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The Tao of High Performance

If you took a quick scan of your performance levels in all aspects of your life, how would you stack up? Are you operating at 100 percent of what you’re capable of?

When we ask professionals this question, we rarely hear answers over 50 percent. As a modern recruiter, the demands you face are only increasing: budget cuts, growing workloads and a more competitive market for great talent. You want to get a strategic advantage, but daily demands force you to be reactive. Are you bringing the kind of positive energy and enthusiasm that makes a difference in creating great relationships with your clients and candidates? What if the breakthrough in your performance could actually be realized by better managing your energy?

That’s exactly what Jim Loerh and Tony Schwartz propose in their book, “The Power of Full Engagement.” The basic premise is that managing energy – not time – is the key to high performance. Drawing from decades of working with top athletes and applying those principles to what the authors refer to as “corporate athletes,” they offer tools and ideas to help us function at our highest levels. If you know that you’re less than fully engaged in and out of the office, you’d do well to read “The Power of Full Engagement.” Following is a brief look at some of the big ideas it covers.

It is most important to manage energy.

It doesn’t matter how much time you have if the quality of energy you bring to those hours is poor. Visualize two scenarios: a conversation with a candidate where you feel negative and low energy, then imagine that same conversation but you feel positive and are high energy. Which will achieve the best result?

All hours are not created equal.

We often schedule our days assuming that all hours have the same potential, but Loerh and Schwartz point out that the body not only has a circadian rhythm (24-hour cycles of activity and rest) but it also has ultradian rhythms (90-minute cycles of high to low energy). There are a variety of systems out there but at their core it’s as simple as using a timer to make sure you take breaks for rest in between bursts of high activity.

Take time between points.

In their studies, Loerh and Schwartz noticed top tennis athletes take maximum advantage of the lulls between moments of activity, actually lowering their heart rate in between sets and preventing fatigue towards the end of the match. If your day resembles a tennis match – and whose doesn’t – with constant back and forth with short rests in between, you can take advantage of the time in between calls, meetings and projects to recharge.

Engage in positive rituals.

A positive ritual is something that is baked into our everyday experience and takes very little conscious effort to execute. Think of brushing your teeth. This activity has tremendous health rewards and most of us don’t think twice about doing it. It’s easy to turn the fundamental daily activities that make the biggest difference in our performance into positive daily rituals. This works with not only things like brushing teeth and exercise but also with things like maintaining your talent pipeline

Drink more water.

Nothing could be more basic and have a greater impact on our energy than being properly hydrated, and yet most of us are chronically dehydrated. Inadequate hydration also compromises concentration and coordination, and a muscle dehydrated by as little as three percent can lose ten percent of its strength and eight percent of its speed. Based on growing studies, Loerh and Schwartz recommend drinking 64 ounces of water at intervals throughout the day to gain performance benefits.

It’s also worth noting that these practices should be pointed: always be engaged or purposefully resting. We all know what it feels like to half work. You don’t get much done and you’re exhausted at the end of the day. Sadly, this practice is more common among today’s workforce. If you want to be a top performer in your industry, begin mastering your energy. Imagine the impact you could have if you had even a small increase in drive and performance.