How to Have Greater Energy, Focus and Engagement

by | Jul 19, 2018


In February I attended the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute’s Corporate Athlete Program (“HPI”). The corporate athlete program “helps individuals become physically energized, mentally focused and fully engaged in the moments that matter – for real results at work and at home.” The program focused on four areas: spiritual, mental, emotional and physical aspects of life.

I found it a very worthwhile 2.5 day program and I learned a ton.  The primary message HPI teaches is that a key to personal and professional performance is managing your energy – not time. We all have a set amount of time – it’s not a variable we can control. However, we can manage our lives so that we have greater energy and focus.  A key aspect of energy management is the concept of “oscillation.”

The concept of oscillation comes out of the sports world where the concept of “periodization” is used to achieve high levels of athletic performance. Periodization is based on periods of stress followed importantly by periods of recovery. Stress provides the stimulus for growth and recovery is actually when growth occurs. Related IFOD: The Four Minute Workout


The  concept of periodization can be successfully applied outside of sports. HPI refers to the concept as applied to our daily lives as “oscillation.”  Oscillation can be contrasted with other patterns of behavior such as working linearly for long periods of time.

The idea of oscillating is foreign in today’s work environment. Jim Loehr, a co-founder of HPI states in his book The Power of Full Engagement that “we live in a world that celebrates work and activity, ignores renewal and recovery, and fails to recognize that both are necessary for sustained high performance.” We tend to go to our jobs and try to put our heads down and work hours at a time. This style of working is referred to as working linearly and results in reduced focus, energy and engagement. What is missing is focused stress followed by recovery. It is just not possible to have sustained periods of awareness and focus for long stretches of time!

Growth happens in recovery (this is why you wake up with a good idea or think of good ideas in the shower). This is true physically too.

What does this look like in daily life? It is important to build strategic recovery into your day. It is helpful to block it out on your calendar.  It is important to have both macrocycles and microcycles. Macrocycles mean planning to have periodic vacations, days of exercise interspersed with days of rest, getting enough sleep, etc.  Microcycles involve taking breaks throughout the day to walk, meditate, nap, read, etc.

A key is to not feel guilty. You will be more effective by working in bursts and then recovering. Remember that Linearity leads to disengagement. We need to have STRESS followed by RECOVERY.

A good article on oscillation was written by Jack Groppel, a co-founder of HPI: Oscillation: a key to unlocking human performance


  1. I wish I had read something like this many years ago. I realize that I approached work very linearly.

  2. Very clever perspective on hard work and recharging. It makes more sense than other time based evaluations of performance.

    My question….Is reading the IFOD, part of renewal and recovery?

    • Reading the IFOD is definitely work/stress.

  3. One of your best IFODs, cheers!

    • I agree with Michael, and I answer yes to Ed. While I realize writing the IFOD is work/stress for you, John, I consider them a little burst of renewal! Thank you for this one in particular!


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