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Gary Energizes Happy Heating - Level 6 - "Everyone Wins"

Dec 21, 2019

{This blog post is part of an ongoing series of posts that tell a story.  If you haven't read the previous posts, you will be lost.  Here is the first post in this series.}

“Synergy is what happens when one plus one equals ten or a hundred or even a thousand! It's the profound result when two or more respectful human beings determine to go beyond their preconceived ideas to meet a great challenge.” ~  Stephen Covey

Russ had been aware of Happy Heating’s success as he met with Gary monthly to discuss progress and make sure the Gary didn’t return to his micro-managing ways that created the disaster in Happy Heating only 6-years prior.

Russ helped Gary celebrate his Level 5 successes, “Gary, you’ve done amazing work with Happy Heating.  I feel it is a great victory if I can get any of my clients to embrace Level 5 energy the way you have.”

Gary asked, “Russ, in one of our discussions you had indicated that there are seven energy levels.  I know that we’ve experienced great growth with Level 5.  I can’t imagine how Happy Heating can get any better.  But I must ask, what is Level 6?”

“Level 6 energy is called Synergy.  The core thought of synergy energy is that ‘Everyone Wins’.”

“I’m confused.  My employees are happy.  My customers are happy. I am happy. Isn’t everyone winning now in Happy Heating?”

“Yes, you have certainly created wins for everyone within Happy Heating.  However, at Level 6, you start turning your focus outside of Happy Heating.”

Gary interjected, “Haven’t we already done this?  We’ve been engaging engineers, contractors and suppliers outside of our traditional network of business associates with our energy efficiency work.”

“Right you are.  However, Level 6 energy is about lifting up others who you would not normally affect in a business relationship.”

“Are you talking about giving money to charity?”

“That is certainly one way to lift others up.  However, giving money sometimes has limited impact.  This synergy energy is sometimes hard to fully describe, but it has more to do with expanding your world view beyond your business.”

“Are you talking about religion?”

“Some will call it that.  Religious people have faith about a broader world view than what most see as our physical existence.  Instead, they have a more eternal and spiritual view of why they exist.”

“Now, Russ, you know that I can’t bring my religious beliefs into my business.  Right?”

“Why not?”

“Our government has laws against this, right?”

“The government has laws against discrimination based on religion.  I’m not asking you to convert someone to your religion or to make anyone feel left out.  I’m asking you to get outside of the box that business owners will typically define as their ‘business’ and ask deeper questions on how your business is fulfilling your grander world view.”

“We’ve known each other for a long time, Russ.  I’m a Christian, but I don’t feel comfortable talking about Jesus to my employees.”

Russ smiled, “I think you may be missing my point.  Tell me, what kinds of things did Jesus ask his followers to do?”

“Jesus asked his followers to feed and clothe the poor.”

“Perfect.  So, without proselytizing your employees, how can your business be active in feeding and clothing the poor?”

“I suppose we could volunteer at our local homeless shelter a few times a year.”

“Now you’re thinking.  You see, Gary, most religions and spiritual beliefs align quite consistently on what they believe is ‘right behavior’.  Each religion subscribes to different spiritual doctrine, but the actions of this doctrine are relatively similar.”

“I get it.  If I focus on right spiritual actions, my employees won’t feel pressured about believing my religion, but they will be able to experience Level 6 energy by engaging in more than just installing HVAC systems.”


“So, it’s back to charity.”

“Not necessarily.  Remember Easy Heating & Cooling?”

“Our competitor?”

“Yes.  What does Jesus say about your enemies?”

“You’ve got to be kidding me, Russ.”

Russ persisted, “Please answer the question, Gary.”

“Jesus asks us to love our enemies.  However, I’m pretty sure that Jesus was talking about Jews loving Romans; and not Happy Heating loving Easy Heating & Cooling.”

“You may be right.  However, Level 6 energy says, ‘everyone wins’, and Easy Heating & Cooling is certainly part of everyone.”

“Look, Russ, I don’t know how I can help Easy Heating & Cooling without hurting Happy Heating.”

“I don’t think it’s a matter of helping Easy Heating & Cooling in the way you may think.  In Level 2, the core thought was ‘I Win, You Lose’, at Level 3, ‘I Win”, at Level 4, ‘You Win’ and at Level 5 ‘Win/Win’.  In all these instances, the I was talking about you, personally.  At Level 4 and Level 5, the other party was your customers and your employees.  If you want to make the move to Level 6, you will start considering the broader context of community, and that community also includes Easy Heating & Cooling.”

“Are you saying that Jesus cares whether I help Easy Heating & Cooling or not?”

Russ smiled, “I’m not necessarily talking about Jesus’s mandate to love your enemies.  Rather, I’m asking you to consider Easy Heating & Cooling as a member of your community and not as your competition.”

“I’ll think about it.  This level may be a little challenging for me.”

“In order to move from Level 5 to Level 6, you need to start using intuition instead of analytical thinking.”

“What?  Are you saying you don’t want me to ‘think’ about what I’m doing?”

“Our logical minds tend to wrap around many scenarios with many possible outcomes and our thinking tends to get bogged down.  Just like your experience with ‘paralysis by analysis’ in Level 5. By acting on our intuition, we tend to find answers more quickly and we tend to create the answers in our actions instead of trying to know everything before we logically decide.”

“Russ, I don’t think it’s wise to act without thinking.”

Russ could see that Gary would need a push in the right direction, “Gary, I want to assign you special homework to complete prior to our next coaching session.  I’d like you to set up a coffee meeting with Ted Cavanagh, the owner of Easy Heating & Cooling.  I’d like you to tell him you’d like to make the HVAC industry better in your community and see what Ted has to say.”

Gary couldn’t believe what he was hearing, “I’m supposed to meet with my competition and have a civil conversation?”

“Exactly.  You haven’t really been competing with Easy Heating & Cooling for some time.  In fact, they have tried to copy a few of your ideas, but that’s about it.”

“You haven’t been wrong so far, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to have coffee with Ted.”

Gary called Ted to set up the meeting.  It seemed that Ted was just as apprehensive as Gary was.  Gary was determined to take this next step and so he thought for a long time about what he would say in their meeting.  He wanted to be in the right frame of mind.  When Gary and Ted met at their local coffee shop, Gary made an extra effort to be respectful of Ted as he had been coached by Russ.

Gary started, “I’m glad that you could meet, Ted.”

As Gary and Ted shook hands, Ted said, “Glad to meet.  Although I’m a little confused about what we’ll talk about.”

“You know I’ve really respected Easy Heating & Cooling and the work you’ve done with your team.  You’ve always been a tough competitor and I think your people have always done excellent work.”

Ted was taken aback, “Thanks… I guess.  Is there something you want from me?”

“No.  I set up this meeting after prompting from my business coach to try to grow our relationship beyond competition.  Who knows?  Maybe there are some things we can do together to help our community.”

Ted was still cautious, “Gary.  I’m glad you want to be friends, but I honestly don’t see the value in two companies who do almost the exact same thing working together on anything.”

Suddenly, Gary had an idea.  A new law had been proposed in the state legislature to require licenses for HVAC technicians.  He heard rumors that the state was considering mandating membership in the sheet metal worker’s union to be licensed.  Such a move would put a major damper on the progress both Gary, Ted and others like them have made in the HVAC industry so far.

Gary offered, “You know, Ted.  Something that may be of interest to both of us is this new law that’s being proposed in our state legislature.  They may be requiring HVAC technicians to be licensed.”

“That’s probably a good thing.  After all, you know the shoddy work some of the small HVAC shops are doing around town.”

“I agree.  However, one requirement that seems to be popular with this law is to require membership in the sheet metal union to be licensed.  The unions have a strong lobby at the state capitol, and I think they have a chance of making this provision stick.”

“What?  Our technicians would be forced into the union?  That would make our prices go sky high.”

“Exactly.  Maybe we can get a group of HVAC shops like ours and sponsor a lobbying effort in the legislature to allow us to have input into this proposed bill.”

“Wow.  Maybe you’re right.  Maybe there are somethings that matter to us both that we can work on together.”

The rest of Gary and Ted’s conversation centered around family and golf.  It turns out that both Gary and Ted love golf and decided it may not be a bad idea to hang out every now and then.

Gary and Ted got 25 HVAC contractors together to oppose the union requirement in the bill that was going to require licensing of their HVAC technicians.  The HVAC licensing bill was voted into law by the legislature and the union requirement was removed.

In the process of lobbying for language that would help their collective industry, Ted, Gary and several other small HVAC company owners created some friendships.  They all were certainly aware of the competitive nature of their businesses, but they also were aware of how they could benefit the entire industry by meeting four times a year to work on common challenges in their industry.  They continued to keep a watchful eye on the state legislature just in case there were new laws that would impact their industry. Ted organized an annual golf tournament where their vendors would sponsor holes for all the HVAC business owners.  

Gary was surprised how satisfying it was to talk with other business owners like himself to share their successes and help others overcome their short-comings.

The coffee with Ted turned out quite a bit differently than Gary expected.  However, the spiritual aspect shifting to Level 6 for Happy Heating seemed to be a little more challenging. 

Gary was a devout Christian, but he didn’t feel comfortable bring up his faith at work.  On the other hand, Gary also believed that his work was a lot more than just installing furnaces, lights and windows.  As he started thinking more about the broader context of Happy Heating, he wanted to find ways to engage his team to make the world a better place beyond just installing and servicing heating and cooling equipment.

While he didn’t want to convert anyone to Christianity, he did want to engage his employees in this broader view of life at Happy Heating.  He decided to have a meeting with his new executive management team.  This team had now grown from the triplet of Penny, Sally and Oliver.  Margaret was their new Marketing Manager, and Tony and David were two critical technical supervisors that worked for Oliver.

As they all gathered in the conference room, there was the typical chatter before a meeting.

As Gary started speaking, everyone quieted down, “I’ve brought you all here today because I want to share something that’s been on my heart.”

Oliver spoke up, “We’re all ears, boss.  We’ve had a great run over the past several years, and so I’m looking forward to what’s coming next.”

Gary responded, “Thanks, Oliver.  Before I say anything, I want all of you to know how much I value all that you have done for Happy Heating.  There’s no way we would be where we are today, if it wasn’t for your amazing efforts.”

After some acknowledgements, Gary continued, “I now want to expand Happy Heating’s reach beyond our typical day-to-day work in an effort to help our community in a much bigger way.”

Penny spoke up, “Are you talking about getting involved in some charities in our community?”

“Yes, charities can certainly be part of this expansion.”

Tony spoke, “I don’t quite understand, Mr. Lindberg.  Couldn’t extra funds be used to give us raises or better benefits?”

Gary responded, “You’re right Tony.  If we use Happy Heating’s profits to donate to charity, those same funds could have been used to improve everyone’s compensation.  However, I’m not necessarily considering direct donations to charity.”

Gary continued, “I’m more interested in engaging our employees in acts of voluntary service.  We may see an elderly lady where we install a furnace that needs her snow shoveled or leaves raked, or something like that. Does that make sense?”

Tony said, “Mr. Lindberg, my techs are already pretty busy.  If they take time to rake leaves, our costs will start to go up on our jobs and we will be lucky to make any money.”

Gary responded, “You make a great point, Tony.  If you think about it, the scenario I described with the “leave raking” is a way to serve others and not penalize our employees for such service.  That was just an example.  I’m sure that you all can come up with better ideas once you put your minds to it.  I want to make sure that this service is above and beyond our normal day to day work.”

Sally asked, “Gary, what’s behind this sudden desire to give to others?”

Gary knew that once he uttered these words, he couldn’t take them back, and he felt that Sally’s question deserved an honest answer.

Gary paused and was noticeably nervous, “Great question, Sally.  I think your question deserves an honest answer.  Coach Russ has asked me to consider a broader context of our work and how it relates to a broader world view.  As a tenant of my faith, I believe in giving to those who are less fortunate or need a hand.  In the past, I’ve felt that this action was to be done in private and on my own.  Russ has convinced me that by leading Happy Heating into more community-based activities, we will create a much deeper meaning to the work that we do, and why we do it.”

Margaret joked, “It won’t hurt public relations either.”

Gary said, “Margaret, while I think we will gain in our public image, I think we need to be careful about our motivations in helping others.  The truth is that we are already serving others with our business.  This expansion will not be motivated by growing our business or our profits.”

Oliver chimed in, “I think this is a great idea.  I’m eager to think of ways we can help our community.”

Sally was not so enthusiastic, “It sounds great, but I think it may be a major distraction to all of the success we’ve achieved in the last several years.”

Gary responded, “Whatever we do, I want you all to voice your input.  In all cases, if we are making efforts outside of work, it will be completely voluntary.”

The conference room was quiet for the most part.  As each manager left the room, you could tell each was in deep contemplation on what Gary had said.

That same afternoon, Sally set up a personal meeting to talk with Gary.

Sally closed the door behind her as she entered Gary’s office, “Gary, I’m glad you could meet with me today.”

“I’m always glad to meet with you Sally.  What’s on your mind?”

Sally was noticeably nervous, and tears had begun to form in her eyes, “Gary, I don’t know if I can participate in the charitable activities that you talked about today.”

“As I mentioned, Sally.  Whatever we do, it will be on a voluntary basis.  You don’t have to participate if you don’t want to.”

“I know how this works.  As Sales Director, if I don’t participate, I’ll set a bad example for my people and they won’t participate either.  Gary, I’m just so busy at home, and I don’t think I can spare more time away from my family.”

Gary grabbed a tissue for Sally as she was now crying, “Sally, you are such a valuable part of my team, I will never think less of you for prioritizing your family above any activities that we have at work.”

Sally was now struggling to get words out through her sobs, “G-gary, I-I’m also an a-atheist, and felt uncomfortable when you started talking about your faith.”

Gary sighed, “I was afraid of that.  Sally, you are free to believe whatever you’d like.  I’m not trying to force my beliefs on anyone.  When you asked me today, why I wanted to become more philanthropic with Happy Heating’s workplace, I felt I needed to answer you honestly.”

Sally’s crying was subsiding as she blew her nose on the tissue that Gary gave her.

Gary continued, “Let me ask you a personal question.  What charity efforts have you participated in outside of work?”

“I’ve given to a few political campaigns.  I’ve also helped in food lines at homeless shelters.  I suppose most of my actions as a mom are a voluntary service of love to my children.”

“What compelled you to do those things?”

“Look, Gary.  It wasn’t God, if that’s what you’re implying.”

“I am not implying anything.  I’m merely asking what motivated you to give to others who couldn’t give you anything in return?”

“I suppose I gave because I wanted to help those in need.”

“Great.  How did those efforts make you feel?”

“I felt pretty good about helping others.”

“That feeling that you felt is how us humans are wired, and it’s part of the positive and engaging culture that I’d like to foster at Happy Heating.”

Sally offered, “We individuals can do voluntary work and donate to charities on our own.  Why make it part of our work culture?”

“That’s a great question.  I think that work can tend to be all about money, position and schedules.  But I believe Happy Heating can do so much more for our community. At the end of our meeting today, Tony told me about a mentorship program he is participating in at the local community college.  He helps counsel HVAC technicians who are considering dropping out of the community college. He wanted to know if we would be interested in taking on a few of these students as interns.”

Sally had stopped crying and was starting to see a different type of charity than she had originally contemplated, “I think I better understand where you’re coming from.  I’ll try to think of some things that we can do that will better connect us to our community.”

“Sally, it certainly matters what you think.  As I mentioned, you are a highly valued member of my team.  And I would love it if you offered some ideas even if you don’t have the time or inclination to participate in any volunteer activities.”

While Sally still felt uncomfortable about discussions involving religion, she valued Gary as her boss and believed that he would not put her in an awkward situation about volunteering or religious beliefs.

The shift from Level 5 to Level 6 seemed more challenging than any of the previous shifts.  It had been three years since Gary had his meeting in the conference room with his people, and Happy Heating had made amazing strides in getting most employees to embrace the new culture at Happy Heating.  

Originally, Gary had anticipated charity involvement, and helping to serve the homeless with food service or clothes donations or something of the sort.  Gary was surprised to learn how Level 6 energy would take hold within the HVAC industry.  As Gary became more connected to Ted and other, would-be competitors, he realized that all their HVAC businesses could benefit from lessons learned by others in their industry. Gary also found that he was improving Happy Heating by helping others in his industry.

One such story was a small HVAC startup on the other side of the state.  The technician who started Hank’s Heating was talented as a technician but knew nothing about leading other people and setting up an HVAC service business.  Since Gary and others didn’t consider Hank to be a competitive threat, they helped him with many of the basics of getting his business started.  In fact, Coach Russ helped Hank out with some business mindset issues that dramatically helped Hank get his business up and running.

Gary knew that such an effort couldn’t continue without some ability to compensate helpers of such small businesses, so he founded the HVAC Consortium.  The HVAC Consortium was an organization that was an extension of the HVAC lobbying group Ted and Gary started earlier that had funds to help small HVAC companies get started.  The way it worked was that the new HVAC service owner agreed to give the Consortium 5% of its revenues for its first 10-years in business in exchange for business training, coaching and modest financial investment resources.

While this effort was started out of Gary’s desire to expand Happy Heating’s reach in a philanthropic way outside of their traditional business, it was surprising how much this outward expansion grew Happy Heating’s own business.

It had been three years since Gary started on his path of shifting to Level 6 energy.  Happy Heating had now reached $8.5M in annual revenues and was growing quite rapidly.  Sally had taken over the operation of Happy Heating as its new CEO, and Gary was now spending most of his time leading the HVAC Consortium.  As it turned out, some HVAC companies that failed to succeed with the HVAC Consortium program could be acquired by HVAC Consortium members.  Happy Heating had acquired three such companies, and Easy Heating & Cooling had acquired two struggling HVAC companies.  Once these companies were acquired and good management was put in place, they tended to do quite well.

Oliver had become a full-time leader of the HVAC Consortiums technician training programs.  Oliver also trained other HVAC companies on how to benefit from the addition of energy auditing and retrofit services.  At one point in time, Gary was convinced that if he trained his competitors on how to grow their companies, that Happy Heating’s business would be negatively impacted.  Oddly, the opposite was true.  Customers started to recognize the HVAC Consortium’s label as a brand of reliability and integrity. 


Identifying Synergy Energy

Synergy energy is evident in a company and an individual who constantly reaches outside of the company and the industry to affect positive change.  Empathy is quite high with synergistic organizations that dedicate themselves to helping others outside of their immediate sphere of influence.  Job interviews are focused on character and personal values more than on specific skills and skill-based experience.  Judgement and prejudice are rare while empathy and intuition are highly valued traits.

Shifting SYNERGY To Total Awareness

As a core energy coach, I will rarely attempt to shift someone from such a high anabolic state to an even higher anabolic energy.  Level 7 is not a state that is sustainable for long periods of time for most of us.  However, there are moments that you can access Level 7 through meditation, prayer and other activities that separate your thinking from your ego and allow you to gain a more objective perspective on your place in the world.


Synergy is a great place to be.  Most will view you as a philanthropic leader at this stage of your personal growth.  To be sure, there will be many who view you as someone who is not practical as well. 

I would never say that it is a bad thing to drop from Level 6 to Level 5 or even Level 4.  However, if you want to remain at Level 6, it is important to be intuitive about the holistic causes that you tend to adopt as a business leader.  Don’t force a view that you have, but rather see what emerges as a positive force among your employees, customers and vendors and nurture that positive cause.

Why Level Up?

A key risk of being at Level 6, is that you may get too caught up in your philanthropy and have difficulty connecting with many at lower energy levels.  It is difficult to get an entire organization at Level 6 and so there will always be a need to maintain clear communication for people who are not at this level so that they don’t feel left out of the great things that are happening.  At Level 7, you have the strength to act at any level that is appropriate for people in your company.  This is a great trait to use when you need to pretend to be at a lower level to connect with others.

Core Energy Coaching™ and all core energy concepts described in this post are registered trademark belonging to Bruce Schneider and the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC)

About Jeff Schuster

As a business coach and 30-year business veteran, I help my business owner clients change their mindset in a way that allows them the freedom and profitability they’ve always hoped for, but never thought possible. If you’d like to develop a successful business mindset, I offer online training along with individual and group coaching sessions.


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