The Energy Bus - Critical summary review - Jon Gordon

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The Energy Bus - critical summary review

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Self Help & Motivation and Management & Leadership

This microbook is a summary/original review based on the book: The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy

Available for: Read online, read in our mobile apps for iPhone/Android and send in PDF/EPUB/MOBI to Amazon Kindle.

ISBN: 9780470100288

Publisher: Wiley

Critical summary review

Somewhat inspired by Richard Bach’s “Jonathan Livingston Seagull,” “The Energy Bus” by Jon Gordon is a business fable. Its main character is a guy named George who, amid some serious problems in his marriage and career, suffers a flat tire and faulty brake on his way to work. As a consequence, he has to take the 11 bus for the following 10 days. 

It turns out that this is not an ordinary bus: its driver, Joy, is a high-spirited “chief energy officer” who has made it her job to teach all of her long-term passengers the ten rules for the ride of their lives. So, get ready to learn them as well, and prepare – just like George – to change your life for the better!

No. 1. You’re the driver of your bus

Being the driver of your bus is the most important rule of them all, “because if you don’t take responsibility for your life and control of your bus then you can’t take it where you want to go. If you’re not the driver, then you’ll always be at the whim of everyone else’s travel plans.” 

Of course, you can always seek directions and advice from others along the way, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is your bus and your trip. Whether you want to take it to the movies, the beach, or the North Pole – it’s your choice and your choice only. So, decide what you want and start creating it. Don’t let the world create it for you. Begin by giving a full and meaningful answer to this question: what is your vision for your life, work, relationships, and family? 

No. 2. Desire, vision, and focus move your bus in the right direction

Desire, vision, and focus aren’t just prerequisites for mapping your journey – they are what makes the journey possible every step of the way. Without them, “buildings don’t get built, paintings don’t get painted, and energy gets scattered.” Turning your vision into reality starts with focusing every day on it for at least ten minutes. Believe it or not, your very thoughts can make your job, your life, and your marriage better – at least so says the law of attraction. The more you think about something, the more you focus on said something, the more it shows up in your life. Thoughts are magnetic: you attract what you think about. “There is an energy to thought,” Joy tells George. “So, it’s important that you spend your time thinking about what you do want rather than what you don’t want. [...] We live in an Energy Field of Dreams!” If you build it – they will come.

No. 3. Fuel your ride with positive energy

If you’ve ever watched sports, then you’ve probably already heard the announcers talking about the energy of the team, the energy of a player, or the energy of the fans. Even better: if you’ve ever walked into an arena or stadium – you might have already felt the last one. “It’s like there is electricity in the air,” says Joy. 

It’s all about energy – and this is a scientific fact. Einstein taught us that. His famous mass-energy equivalence formula (E=mc²) means that matter is energy and that “all the physical stuff we see and even our own bodies are really made of energy.” 

Some things add to the energy in your reservoir, while other things take away from it. Desire, vision, and focus may help you turn the bus in the right direction, but if you really want your bus to take you where you want to go, you’ve got to fuel your ride with positive energy. “Every day, when we look at the gas pump of life, we have a choice between positive energy and negative energy,” says Joy. “Positive energy is high octane fuel for the ride of your life, while negative energy causes sludge to accumulate in your energy pipeline.” 

So, let it go: throw your negativity out. Or, better yet – transform it into something more positive through gratitude and appreciation. There are always things you should be thankful for. Remind yourself of them as often as possible.

No. 4. Invite people on your bus and share your vision for the road ahead

Humans are social beings. That’s why the worst punishment – even in prison – is being put in solitary confinement. Why would you do this to yourself willingly? Why would you deprive yourself of the pleasure to share your positive energy with others and not let them share theirs with you?

So, as you drive your bus, keep asking people to get on! Say to yourself – “This is my vision, and this is where my bus is going. I want to invite you to get on. Trust me: it will be fun!” They don’t say “the more the merrier” for nothing! This doesn’t apply in every situation, though. In other words, make sure to never put your partner nor your children on the same bus as your colleagues. Some people deserve a separate ticket.

No. 5. Don’t waste your energy on those who don’t get on your bus

There will be people who will say “no” to your invitation. What should you do with them? Joy recommends not worrying about the people who don’t get on your bus. “Don’t waste your energy on them. Don’t try to make them get on. You can’t drive anyone else’s bus. You can only drive your bus.” 

Everyone makes their own choices, and you can only make yours. The more energy you spend worrying about the people who didn’t get on your bus, the less energy you’ll have for those who did. “But what about the people who get on your bus but are really negative?” – you wonder. Well, the very next rule is for them!

No. 6. Post a sign that says ’no energy vampires allowed’ on your bus

“You got to be strong enough to tell people that you will not allow any negativity on your bus,” Joy advises. “You got to say this is where we are going, and to get there, we need a positive and supportive team, and whoever is negative will be kicked off the bus or left at the station.” True, this rule is not for the faint of heart, but neither is life itself. 

If you want to be successful, you must surround yourself with a positive support team. “Energy vampires” won’t make the journey difficult just for you – but for everyone else riding your bus. And you’re responsible for their happiness as well. After all, they did choose to follow your vision. Pay them back by sheltering them from the negativity of the world. 

No. 7. Enthusiasm attracts more passengers and energizes them during the ride

Just as there are energy vampires (that is, people who’ll drain you out of your life energy), there are also CEOs, which in this case means chief energy officers. These are the people who communicate from the heart, the people with very high emotional intelligence quotient, the people who share positive, powerful, and contagious energy with everyone around them – be they their family, friends, co-workers, employees, or customers! 

Anyone can be a CEO – so why don’t you try to become one? Start now by getting excited about being alive, by filling up with loads of enthusiasm about things! When you’re enthusiastic – everyone would want to get on your bus. Enthusiasm separates good and knowledgeable leaders from great ones: the former know what to do in predictable situations, but only the latter exude confidence and infect others with it when the inevitable obstacles arrive. That’s, in fact, the meaning of the word “enthusiasm”: in Greek, it means “inspired” or “filled with the divine.” 

No. 8. Love your passengers

As important as enthusiasm is, love is what you need to really “tap the power of your heart and lead with positive, contagious energy.” You must love your passengers and care for them as if they are extensions of yourself. “You’ve got to become a Love Magnet,” says Joy. And you can only do this by sharing your love generously. There are five ways to achieve this:

  1. Make time for your passengers. When you love someone or something, you spend time with them. And when you do this, they are your whole focus. Making time for your passengers – your family, your business partners, your employees – means being present with them and them only. Watching TV with your partner isn’t spending time with them.
  2. Listen to them. Once again, listening isn’t just nodding: it is being there for your passengers with your ears, mind, and heart. Empathy is the key.
  3. Recognize them. Honor your loved ones for who they are and what they do. Praises, calls, handwritten birthday cards, trophies, pay raises – they all work. Especially if they come from the heart.
  4. Serve them. “The higher you get in an organization, the more it is your duty to serve the people below you rather than having the people below serve you.”
  5. Bring out the best in them. This is the most important. Help your passengers discover their strengths and, to the best of your ability, provide opportunities to utilize them. “If you really want to love your team, help them do what they do best. It’s that simple.”

No. 9. Drive with purpose

Short-term goals make the journey much more satisfying; however, only long-term goals make it worthwhile and even possible at all. “Purpose is the ultimate fuel for our journey through life,” Joy says. “When we drive with purpose, we don’t get tired or bored and our engines don’t burn out.” Every job can get old and mundane after some time. Purpose is the only thing that might keep it fresh.

No. 10. Have fun and enjoy the ride

“I sometimes think drivers don’t know what grass is, or flowers, because they never see them slowly,” says a character in Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451.” Don’t be one of these drivers. The day you die, you’ll still have at least 30 unanswered emails in your inbox. You’ll never get it all done. So, you might as well “relax, take a deep breath, and enjoy the ride.” This should help you. When researchers asked a bunch of 95-year-olds what they would have done differently if they could live their life again, almost all of them had the same three answers:

  1. Reflect more and enjoy more moments of joy. 
  2. Take more risks and chances: life is too short not to go for it.
  3. Leave a legacy – something that would live on after they die.

Now you have the luxury to not repeat their mistakes. So, don’t. Have fun. Take risks. Leave a legacy.

Final Notes

Neither innovative nor erudite, “The Energy Bus” by Jon Gordon offers what most business fables do: simple, commonsense lessons about life and everything. This, however, isn’t a reason to look down on it. After all, as the author says at the beginning of the book, “it’s the simplest lessons in life that are often the most profound and meaningful.”

12min Tip

Take responsibility for your life. If you don’t – others might take it for you. And nobody wants to play by other people’s rules.

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Who wrote the book?

Jon Gordon is a bestselling American author and motivational speaker with degrees from Cornell University and Emory University. He has provided advice, keynote addresses, and lectures for numerous sports organizations, academic institutions, and corporations, and his work has been featured in sev... (Read more)

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