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Do you find yourself dragging out of bed each morning and dragging yourself to work? Do you come home at night and collapse in front of the TV? Do you feel as though your job is your life... or your life is a job?
Here's your personal power pack!
Plug into this action resource and discover how to recharge your batteries at a moment's notice. This practical, one-of-a-kind program is based on fascinating new research - from brain science to stress reduction - and has been tested extensively by the author's leading corporate clients. Open to any page and you'll find a wealth of creative ideas and strategies that can help turn your life around.
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|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Sold by:||Random House|
|File size:||14 MB|
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Learning Energy Engineering the Hard Way
by Ann McGee-Cooper
I grew up with two distinct role models for Energy Engineering. My dad used the typical business model: work hard, go to the office early, stay late, come home exhausted, always meet deadlines, and so on. We took annual vacations and did fun things together, but I remember that he spent most of his evenings just being tired, listening to the radio, and going to sleep in his big easy chair. My mom, on the other hand, had a different energy style. To this day, she gets more work done than anyone I have ever been around and she has more fun in the process! She has always been a master at finding ways to meet two goals with one effort, and she knows how to recruit others to assist her. She has lots of interests, gets plenty of exercise, has a great sense of humor, and at the age of eighty-four works at a full-time career while running a household for three people! She also enjoys a wide range of friends of all ages, reads several books a week, and keeps us all entertained with her ideas and new things she is learning.
So you can see why it came naturally for me to grow up expecting to work hard and accomplish many things at once. When I was young, I picked up my father’s work patterns by keeping busy in all my after-school hours with small jobs, extracurricular activities, and summer jobs to help pay for college. In addition, while in high school I earned a scholarship to museum classes and completed the equivalent of a university program in art by the time I graduated from high school. To compound my work load, I was dyslexic (which I did not discover until I was much older). This forced me to do more schoolwork in order to keep up and make good grades. Thus, working hard was an everyday phenomenon to me.
Then in college I filled every waking hour with a heavy course load, volunteer work, and college organizations. When I graduated with a B.S. in design and a minor in architecture from The University of Texas at Austin, I immediately married and put my husband through Drew Seminary while teaching grade school plus museum art classes on Saturdays. It was not unusual for me to have four jobs going at once while I supported the family and raised my son.
Next came graduate school with an M.F.A. at Southern Methodist University, then an Ed.D. from Columbia by commuting between Dallas and New York and finishing with highest honors earned in record time. This was a very fertile time for me as I continued my thirty-five years of research in the areas of creativity and began to explore brain hemisphericity. My doctoral project was to develop a Teacher Survival Program. It was based on my observation that often the most creative young teachers become targets of the system and drop out, frustrated and drained of their creative energy. I decided to study this pattern and see whether I could develop a support system to help these creative change agents stay effective and happy within the demands of their job.
I designed a dual program of studying creative problem solving along with the more specific challenges facing the teachers. Another motivating element built into my doctoral work was my meetings with Margaret Mead. We met several times to review my research and to apply valuable insights from her own findings.
I poured all of my energy into my academic work and my very demanding job, taking it for granted that I would have to forgo fun times during this period of my life. But once the pattern was set, I seemed unable to break out of it. Playing “Superwoman” as a single mother, full-time college instructor at SMU, part-time business consultant, and active volunteer, I went seven years without taking more than an occasional weekend off. I established the Experimental Arts Program at SMU and supervised its growth into an internationally recognized project involving 5,500 teachers, students, and parents.
My involvement in all of these areas provides the groundwork for many of the ideas presented in this book. But I had not yet learned how to balance and sustain my energy reserves. Finally I developed a serious case of burnout and had a major problem that required surgery. I realized that life was controlling me more than I was controlling life.
So I took a one-year sabbatical to rethink my life, my priorities, and my use of time. After taking stock of my goals and the advice of some special mentors, I began to restructure my work and leisure time from scratch. I said good-bye and good riddance to some exhausting work habits and behavior traits. Around eleven years ago I remarried and tried a new weekly work schedule that my husband, a dentist, uses with great success. He sees patients three and one-half days a week. Then he goes into “retirement” the rest of the week, using that time to pursue his outside interests and renew his energy. During the years I experimented with that schedule, I found that I was producing more than I had previously because on the days I worked, I felt utterly refreshed, creative, and motivated. Although my work and travel schedule has again expanded to a five-day work week, I still integrate work with periods of play and recreation, and I try to keep weekends free for family, fun, and personal growth.
Experiencing the benefits of these new work- and life-styles made me want to encourage others to seek a better balance between work and play. The Writing of this book represents a synthesis of many aspects of my life and work: doctoral studies, ongoing research on brain dominance and learning methods, development programs with corporate leaders, seminars with a wide range of professionals, fieldwork with major companies, and, finally, my own experiences in balancing career goals with personal needs.
Creating a Shared Vision
I met Duane Trammell, my managing partner, at a seminar I developed for teachers who were in danger of burnout. Duane had been given thirty-eight students performing three grade levels below their age in an urban area with all its related problems. I shared with him some ideas on how to take time out for himself, renew his own energy through play, and then use some creative energy strategies with his students. We shared ideas back and forth with each other for five years, and the next thing I knew, he was winning the Ross Perot Award for Excellence in Teaching. In 1984, we collaborated on several projects, one of which was Energy Engineering; this was the beginning of our partnership. We began to share a vision of a creative new business that could help educators, business leaders, and people in all walks of life learn to tap the unlimited potential that leads to heightened creativity and abundant energy. Within two years we had developed enough business to support Duane’s move into our full-time consulting business.
Several years later, Barbara Lau, a bright young freelance writer, called to learn more about our innovative approach. We had expanded well beyond traditional time management to considering the whole brain. Barbara attended several seminars, investigated how thoroughly we used what we taught in our own lives, and soon was totally immersed, bringing her own fresh insights. She wrote several articles for major publications about our work, with each article becoming more knowledgeable. When we decided to write this book, we knew we wanted Barbara’s help. She would be far more than a gifted writer, for she had taught us a great deal from her own perspective as a working mom with a baby girl, a husband in graduate school, and a full-time career teaching seminars and writing.
We discovered after tracking the needs of business and community leaders, homemakers, educators, and health care professionals that creating and maintaining a high quality of energy was a top need all across the culture. These people weren’t talking about getting from burnout back up to average energy. They were asking for help in creating the abundant, self-renewing energy that peak performers and winners in every field seem to maintain.
We began to see a completely new dimension emerge. All of our clients were investing in a cultural change focusing on quality, continuous improvement, productivity, safety, and teaming. As a result of these studies, we discovered that learning to “engineer,” or understand and manage, your own energy and that of others is key to all these initiatives.
Furthermore, we learned that these changes can’t exist only in the workplace. Whatever beliefs and behaviors we use at work seem to follow us home. If we are stressed, in conflict, and miserable at home, we go to work in pieces. If we are frustrated and overwhelmed at work, the frustration follows us home. So, with the support and encouragement of the corporate leaders who were our clients, we involved spouses, family, and significant others in our process.
The results continue to be amazing. Together we have learned that you can’t achieve any of the above goals without learning to have fun, lighten up, and develop trust and interdependence on the job and at home. When we attempt to achieve these goals of quality, productivity, improved safety, and excellence by pushing harder and longer, we push ourselves and each other right into burnout!
The fact that the stakes are so high and the pressure so great makes complacency no longer an option. It demands that we make some changes now. We cannot prosper until or unless our beliefs, traditions, and habits change dramatically. By learning to become healthier, more caring, more interdependent, responsible, and creative people, all of our goals and dreams can be realized. And along the way, each day can be balanced, productive, fun, and fulfilling. Urgency and looming problems become our friends, leveraging us faster into changes we already needed to make, whether we recognized it or not. If we can think of the complex pressures, problems, and demands on our lives as a wake-up call, there are many very positive and productive options waiting to be discovered.
Prepare for a life-changing journey. It has been that for all of us. A tremendous increase in energy every year has not been unusual. If you keep adding energy and compounding it, abundant, growing energy becomes easily possible!