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Occupational Health Strategies, Inc.
Kent W. Peterson, M.D., FACOEM
901 Preston Avenue, Suite 400
Charlottesville, Virginia 22903-4491
TEL: (434) 977-3784
FAX: (434) 977-8570
Last updated: February 17, 2009
We live in a fast paced world of multiple demands and multiple opportunities. The media provides constant assurances that we can, not only have it all but enjoy it all. The assumption is that success is simply a matter of effort and balance! So we attack our lives with frantic urgency and a variety of products, time-management classes and scheduling materials in order to achieve “perfect balance”. Unfortunately the end result is often a sense of failure and frustration. We are left with the thought that we are just not approaching it in the right way, or that we are just inadequate and lacking what it takes internally to reach our goal.
Perhaps the real problem comes from thinking we should be balanced! It’s certainly true that the imbalance found in demanding and complex times can be overwhelming. It’s also true that the challenges we face can be exhilarating and exciting. We gain a true sense of satisfaction and accomplishment in solving problems and meeting challenges. The difficulty is in having the energy and focus needed to create positive outcomes from these experiences. If we approach balance as a process, as in nature, that ebbs and flows with a natural rhythm, then we gain a different perspective.
Two new books recently published (in the Spring 2003) both address the importance of utilizing restorative approaches and techniques to assist us in maximizing our ability to deal effectively with the current times. The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz advises us to approach life’s demands from the point of energy management vs. time management. At work, do you find yourself taking the path of least resistance, rather than focusing on what’s really important? Are you too tired and mentally drained to tackle the difficult tasks? It takes major energy to both identify and then handle the truly important things. Consider the many times you’ve come home from work, flopped on the couch and thought about what you’d like to do, realizing that you just don’t have the energy. A key point made by the authors is that if we want to bring our best skills and energy to any project (at work or home) then we need to make sure we balance the intense times with periods of renewal. The book’s emphasis is on a model for developing ourselves into “Corporate Athletes”. The premise is that by working through hard times we can toughen ourselves and actually increase our performance. Just as we physically strengthen a muscle by using the overload principle together with appropriate recovery, we can also increase our strength mentally and emotionally. We gain the energy and endurance needed for success. We run into problems when we use the work harder and faster approach and ignore the needed recovery.
Their approach that provides the “Power of Full Engagement” requires the following change of paradigm
|Old Paradigm||New Paradigm|
Life is a marathon
Downtime is wasted time
Rewards fuel performance
The power of positive thinking
Life is a series of sprints
Downtime is productive time
Purpose fuels performance
The power of full engagement