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The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon.
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1-Page Summary1-Page Book Summary of The Energy Bus

Most people experience times when life seems to be falling apart. How you respond when you encounter adversity and challenges defines you. Author and motivational speaker Jon Gordon maintains that when you respond with positive energy, challenges become opportunities and you create success and happiness.

The Energy Bus illustrates how this works through the fictional story of George, a depressed middle manager at a lightbulb manufacturing company, whose negativity is ruining his career and marriage. When George encounters an ebullient bus driver, things begin turning around.

While this fable has a business setting, it’s written for everyone—the story’s 10 simple rules show you how to create positive energy and enjoy “the ride of your life.”

George’s Story

George, a middle manager at the NRG Company, a manufacturer of light bulbs, had all the things many people want: a nice house, new cars, a family, and a job that paid well. However, over the years, he’d grown negative and discouraged. Finally, his boss and his wife both gave him ultimatums: shape up or face losing his job and his marriage.

With his life in disarray, George needed to pull together his floundering team at work for the introduction of a new lightbulb, on which his and the company’s future depended. Yet another joyless work week began with car problems, which forced him to start taking a city bus.

When he climbed on bus #11, the driver, whose name was Joy, greeted him enthusiastically despite his obviously bad mood. She soon explained that hers was no ordinary bus—it was “The Energy Bus.” She was an “energy ambassador,” whose mission was to energize her passengers through positive thinking.

When it turned out that George’s car problems required a two-week wait for a new part and he’d have to take the bus during that time, Joy seized the opportunity to share her 10 rules for having “the ride of your life,” the bus ride being a metaphor for how you live your life. Since he didn’t have a better idea and needed to do something, George agreed to hear the rules, which she explained as follows.

Rules of the Road

1) You’re the driver

You create your life—it’s your bus, you’re in the driver’s seat, and you determine what kind of ride it will be. Once you take the wheel of your bus, or take control of your life, you need to develop a vision for where you want to go. Ask yourself: “What’s my vision for my life?” ”What’s my vision for my work and team?” “What’s my vision for my relationships?” Write down your vision.

2) Use vision and focus to set your direction

Turning your vision into reality starts with focusing your thoughts on it. There’s a law of energy (also known as the Law of Attraction), which says that by thinking about something, you attract it into your life. Your mental energy attracts a corresponding energy outside you. For instance, people often think of someone and then get a call from that person. Or after they buy a new car, they start seeing that model everywhere because that’s the type of car they’re thinking about. Focus on your visions for at least 10 minutes each day and visualize creating the results you want.

3) Power your bus with positive energy

While vision and focus point your bus in the right direction, positive energy is the fuel that powers it. Positive energy is high-octane fuel, as opposed to the sludge created by negative energy. You need to drive your life with positive energy if you want to be successful. Negativity will fill any void, so create positive thoughts and feelings, and take positive actions so there’s no room for anything negative. Positive energy will also get your team on track too, but you have to have it yourself before you can share it.

4) Share your vision and invite people on board

As a leader, you need to get your team on board and headed in the same direction. To do this, meet with each team member and share your vision and expectation that each team member will contribute positively. Then invite them to join you. To underscore...

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The Energy Bus Summary Introduction

Everyone encounters adversity and “down” times in life. How you respond to these tests defines you. When you respond with positive energy, you create success and happiness for yourself and others.

The Energy Bus, a parable by consultant and motivational speaker Jon Gordon, asserts that positive people and positive teams create positive results. He shows how this works through the fictional story of George, a depressed middle...

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The Energy Bus Summary Chapters 1-3: Rock Bottom

George was a gloomy middle manager for NRG Company, which manufactured light bulbs. He had the things many people want: a nice house, new cars, a family, and a job that paid well. However, over the years, he’d grown negative and discouraged.

At the start of yet another joyless work week, George had car trouble and had to take the bus to work. As he climbed on bus #11, the ebullient driver named Joy greeted him with a huge smile.

She immediately recognized George’s type: overstressed and zombie-like, lacking in energy, spirit, and purpose.

As George grumbled in response, she told him hers was no ordinary bus—it was “The Energy Bus”—and he was going to enjoy the ride. She was an “energy ambassador,” whose...

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The Energy Bus Summary Chapters 4-7: The Energy Bus Rules

Chapters 4-7: The Energy Bus Rules

Joy was elated when George told her he’d be riding her bus for the next two weeks. While he viewed this as another problem on his ever-growing list, she was excited about the opportunity to share her 10 rules for living—one each of the next 10 days—which she said would change his life from a soap opera to a joy.

Since he didn’t have a better idea and needed to do something, George agreed to hear the rules. When the other passengers cheered, George realized they were all in on the lessons. Joy pointed to a sign at the front of the bus, which listed her principles for having “the ride of your life,” the bus ride being a metaphor for life.

10 Rules of the Road:

1. You’re the driver

2. Use vision and focus to set your direction

3. Power your bus with positive energy

4. Share your vision and Invite people on board

5. Don’t waste effort on those who don’t join you

6. Ban “energy vampires” from your bus

7. Be enthusiastic: it attracts and energizes others

8. Care about your team

9. Have a larger purpose

10. Enjoy your ride

Rule #1: You’re the Driver

Realizing you’re in the driver’s seat is the most important...

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Shortform Exercise: Who’s Driving Your Bus?

In The Energy Bus fable, the first rule of the road is that you’re the driver. You create your life—it’s your bus, you’re in the driver’s seat, and you determine what kind of ride it will be.


Do you feel as though you’re in control of your life, that you’re “driving your bus”? Why or why not?

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The Energy Bus Summary Chapters 8-10: George Chooses a Vision

Once you take the wheel of your bus (take control of your life), you need a vision for where you want to go. Joy explained that first, you must decide what you want—then you can make it happen by focusing your thoughts on it. You have the power to create the world you want.

To help George determine his vision, she asked him to write down three things:

1. My vision for my life

2. My vision for my work and team

3. My vision for my relationships

For his personal vision, George decided he wanted to get back into shape. He had once been in great shape as a college athlete, but he’d gained weight since then. He also wanted to feel as happy and alive as he’d felt then. His vision for work was to pull his team together and successfully launch his company’s new product. For his family, he wanted to be a better husband and father. He wanted to bring love back into his marriage and have a positive influence on his kids’ lives.

Joy commented that it sometimes takes a crisis to motivate people to change...

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Shortform Exercise: Where Are You Headed?

Once you take the wheel of your bus (take control of your life), you need a vision for where you want to go in the three key areas of your life. Focus on your visions for at least 10 minutes each day and visualize yourself creating the results you want.


Write down your vision for your life.

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The Energy Bus Summary Chapter 11: Creating Positive Energy

Even though George had a vision for where he wanted to go, there were roadblocks standing in his way. Being positive isn’t easy when you have a lot working against you, he told the others on the bus.

Everyone has different challenges, Joy acknowledged. But in each case, the answer is the same: To change your situation, you need to change your thoughts. If you keep thinking the way you’re thinking, you only get more of what you’ve been getting.

There’s a formula for change: E (events) + P (perception) = O (outcome). While we can’t always control events, we can control the way we perceive them. How we perceive them and respond dictates the outcome. The “P” in this formula can also stand for positive energy.

You’ll always have hurdles, which can include people who don’t share your...

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The Energy Bus Summary Chapters 12-15: George’s Bus

George started using the book to generate positive energy (feed the positive dog). On the book’s recommendation, he took a Thank-You Walk around his building, citing things he was thankful for. As the book predicted, being thankful eliminated his stress because your body can’t be thankful and stressed at the same moment. Being grateful released endorphins and walking added even more energy.

He also read a story about golf, which pointed out that, after playing, golfers don’t think about their bad shots—instead, they focus on the one great shot they made. The good feelings make them want to keep playing and can make golf addicting.

In contrast, many people go to bed thinking about everything that went wrong that day. **Instead, treat...

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Shortform Exercise: Creating Positive Energy

We each have a positive and negative side, as if there were two dogs inside us battling for dominance—a positive, kind dog and a negative, angry dog. To generate positive energy, you need to “feed the positive dog.”


One way to feed the positive dog is to focus on what you’re thankful for in each situation, rather than on what’s problematic about it. For instance, when work piles up, be thankful you have a job. Take a walk around your office, thinking of things you’re thankful for.

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The Energy Bus Summary Chapters 16-22: Overcoming Negativity

On Monday, George felt a nervous excitement as his employees began handing in their tickets, indicating they wanted to get on board. Most of them were eager to join the effort. However, there were a couple of surprises.

The first was that Tom and Larry, who were usually difficult to work with, joined the team. He’d expected them to reject the invitation. Three others—Michael, Jaime, and José—walked in together without tickets and told him they weren’t participating. Speaking for the trio, Michael told George they believed the new-product presentation would be a failure and they didn’t want to be part of it.

After they left his office, George felt discouraged. He had two problem people on his team and three others he now thought of as wolves capable of sabotaging the project. He was especially disappointed to lose José’s support because José was a hard worker who had always come through in the past when George needed help.

The team meeting that day went badly, with Tom and Larry fighting with each other and the three wolves undercutting him at every turn.

Rule #5: Don’t Waste Effort on Those Who Don’t Join You

Geoge got on the bus the next morning feeling discouraged,...

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Shortform Exercise: Handling Negativity

Some people increase your energy and your team’s, while others—energy vampires—drain it. You need to eliminate the energy vampires standing between you and your goals.


Think about the people you work with. Which ones are energy vampires?

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The Energy Bus Summary Chapters 23-25: Leading from the Heart

While George was relieved and excited to finally get his team on track, he still felt he was missing something. Jaime’s and José’s words had hit home and he wanted to convince his team that he’d changed; he wanted them to enjoy working for him and he wanted all of them to succeed.

He planned to ask Joy if there was a secret to being a better leader. But he had to put the question on hold—as the bus arrived at his bus stop, he could hear the passengers chanting, “I feel terrific!” Joy explained that they were charging themselves up.

The word emotion stands for energy in motion, she said; your energy determines your emotional state. Instead of letting negative emotions get a foothold, you need to take control and charge yourself up with positive energy.

Joy noted that when you’re happy and positive, those around you are happy and positive too. Your happiness is a gift to others. Instead, many people try to please others and end up feeling unhappy themselves. It’s better to focus on feeling good and let your happiness spread to others.

George realized he’d spent his life trying to please his boss, his wife, and others, only to feel more unhappy himself. Now, however, he was...

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Shortform Exercise: What’s Your Energy?

We project positive or negative energy in whatever we do, and other people pick up on it. When you project positive energy, it’s contagious and other people want to be around you.


Think of the person in your office whom you most like to work with. Describe the person. What kind of energy does he/she project?

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The Energy Bus Summary Chapters 26-27: Love is the Answer

If you’re open to seeing them, signs or messages appear in life to guide you when you need them. As Joy was thinking of what else to tell George, she saw a road sign with the words, “Love is the Answer—God.”

The billboard was one of those messages. It told Joy what George needed to learn next. Enthusiasm is important, but love is the answer for your team’s success, she told him. It’s the basis of Rule #8.

Rule #8: Show You Care about Your Team

To tap the power of your heart and lead with enthusiasm, you need to become a “love magnet” by demonstrating love for your family, company, employees, and customers. While it sounds trite, the truth is that what everyone wants most is to be loved, Joy said. Your employees want your love. George remembered how his lack of appreciation had demoralized José, and he realized Joy was right.

You can give employees awards, gifts, and raises, but these are soon forgotten. What sticks with them is a sense of whether you really care about them and are committed to their future. Your performance as a manager isn’t just about hitting your goals and satisfying your boss; it’s about your employees. When they know you care about them, they...

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Shortform Exercise: Showing That You Care

Your employees and coworkers sense whether you care about them as individuals and they respond in kind. Ways to show that you care include: spending time with them, listening, recognizing them, nurturing their growth, and bringing out their best.


As a manager, how do you feel about your employees? As an employee, how do you think your boss feels about you?

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The Energy Bus Summary Chapter 28-30: Teamwork

When George arrived at work, he was suddenly struck with doubt and fear that he'd be able to convincingly demonstrate commitment to his team and pull off the product launch successfully. He was caught between knowledge and action—between knowing what to do and making it happen.

As he stood in front of the elevator paralyzed, he suddenly noticed that Michael, who had quit his team earlier, was standing in front of him. Michael said he’d heard from Jaime that George was a changed man and the team was on track and moving. He wanted another chance. George agreed on the condition that Michael spread positive energy to the team by being a chief energy officer instead of a naysayer.

He realized Michael’s change of heart had been one of the signs Joy had talked about being open to on your journey. Maybe it was a sign the team was ready to follow him; maybe George’s instinct to give Michael another chance was a sign he was ready to lead.

In any case, Michael had appeared in front of the elevator at the right moment to get George’s attention and move him past his fear to embrace trust. He would trust Michael and move forward. If George had faith in himself and the team, then they could...

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Shortform Exercise: What’s Your Purpose?

Having a larger purpose beyond the specific thing you do every day motivates you and fuels your everyday life with passion. For instance, the NASA janitor mentioned in the story was passionate about his work because he felt he was supporting the moon mission.


Think about what you do every day, focusing on some specific things. What are some examples?

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The Energy Bus Summary Chapters 31-32: Things Come Together

George hoped Friday would be a new beginning and a new opportunity that would allow him to share the principles he had learned on the energy bus. Even though he’d been up working until 2 a.m., he felt energized. His wife had noticed a big difference in him—for instance, she said that he complained less, showed his love by spending more time with the family, and was positive and enthusiastic. She felt she’d regained the man she’d married and their marriage was back on track. So even if the presentation flopped, at least he had his family.

Today would be his last day on the Energy Bus. When it arrived the passengers were chanting, “Too blessed to be stressed.” He thanked Joy and the others for the letter and the positive energy. He said he was nervous but ready.

Joy commented that you succeed when your trust is greater than your fear. George should go into the meeting focused on his blessings rather than stresses. Among his blessings were: having a job, having a supportive family and team, having friends, and being healthy.

An elderly passenger gave him one more bit of advice about life in general: Have fun and arrive at your final destination as late as possible...

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The Energy Bus Summary Chapters 33-34: Living With Joy

Two weeks ago, George’s life had been miserable. Now, he realized that things he thought were bad—his work and relationship problems, his car problems—had led to good things. He understood how adversity helps you grow. When facing a problem in the future, he would ask himself what he could learn from it. He’d stay positive and trust that he’d end up stronger and wiser.

The word “joy” stuck with him. He was determined that whatever happened, he’d live with joy by looking for the joy in each moment.

On Monday, when bus #11 pulled up to the stop, George shared the news of his team’s success. He also told them he’d decided, as one way to experience joy in the moment, to keep riding the bus to work. “While driving is great, it’s more fun on the bus,” he said.

Steps to Building a Winning Team

To build a winning team, use these 11 principles based on Joy’s Energy Bus rules of the road:

1) Determine your vision: Work with your team to develop a...

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Table of Contents

  • 1-Page Summary
  • Introduction
  • Chapters 1-3: Rock Bottom
  • Chapters 4-7: The Energy Bus Rules
  • Exercise: Who’s Driving Your Bus?
  • Chapters 8-10: George Chooses a Vision
  • Exercise: Where Are You Headed?
  • Chapter 11: Creating Positive Energy
  • Chapters 12-15: George’s Bus
  • Exercise: Creating Positive Energy
  • Chapters 16-22: Overcoming Negativity
  • Exercise: Handling Negativity
  • Chapters 23-25: Leading from the Heart
  • Exercise: What’s Your Energy?
  • Chapters 26-27: Love is the Answer
  • Exercise: Showing That You Care
  • Chapter 28-30: Teamwork
  • Exercise: What’s Your Purpose?
  • Chapters 31-32: Things Come Together
  • Chapters 33-34: Living With Joy