Speed Does Not Come For Free
In the scientific terminology of physics, energy is specifically defined as “the capacity for doing work.”
By now, most of us have heard the message at work. We know the push is on to pick up the cadence. To adapt quicker to change. To produce ever-better results, and do so at a faster clip. But speed doesn’t come for free. In fact, going faster gets expensive in a hurry when we consider the fuel consumption—the energy—it involves.
We’ve all had the everyday experiences of walking and running. And it’s obvious that breaking into a sprint tires us a lot quicker than striding along at a normal clip. We run out of energy quicker when we accelerate. The faster we try to go, the sooner we run out of steam.
The laws of physics apply here, and the equation we need to memorize goes like this: “If you want to double your speed, you must invest four times as much energy.”
Let that soak in for a minute. Here’s what we’re saying: Going twice as fast requires a lot more than twice as much energy. Doubling your speed actually quadruples the energy demand.
We’re not just expressing an opinion here. This is a physical law. For every incremental increase in speed, the energy cost is squared.
This raises obvious questions. If we want additional speed, where is the extra fund of energy supposed to come from?
The top priority in energy management is to produce the necessary supply. Our first job is generation. We need to build our energy.
At the personal level, that could include regular physical exercise. B-complex vitamins. Less junk TV and another hour’s sleep. Setting work goals that we can get truly excited about. Also, try to operate at the 4th level of change, where your job itself becomes a turn-on. Concentrate on what works for you, and come up with a personalized list of energy builders.
Then focus on the second challenge in energy management: conservation. The idea here is to preserve the fuel supply—contain it—so it doesn’t leak out or get drained off into low-payoff activities. Just as serious marathon runners conserve energy by wearing light clothes and avoiding wasted motion, we should get serious about preventing energy waste. What can you do? Abandon behaviors that don’t contribute much. Reengineer other activities where you’re burning up energy inefficiently. Save energy by avoiding negative people and thoughts. Make sure you don’t spend it fruitlessly on resisting change.
Step three in energy management is to effectively channel your available energy. This is a focusing process. You can compare it to a magnifying glass, which can concentrate the sun’s rays enough to start a fire. The intent is to compress or concentrate your energy by directing it narrowly.
Good energy management, then, comes down to:
- Generating more
- Conserving it better, and
- Channeling it with greater focus.
This increases our “capacity for work.” High energy makes it possible for us to move at a faster pace and cover more ground.
You can measure distance by time. “How far away is that place?” “About 20 minutes.”
But it doesn’t work the other way. “When do you get off work?” “Around 3 miles.”