[Editor’s note: This article was originally published September 25, 2019.]
What is the rarest and most valuable asset in the world? Time.
There is a finite amount of it. It can not be replaced or renewed. Scholars and philosophers have tried to harness it for centuries. Novels and movies have been made about going back in time to relive moments arriving at a different outcome. If you Google “time-management strategies,” you will see about 1.61 billion hits! Everyone is either the expert or seeker of the secrets of time management.
But what if we’ve been asking the wrong questions? What if our attempt to harness and manage time is the wrong approach? Since we can’t replace, add to or control time, what can we control or add more of? I believe the answer is energy management.
When I was diagnosed in 2016 with Smoldering Multiple Myeloma, a type of blood cancer, I was obviously shocked. I had no symptoms at all. I was actually training for a marathon when a life insurance exam uncovered my condition. I entered chemotherapy in August of 2016. The biggest side effect in the early days was that I was incredibly tired at certain times of the day — and more so on certain days.
I learned very quickly that the time management systems and skills that I had used previously weren’t enough. I couldn’t control the fact that I needed to rest in the afternoons. Fortunately, I was surrounded by a staff that could handle this new inconvenience in my life. I can’t stress enough the importance of being a part of a good team at work. I would directly correlate my Court of the Table and Top of the Table achievements to being surrounded by a great team.
What I have learned coming out of that season in my life is that while time management has its place, energy management is equally if not more important. Everyone who is a part of MDRT is a driven individual. But, like a car, if you drive it at top speed all the time, it will break down. I had to learn to “read” my body and know when I was most optimal and things that could help me re-energize. In addition to recognizing energy management as a whole, I also discovered there are different types of energy to manage.
Craig Groeschel has a podcast on leadership where he talks about this. There are four basic forms of energy in all of us:
We all have each of these four and can use each one to feed another one to a degree. I have also learned we have one or two that we lean more heavily on. Let me explain.
Physical energy seems pretty obvious. If we work all day at a manual task like yard work or exercise, we may be physically tired but often feel rejuvenated and mentally sharper. This is why some type of exercise is so important to well-being and optimal performance in life. Physical energy is fairly easy to see and track.
Mental energy is required to creatively think about a problem or solution. How often do we study for an exam or client strategy and feel mentally invigorated as we draw closer to the answer? Often times, simply reading a book or good article can help recharge our mental energy stores.
Spiritual energy is a little less tangible. Regardless of your faith background, I would argue that we are all spiritual creatures to some degree. We all seem to have an innate part of us that yearns and clings to a belief system. When that belief system is affirmed or nurtured, we tend to have an increase in energy in all the other areas.
Lastly, emotional energy. While we all have all four forms of energy and in different measures, emotional energy seems to be the foundational form the others rest or build on. For me, emotional energy is the most important.
When my emotional energy stores are full, such as if my wife and I have a wonderful date or my kids shower me with hugs and kisses, my energy levels in all the other areas increase. I then feel like I can conquer the world and any problem that arises with clarity. Likewise, when I feel disconnected from the ones I love the most, I tend to be more physically tired, less motivated and mentally more “foggy.” I have learned to be more intentional to make sure this energy bucket stays full so I can then have peak performance in all areas of my life.
I have come to recognize that I am much more of a morning person. I began to stack my important tasks and appointments in the morning so I’m sharper and more focused. I recognized as the day progresses and my energy levels begin to drain, if I can meditate for 10 to 20 minutes followed by a short five-to-10-minute walk, it re-energizes me to push through to the end of the day.
I also learned when and what I eat has a big impact on my energy management. I began to practice both exercise and intermittent fasting earlier in the day. I personally believe that through these techniques of energy management I’m able to maintain my production levels, and I also successfully completed chemotherapy over a year ago.
To this day, I still focus more on my energy management than time management. I’m also taking most Fridays off from work for some “me” time, such as writing a book! This approach continues to help me balance a hectic life and still maintain Court of the Table production.
Kirk Wilkerson, of Forest City, North Carolina, USA, died August 4, 2021. He was an MDRT member since 2003. He served on numerous committees for both MDRT and the MDRT Foundation. He recently was named the 2022 Membership Division Global Council Member. He owned Covenant Advisory Group.
You can read another article from Wilkerson about his experiences, “Life insurance saved my life, but also revealed a deadly disease” in the May/June 2017 Round the Table.