There are dozens of highlights at every AASP conference and they include the great research presented, successes recognized, new horizons pursued by people who almost without exception favor the tenets of positive psychology in practice. One of the most insightful experiences in this meeting came from Jim Loehr, EdD, CEO of the Human Performance Institute in Orlando, who gave the performance enhancement keynote address.
He was introduced by Dr. Sean McCann, last year’s president of AASP – and it was an unusual introduction because it set Loehr up to discuss many aspects of his career, including some of the scarier, lesser known experiences that have shaped his life. I’ve rarely seen a keynote who allowed himself to acknowledge personal costs to great success – but to me this only strengthened his message. Loehr acknowledged vulnerability as an essential part of the human condition – and its role in his life and the life of some of the most successful athletes and professionals of our time. He maintains its how we address this vulnerability – or deny it – which can in large part lead to our ultimate success or failure.
One of Loehr’s main thrusts focused on the importance of recovery and its role in managing energy – the life blood of all productive human endeavor . This video on You Tube gives us a strong sense of how he views this…take a look:
Podium has featured many superb articles and features on this topic including the interview with Dr. Kristen Dieffenbach as she reviewed her work at the Olympic Training Center, and the widely read list of recovery tenets found in Compensatory Strategies for Recovery. The inability to properly regulate recovery and manage stress have ended the athletic careers of many truly talented individuals, but for Loehr, who’s research has now spanned three decades – recovery is the under appreciated elixir for our stress filled world.
How ‘your’ story aligns with the holistic energy system makes a difference
Loehr and his partner, Dr. Jack Groppel (a fellow in the American College of Sports Medicine and nutrition/fitness expert,) envision the person’s ability to cope with the stresses and strains of life. To do so one must understand the delicate balance found when the experience of stress interacts with the person’s purposeful focus on recovery and renewal. Loehr’s center does comprehensive research on each of its clients so that they clearly comprehend that persons’ energy expenditures. Then they customize a training regimen that almost without exception, reap huge rewards for the client and the world they are a part of. This series of assessments follow Loehr and Groppel’s evolving model of the Holistic Energy System.
The Holistic Energy System is viewed as a pyramid, the top of which is comprised of one’s purpose. When one’s story is aligned with this spiritual energy – it fuels motivation from our deepest values and beliefs. The next level is centered on our mental abilities….involving focus, logical thinking and decision making as we apply our intellect. A somewhat larger layer in the pyramid comes from our emotional energy – particularly positive emotions that include optimism, encouraging attitudes, confidence, enthusiasm, joy and a positive self-expectation. Yet, it’s the recognition that the holistic energy system can be no stronger than our base fitness. Our nutritional habits, sleep and hydration patterns are key….for without a strong physical foundation the overall strength of the system shall be flawed.
The training program structures progressively demanding stresses to build competence, while matching an array of activities for recovery to keep each person in balance. When this energy system is tuned – the power of each person is formidable. Loehr, who came from a background in community mental health – believes that its the lack of recovery that contributes to so many broken lives in our world.
Jim Loehr readily admits to times when he lacked “alignment” in his own personal life, working non-stop without adequate recovery and the price was significant costing him a marriage and putting strain on relationships with those dear to him. He surmises that the ultimate success in any persons life comes when their story, their purpose, and their expense of energy are in complete alignment. When that happens the synergy creates a most potent, most focused, and most happy person.
Johnson and Johnson must think so too – for they bought The Human Performance Institute to carry the message and expand the reach of the organization beyond even Loehr and Groppel’s imagination. Both continue to be fully engaged in the Institute’s mission, and we’re glad they are. For me, it was as insightful, dynamic, clearly delivered, and potent a program for AASP – since Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi gave the Griffith Coleman Lecture in Savannah, Georgia in 1990 – presenting the concept and data illustrating “Flow” and the ideal performance state.
Although Loehr has written 15 books, he believes The Power of Full Engagement, The Power of Story, and Stress for Success serve his audience best.