How and why being “fully charged” can help to eliminate all limits that are self-imposed
Humans need to be re-charged as do the marvelous electronic devices on which many of us now depend. In fact, an abundance of recent and extensive research by Anders Ericsson and his associates at Florida State University (among others) indicates that — on average — peak performers require at least eight hours of rest (including sleep) and that is true of athletes as well as of performing artists. With rare exception, they must also commit at least 10,000 hours of highly disciplined practice under strict, expert supervision.
In his latest book, Tom Rath identifies three “keys” that can help almost anyone to re-energize both their attitude and their effort: They believe they are doing something that will benefit others, they are creating many more positive rather than negative moments (for others as well as for themselves), and they are making choices that can help to improve their mental, emotional, and spiritual as well as physical health.
In this context, I am reminded of an incident that occurred long ago after Ralph Waldo Emerson explained transcendentalism to those who filled a church in Concord, Massachusetts. He had agreed to answer a few questions. An elderly farmer, hat in hand, stood up. “Mr. Emerson, I have a question.” Emerson nodded. “Sir, how do you transcend an empty stomach?”
I agree with Rath that, with all due respect to the importance of rigorous and sufficient practice and of rising above trivial and temporary irritations, we must also replenish our sources of energy in terms of rest, as mentioned, but also nutrition and physical exercise. Most important of all, we must develop the right mindset.
In Part I, for example, Rath suggests HOW to (a) create meaning with small wins by abandoning the relentless pursuit of “happiness,” (b) get a charge from within by pursuing “life, liberty, and meaningfulness,” (c) make work a purpose, not just a place, (d) avoid upward comparison by preventing money from killing meaning and purpose, (e) “double down on your talents,” leveraging them now, and serving wherever and whenever you and your talents are needed, (f) cast a shadow rather than existing in one by converting your dream into a job, (g) put purpose before business by focusing on less to achieve more, and (h) use purpose to avoid stagnation and decay. He also includes specific “Ideas for Action” on Page 160.
o The Three Keys to a Full Charge (Pages 7-8)
o Abandon the Pursuit of Happiness (13-14)
o Get a Charge from Within (19-22)
o Go Beyond Engagement (29-30)
o Avoid Upward Comparison (33-34)
o Double Down on Your Talents (40-41)
o Craft Your Dream Into Your Job (48-50)
o Focus on Less to Do More (54-56)
o Since Pavlov’s Bell (56-59)
o Keep Your Mission in Mind (64-67)
o Focus on the Frequency (75-77)
o At Least Pay Attention (82-83)
Note: Rath makes an excellent point: “Even when you can’t say something nice, go ahead and say something. Contrary to what I as told growing up, negative comments are less harmful than ignoring someone…Even negative feedback is better than nothing at all.”
o Use Questions to Spark Conversation (86-89)
o Want What You Already Have (94-95)
o Used Pro-Social Incentives (108-109)
o Develop the Ultimate Strength (115-116)
o Use Short-Term Thinking for Better Health (121-123)
o Set Better Defaults (129-130)
o Keep Sitting from Sapping Your Energy (134-136)
o Fight Light, Heat, and Noise (143-144)
o Avoid Secondhand Stress (147-149)
o Push “Pause” Before Responding (153-154)
Rath encourages those who read this book to embrace opportunities to establish habits that will nourish their mental, physical, and emotional health. That sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well, having helped to pave several roads to hell with my good intentions, I have found it very difficult. Steven Wright once observed, “You can’t have everything. Where would you put it?” That’s true. However, most of us can have much better health than we have now.
Toward the end of his book, Rath suggests: “Start with work that creates meaning. Invest in each interaction to strengthen your relationships. Make sure you have the energy you need to do your best. Doing these three things, in combination, is the definition of being charged and adding a positive charge to those around you.” Quite true. Energizing others – business associates, family members, neighbors, and friends — will be one of the best ways to energize yourself.
I think this is the most important book Tom Rath has written (at least thus far) because, in my opinion, the material he provides will have greater practical value to more people if (HUGE “if”) they read and then re-read Pages 3-161 with appropriate care before proceeding through Part A in the “Tools and Resources” section that follows. (Additional resources and PDF discussion guides for groups, teams, and organizations are available at tom.rath.org. Please take full advantage of the supplementary benefits they offer.) This book may well save your life. I am certain that it can at least make your life happier, healthier, and more productive. What are you waiting for?