Managing Your Energy with Stories

One of the most commonly shared (and seriously flawed) beliefs is that simply spending time on something will generate positive results. If you buy into this premise, then you’re probably rushed much of the time.

On the other hand, high-quality, focused energy is essential to achieving results. Just putting in hours isn’t the point.

We don’t need to manage our time better, we need to manage our energy and focus. And to do that, we need to pay attention to something else… something much more fundamental: the stories we tell ourselves.

As performance psychologist Jim Loehr writes in The Power of Story (Free Press, 2007), “…the key to almost all of our problems, more fundamental even than poor energy management, is faulty storytelling, because it’s storytelling that drives the way we gather and spend our energy.”

Think about the last time you said, “I’m exhausted.” I’ll bet you tell yourself a story about why you’re tired. You probably don’t even think about this story. But I’ll bet it contributes to why you’re tired.

In other words, you may be justifying or blaming, or feeling sorry for yourself in some way.

I’m not saying you’re wrong or lying. Bear with me here. What if you changed your story?

What if instead of looking at your reasons for being tired, you looked at yourself as a superhero, or a super athlete… and made up a different story? You can tell yourself whatever you want to make yourself feel differently.

Stories are the way we generate energy, and they are also the way we excuse ourselves from doing things we don’t think we should have to do.

The human brain is wired to make up stories, no matter what. It’s the way we make sense of our world, which can be complex, ambiguous, and abstract.  Unconsciously, we look for an explanation of why things happen to us.

As long as we’re making up stories to explain our reality, we usually cast ourselves as the “good guy.” Sometime that serves us well, but other times we’d be better off looking at what we could do better. Without casting ourselves as inadequate or deficient, our stories could inspire us to take action.

As authors of our own stories, as long as we’re making things up, we may as well make our stories as inspiring as possible.

What do you think about this?

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