The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working: The Four Forgotten Needs That Energize Great Performance by Tony Schwartz
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My notes from The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working
[Disclaimer: The notes below are rough, and may be a mixture of direct quotes, paraphrasing, and my own thoughts/ideas/reminders. They’re written here primarily for me (so they may not make much sense out of context, especially for those who haven’t read the book)].
(8-9) Four primary energy needs: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
(11) Physical level – sustainability. Four factors are key: nutrition, fitness, sleep and rest.
(14) Perhaps no human need is more neglected in the workplace than to feel valued. Noticing what is wrong and what’s not working in our lives is a hardwired survival instinct. Expressing appreciation requires more conscious intention.
(15) Mental level – self expression.
(18) Spiritual level – significance.
(38) Building rituals:
- Undertaking no more than one or two at a time
- Precision and specificity (make a specific time)
- Focus on something we do rather than on something we try to resist doing (dieting – plan what you are going to eat rather than resisting tempting foods)
- Expect resistance to implementing the ritual
- “We derive a sense of safety from doing what we’ve always done, even if it’s suboptimal and even if it has the potential to damage us in the long-term”
- Bring competing commitments to light. Recognise the fears that are associated with change.
- “How can I design this ritual so I enjoy its intended benefits but also minimise the costs I fear it will prompt?”
(69) Many of us are programmed to believe that time spent ‘not doing’ is time wasted. Building intermittent breaks is counterintuitive and countercultural in may organisations. Implicit assumption – effective renewal requires significant periods of time. Renewal depends less on how much time we devote to it than how effectively we do it, just as productivity is less a function of how many hours we put in than of how productive we are during the hours we’re working.
(81) Broad and compelling evidence that fitness improves cognitive capacity and emotional well-being – two factors that powerfully influence performance and productivity.
(133-135) Bad is stronger than good. Fight – react by turning negative emotions against others. Flight – turn negative emotions on ourselves.
(135) Whenever you begin to notice negative feelings arising – apply the ‘golden rule’ of triggers. “Whatever you feel compelled to do, don’t.” Move from automatic to intentional mode.
(140) Need for a secure base – reliable source of emotional renewal. Over time the source of the secure base shifts from parents to spouse/partner.
(144) Humility is often a measure of a leader’s true confidence. Leader who is secure in his own value is free to invest energy in empowering others.
(148) Fact is something that can be objectively verified by any person. A story is something we create to make sense of the facts. Problem – often we mistake stories for facts and treat them as if they’re irrefutably true.
(149) Importance of awareness. Move from the role of the person experiencing our feelings to that of self observer.
(151) James Stockdale. POW in Vietnam (7 years). Stockdale Paradox. “I never lost faith in the end of the story. I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would turn the event into the defining event of my life”. “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end – which you can never afford to lose – with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they may be.”
(155) Reflective lens:
- what are the facts here?
- what is the story I’m telling myself about those facts?
Triggers almost always prompt us to tell stories that leave us feeling devalued. Reflective lens gives us a chance to consider an alternative.
(156) Reverse lens:
- what is he/she feeling and how does that make sense?
(157) Long lens:
- being able to imagine a better future
- how can i learn and grow from the experience?
- not a permanent reality
(161) Just as individuals perform best when they move between renewing and expending energy, so leaders inspire highest performance when they move between challenging people to exceed themselves and regularly recognising and rewarding accomplishments.
(162) Stress is the means by which we expend capacity as long as it’s balance by intermittent renewal.
(167-168) Jill Bolte Taylor – “I needed those around me to be encouraging. I needed to know I still had value. I needed to have dreams to work toward. I needed people to celebrate the triumphs I made every day because my successes, no matter ho small, inspired me.”
(169) Ritual at Sony Pictures – “code”. Shorthand for ‘I really want to know what you’re feeling, so be straight with me.’ Created permission to tell the truth and shared expectation that team members would do so.
(171) Alan Mulally – Ford. “If someone calls you a son of a bitch, take it as a chance to learn. You say ‘Thankyou very much for telling me, and I’d like to know more about why you think that'”. Culture grounded in realistic optimism.
(179) Herbert Simon. Nobel Prize in Economics. “What information consumes is rather obvious. It consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”
(184) Multi-tasking often leaves us feeling emptier and more disconnected. Multi-tasking sends an unmistakable message: “You’re not worth 100% of my attention”.
Split attention also means you won’t absorb everything the other person is saying – complexity, subtlety and depth.
(191) The only thing more horrifying to most of us than an inbox that contains 200 new emails is one that doesn’t contain any. We want to be wanted.
(192) Marshmallow test. Successful children managed to push the marshmallow (and therefore the temptation to eat it) out of their awareness (close eyes, turn chair, singing). The key is to avoid thinking about it in the first place.
(196) Single most effective mental ritual – “doing the most important thing first”.
(200) Improving attention of schizophrenia patients. The more focus the subjects were able to mobilise on the external task the less preoccupied they became with their own distress.
(201) Mindfulness is a more practical form of attentional training for people working in an open office environment where distractions and interruptions occur at random times throughout the day.
(202) Control your attention, and you control your life.
(213) Intentionally setting aside time to quiet the mind and activate the right hemisphere – through meditation or drawing for example – is a powerful way to induce creative breakthroughs.
(229) The real measure of people’s effectiveness in an organisation ought to be based on the value they create, not the number of hours they work. That requires a relationship between consenting adults, grounded in trust, funded by mutual responsibility, and regulated be periodic accountability.
(238) Values provide internal compass.
Defining/renewing intentions <-> embodying intentions in behaviour.
(243) “How would I behave here at my best?”
(245) Willingness to recognise shortcomings saves us from squandering energy on denial, rationalism and blame when we fall short.
Irony – efforts at self-preservation and self-protection often cause precisely what we’re seeking to hold at bay. eg. we get angry and hostile when we don’t feel we’ve been treated fairly.
TS Eliot – “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.”
(247) Q. “When did my more primitive, survival instincts guide my actions today?”. “How would I have behaved at my best?”
(255) “I feel most aligned with myself when I help others to find their inspiration and creativity.”
(256) “I’ve become the guardian of my spirit rather than just its beneficiary.”
Ubuntu – me vs you -> me and you.
No career automatically provides a purpose, but no job precludes our finding purpose in it, either.
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