“The Sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.” — Alexander Graham Bell
If you have heard of Archimedes of Syracuse, you will most likely know him as one of the greatest mathematicians ever known. Another string to Archimedes’ bow was that he designed war machines using mathematic principles to bring about the destruction of the Roman army.
Legend has it he created a ‘death ray’ by focusing sunlight through a sequence of mirrors. The Greeks used this ‘death ray’ to destroy Roman ships that were attempting to invade Greece. By focusing these rays, the ‘death ray’ created a point of intense heat that set the enemy ships on fire.
This Thursday Thought explores the concept of concentrating human energy in a tight and coherent way to generate lasting change. The focus point of this energy might be the growth of a business, the fighting for a cause or working together against global issues such as climate change.
The Laser Beam V Dispersed Light
“Laser” is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. To form a laser, electrons in the atoms of special glasses, crystals, or gases absorb energy from an electrical current and become “excited”. These excited electrons shift from a lower-energy orbit to a higher-energy orbit around the atom’s nucleus. When they return to their normal or “ground” state, the electrons emit photons (particles of light).
These photons are all at the same wavelength and are “coherent,” meaning the crests and troughs of the light waves are all in lockstep. In contrast, ordinary visible light comprises multiple wavelengths and is not coherent.
The light from a flashlight or sunlight spreads in many directions (thankfully). In contrast, a laser beam emits a tightly concentrated light and because laser light is coherent, it can stay focused over vast distances.
I want to emphasise two specific characteristics of a laser versus normally dispersed light:
- Laser light is coherent; every element of the light waves works together in unison and in a common direction. There is an understanding of the overall direction, and this coherence results in immense power.
- To change state and become “excited”, electrons must absorb energy from a specific source.
People are Energy
Think for a moment of your people as pockets of energy. Now, think of the specific characteristics we have identified above. When the rays of the sun are dispersed, they do not burn. The rays are visible and they are active, but they are not impactful like a laser beam.
Imagine now that your people are clear on their purpose, their vision and their role in the attainment of that vision. This is akin to light waves working together in unison and in a common direction. The light waves require coherence to become ultra effective. People are made of energy and people are more committed when they are clear on their purpose.
The role of leadership is to co-create the purpose and the coherence within a team. Once people are clear and aligned on the purpose, then the energy can settle into a coherent structure. The other role of leadership and managers throughout an organisation is to be the source of energy that “excites” people. When a coherent purpose stimulates us we work towards our goals faster, with more vigour and in a higher mental state. This is like the shift from a lower-energy state to a higher-energy state in a laser beam. Many leaders complain that their people are disengaged or unskilled, but leaders must start with the question “Are our people clear on what our purpose is?” and “Are they adequately stimulated by the work?”
Amazing things happen when a group of individuals focus their energy in a concentrated way on a coherent vision. That’s how change happens.
On this week’s innovation show, we talk to Louis Carter, the author of In Great Company: “How to Spark Peak Performance by Creating an Emotionally Connected Workplace”
Louis presents a practical approach to ensure that your employees perform at their highest possible levels. It’s not about increasing salaries, offering huge bonuses, or investing in the latest employee engagement tools. The real answer is simpler, deeper, and longer-lasting: getting your people to love where they work. He takes us step by step through the process of building a lasting emotional connection between your staff and your company. His proven strategy is founded on five key principles: collaboration, optimism, values, respect, and performance. Fuse them together, and your company will be the envy of your industry.
Have a listen:
Louis is here: https://louiscarter.com