18. Energy

18. Energy

This area of time awareness is filled with nuance…with the abstract, aesthetic part of time…with the invisible. Therefore, it is the hardest to identify and describe. It’s like the breeze we feel across our face but cannot see, touch or hold. In a sense it touches us. It is noticeable through the results and consequences of its presence rather than by appearance.

Energy is the area where we must celebrate movement, closure, achievement or results with positive experiences. For each style, this means taking a lap of honor around the track after the race is run. We frequently forget to do that and simply move on to the next race. It is vital to create an experience of rest and rejuvenation. The play, rest and relaxation, and enjoyment of life must match the work. In this way, we memorialize our small successes and remind ourselves of what we’ve accomplished. Rest, play and relaxation prevent burnout. These joys re-engage and reinforce good behavior while rejuvenating us, so we’re ready for the next race. Refreshed and ready, we can move forward to a higher level of efficiency and effectiveness. Without celebration, we develop environmental and relational toxins that rob us of our energy and enthusiasm.

Initially, it is difficult to identify what energizes us or touches our consciousness inside time. However, once you identify and own it, it can buoy your enthusiasm, prevent burnout and create positive experiences in the form of either islands of remembrance or celebrations of pragmatic results. So, although subtle, your Energy style can have a substantial impact on you.

This is one of the top five areas where communication breaks down between spouses, parent and child, or boss and employee. The other four areas are: Communication Style, Learning Style, Rhythm, and Focus. It is also a major cause of burnout when misused: he never stops; she has a short attention span; he pushes too hard to get it done; he’s always starting new things and never finishing them.

I met a wife married to the same man for thirty years. She’s still waiting for her perpetually-in-motion husband to stop and rest in the evenings and on weekends. Due to his Energy style, I don’t think so. This is another case where we can miss the mark because we believe we can get the other person to change and be like us. We like to think that the person who naturally moves from event to event to event will miraculously change and learn to celebrate, rest and rejuvenate; that the person who loves to continually start things will transform to focus on getting things finished. It’s not going to happen! The person who is disjointed, jumping from subject to subject to subject will change to be efficient, linear and logical. No way! When we expect miraculous transformations, we set ourselves up to be disappointed…with each other and ourselves.

This area of time awareness holds many positive aspects and benefits for us. There are four Energy styles: Perpetual, Finite, Periodic and Catalytic.

Perpetual people can work until 4:00 am and be back in the office, showered and fresh, four hours later. Others work late and drag in at 10:00 am, hardly able to function. Boundless energy comes to mind when it comes to Perpetual people. Many celebrities who live and perform in multiple time zones perform with high energy and enthusiasm. It doesn’t bother them to be in Los Angeles on Monday, New York on Tuesday, and Rome on Wednesday. They don’t see time, and so the obstacles that time represents are not hindrances. Those who are Perpetual insist that society move forward or at least move. They do not sit on their hands, and they motivate others to keep moving.

As I said a few sentences ago, Perpetual people do not naturally see time; instead, they see events in time, moving in a perpetual motion from one event to the next. They experience closure as the completion of a task or reaching exhaustion. This makes them exceptionally tenacious, unwilling to give up or end a task prematurely. Natural break-points do not occur to them. Breaks for eating regularly or stopping to celebrate a finished achievement are not on their agenda. This can lead to physical or emotional burnout.

They must schedule breaks for themselves and develop the discipline to take them for the sake of their health, relationships and work quality. Some clients set timers or program their computers to generate messages as ways of reminding themselves to take a break. Because they don’t naturally see time, they have no problem sacrificing it. Though they seem to have boundless energy, perpetual people are prone to burnout.  They view themselves as superhuman in regard to any task, and they will pour themselves into a project with complete disregard for their health, family and other needs. I remind them to take a break. Long-distance swimmers know that they must take a breath with every stroke to swim a mile. If they don’t, they won’t make it.

It is vital for Perpetual individuals to realize that play must equal work. They are not superhuman and need replenishment and rejuvenation as much as anyone. They must schedule perpetual down-times; periods of rest and rejuvenation, vacations, or weekends away. They need to create systems and structures for balance. For them, balance involves the discipline to multi-task where appropriate.


Finite people experience closure in terms of order, decorum, natural law, traditional measurements of time, or other predetermined disciplines. They are generally extremely aware of sunrises, sunsets, seasons, clocks, calendars, holidays and significant dates. They instinctively know when to be done.

Others may meander through time, but those who are Finite focus on the end result. And they focus so intently that they gift closure to those who can’t finish projects easily. The auctioneer, accountant, salesman and clock-watcher each have finite amounts of sand in their hourglasses. At a dinner party with friends, have you ever noticed it’s always the same person who winds the evening down? Chances are, your friend is Finite. I have a friend who half-jokes, “You’ve been a guest in my house long enough.” when he wants us to go home.

Because of their preferences for natural and traditional order, it is essential for Finite people to celebrate and rejuvenate according to natural and traditional order. They must rest at the end of the day and at the end of the week, celebrate special days and holidays and celebrate the seasons. They are steeped in traditional observances and schedules.

For them, the completion of major projects is important. Finite people love the sense of closure. They begin everything they do with the end in mind. When their sense of closure is disrupted, frustration and paralysis set in. They need to measure their accomplishments with positive milestones. Using a tool suchas a day-planner or making a list of positive possibilities can be helpful.


Periodic persons experience time in terms of the events and tasks that are occurring right now.  They can carry out many tasks at the same time and have a natural ability to come back to ongoing projects without interrupting flow.  They can suspend a sense of closure indefinitely while they are compelled to perform the next task or enter into the next event that presents itself.  Consequently, it is important that Periodics develop the discipline of refusing to take on many simultaneous projects. Accepting too many tasks makes the completion of any task doubly difficult. Periodic individuals need a regular way to discharge the information and events they’ve been involved in. Think of it as a brain shunt to relieve the pressure.  It is also essential for them to become single-minded when it comes to high-priority events or tasks.

Air traffic controllers, stockbrokers and short-order cooks all need the natural or learned ability to multi-task. They must be able to keep a vast amount of information straight and immediately available for action or assimilation. My nickname is the Nutty Professor because I’ve been known to jump from one subject to another and back again. I’m often told it’s quite a ride for those on the other side of the conversation. Hey! My style is Periodic…What can I say? I believe this ability enables me to retain and access the information I need when I review the profiles of many individuals. Periodic people can recall data in their memories with remarkable speed.

Periodics are sensitive to environment. Without discipline, they may have difficulty completing any task. They can become over-stimulated and overloaded, causing fatigue, frustration and burnout. It is essential that they celebrate the achievement of their milestones. Because they are able to multi-task, seasoning their work environment with play and other refreshing activities will serve to rejuvenate them. Without celebration, they may develop environmental and relational toxins that will rob them of their energy and enthusiasm.

To achieve balance in their lives, they must create systems and structures for follow-through and for rejuvenation.


Catalytic people are compelled to see things begin. They are designed to experience time in terms of the events and tasks that have not yet happened, but need to occur in order to provide momentum for subsequent events. For Catalytics, the energy created by beginning a task or project translates into immediate ultimate success or failure.

The writer, inventor, and artist are representative Catalytic people. Where we keep one journal to express our thoughts, they’ve started twenty-eight different journals. While others focus on the finish line, they search for the next opportunity to begin. Most of us go into semi-retirement after a big accomplishment. Catalytic people insist on going to the next creative pursuit. They feed us our next endeavor. They give us the gift of inspiration and fill any void with creativity.

They are the instigators in our lives. For instance, if they open the refrigerator and find eggs, they begin breakfast.  This creates momentum for getting to work which in turn creates the momentum for getting their work done, getting home, having a good time with their spouse and kids, and so forth. However, if the eggs aren’t in the refrigerator, a breakdown in the entire sequence can occur. Catalytics search desperately for other

things they might begin successfully, piling up one uncompleted task after another.  If they’re not careful, they can become completely buried in initiating tasks and events, leading to frustration and feeling overwhelmed.

They have the ability to create change and to provide the initial momentum for tasks and projects. They use multiple opportunities as the catalyst to get things moving. They remind others of the satisfaction associated with getting things started.

Catalytics require self-discipline to make sure the tasks they’ve begun reach completion. They must learn not to panic if things don’t begin the way they intended…and not to easily abandon one project for the sake of another. They need to create systems and structures for balance, including a mechanism for follow-through on what they’ve started as well as time for play, rest and relaxation.

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