Book Summary

Are you fully charged?  By TOM RATH

Tom has a 23 year journey to writing this book. When Tom was 16, he was diagnosed with cancer and each year he had to go back to the hospital for scans to see if the cancer was mutating; to see if he had another lease on life. This way of living really caused him to narrow his time-frame on life, to really focus on how he can make a difference today.

He says, “Trying to create a little meaning each day kept me from dwelling on a genetic condition beyond my control. In the process, I have learned far more about living that I have worried about dying.”

The reality is, nobody knows if their lease on life will last for days, years or decades. Tom’s predicament forced him to focus on making each day count. In order to make each day count he says you need to be fully charged. When this happens, you get more done, you have better interactions, your mind is sharp and your body is strong.  

In the making of this book Tom and his team have identified and cataloged over 2,600 ideas for improving the daily experience. He says, “As we’ve narrowed down the concepts to the most proven and practical strategies, underlying patterns continue to surface.” What he found was three conditions that differentiate days when we were fully charged to typical days.

Those three conditions involved meaning, interactions and energy.

Meaning is all about making the connections between what you do and how it benefits others. Interactions involves creating far more positive ones than negative ones and energy is about making choices that improve your mental and physical health.

We don’t need to do grand things in each of these areas to get that well-being each day, no need to change the world every day. You don’t need to find new friends every day and you don’t need to run a marathon every day. He says, “The biggest changes for your daily well-being start with a few small steps.

 One small step that you can take to be fully charged is to search for meaning throughout your day. Tom says a study of 238 workers in seven industries determined that of all the events that engage people at work, the single most important by far is simply making progress and meaningful work. However, only 20% say they do meaningful work.

“the meaning doesn’t just happen to you, you create it.” He says one of the most important elements of building a great career and life is attaching what you do each day to a broader mission. Until you understand how your efforts contribute to the world, you’re simply going through the motions each day.

It turns out the best way to create meaning in your life is to do so gradually; to do something each day that will impact the lives of others in a small way. This is why time with your children is so meaningful. Little things can brighten them up or kind of change the way they view the world.

After reading Tom’s book, I’ve given myself a daily charge by doing this exercise. I search for three recent wins that I’ve achieved things, that I’ve done over the past few hours and then I try to connect to an image of someone that I care about and why this image.

To support this, there’s an interesting study in Tom’s book. When a photo of a patient was put next to a medical scan, the radiologist wrote 29% longer reports but more importantly the accuracy of their diagnosis improved by 46%.

Companies around the world are seeing the power of making the connection between what you’re doing and who you’re helping. John Deere invites their ploys who build tractors to spend time with farmers who use the company’s products and Facebook invites their software developers to hear from people who make connections with long-lost friends and family members.

Give yourself reminders throughout the day to reflect on images of who you’re helping. Have an image on your desktop or your smartphone of your family or of the people you’re trying to serve. Establishing meaning is just one way that you can be fully charged throughout the day. If you find your energy wavering greatly from hour to hour from day to day I highly recommend getting Tom’s book.

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