Research Paper By Paul Lewis
(Transformational Coach, UNITED STATES)
Time is finite. The energy on the other hand… is infinite.
September 20th, 1963, John F. Kennedy stood before the United Nations, sharing the following:
Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.
Barriers stand in the way of effective communication, resolution, performance, and output. “Peace” – internal – is the balance that helps remove barriers while creating positive momentum. What do I mean by this?
With the frenetic pace that most of us ‘live our professional lives, ‘internal peace” is often a foreign concept. What if we could shift the barriers that stand in our way and limit our potential, by creating a peaceful resolution, within ourselves?
In our busy, time-focused lives, we often just about manage to “get by”, resorting to mediocrity, and complacency, and ‘an alluring’ comfort zone. Getting-by doesn’t allow for much self-assessment, awareness, change, momentum, or progress. We are often pulled in multiple directions, with little respite, and time, to tend to our desires, needs, and preferences. We are expected to complete tasks within the framework of ‘limited time.’
Time is finite. We are limited to 24 hours in a day. Attachment to time can be wholly stressful. Energy, on the other hand, is infinite. If correctly managed, energy becomes the source of our health, and the ability to successfully live our potential.
This became apparent to me living in and experiencing, different cultures. Four countries: Australia, Israel, The United States, and South-East Asia. In each of these different cultures, I became aware of how attachment to ‘time’ becomes stressful, leading to diminishing returns. People caught up with the time model, often tend to ‘lose themselves’ – their values and identity. Stress builds mentally and physically, often becoming chronic. Fatigue sets in as energy deplete, impacting both function and output. This said, we have one life to optimize the use of both body and brain, yet we restrict this with an attachment to finite time.
The human body and brain is the “imperfect-perfect system.” It has a capacity to ‘grow’, irrespective of age. Yet, we continue to perform the way we do, battling daily time-sensitive tasks, and time limitations. For many, these are stressors. When stress invades our lives, our “imperfect-perfect system” begins to collapse. How is this a life conducive to living our potential?
This “collapse” is avoidable. When time-management is replaced with energy optimization, new possibilities evolve. Energy is an infinite source, as it feeds into everything that we do physically, physiologically and mentally. As a professional coach, I emphasize to my clients how important it is to focus on how they think, process and execute – energetically. Rather than time manages, I challenge them to focus on their energetic performance, as a foundation for sustainable progress and results.
As a team, it’s important for us to recognize:
- What’s impeding their performance?
- What are they self-communicating?
- How can they optimize their energy to clearly see the objectives that they set themselves?
When I lived in Vietnam for 4 years, I had the honor of working with US Embassy Officers, as well as their traveling spouses. For the Officers, life was about secrecy and diplomacy. For the traveling spouses, many were dealing was an identity crisis. Their issue: what’s my purpose, and how can I develop independence and value?
I had been coaching for years, without the value of ICA accreditation. What I relied on was my knowledge and experience of human performance. As I interacted with both groups it became very clear to me that there was a divide, lack of understanding, and poor communication. It manifested as a poor connection with one another. This is a source of so many breakdowns in relationships, professionally and personally. It’s these barriers that often lead to misunderstanding, and worse.
I observed how professional and personal lives are intertwined, stressed by time constraints. It’s a cycle that causes communication breakdown. When responsibilities accrue, people lose the ability to connect with themselves and others. There’s a lack of peace, and barriers step in the way of relationships. Because time is valuable, yet finite, relationships suffer. We waste abundant time processing the cause of the breakdown, thinking and overthinking this reality.
The average person has approximately 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 80% are negative; 95% are exactly the same repetitive thoughts as the day before.- 2005 National Science Foundation
The amount of energy that we waste processing overwhelming negative thoughts is startling. The energy that we invest in deliberating and overthinking undermines our progress. It’s often emotional, rather than rational. Excessive thoughts and heightened emotions can be destabilizing for our ‘imperfect-perfect’ system. Yet many fall prey to this route, rather than rationally filter unnecessary thoughts. The results are clear:
- Sleep deprivation
- The decline in higher functioning problem solving
- Increase in the possibility of mental health issues
Towards the end of the 1990s, living in Israel, I witnessed this phenomenon on a global scale. Human bombs detonating in supermarkets, shops, hotels. Fear was rampant, as terrorism infiltrated the lives of the population. Negativity drove a wedge between potential and productivity. At the time I ran a pain and injury clinic. My focus turned to physical/somatic ailments. It was astonishing to witness and treat pain and ailments that mysteriously appeared. Each and every patient I treated was caught in a cycle of despair. Their emotionally-charged thoughts became physical ailments.
How much of our pain and barriers are connected to the way that we think and harbor negativity?
It’s clear that 80% of our thoughts are negative, and 95% are recurring thoughts from the day before. The challenge for us is to effectively filter the negativity, and remain buoyant and ‘powerful’.
Our energy, productivity, performance, and success depends on how we effectively remove negative thoughts, beliefs, and negative patterns of behavior: how we remain at peace with ourselves.
Frustration, anger, resentment associated with the daily grind, schedules, and responsibilities, can drain performance before the day begins to wind up. Barriers begin to form. Negativity undermines action. This becomes a chronic cycle.
What is the solution to this relentless cycle?
A shift from “finite time” to “infinite energy”. One of the most powerful resources at your disposal, professionally and personally, is your ability to optimize your energy.
Why is this so important?
In 2008, as Director of Athletics and Wellness at a private Health Club in Atlanta, I experienced and witnessed the impact of the Global Recession. The demographic: executives, CEO’s, business owners. I was curious about how this economic disaster impacted health, performance, and output.
The outcome of the economic downturn was profound. Health waned, blood pressure was high. I was measuring this and I was startled by the outcomes. This period of ‘time’ had a profound impact on people’s health in the short-term. The long-term ramifications are yet to be known. However, it’s very clear that chronic high stress leads to a number of diseases, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, depression anxiety, certain cancers…
What if energy, rather than time, was the focus?
During the Great Recession, I observed and interacted with Club Members. Predominantly wealthy, their financial losses consumed them. They couldn’t see the bigger picture. They were caught up in a vacuum that undid them, and their health. Their dedication to their health took a nose-dive. They were consumed by an ‘event in time’.
Those who could see the bigger picture were unfazed. I questioned and queried this small demographic. They focused on what they could influence. Again and again, I observed how unfazed they were by circumstance. When I probed deeper, I saw how their values guided them; how past failures and circumstances had built resolve. What was different about them, from the majority, was their ability to separate emotion from the circumstance. It was a presence – their ability to effectively compartmentalize, that helped them remain unfazed. Their ‘prosperity’ continued, irrespective of circumstance. They were leaders, who shaped their own lives, and took action to ensure ‘mental prosperity’. Their focus was not influenced by situational changes. They were consistent energetically, irrespective of circumstance. They were at peace with themselves.
I use this paradigm personally and professionally as the premise for Energy Optimization, and my business: Immortal Executive. It’s not time or circumstance that determines optimal performance and output. It’s the ability to remain consistent energetically, irrespective of circumstance.
The more that you refine yourself energetically, the greater the capacity to overcome barriers, to motivate, remain focused and accountable, and achieve sustainable results.
Executives, CEO’s, Business owners are busy people. They have tremendous responsibility for themselves and others. This requires emotional intelligence, peaceful awareness, and an ability to remain in sync energetically. To sustain high-performance levels means attention to your imperfect-perfect self. What often undermines this is… neglect of personal needs.
The connection between personal needs and sustainable performance is profound. I support this demographic by helping them strip away their excuses and barriers. This comes down to one critical factor: we are human, and we contend with a lot. To shift from a finite to the infinite source: to shift from time-management to energy optimization respectively, means prioritizing your needs, physically, physiologically and mentally. This is a powerful catalyst for living a more peaceful and meaningful existence.