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David Squires

Review: Getting Off ‘The Energy Bus’



Just completed “The Energy Bus” by Jon Gordon, a book that obviously has reached a responsive audience, as it remains on the business best-seller charts six years after its publication.

Based on a colleague’s recommendation, I read it. And hated it. Don’t tell!

My basic problem is a fundamental distrust of business books that read like fiction. Give me real fiction with complex characters facing realistic challenges with genuine dramatic stakes. Or give me business non-fiction filled with case studies, sociology and even a twist of science (a la Malcolm Gladwell, Martin Lindstrom, the Heath Brothers, Paco Underhill and others).

But forcing me to read about weakly-drawn characters experiencing transparent crises that are neatly solved at the rate of one lesson per chapter is like torture for me. Perhaps not the cruelest form of torture mankind has ever devised, but torture nonetheless.

Still, “business fiction” is a genre that’s clearly popular, as evidenced by the careers of Ken Blanchard, Spencer Johnson and Patrick Lencioni and numerous other authors whose books I will never again touch with anything less than a ten-foot poking device.


That said, I did actually limp my way to the end of “The Energy Bus”. And, despite the book’s flimsy fictional framework, I did pry out some useful-ish, potentially actionable ideas from within its pages.

Some favorites:

1. You drive your bus. No one else. Don’t blame others for where you are, or where you aren’t, in your life.
2. A Gallup Poll estimated that there were 22 million negative workers in the United States, costing around $300 billion in productivity a year. Got a so-called “Energy Vampire” in your store? Either get them to change or get them to leave.
3. Generate positive energy by deciding what you want, and visualize it happening. Try this for ten minutes each day.
4. E + P = O or “Events plus Perception equals Outcome”. You can’t control events that occur in your life, but you can control your perception of them and how you react. Can you perceive difficulties as did the author Richard Bach, who once wrote: “Every problem has a gift for you in its hands.”
5. It’s a cliche, but the best way to nip negative energy in the bud? Smile. Even if you don’t feel like it. In fact, especially if you don’t feel like it.
6. Remember that everything is energy, and structure your life accordingly. Gordon: “Think about the people who increase your energy and those who drain you. Think about the foods you eat that make you feel great and those that make you want to take a nap. Think about the projects at work that energize you and those that burn you out.”
7. One positive behavior for home life: ask your kids each day what was their biggest success of the day. This gets them thinking about what they did right, and the things they are proud of.
8. Don’t be timid. Be bold. Gordon: “They don’t call it ‘a leap of fear.’ They call it ‘a leap of faith’ for a reason.”
9. Give people an idea of the bigger picture of what they do. Like the janitor at NASA, who a former president complimented as being the best janitor he had ever seen. The janitor replied: “Sir, I’m not just a janitor, I helped put a man on the moon.”
10. Ask your team regularly how you can be more successful and have more fun in the process. Make fun a goal worth working toward.<br

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