High-performance work, part 1: the energy/emotion equation

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: “Rise and grind.”

No? How about, “Don’t stop when you’re tired. Stop when you’re done.”

Or maybe you’ve seen that ad where Dolly Parton sings about the “5 to 9” side hustle that happens after you get home from your 9 to 5.

Hustle culture is glamorizing overworking.

This eternal state of striving that it promotes makes sense on the surface – it’s a competitive world out there, especially for entrepreneurs, small business owners, and freelancers. Hard work is important and challenging yourself can be eye-opening and rewarding.

But working yourself to exhaustion? Missing out on sleep? Pushing yourself past your limits, not just occasionally, but every day?

That’s a recipe for disaster – and it won’t actually produce the results you want.

The Energy/Emotion Equation

We know what it feels like when we’re operating at high energy with positive emotions: it feels like you’re on top of the world, like you’re unstoppable. You feel calm, confident, and challenged in a good way, and you do your best work. Your performance is high.

On the flipside, however, there’s operating at high energy with negative emotions: projects and deadlines start to pile up, and you feel frustrated and stressed. You switch into a high-adrenaline survival mode just to make it through the day or the week. Although hustle culture glorifies this driven, impatient state of burning the candle at both ends, it can lead to negative effects.

This high-intensity survival mode turns into operating at low energy with negative emotions, also known as burnout. You feel exhausted, hopeless. Your brain is foggy and you’re so stressed you can’t think. Your immune system gets weaker; maybe you even get sick.

However, when you choose to (or are forced to) take a break, you enter the low energy with positive emotions section of the cycle. This is where recovery takes place: you can recharge your batteries, look after your mental and physical health, and feel refreshed.

So how can you help yourself stay out of those “survival” and “burnout” areas?

Keep your eyes peeled for part two of this post, coming next Friday, where we’ll share the four pillars of high-performance work and how you can use them.


Dawn O’Connor

I have over 30 years of experience working with more than 10,000 clients in helping people unlock their productivity potential. Personal productivity is my passion! Every day I am curious and excited to learn what people are working on. I can’t wait to see you in a Bubble!

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