Recently I was asked if it is more important to prioritize your time or your energy. The more I think about it, the more I see an interesting dilemma in a schedule driven world. I have been through many physically intensive times and roles. I have been with people who lived their lives through their physicality. These Many have taught me ways that they managed their energy in order to apply it where it really counted.
One martial arts instructor, a 4th Degree Black Belt, explained to me the importance of developing the proper form in the most basic fighting stance. At the time this stance seemed excruciating, but when finally mastered, it serves as a resting stance. When you get into this stance, you can feel the energy actually return to your body. Part of the training involves learning to deliver high-energy moves that are ended by a return to this stance. After this revelation I began to see the cycle of energy that flowed through each movement, from intense release to a rapid refresh. While it may seem that martial arts forms are all about learning how to punch, kick, and make a lot of noise in the process, at a much deeper level it is about learning how to channel energy through your body. It is like breathing. Your body expends energy to inhale, then has a moment of rest at the bottom of exhalation, during which time the muscles refresh before moving again. Looking for the corollary in the business world, I see many people who live by a calendar that is filled from the first moment of the day to the last.
Everything there is important. Everything on that calendar has been prioritized. Add to that, everything there requires work. Their time has been prioritized, but what about their energy? Does it matter? I believe it is crucial. Have you ever seen someone "run out of gas"? Or have you? Just like breathing, you can schedule yourself to hold your breath for the next hour, and make a great effort towards it, but your body will take over and return to a balanced rhythm, even if it forces you to pass out first. Our creative energy runs the same way. You can expend for only so long before your being takes over and forces you to refresh. I see this happen to people in many ways, where their brains take vacations when it seems possible, like in the middle of a presentation, or when someone else is talking. When does your brain go to sleep? Let's bring into this mix the idea of a resting stance. Every person has things that they do that actually allow them to refresh their energy levels and clear their mind. When we work on things that we have passion for, we absorb energy. Sometimes just having a vigorous problem-solving session can refuel. Others need a physical separation and reflection time. Whatever the form, we all have them. Now, if we don't get these activities, we will mentally, emotionally, or physically collapse.
Maybe even all three. It is like passing out when you've held your breath too long. Think again about a calendar filled from start of day to the end. It is prioritized against what is important. Now, what if you start that prioritization thinking about your physical flow of energy? Can you space in activities that allow you to refresh? Like so many things in life, balancing energy flow is learnable but not directly teachable. Like so many behavior-based trainings, all we can do is to show people the physical steps that create the flow, and stay with it long enough for them to experience it, become aware of it, and then learn to manage it on their own. This is an indirect method of teaching, where the real lesson is below the surface, and when learned will apply to every area of life. This works more quickly when accompanied by conscious conversations and an intention to learn more than the physical movement. My answer? I think it is an "and" issue. You must do both. However, you have to know your energy sources before you can plan them in.
Some people seem to have more energy than others. Maybe they are just more adept at planning their resting stance into their day. Here are some questions for you today. · What is your resting stance? · How often during your day do you return to this stance? · Do you consciously prioritize your energy? · How do you do it?