Being self accountable has a set of principles and behaviors that puts us more in control of our actions and desired outcomes. A related but different set of behaviors revolve around the concept of self-control. Roy Baumeister has been studying self-control for more than two decades and he has just published a new book, Willpower, written with John Tierney, which summarizes his conclusions. “Self-regulation failure,” Baumeister argues, “is the major social pathology of our time.” However, many of us may be taking the most difficult and least productive approach in personally managing self-control?
Tony Schwartz is the Performance Expert and CEO of The Energy Project, which is devoted to helping people and organizations improve sustainable performance, in large part by more systematically exercising self-control. They have found in their work that the skill at self-regulation creates huge competitive advantage. Over the years, they have learned that nearly everything people tend to believe about self-control is wrong. Tony‘s work on this subject emphasizes that, “Most of us assume the only way to resist our impulses, or persevere under pressure, is to grit our teeth, furrow our brows, steel our nerves, and tough it out. Precisely the opposite is true.”
Schwartz exclaims that human energy is the fuel for self-control. He goes on to state in a recent HBR blog, “We each have one reservoir of energy to get things done. Each act that requires self-control progressively depletes this energy reservoir, whether it’s when you use it to resist a piece of cake, or focus single-mindedly on a difficult problem, or stay calm when you feel provoked.”
Schwartz and his colleagues believe that there are three ways to influence self-control by better managing our energy:
- We can intentionally increase the energy available to us
- Use the energy we have more efficiently
- More regularly and intentionally renew our energy.
Character Move: In order to reinforce self-accountability it is important for each of us to learn more about personal energy management. This includes practicing individual physical intelligence management (nutrition, exercise, and sleep) and emotional intelligence management (building a habit system and applying energy resourcefully). A good place to start is The Energy Project; Schwartz and his group has tremendous breakthrough insight on this topic.
Energy in the Triangle,