
Next, to be effective in interpersonal relationships and compatible with others, people need to have emotional energy.
“When you’re in upper management, emotional intelligence (EQ) is more important that IQ,” she said. “How will you be effective if you lose your temper, or don’t show connection or empathy with other people? Each of us has triggers — be aware of them, and know how to manage them. This is hugely important.”
Mental energy is the ability to stay on task, stay focused and not get distracted. This is an increasing challenge due to rapid advances in technology and social media, etc.
The idea of being able to effectively multi-task is a myth, she said, and many studies have proven it.
Each shift takes several minutes or more, and when applied to an entire day consumes a lot of time.
“There are actually very few things we can skillfully do simultaneously that require focus,” she said.
One easy way to reduce wasted time is to turn off the automatic incoming e-mail alert on the computer, and only check e-mail and texts several times throughout the day, instead of checking and answering each time they arrive in the inbox of your laptop, BlackBerry, iPhone, etc.
And, finally, spiritual energy is your integrity and knowing what really matters to you — what you want to be known for.
Align your actions with your values. For it’s true, she said, that we always find time for the things we value most.
“If you don’t make time for what you value, then you’re out of integrity with yourself,” Kiernan said.
And your clients, employees, family and friends will know it.
To learn more, visit the Centered on Success Web site.
Rebecca Tonn covers banking and finance for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.