This is one of the more important things I’ve learned over the years. And once I understood this it changed the way I saw the world.
What is energy? it is the fuel to do work, to do what matters. Simple right?
Well, maybe not so simple. Energy abounds because everything is energy including us. We are taught the more energy we have the better. We are marketed and sold energy because energy is easy to produce and buy. Food, gasoline, even emotional energy is in reach for many of us whenever we need it.
But my experience tells me energy in and of itself is pretty useless, even dangerous. What happens to you when you have plenty of energy but you have no idea what to do with it? Does it turn inward? Most of the people I work with who are stuck in life have plenty of energy but have no idea what to tell the energy to do. And that makes energy maddening.
Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax was a mediocre pitcher until a coach walked to the mound in Koufax’s third or fourth season and told him to “take a little off” his pitches. That was all it took to turn him into Sandy Koufax. Golfer Davis Love’s father told him to start his swing at 10% of his hardest swing and work up in 10% increments to 100%. Love says his swing worked best and felt right at 80%.
I’ve heard too many bosses and coaches demand more energy when something doesn’t work in the form of “try harder.” I watch little kids in the sports leagues surrounded by an overabundance of energy and a lack of the right information telling the fuel what to do. And worst of all, I’ve spent hours and hours on the phone with people late at night who can’t sleep because of the energy inside them eating them alive.
As a basketball player, I got to a certain level because I tried harder and longer than anyone I competed against. I found some of my Promise. But I hit the wall and turned into a nationally famous benchwarmer because I ran into, competed against people who had better information than I did. Their energy knew what to do. And it took me years to understand that and I missed some great opportunities to fulfill my Promise.
Two movies I would recommend about this idea. The first is Revolver, a pretty violent Guy Ritchie flick about crime. I will paraphrase a line from the movie that captures everything I am talking about: “If you knew this, you would do this.”
Which leads to the second movie called Confession with Alec Baldwin and Ben Kingsley. I won’t tell the whole movie, but a short speech by Kingsley also captures my concept.
“You really want to do what’s right. You really want to do the right thing. People say it’s hard to do the right thing. It’s not hard to do the right thing. It’s hard to know what the right thing to do is. Once you know, once you know what’s right, it’s hard not to do it.”