It’s that time of the year where we’re all frantically looking for gifts and trying to make plans for the new year. One good gift option, or something you can plan to read next year, is a book I read recently as part of the iPEC coaching program — “Energy Leadership” by Bruce D. Schneider, founder and CEO of iPEC. The book follows the coaching journey of Richard, the CEO of O’Connell Consulting, as he works with his coach Bruce. The narrative style and content will be familiar for readers of Patrick Lencioni’s “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.”
What I liked most about reading this book was:
- Diving into the practical application of coaching tools within a team environment
- Learning about the Energetic Self Perception (ESP) chart as a model for helping people move through change
- Writing several pages of insights and takeaways!
When we meet Richard — a fictionalized compilation of several of Bruce’s real-life clients — he is desperate for a miracle to help dig his marketing consulting firm out of a rut. Though Richard’s fictional status can make the writing feel a little cutesy or over the top at times, in general there is a ring of authenticity to the character’s interpersonal dynamics and situations.
Despite this being a fictionalized account, the reader witnesses Richard’s understanding of self evolve over time, which has a magnifying effect on growing his awareness of, and responsibility for, his firm’s setbacks. Most powerfully of all, Richard gains the knowledge of what it will take to go all in on improving his company’s outlook.
Learning From the Characters
Besides the intimate view of the coaching relationship between Bruce and Richard, “Energy Leadership” is cleverly organized around the central model in iPEC’s core energy coaching process — the Energetic Self Perception chart (ESP). The ESP chart serves as an anchor for the reader as Richard experiences one level on the energy consciousness ladder per chapter. So, as Bruce is introducing each new level, the reader is learning and experiencing that level alongside Richard.
I often found myself furiously scribbling notes throughout each chapter. Especially at points where Richard was integrating the knowledge into his life, I found myself reflecting and writing where I had experienced the various energy levels in my own life — in my personal relationships, at work, and with clients. By the end of the book, I walked away with a couple of pages of insights about why certain situations happened the way they did, and better still, how I could improve upon existing dynamics in my relationships. Any book that gives a framework for understanding, and ideating on, experiences in your life is a winner to me!
Your Thoughts Have Energy
You know how when someone walks into a room you can sometimes pick up a vibe from them? In pre-COVID times, that vibe may have been one that makes you want to walk up to that person and introduce yourself, or maybe it may have been a strong “stay away” vibe. Whatever the vibe is, that energetic feeling — that’s palpable for most of us — is your personal energy. And much like we as humans put out vibes, our actions, words and thoughts also carry a collective energy.
Paired with this energy that we produce are two other concepts that are used in the book and throughout the iPEC coaching program: catabolism and anabolism. If you’re familiar with these terms, it’s likely you came across them in biology. Catabolism, as a process within our bodies, is concerned with breaking down complex molecules to form simpler ones — it’s a way of releasing energy and is inherently destructive. Anabolism, on the other hand, is the synthesis of molecules; it’s about bringing things together and building them up — and is therefore constructive.
Applying these concepts to our inner world, our thoughts carry catabolic or anabolic energy. For me, the realization that thoughts have an energy to them, and that they can either be productive and build up or destructive and teardown, made me realize just how much power and choice I have in every moment. It’s simple, yet powerful — you have the power to choose a different thought, a thought that is in service of who you want to be, and how you want to show up, in every moment, every day.
Wrap up (Under Your Tree)
So, who should you buy this book for? The two types of people I’d recommend this book for are people who enjoy leadership books and those who are curious about coaching but not sure how it works — especially in a business context. I’m a fan of buying the hard copy as well, since I’ve highlighted and made notes all over the margins!