Disengaging the Autopilot

17 min read

These companies are entering a quantum and energetic reality in which there are countless very small increments or parcels of energy. This means that opportunities for energy expansion are limitless, but only when you embrace the nature of the underlying reality, which is energetic rather than linear. Every unsuccessful project, group or personal relationship I’ve seen in 45 years of Organizational Development and Leadership Consulting has been marked by rapid or gradual decrease in people’s vitality or energy.

Zoe Marae, a remarkable counselor and teacher in Concord, Massachusetts says, “As personal energy expands, the world around you improves.” This is an easily testable hypothesis that works for me and seems to be a reliable predictor of success in others. It also points to the fact that responsibility for energy expansion is the senior leader’s job, both personally and for their group(s).

In a sports context, Red Auerbach, legendary coach of the Boston Celtics, said that team spirit was his main job. Having chosen skilled players, his full attention was on maintaining, uplifting, and encouraging individual and team spirit, especially when he saw it diminish, whatever the cause. Victor Sanchez, a brilliant and socially conscious author, trainer, and coach extends this idea to systems as a whole. He says that, “systems with the most available energy will prevail.”

From Apple Computers to Google, Whole Foods to championship sports teams, the principle fits. While this energetic logic makes intuitive sense, what I’ve seen going on in most of the organized world is that far more attention is being paid by senior leaders to bottom line and measurement, growth, product quality, and order and control than is being paid to energy expansion and team spirit. This accounts for why engagement scores are so consistently low. Scores don’t go up when real attention continues to be paid to concrete, linear activity.  What makes the real difference is people’s vitality and energy.

The curious part is that leaders’ public speaking usually honors the central importance of people’s imagination and innovativeness.  Yet, energy follows attention.  In most places, the most powerful attention and recognition is paid to money and that which can be measured objectively. What ultimately makes a difference is ignored by comparison.   Measurement, of course, is essential to material success and as the organizing force it can drive an increase in short term profit.  But it cannot fix a leaky boat.  Sadly, it seems that the more you measure, the more personal energy is suppressed.

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