I have been playing with a new device that has captured my imagination over the last month. It is a small pod attached to my shoe called a Stryd that measures my power output as I run. This post isn't about running specifically, but I want to tell you about the Stryd power meter because I think there is a compelling metaphor here that might help you release potential that's locked up in other parts of your life. So stick with me for a couple paragraphs if running isn't your thing.
While the Stryd is identified as a power meter, that is a bit misleading. When you think of measuring power you probably think of muscly dudes bragging about big numbers that only they care about. Stryd isn't about maxing out. You can't run at top speed for very long and the whole point of running is to cover a good distance. The insight that Stryd's power number gives you is a view of how efficient you are at any given moment. Efficiency, not pure power, is the secret to holding a fast speed over long distances.
Running inefficiency is the result of wasted energy. Understanding this you can start looking for ways to plug the leaks and recapture the lost energy that is slowing you down. Are you losing energy because you are bouncing up and down too much? Is your bad form trapping energy in your joints causing pain and injury? How much energy could you retain by losing weight? Is your diet supplying you with the fuel you need? Do your muscles function more like soft rubber bands or tight springs? Can you cover more distance with each stride or is there room for improvement by shortening your stride and increasing your cadence? All these questions uncover potential because you are focused on efficiency not max output.
Can you see where I am going with this metaphor? Most of us are focusing on the wrong metrics in our lives. The "power number" might be a balance in your bank account or it could be a title on your business card. We sprint towards these goals at full speed and wonder why we fail. Then we make excuses. I am too old. I don't have natural talent. It's not my fault.
But what if the real reason we fail is due to inefficiency? And what if the reason we are oblivious to this source of failure is that we don't have the tools to identify where our energy is being wasted? Couldn't we benefit from a Stryd for our personal development, a personal efficiency-o-meter that helps us uncover leaks in our energy systems? Perhaps such a tool could help us recapture the lost energy that is slowing us down. If such a device existed I think it would tell us things like...
Do you bounce around wasting energy on things that aren't important?
Do you invest energy in the wrong things, eventually injuring yourself and killing progress?
Are there ways to trim the fat, areas where cutting out luxuries could increase your speed?
Are your skills loose rubber bands or tight coils of potential energy?
Are you running on fumes, sputtering and stalling because you don't have enough fuel?
Could you cover more distance with each stride?
These are the kind of questions that lead to a steady improvement in performance and perhaps eventually a breakthrough. When you measure yourself against a power number you are always going to come up short. Train yourself to identify inefficiencies and you will be creating a system that never stops improving.
Thanks for reading. If the idea of personal energy management has left you wondering how you can develop inexhaustible energy, you'll like a story called Boosters and Drainers. Your follows and shares always give me a burst of energy, so please charge me up. Stay creative.
Next: Graceful Duck Whiffing