The way we're working isn't working: Tony Schwartz at TEDxMidwest

for the past 200 years free-market capitalism has been defined by a singular ethic more bigger faster is better that's fine in a world of infinite resources but demand in our lives is increasingly out weighing our capacity isn't it think about this how many of you would say that as you look back over the next I'm sorry as you look back over the last three years the demand in your life has significantly increased and how many of you would say even though it's increased and most of you agree it has that over the next several years it will go still higher and so that leads us to the $64,000 question which is this if demand has already increased dramatically and if it's only going to get still higher how many of you believe that your capacity to meet that demand will rise right along with the demand that's the problem that we face the problem is that more bigger faster generates value that is narrow shallow and short-term we find ourselves today in an energy crisis we know about the energy crisis that relates to the resources of the planet but we ourselves have an energy crisis this one is personal we are at a moment at an inflection point where we know that the way we're working isn't working we need a new way of working we need a new paradigm for a new age we need to learn to manage our energy rather than our time you know it used to be until recently even that if you needed to get more done what did you do you invested more hours well that's fine except time as a problem doesn't it it's finite there are 24 hours in a day there are a hundred and six eight hours in a week no congressional legislation is ever going to change that actually no traditional legislation that we're going to change much of anything it appears so you're not going to change that and yet you've still got to get things done the good news is that energy energy unlike time is something that's inside you and it has properties that make it a very powerful resource it can be expanded it can be renewed and you can learn to use it more efficiently we know that about objects in the universe it is also true in terms of how we manage ourselves if we become more conscious and intentional about it there are it turns out four kinds of energy in the human system you can run a stove or a refrigerator on a single source of energy but a human being needs four sources of energy the first source of energy we need is physical that's the quantity of your energy it's the ground of all energy its what energy rests on the second source of energy is emotional that's the quality of your energy because how you feel profoundly influences how you perform the third source of energy is mental mental is the focus of your energy mental is the focus of your energy so if you have an ability to do one thing at a time that becomes a very powerful source of energy and then the fourth source of energy is the energy of the human spirit that's the energy derived from the experience that what you do really matters from a deep sense of purpose because if something really matters to you is there any question that we bring more energy to it so in other words it takes a village an internal village to run our lives so how how do we how do we learn to manage our energy more skillfully what's the answer here in a world of infinite demand and interestingly that's where paradox arises because there isn't a simple answer the answer lies in the ability in the modern ability to embrace our own opposites this is an ancient concept it comes from the Stoics and it's called antic aloo Thea antic aloo Thea refers to the mutual entailment of the virtues so by that understanding no virtue is a virtue by itself honesty without compassion is cruelty tenacity without flexibility congeals into rigidity courage without prudence becomes recklessness but the problem is that we choose up sides in our desperate hunger for answers in our need for certainty in a dangerous world we want to know one or the other right or wrong and it turns out that there isn't right or wrong and so I want to look at how is it that we manage best across these four dimensions by learning to hold the opposites so let's start at the physical level let's start at the level of the quantity of energy the energy that sits at the foundation of all your sources of energy so there we live or most of us live by a myth and that myth is that we are meant to operate like computers at high speeds continuously for long periods of time running multiple programs at the same time but what ends up happening is that we end up as my friend Linda stone has said so brilliantly we end up chasing our own technology instead of running it it ends up running us and we misunderstand the core of how a human being works which is this human beings are designed to pulse between spending energy and renewing energy aren't we just think of our heart rate it's meant to rise and fall throughout the day depending on demand the same is true for our blood pressure our brain waves are meant to move between high frequency Trickle activity right now as you're listening and lower-frequency at night so you're capable of sleeping our muscles are meant to contract in the face of the demand and then relax when that demand eases and when that does not happen what you get is back pain and neck pain we call that structural but it's actually a failure of energy management so what we need to do is we need to take a different view of renewal right now what we value above all is the expenditure of energy and we tend to undervalue even to demonize and dismiss the renewal of energy but in fact the renewal of energy lies at the very heart of everything that matters in the absence of renewal of energy creativity and nuance and innovation and thoughtfulness and reflection and empathy are all compromised speed and continuous expenditure is the enemy of what is important athletes it turns out understand intuitively instinctively the power of renewal as it relates to enduring high performance to sustainable high performance so what an athlete understands is something called periodization which is the managing of work rest ratios what does that mean well what it means is that an athlete understands that renewing energy is as important as spending energy in the long term prospect of being effective in whatever you do we must learn to move freely between expending energy and renewing energy and the bigger the amplitude of the wave you make in your life the more the more you spend energy in a focused intense way and then offset it with deep renewal the healthier and the more powerful and the more effective you become so now to the opposites that relate to the management of emotional energy here the opposites we want to talk about our confidence and humility but we don't value both of those equally do we we understand that confidence is where we should put our stock and in fact we misunderstand that we believe that certainty is power and that vulnerability is weakness now confidence is important confidence is a critical strength but it is not sufficient because often what we're doing is we're creating false confidence we're putting on the appearance of confidence to cover our own insecurities and when we do that here's what happens we get confidence untempered by humility that turns into arrogance and inflation and an and exaggerated self regard and that doesn't serve us well to the contrary the holding or the celebrating of these opposites leads to this reality that a strength overused is in fact a weakness and weakness acknowledged is a strength it's when we connect to others in part by our willingness to acknowledge our own shortcomings not only does it make it possible when we're willing to have the courage to acknowledge our own shortcomings to open ourself to more learning and more growth in a world of infinite new information but it also allows us to reconnect to others it's a portal to reconnection with others when those relationships have been wrapped in ruptured because vulnerability is such a way of creating connection humility is from the Greek word humility AHS it means grounded from the earth isn't that what we want for ourselves isn't that what we hope for from others the third opposite set of opposites is in the mental dimension it's no surprise than in this dimension we have once again chosen up sides we've chosen up sides in the case of how we use our brains on the analytical deductive rational side or the left hemisphere of the brain and we've made a mythical assumption that creativity is genetic and somehow magical and that it cannot be taught there is nothing we need more than creativity in the world we live in right now we need new answers to the problems we face and the reality is that creativity emerges from whole brain thinking and it can be taught systematically so we are we grow up having learned to build our left hemisphere and make it the boss of who we are that's the verbal part of our mind it's analytic it's deductive it's rational step by step and we give that great credence ever since the Enlightenment we have valued what we can observe and measure and we have disdained what we cannot we have given under we have undervalued the visual right hemisphere of the brain which is intuitive and imaginative and perhaps above all else has the capacity to be integrative which we so need in this oversimplified world so we need to learn to stop operating half-brained we need to learn to draw on the whole brain and what scientists increasingly understand is that creativity emerges in predictable stages and it's a movement over those stages from left hemisphere dominance to right hemisphere dominance and we can indeed systematically build a process by which we can access the deepest and most imaginative sides of who we are if we respect both sides equally and then finally finally there's the set of opposites that relate to spiritual energy spiritual energy spiritual energy is the energy derived from the experience of a deep sense of purpose and the reason it's a source of energy is because when something really matters to you is there any question that you invest more energy in it that you are more tenacious that you persevere more in the face of setbacks that you're more persuasive on behalf of your own mission the problem is that once again we've overvalued one virtue at the expense of another virtue and done ourselves a disservice in the process we've adopted the myth that serving others is the greatest of goods and better sometimes to the exclusion of taking care of ourselves but the reality is that if you don't take care of yourself you can not take care of others it's just the obvious the one that you hear every time you go up in a plane when that mask drops that Oscars your oxygen mask drops in the course of a flight that's in trouble and you're sitting by your child your instinct of course is to take that oxygen mask and put it on your child but the right move is to put that oxygen mask on yourself because if you're not taking care of yourself you are less capable of taking care of your child and that applies to anybody that you are trying to act in service of we need to find a way to balance taking care of others with taking care of ourselves it's not about selfishness and selflessness those are extremes it's about self care and service and finding that middle ground and often what we find is that the people who are most focused on taking care of others are worst about taking care of themselves we see this in the work we do in the helping professions we see it with nurses and doctors we see it with teachers we see it in nonprofit organizations and what sets in is something that is a modern phenomenon if I've ever heard of one compassion fatigue this comes from caring too much from expending too much energy on behalf of others and too little energy on behalf of oneself so that you end up getting burnt out and break down and distraction and hopelessness how ironic you care too much so where does this all lead us where does this all lead us in the end what do we need to do to manage ourselves more skillfully in a world of such extraordinary complexity and demand to recognize that our inner lives are as important to understand as our outer lives have been up to now and the answer I believe and I draw here on some of the thinking of James Hillman the great psychologist is to learn above all to love ourselves to love ourselves means not just to love the best of ourselves not just to love the best that we aspire to be but to love the parts of ourselves that we despise that we tend to deny in ourselves that we find unacceptable and even jamila humiliating to love all of ourselves it's a paradox we live in we need to try hard and we need to let go and above all above all we need in a world of undue complacency and enormous problems we need to learn to make waves so we can change lives beginning with our own thank you very much you

37 thoughts on “The way we're working isn't working: Tony Schwartz at TEDxMidwest

  1. How can I take anyone seriously who's wearing that suit.And when matched with the "striped tie" , like in the "New York Post'photo,  Can I think anything but "Clown" ?

  2. release the sneaky use of free energy to "stay in power over" – the system is rigged to enslave use and abuse and throw away…

  3. You ready for the… "THE ANSWER"?
    > Give it to Jesus < Bar none! I am sorry folks, but this is how it is … You're either all in or you're all out! The're is no other way!

  4. Your definition of "anacolouthia" is confusing. You explained that "anacolouthia" means the mutual entailment of the virtues. No virtue by itself. Minute 17:54 in your video.

    This is what the dictionary explains:
    noun, Rhetoric.
    lack of grammatical sequence or coherence, especially in a sentence.

  5. Compassion fatigue? I think that I would be a much better person if I did suffer such a thing. Caring too much? I ask God to help me care even more.

  6. I can resonate with his last statement for loving your self as the single most important thing to do. Of course that can have many interpretations, I think it implies opening up to following your bliss and working together to make the best life we can.

  7. "Honesty without compassion is cruelty" (aka "brutal honesty"). Now that alone is worth the price of admission!

  8. I truly enjoyed this ted talk. For me, it brought to the forefront, the need for balance in all parts of life. It's knowing that even our virtues need ballasts.

  9. I am very impressed that thanks to my February 1, 2012 review of his book "The Way We Are Working Isn't Working," Tony pronounced the "t" in "antacoluthia," even though it is still misspelled in the accompanying graphic just as it is in the book; however, this term does not cover the unity of opposites which was not a Stoic doctrine but is usually attributed to Nicholas of Cusa. The unity of the opposites is a common idea in German interpretations of Neoplatonism and Tony gets it from Carl Jung. Coherently putting these ideas together, one would expect to get the mutual entailment of the virtues and the vices, but Tony doesn't want to say that. If you have any philological interest in this, check out my review:

    Tony's heart is in the right place, and he is finally atoning for writing "The Art of the Deal," but his fix for the way we are working is well known to every full-time worker already: we would all perform better in the afternoon if we could take a nap after lunch. Somebody should tell the boss.

  10. The problem is we have a completely new technological realm of possibility guided by the same elite pattern of dominance that has existed throughout civilizational history. The habits of dominance and control are trumping the needs for widely dispersed wisdom.

  11. This was an amazing talk. Every C-level needs to see this and think on it for awhile. If you don't want us to burn out, let us relax, de-stress, and refresh our minds. I work in a position that is very mentally demanding, where I use creativity to solve complex problems for the benefit of my company. I guarantee you, the less stressed we are, the more efficient we become.

  12. The content was unremarkable but buy, this speaker has the dullest presentation out of any TED speaker I have listened to.

  13. While looking past the 'soundbites stitched together' style of presentation that tends towards the dogmatic, Tony Schwarz makes some very good points. For anyone who manages the tendency to be overwhelmed by responding by treating those demands in shallow, rushed ways. The challenge is to find depth in what we do, in a way that gets us closer to where we truly want to go.

  14. Seriously??? This talk contains "what the hell are you talking about"-thingy. It'sn't interesting at all. Now I know why it only has 37k views and his audience's bored to death.

  15. Everyone knows what he says is true. But how many companies actually practise these fundamental basics? Hardly!

  16. ​I too have felt the same many times where I wish that I had more time in the day.  However, I think I would just end up filling it with as much stuff, as possible.  Similarly, this is why I prefer to live in a smaller home and well under my means.  Relating to the solution presented here, it has been a pleasant surprise to find that the old axiom, "work hard, play hard" to be proven again.  I have seen how the influences of colossal pyramid corporations have wronged our society in ways that we are only starting to come to terms with now.  Replacing idle workers with idle work and accountability with accountants.  But, some of us, some of the brave ones, have dared to tread in the waters of compassion, if only to be awarded by the hordes of dysfunction that consistently seek ways to avoid true productivity.  Those of us that are willing to pick up the pieces and inspire others to help construct the puzzle are the true entrepreneurs. 

  17. Dont waste your 18 minutes..
    This talk is all about WHAT..
    Nothing on HOW..
    Just re-enforcing what everyone intuitively knows….

  18. So totally true, people tent to think we should just work all day long. We should work effectively and this way we will live a much easier effective life. This, by itself makes probabilities of living happier.

  19. What a great presentation… The whole idea about energy spending and renewal is so true and at the same time so underestimated… Thanks for bringing this topic to the business arena

  20. Oh good lord, i so much needed to hear so much of this great speech.
    Thank you very much Tony Schwarz. You just improved my quality of life and the vacation upon which i'm about to embark by a couple of hundred percentage points.

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