Monday, April 14, 2008


"Above all, challenge yourself. You may well surprise yourself at what strengths you have, what you can accomplish."

Cecile M Springer.

I have long been motivated by challenge. Part of this is conscious. Part is not.

The part that is unconscious is the part I grapple with. It is that part that causes me to take on more than I can easily complete in reasonable time. Or worse, it is the part that causes me to make my own barriers to getting thing done quickly and efficiently.

Good challenge gives me energy. Often enough energy that tasks seem effortless. And productivity soars.

Bad challenge drains energy.

I am spending some time tracking what are good challenges and what are bad. I simply have a column on my time management tracking sheets that I note whether something gives or takes energy. Interesting exercise.

Much of time management is energy management. High energy is what brings above average productivity.


At 8:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that time management is often energy management and like your idea of tracking which activities give and take energy. It's not something I'd considered before.

I am often motivated by challenge, but my problem isn't so much taking on bad challenge as in taking on too many good challenges at once, which can be just as bad.

At 9:28 PM, Blogger Stuart R. Crawford said...

Hi Jim

Sounds similar to:

Positive People give you energy, negative people drain your energy.

Stuart Crawford
Calgary, AB

At 10:12 AM, Blogger Olivier Blanchard said...


Do you find that what separates leaders from managers is often simply that need to be challenged?

At 10:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Jim,

As so often, you hit the nail on the head regarding the challenges we take on, as you say, unconsciously.

Many of us are motivated by challenges, and hence, we take them on, well, just because it's a challenge. Often this leads to distraction or loss of focus. So, for us, the challenge really is to look at our planned (written down) priorities, BEFORE we accept a challenge for the sheer pleasure of it.

Alex Revai

At 10:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have to add my two cents on this. I “get” what you are saying.

Sometimes I find myself putting my hand up and speaking up and offering to take on a task or challenge – when my better judgment is yelling “slow down or no, no!!” in my head.

I’ve done this at work, in my personal life – and usually when no one else is offering to step up to the task that needs to be addressed.

It’s an uncontrollable thing, and usually puts me over the top with commitments and much too busy – but it makes me feel good to step up, particularly when no one else will.

I do wish on occasion, however, that I would take a bit of time and consider whether it is a “good” or “bad” challenge prior to sticking up that hand…

It is indeed my “inner self” taking control.

I wonder, as I age, will this change? I sure hope not….

At 11:06 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Reminds me of a stretch-stretch and the stretch-break. :)

In my books all activities either nourish or deplete (energy,spirit, well-being, etc). When they nourish one is in one's strenghts. When they deplete...well, it's actually not that obvious. We may be depleted, lacking in energy because we're tired, bored, stressed etc etc.

When it comes to challenge, the ideal is being in what you as a runner would call the zone..and which Mike Czikszentmihaly calls 'FLOW' -- in one's strengths and challenged to that optimal point between anxiety and boredom.

That's where there's optimal performance -- and the value add.

Challenge for challenge sake is always exciting - it's generally high energy (mental / physical / emotional) often interesting -- but does it build, does it always add value? for us and/or others?


Thanks for another opportunity to play with ideas :)

Best, as ever, A


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