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Creative Career Path

The Power of Ritual2009.09.09

    There is an energy crisis that rarely makes the front page, yet affects you each and every day. That is the internal energy crisis that comes from lack of full engagement in what you do.

    Energy is a combination of spirit and vigor, which determines how much you enjoy your work, contributes to your staying power, and improves your performance. The crisis occurs when you do not have enough energy to meet and surpass expectations.

    If your energy is not up to the task, then you are likely to perform poorly or put it off until later, neither way a productive strategy. Continuing to work like this will lead to burnout, or put you in the cue for the exit door.

    If you feel out of synch like this, it is easy to blame the boss, complain about your colleagues, or decide that you deserve better. And perhaps you do. The problem is that entitlement has never been a ticket to empowerment.

    The superior strategy is full engagement, because its energy empowers you to enjoy and accomplish more, and actually increases your options on a creative career path.

    Most people approach productivity in terms of time management, when it is really more about energy management. This is the theme of a book called, The Power of Full Engagement, by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. The authors have over 30 years of experience working world class athletes, CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, FBI SWAT teams, health professionals, and business people.

    The book provides many tips on how to boost your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual energy, and reach an ideal performance state. It demonstrates how this works in different ways for different people, and provides practical advice that you can apply to your own life.

    One of the most useful concepts is the power of ritual, developing a personal power routine. Institutionalized ritual is nothing new. It has been practiced for centuries as a means of cultivating energy in groups. It has also proved effective in enhancing performance in sports, and many top athletes stick to their rituals religiously.

    In the martial arts and calligraphy, the power of ritual is self-evident. Training itself is a ritual, and the cumulative power of practice leads to improvement at all levels.

    Part of the power of ritual is in repetition, where intentional effort gradually turns into automatic ability. The power of ritual is the power of habit. We are ruled by our habits, good and bad, as Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) said:

    The chains of habit are too weak to be felt, until they are too strong to be broken.

    There is a Japanese proverb which advises to sit 3 years on a stone (Ishi no ue ni mo san nen). The implication is that it takes 3 years of effort, engagement, or sometimes endurance for something to take effect. Although this seems counter-intuitive in a world brimming with promises of instant results, patience and perseverance were once considered to be the secret to success.

    In fact, if you engage in a regular ritual, you can break bad habits and form good ones in a matter of weeks or months, not years. But you need to start, and you need to stay with it. A good place to start is with a morning power ritual, which you design yourself and make a personal priority to practice.

    The power of a morning ritual has been known for centuries. We have all heard what Benjamin Franklin wrote in 1735, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” By the age of 12, I had already heard a counter-proverb, “Early to bed, early to rise, and your girl goes out with the other guys!” But that wise guy hasn’t been heard from since.

    Not a morning person? Here’s a hint. Morning is when you start your day.

    Eben Pagan gives some excellent tips on how to start a morning ritual in his program, Wake Up Productive, which is introduced at: Your ritual should help you get focused physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, and a good ritual can do all of these at once.

    Have fun designing a ritual that works for you. My morning ritual includes Nanba and Aikido exercises, breathing and meditation, work with a wooden sword, as well as flexible focus on my goals and productivity, all before breakfast.

    You cannot ignore the effect of food on your physical energy. Choose fresh ingredients, chew your food well, don’t overeat. Take responsibility in what you eat, so you don’t have to suffer for it later in life.

    The coolest thing that I have discovered about ritual is that the more you engage with it, the more it transforms from a routine into a journey of discovery. The 30 to 90 minutes that you invest at the start of your day will set the tone for the entire day, help you stay focused and strong, and build momentum that makes you more productive.

    Read more about the Power of Ritual on my blog at

    William Reed


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    Article Writer

    William Reed

    William Reed is a renowned author-speaker who coaches physical finesse and flexible focus for a creative career path. A certified Master Trainer in Guerrilla Marketing and 7th-dan in Aikido, he combines practical wisdom of East and West to help you learn personal branding at the Entrepreneurs Creative Edge.

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