Are You Settling for a Pale Version of the Possible?

“Settling for a pale version of the possible” is my favorite line in Tony Schwartz’ new book, The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working.  It’s in essence the question that we so often avoid because it gets to the core of our most intimate desire to be the best that we can be.  Those with the courage to ask and truthfully answer that question, will be the ones who end up operating at their full potential and helping others to do the same.  Tony’s new book will help you find easy ways to ensure that your life is full of vibrant and endless possibilities.

I am often asked to review and blog about new business books coming to market, and only rarely do I oblige.  When Tony asked me to review his new book, I said yes immediately. His ideas around managing energy as opposed to time resonated with me years ago after reading, The Power of Full Engagement and plays a big role in my own consulting practice. The energy management concept, if explored to its full potential, can do more to transform an organization than any other single component.

The great thing about Tony’s new book is that it is full of sound research that reinforces what Tony is teaching and helps us to really understand why we do the things we do, even when they are counter productive to our goals.  More importantly, he provides practical advise on how to begin the process of change that will work for anyone in any stage of their career, or any organization at any level of health.

Not only will you find great information to help you become a better employee, leader, or manager, but you will also find that this book will help you become the person, spouse, parent, child, and sibling that your heart desires.

If any of the following statements resonate with you, then you should RUN, not walk, to the nearest bookstore and get a copy of The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working.

  • I always feel like I am behind in my work and will never catch up
  • I want my team to be more productive
  • I desperately want to find balance between my work life and home life
  • I want my team to be more accountable and responsible
  • I struggle with the daily distractions of email, phone calls, and endless request for my time and can’t get any of my own work done
  • My company does a poor job of retaining employees

What I personally love the most about The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working is how it very easily connects to my own work around helping organization find competitive advantages that work in the 21st Century.  Tony reminds us that, “In a fiercely competitive and rapidly changing marketplace, creative and big picture thinking, curiosity, and openness to learning and empathy are a largely untapped source of potential competitive advantage.”  Going from more, bigger, faster to richer, deeper, slower seems counter intuitive to most, but is in fact the best way to distinguish your company from its competitors.

I have asked Tony to give us his thoughts on a few more in-depth questions on this angle around competitive advantage.

1)   Why do you think it is so hard for organizations to fully grasp that strengthening their connection with and investing in the well being of their employees can be a tremendous competitive advantage?

There’s an instinctive tendency in all of us to default to the easiest solutions. It’s easier to demand more of people than it is to consciously invest in them. It’s also part of the short-term preoccupation that characterizes so many organizations.  If you view people as expendable and interchangeable, you don’t worry about investing in them because you believe they’re all replaceable.  Leaders with a more  long-term view recognize that when you invest in people they become more valuable over time.

We make that investment in ourselves in the years we spend in school. But many organization are too concerned with the next quarter’s revenues to think about investing in the future. But the best organizations do just that. Companies such as Apple and Google offer more to their employees than most other companies – not just in perks like the free meals Google provides or the fitness facilities Apple has, but also mentally, in terms of the environments of learning and growth they actively nurture; and spiritually, by giving employees the sense that they’re doing something that truly adds value to the world. It shouldn’t be a surprise, in turn, that these sorts of companies attract better employees and have great results.

2)   In your work with a vast array of companies, do you see more of a correlation to the age of a company and the age of its executive team and their likelihood to fully embrace energy management in their culture, or is it more highly correlated to specific industries?

There’s no question that a certain kind of company is more readily drawn to our work.  They tend to be more progressive, forward thinking and innovative than average.  We’ve had our greatest successes with technology companies and with creative companies, but interestingly, we’ve also had significant success with more traditional financial institutions.  I think that may be because the folks drawn to the world of finance are often fiercely competitive, and we’re offering a science-based way for them to improve personal performance.

Ultimately, though, we’ve been able to work in almost every kind of organization, because in the end it’s usually one or two senior leaders who make the decision about whether to bring us in.  The trick, we’ve learned, is to introduce them to our work first at a personal level.  When they see its impact in their own lives, they become evangelists for the practices we’re teaching, and the new way of working we’re advocating.

3)   What is the one piece of information that you provide to clients that seems to resonate with them the most when it is difficult for them to see how proactively managing the 4 types of energy can have a profound impact on personal satisfaction and corporate success?

In an era of overwhelming demand, what resonates first is the science-based case we make for the fact that human beings aren’t meant to operate continuously for long hours. We all know, intuitively, that the way we’re working isn’t working, and that it’s actually depleting us.   It’s thrilling for people to understand that intermittent renewal actually drives higher and more sustainable performance.  Our work gives people permission to work in ways that serve them better – and make them feel better.  And that ultimately serves their organizations better.


  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kathy Robison, Kathy Robison. Kathy Robison said: @TonySchwartz new book will give U back control over your work day [...]

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