I am very aware that managing your energy is a lot more important than managing your time. If you run out of energy, it doesn't matter how much time you have. This month I would like to share a new way to manage your energy. Stories are a powerful way to communicate.

Managing Energy with Stories

Most of us respond to workplace demands by putting in longer hours. But nothing positive comes from expending extra time without devoting high-quality, focused energy. High performance requires you to manage energy — not time — well.

In The Power of Full Engagement (2003), authors Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz assert we need to learn two new rules:

    1. Energy is the fundamental currency of high performance.

    2. Performance, health and happiness are grounded in skillfully managing your energy.

      And Loehr puts forth a third important rule:

    3. The stories we tell ourselves and others drive the way we gather and spend energy.

Loehr's new book, The Power of Story: Rewrite Your Destiny in Business and in Life (2007), stresses that faulty storytelling drives the way executives gather and spend their energy. Tell yourself the right story, and the dynamics of your energy will change. Stories you tell will either create or sap your energy.

A perfect example is the old story about two shoe salesmen sent to Africa. The first one telegraphs back to company headquarters: "Situation hopeless: No one wears shoes."

The second salesman reports: "Situation ideal: Everyone need shoes!"

Which story generates energy? Change your story, and you change your energy.

Full Engagement Versus "Presenteeism"

Depleted energy may be one of the reasons more than two-thirds of employees feel less than fully engaged at work (The Gallup Organization, 2004).

Companies incur unnecessary costs — approximately $350 billion a year — as a consequence of unengaged people who simply show up for work. Some have dubbed this phenomenon presenteeism: the act of showing up for work in a fog. These workers aren't absent; they just go through the motions. But they're missing in action, and their impaired performance actually costs more than absenteeism.

Principles of Energy Management
    1. The following principles from Loehr and Schwartz can be applied to corporate executives and employees at all levels:
    2. Energy has four dimensions: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. You must draw from each one.
    3. Energy is best managed when there's oscillation between stress and recovery. Stress, in this case, refers to "positive stress," which allows us to stretch ourselves when using our talents and skills. But it must be balanced with recovery and rest. Unfortunately, most of us don't know how to do this.
    4. Pushing beyond our usual limits heightens our strengths. Building mental, emotional and spiritual capacities is similar to physical training that improves our strength or cardiovascular levels.
    5. Creating replenishing rituals and stories sustains and expands our energy. This is the key to bolstering our energy reserves.
Energy Flows from Stories

Your personal energy can reward you with wealth, innovation and fulfillment. The concept is best expressed as follows: "If you believe you can, you can. If you believe you can't, you can't. Either way, you're right."

Let's be clear: You cannot achieve everything you want in life with a simple wish and a bold statement. But through storytelling, you energize yourself and others by stating your desired purpose, what you know to be true and direct people to hope-filled action.

Ask yourself again: What stories am I telling myself and others that help energize purpose-filled action?

Three Ingredients of Good Stories

All good stories have purpose, truth and action. This is why stories must be rewritten many times over: to correct faulty assumptions and misperceptions. Here are several questions you must answer when creating an energizing story:

1. Purpose
    What is my ultimate purpose (or my company’s ultimate mission)?

    What am I living/working for?

    What is my defining principle and goal?

    What makes me do what I do?

    What is the one thing I would do, even if I had to walk through fire?

    What would I work for, even if there was no pay?

    How do I want to be remembered?

2. Truth
    Is the story I'm telling true?

    Is this my story or merely what I believe it should be?

    Is it grounded in objective reality?

    What assumptions am I making?

    Are any of them faulty?

    What am I white-washing to make myself look better?

    Is my private voice in synch with my public voice?

3. Action
    What actions will I now take to make things better?

    Which habits do I need to eliminate?

    Which habits should I begin to breed?

    Am I an observer or a participator?

    Are my actions filled with hope—the belief I will succeed and that the change I seek is realistically within my grasp?

    Does this story inspire others to action?

How Stories Help

When you ask yourself these basic questions about what you do and how you conduct yourself, you begin to identify your story's dynamics. This will help you write several versions: your old story and a new one.

First, write down your current story. After hard and honest work (and many rewrites), you'll produce a story that accurately reflects the way things have been going in your life.

Next, discard this story and recast it as your old story. It's time to replace it with a new, forward-moving story. Use the following questions to evaluate faulty elements in your old story—issues and behaviors that will no longer serve you well in the future:

Will this story take me where I want to go in life (while at the same time remaining true to my deepest values and beliefs)?

Does the story reflect the truth as much as possible?

Does this story stimulate me to take action?

If stories determine your destiny, achieving one of your own design requires commitment, honesty and energy. This requires editing your stories for as long as you're alive.

Final Thoughts:

I want to say "Thank You" to all of you for your support, your references, your kindness and your encouragement. I am looking forward to the opportunity to help and support many clients as they realize their dreams. If you know of anyone in need of a coach to walk with them as they achieve their dreams, please contact me at coachpinney.com or

e-mail me by clicking here

Coach Jerry


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Jerry Pinney

For the last twenty-two years Jerry Pinney has been president of his own consulting firm. Currently he focuses his efforts on providing executive and personal coaching to persons who are interested in improving their quality of life and consulting to small and mid-sized companies and nonprofits. He is a facilitator for peer advisory groups with The Alternative Board and is a Certified One Page Planning Consultant. Jerry has over three decades of experience in the food industry, and possesses a unique perspective of customer service, marketing and strategic planning. In addition to overall general management qualifications, Jerry has proven expertise in operational planning and business development. His food industry career started at Jewel Food Stores followed by a long career with IGA, with their retailers, wholesalers and ten years as Vice President of Marketing. In addition Jerry has served as Vice President of Membership for the National Grocers Association, Sr. Vice President of Procurement for Shurfine International and Executive Manager of The Zenon Hansen Foundation.

Jerry has also served on a number of nonprofit boards including: President of the Volunteer Center of Northwest Suburban Chicago. He is currently a Project Manager for the Executive Service Corps of Chicago. Jerry’s ESC assignments have included coaching for several Executive Directors, and consulting on various Board Development projects and on a number of strategic planning projects.

Jerry Pinney & Associates
102 East 32nd Street
Chicago, IL,
phone: 312-842-4577,
fax: 312-842-4705

e-mail me by clicking here


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