The war against coal is over

Scott Pruitt, the Chief of the Environment Protection Agency, said today that “The war against coal is over.” He would be rolling back a rule to limit greenhouse emissions from existing power plants today. They can go back to producing coal.

He is right in a sense. The war against coal is indeed over – but, for reasons different than he thinks.

As Stanford Professor Tony Seba explains, The cost of solar has moved from $100/Watt in 1970 to $0.33/Watt in 2012 – a 303x decline. Solar prices go down roughly ~11% every year. Compared to fossil fuel sources which have gotten more expensive, Solar’s costs have improved between 1800x and 5000x. As a result, the install base has doubled every year since 2000.

Everything I’ve read on behavioral economics has taught me that the best way to get us to make better decisions is to align the environment and incentives. Solar is getting cheaper and it will soon become a no-brainer, economically, for the world to switch to solar. I am optimistic about this happening in the next decade.

And, I am excited for that and the end of the war on coal.

Disproportionate energy

There are sure to be small things in your day that infuse you with a disproportionate amount of energy.

It could be a cup of coffee after lunch, a walk by yourself, a piece of delicious chocolate cake, or an extra hour of sleep.

If you know what there are, then it might be time to allow yourself that boost. Often, denying them just means thinking about them for the rest of the day or spending willpower attempting to resist.

If a small investment can give you a disproportionate energy boost the rest of the day, it is likely worth it. Engagement takes energy and we generally need all the boosts we can get.

We don’t make an impact by the number of hours we put into life. Instead, we make an impact by the number of hours we engage with life.

Where energy and inspiration come from

Anton Chekhov once said – “Any idiot can face a crisis. It is day-to-day living that wears you out.” And, day-to-day living can play havoc with our ability to sustain positive, optimistic energy. That is especially the case if we don’t understand where energy and inspiration come from.

Where energy and inspiration come from, energy, optimism

Energy and inspiration come from a clarity of purpose – a clear understanding of why we’re doing what you’re doing. Absent this clarity, the day quickly becomes a grind. It is this clarity that enables us to be energetic and, then, inspirational. Our energy translates to inspiration when we’re able to communicate that clarity of purpose and transmit that energy onto others.

When we run out of energy, we’re often taught to look outside – “find some motivation.” So, we spend time surfing the internet looking for ways to inspire ourselves during a difficult workday with a nice article, video or song. But, motivation is extrinsic. It is a short term boost that may work for a few minutes, perhaps even a few hours. If we have to find a longer term solution, we will have to look within and answer that difficult question – “Does what I do matter? Why?”

There are no shortcuts to harnessing that internal energy. We need to take the time to lay out a hypothesis for why we think we exist and then be able to explain why what we spend time doing fits into that hypothesis. And, we have to remind ourselves about this why every day.

That’s how great things are built and great obstacles are overcome – one energetic, inspired, optimistic day at a time.

The same long task list

Take a look at a long task list at the end of your day. And, you’ll find the following set of emotions accompany you – hopelessness, pessimism, negativity and discontent. If you force yourself to work on that list, you could sit for a good few hours and find yourself stuck on task #1.

Take a look at that same long task list once you wake up the next day. This time, you’ll likely find that hope and optimism appear. And, with that hope and optimism, you’ll get to work on that list. Rearrange it, start with a few quick wins, postpone the low priority items and, before you know it, you’ve built momentum.

The task list didn’t change. Your perspective did. The same long task list that looked insurmountable became doable.

When complaining about their inability to get things done, most folks point to a lack of time. But, as this example illustrates, all the time in the world wouldn’t have helped you that evening. All you needed was rest. Manage your mental energy well and you’ll find yourself amazed at how much an energized mind can accomplish. Manage your mental energy by resting your mind, exercising it (reading to it, challenging it by taking on tough problems) and providing it the right kind of fuel.

Sure, learn how to use time well. But, spend your energy managing your energy. It is that skill that separates the masters from the professionals.