#ConnectionPGH Talk: “The Power of Rest + Renewal: How To Add Energy To Your Work Day” by Katherine Bailey

#ConnectionPGH Talk: “The Power of Rest + Renewal: How To Add Energy To Your Work Day” by Katherine Bailey

About The Speaker:

Katherine Bailey is a Managing Director, Organizational Transformation at The Energy Project. She has facilitated programs with NASA, Fidelity, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cox Enterprises, eBay, Nielsen, Pfizer, MetLife, Bayer, and Comcast. Additionally, she has delivered keynotes to audiences at a range of organizations including University of Michigan, Fidelity Charitable, and the Society of Gynecologic Oncology.

With over 20 years of experience, Katherine’s expertise includes leadership development, organizational culture change, and assessment. She helps organizations to perform at the highest level, even in the face of chronic stress, adversity, and trauma.

About Connection 2017:

The Connection 2017 experience took place in Pittsburgh, PA. To learn more about the event, click here.

About The Talk:

“It’s not just the number of hours that you bring to whatever you’re doing that creates value but it’s the energy that you bring to whatever you’re doing as well.” In this Connection 2017 talk, Katherine speaks about the four components of energy, and what we can do (besides chugging coffee!) to get through our work day with renewed energy.


Talk Transcript:

So I’m gonna introduce you to what is one of my favorite ideas of The Energy Project which is the power of renewal.

So I know you guys are sitting here, some of you, at least, are now saying, “Did you hear all we have to do from the day?!” We have a lot on our plates, who has time to renew, right?

They have too much to do, so you know we don’t really have the time for that.

So I want to start by introducing you to one of the first ideas, a foundational idea that we’d say at The Energy Project, which is “it’s not just the number of hours that you bring to whatever you’re doing that creates value but it’s the energy that you bring to whatever you’re doing as well.” So I have your time for the next 12-15 minutes, right? But if you didn’t sleep well last night and you’re exhausted, or if you had a fight with a loved one this morning and you’re preoccupied, or you’re waiting for a medical test result or you have something that’s due at the end of the day, I might have your time, but I don’t have your energy.

So, the first paradigm shift we need to make is that it’s time plus energy that creates value, and value is what we need to bring to our work.

So now let’s talk about what comprises human energy: what does that mean, right? Energy, we’re energetic! It turns out that there are four components that comprise human energy: it’s physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual energy.

So let’s think about physical energy: this is the quantity of our energy. There are four things that make up physical energy, so when you’re thinking about your physical energy, what are you thinking about?

You think about exercise, right? So we talked about movement and exercise. You’re thinking about nutrition, what you eat and you drink, you’re thinking about sleep. (Quick aside, sleep is your biggest bang for your buck, okay?) Ninety-five percent of us need eight to seven or eight hours of sleep a night to be fully rested, and most of us are exhausted.

And then there’s one other component that no one ever thinks about. What do you think it is? We have sleep, we have exercise, we have nutrition. Day time rest and renewal!

People are laughing, why didn’t you get that one, huh? We don’t value it, right?

So the point of our time today is to really take a look at that, and why valuing it is a game changer.

What we’re gonna talk about can transform everything.

The second is emotional energy. So you know feelings, matter right? So how we feel it dictates our interactions, our behaviors. When you know about mirror neurons and the way our brains work, we know how emotions are so contagious, okay, and it turns out that there are certain emotions that are correlated to high performance.

So understanding the way that works we can actively cultivate emotions that serve us well.

The third is mental energy. So this is about how we pay attention, and how we focus, and as you know, our attention is more in demand than ever. And then the last is spiritual. So the first three, those are the how we get things done. Spiritual is why: what gets you out of bed in the morning, what gets you excited, because obviously, if something matters to you, you show up with more energy for it.

Alright so when we’re thinking about energy, we’re moving to what is the central point of our time together, which is to perform at our best. We must balance intermittent energy expenditure with intentional rest and renewal. Human beings are not designed to operate like computers, which means continuously running multiple programs over long periods of time. Human beings are meant to pulse. The pulse is the natural rhythm of being human, okay, so think of what are some things that pulse: our heart, our breathing. We breathe in and out, right? Our muscles expand and contract, our stomachs, they fill, they empty, you think about digestion.

So this is the natural rhythm. So I’m gonna play a game right now: I’m gonna ask you all to stand up.

Stand up, see, The Energy Project, right? We’re not gonna sit the whole time. And so when I say go, I want you to take a big deep breath, and I want you to hold it as long as you can, okay? And when you can’t hold it any longer, no big deal, no shame, just sit down. Ready, set, go, and hold it! I’m not up to date on my CPR, so if you if you need to sit, just sit, but when you can’t do anymore, just have a seat.

Thank you, oh, all right… I’m gonna call it here. The rest of you are competitive. Sit down. I don’t want anyone fainting, all right, all right… Who wants to go again? Who wants to play?? By show of hands? Okay, we have one glutton for punishment, but no one else wants to play.

Why don’t you want to play right now? What do you need to do right now? You need to rest and renew. Okay, so this right here – this is the game-changing idea that especially people in our field, in our world, need to get our heads wrapped around.

Most of you think that renewal is a luxury: “Oh, I grabbed lunch today. Oh, I got outside on this lovely day. I took a break at some point, right, and I want you to understand beyond a shadow of a doubt that renewal is not a nice thing to do, it’s not a luxury, it is an essential part at you showing up your best.

How many people here lift weights? A bunch of us, right, this is really good! Do you lift the same muscle group every day? Nope, why not? If you don’t know the way this works, when you lift weights, it makes small tears in your muscle fibers. That’s the way it’s supposed to work. It’s actually during the rest period that your muscle fibers grow back stronger than ever. So in part, okay, progress in weight lifting is contingent upon the quality of the renewal and that’s the same thing with human beings.

All right, to drive this point home, and this is seems like a counterintuitive, you know, big idea, but the more intense the performance demand the greater needs to rest and renew. That’s counterintuitive, right, you have so much to do, what do you do?

“I’m gonna stay later, I’m gonna stay up, I’m gonna work through the weekend.” You don’t sit in a meeting when people say, “Oh my goodness, we have this deadline by Friday, what are we gonna do to renew our energy?” That’s not the way we think, right?

Think of all of the ways we talk about this: burning the midnight oil, burning the candle at both ends, push through. Think about Formula One racing or NASCAR. You’re familiar with this: is it the car that goes pedal to metal longest and hardest without stopping that ever wins the race? Nope, what’s this, it’s a pit-stop, right?

Think about what they do at pit stops, they change the oil, they fill the fluids, they change the tires, so in part, success in racing is contingent upon the quality of renewal. This is a cartoon that makes us laugh, “I try to keep my coffee buzz going until my martini buzz kicks in.” All right, so it’s kind of funny, but think about what we do. Our bodies are brilliant at letting us know when they’re dipping: “I’m starting to lose interest, I’m tired, I’m run down” – what do we do? Grab a cup of coffee, grab a sugary snack, all right, and it is counterproductive, really, really bad things happen when we ignore our need to renew. Career-ending mistakes are made when people are depleted. I have colleagues along my long career in social services, and juvenile justice, and residential treatment, and all the things that many of us care deeply about, who have lost their jobs because they didn’t pay attention to this important part and make career-ending mistakes when they were depleted.

So how often do you need to renew? I think, I think, I’m hopefully… I’m selling you on this, right? But what do we need to think about? So I want to introduce you to the ultradian rhythm. This was discovered by Nathaniel Kleitman, who’s considered the grandfather of sleep research. He’s the person that discovered the basic rest activity cycle. It’s the cycles we go through at night. What he discovered is that there’s a daytime analog called the ultradian rhythm and that all human beings go from a higher level of physiological alertness to a dip every 90 to 120 minutes. This was further substantiated by an Israeli sleep researchers named Perez Levine who took a group of subjects. He put them in a low sensory environment for 24 hours and asked them to try to fall asleep every 20 minutes, which was 72 attempts. Hard to do. What he found is that there was a time every 90 minutes when they were more easily able to fall asleep. So, what are the implications for this? Every 90 minutes, you move from this higher level of alertness to a dip, so we need to do something to intentionally renew our energy.

So think about the ramifications. Obviously, no meeting should surpass this, right? And sometimes, we’re in an all-day meeting or something, but people need a break, okay? Once, you start to override this, you start to lose people, and then we start to rely on things like hormones, adrenaline, noradrenaline, cortisol, they kick in! Not as effective as when we intentionally renew our energy. So how long does this take, right, you’re like back to the time thing, right, I have a very busy day.

So I want you to just get comfortable in your seats, cross your legs, close your eyes, and when I say “go,” I just want you to focus on your breath. Breathing gently in for a count of three, out for a count of six… And go! And stop. How do you feel? Rested, right, relaxing… Took less than 60 seconds. Okay, so it would be ideal if every 90 minutes you committed to getting up, I mean obviously, you know, physical movement is the best, right? Sitting is the death of us. So even just standing up, stretching, but ideally, you’re going out. Maybe you’re getting some sunshine, or walk for 10 or 15 minutes, but you can get real rest and renewal in as little as 30 seconds. A minute, two minutes, just by intentional breathing. Breathing is one of the absolute best ways to calm your physiology, okay, and that took less than a minute. So we need to rethink our relationship with renewal. I talked to you about the ultradian rhythm, right, which is the proactive stance, which is that every 90 minutes hopefully you’re going to commit to getting up throughout the day.

And how can you remember this? Set your alarm, put it on your calendar, okay, have someone be accountability partners, say “Look, at 10 o’clock why don’t we go, we’ll take a five-minute walk outside.” So there’s lots of ways to remember this. Renewal is also brilliant at calming the physiology when you’ve been triggered, and as we know, in our profession, that sometimes is even more important. So when you get that email that has now ticked you off, or you’ve gotten bad news, or if the client or someone has been really disrespectful: what happens if you answer right away before you calm down? And people are shaking their head, right, going back to those career-ending moments.

Renewal is a brilliant way to also calm that physiology as well, so we need to rethink renewal. This is how I want to end our time together. I want you all to think about your renewal plans. What can you do throughout the day? No longer than 90 minutes across the four domains.

So I want you to think physical renewal: standing up, nutrition, drinking water, getting a healthy snack. Emotional renewal: looking at pictures of loved ones, calling someone that you care about. Mental renewal: meditation, calming the mind. Spiritual renewal: connecting to your higher power, gratitude, journaling, praying, whatever it is that matters to you. And I want you to think, and think about when you have two minutes, when you have five minutes, when you have 15 minutes, and I want you just to write down a couple of things that you’re going to commit to. As you see, gratitude is an incredible way to calm the physiology, and change your mood, okay, just writing down a couple of things can be really powerful. Spending time with loved ones, attaching to others, sunshine. Sunshine during the day helps you sleep better at night, and of course, breathing is amazing. So the good news about renewal is that you can train. The more you do it, the better you get. So one of the markers of fitness is the idea: it’s the speed at which you recover. And you can get better at renewing, it’s a paradigm shift.

What we’re gonna end with is this: you often hear people say, “life’s a marathon, it’s not a sprint.” what does that mean? Slow down, pace yourself, you’re in it for the long haul. We want you to think of yourself as a sprinter. What does a sprinter do? They come up to the line, clear ending point in sight. So for us it’s no longer than what? Ninety minutes. They go all out when the gun goes off. And then they stop, and they renew. And many sprinters will run multiple races in the same day.

So this is my challenge to us: how are we going to create personal and professional practices for individuals and groups using this very very important information? We can do it, okay, we must do it. It’s essential and we can do it together. Thank you very much. [Applause]