In February, I attended an EO (Entrepreneurs’ Organization) learning event featuring Warren Rustand, whose presentation included the High Performance Pyramid developed by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz of LGE.  The whole idea behind the High Performance Pyramid is that World Class CEOs, like World Class Athletes thrive under pressure and can mobilize their energy on demand, because they discovered how to train, manage, and control their inner states.  The four blocks of the Pyramid from the bottom up include building Physical, Emotional, Mental, and Spiritual Capacity.  Increasing capacity brings talents and skills to full ignition and creates sustained high performance over time.  If you are a freight agent, you have to be “on” all the time, available to service your shippers and talk to your drivers 24/7.  It’s hard to sustain such an energy level, and so I thought principles of the High Performance Pyramid could help freight agents improve their energy level and performance.

The base of the High Performance Pyramid is Building Physical Capacity.  Energy is the capacity to do work, and the best competitors manage their energy by using recovery rituals.  The theory of interval training, which advocates oscillation between energy expenditure and energy renewal is at the core of energy management.  Many of us, myself previously included, often try to plug away at work non-stop, forcing ourselves to work constantly for hours and hours, viewing breaks as wastes of time that keep us from achieving our goals or finishing for the day.  In an office environment, freight agents also worry about how they will be viewed by their boss or co-workers if they don’t “look busy” all the time.

Energy oscillation advocates a powerful burst of energy, followed by a recovery time and renewal time to enable the next powerful burst of energy.  Without time for recovery, your energy level wanes, over time and you achieve less overall.  Recovery rituals lower your heart rate, create more focus, and generate more positive feelings.  Rustand also advocates a healthy diet with more complex carbs and protein and less fat and sugar, a minimum of 3-4 workouts per week, drinking 60 oz of water every day, and getting enough sleep.

So how often should you use recovery rituals? After every 90-120 minutes of concentrated effort, one should take a break to recover and renew.  This could involve a short walk around the office or the block, a non-related discussion with a friend or co-worker, lunch away from one’s desk, or an enjoyable non-related task to give your mind and body a break.  For those in a transportation brokerage office where you can’t leave, this last method can be achieved at your desk, while still providing the necessary break needed to rest and recover to mobilize again.

Feeling too stressed to take a short break?  Rustand believes stress is self-induced and causes choking.  You cannot change external conditions, but you can change your reaction to them by incorporating disciplined recovery into your routine. Recovery rituals can ultimately help alleviate stress by giving yourself more energy overall.  Alternating between desirable (energy boosting) tasks and less desirable (energy draining) tasks has also helped me maintain energy and focus.  It takes 30 days to form a habit.  Try it for 30 days, and see how you feel and how your performance improves.

In my next blog, I will address how the second block of the High Performance Pyramid—Emotional Capacity—can help freight agents increase their energy level and improve performance.

– By Cheryl Biron, President