The Energy Bus Summary and Review

by Jon Gordon
Has The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon been sitting on your reading list? Pick up the key ideas in the book with this quick summary. Hop on the bus for a calmer, happier life. Many have faced personal and professional downfalls in life. Sometimes, that downwards slope can feel so steep, it seems like you can never climb back up. What if you were able to hop on a bus and have the driver give you a set of guidelines for rising out of that slump? This book summary is about that bus – the Energy Bus. Riding on this bus will offer new perspective on how to think in a positive way about your life, changing both your professional and personal outlook. Here, this summary will outline the ten rules for hopping on and giving your life an energy book. In this summary, you’ll also find out:
  • What E + P = O means and why you need to know it
  • Why it’s important to shed the negative energy during your bus ride
  • What a CEO means on the bus ride, and why you need to become that CEO

The Energy Bus Key Idea #1: Feeling out of control breeds unhappiness.

For most of us, the term “positive energy” means to always have a smile of your face. However, positive energy is much deeper than that. It means to live in state of true optimism and enthusiasm so that you may cultivate a lifestyle of trust, desire, and affection. Great in theory, but how to reach that perpetual state? Let’s look at our fictional example, George. His life was seemingly perfect: he had a wife, two kids, owned his home, and led a team at the NRG Company, manufacturing light bulbs. Despite seeming happy on the surface, George was unhappy with life. Things were always going wrong, and he looked everywhere to find more meaning for his life. George felt trapped in the passenger seat of his own life, burdened by stress and expectations. On the way to work one morning, George got a flat tire. This made him late to an important work meeting, and the team was in shambles without him. He’d also gotten into a huge fight with his wife that morning. It was the start to another terrible week. It only got worse: his car had a problem with the breaks, and so George had to take the bus for the next few weeks. But, when he got on the bus, he was captivated by Joy, the bus driver, and her bright smiled. Joy had met plenty of Georges on her bus, and she knew what he needed. Joy knew that Monday mornings, around 9 a.m., is when most people feel their lowest and thinking about suicide, feeling like they can’t go another for another week. Joy saw that George was getting close to a low point and she needed to step in. She invited George along a once-in-a-lifetime journey: a trip to a happier life on her Energy Bus.

The Energy Bus Key Idea #2: Be in control and focus your life’s vision.

Joy was offering George an unbelievable opportunity, but it wasn’t until his wife and boss told him he was in jeopardy of losing it all that he was willing to believe it. Once he accepted the idea, he decided to learn Joy’s ten rules for an improved life. The first rule: become the driver of your bus and take control. When George got on the bus for another day of work, Joy talked about how others are often unhappy because they don’t have a say in their lives. George understood this very well. After all, he felt trapped between his competing expectations from his boss and wife. Not only, but things felt out of his control, such as his car breaking down. Joy told him that according to the teachings of the energy bus, he needed to take control of his life if he wanted it back. This means deciding who he wanted to be, and how he ws going to be that person. But before that, you need to know where you’re going. This is the second rule: you need vision and focus to drive the bus in the direction you want.  To show George this, Joy asked him to write down a vision for his personal life and his professional life. One for his job and one for his family. George knew that he wanted to be happy; he wanted to be a good role model for his kids and have a happy marriage. At work, he wanted a successful product launch with his team. Now that he knew the goals, he had to achieve them. This is when Joy told George about the law of attraction. According to this idea, thoughts are magnetic – what you think about will show up in your life. Look at Olympic athletes, whom use this law to visualize their best performances before competing. Usually, this method results in gold-medal wins. With the power and potential of this concept, George dedicated ten minutes a day for thinking about how to accomplish his goals.
We read dozens of other great books like The Energy Bus, and summarised their ideas in this article called Happiness Check it out here!

The Energy Bus Key Idea #3: You can control how you look at life and transform negative energy into positive.

We all know how difficult it can be to focus on the positive, but changing your attitude and outlook on life can make a big difference. The way you perceive events is completely within your control. Look at this formula:  E + P = O. It means Events Perception/Positive Energy Outcome. In other words, there is a lot in life that you’ve got no control over, but you can control how you perceive what is happening. Choosing positive thoughts over negative ones can help you achieve better outcomes. It is important to maintain positive energy, since it keeps your Energy Bus going. That’s rule number three: positive energy is fuel for your journey. But how to keep the fuel tank filled up? Sometimes, all you need is to look at something from a different perspective. For example, if you feel overwhelmed with work, feel grateful that you have a job in the first place, as many others struggle to get find work at all. Performing a simple act of gratitude releases endorphins and improves your mood, and you’ll be feeling better before you realize. George wanted to try this practice out for himself, so he began by spending ten minutes at day taking a walk around the office, thinking over all he had to be grateful for. George realized that he was healthy, with a loving family, a home and a career – which is more than most people can say. After his walk around the office, George felt a new sense of energy and got back to work ready to face any challenge that might come his way. We can all decide to follow George’s example. It’s as simple as making these little small acts of practice a part of our daily routine, giving ourselves opportunities to refresh and reenergize as we do.

The Energy Bus Key Idea #4: Tell others about your life’s vision and invite them with you on your journey.

Whether it’s at work with coworkers or at home with your family, happiness and success often also require teamwork. In reality, a satisfying family and work life only happen when everyone plays their role and helps out. So, as George realized his life’s vision, he began to worry – if he was alone in approaching his work with dedication and energy, he would be less likely to manage both a successful product launch and satisfying marriage. Luckily, Joy told George about rule number four: tell others about your vision and ask them to join you. It’s a simple idea: the more people aboard your bus, the more positive energy you’ll have to fuel your ride and to see results. To help make his vision a reality, Joy showed George a user-friendly website where he could tell others about his plans. It’s called, and through this site, George could print bus tickets to hand out to his wife and his work team. However, a ticket is only good if passengers understand where they’re headed. Even though George was excited about getting started, he also knew from his conversations with Joy that he himself had to personally hand each possible passenger their ticket after discussing the upcoming journey. If others don’t know where you're headed on your bus, they won’t be as willing to hop on with you. Keeping this in mind, George met with each member of his coworkers one-on-one, handing out tickets so they could share his vision. In his meetings, George explained his expectations for the product launch and asked everyone on his team to commit to seeing this vision come to life. He gave his employees the weekend to consider this, letting George know on Monday if they agreed and wanting to come along for the ride. George felt eager to add his coworkers as his travel companions on his bus, but also nervous that he might be disappointed by the outcome. To avoid this, his vision needed to have enough energy that others would also feel inspired. How to achieve that is covered in the next summary section.

The Energy Bus Key Idea #5: Save your energy for those who share your vision and remove negativity as much as possible.

When George met again with his team on Monday, he was surprised that one team member, José, didn’t want to jump on the bus. José was one of his best employees, so this unexpected change made George question his vision. How could he succeed if his best workers didn’t want the same thing? This was actually less important than George had thought. If others refuse your invitation to get on the bus, you shouldn’t force them. According to one poll, there are 22 million workers in the United States who think negatively about their work. These sort of employees cause a loss in productivity of around $300 billion a year for companies. Naturally, being surrounded by workers with these attitudes can increase self-doubt and prevent you from reaching your goals. So, to control this, Joy shared rule number five with George: save your energy and don’t try to persuade people who aren’t willing to get on board. If those people are full of negative energy, they’ll only slow down your bus. And if negative people do get on your bus, it’s essential to remove them as soon as you can. You might have a few passengers who tend complain along the way. You can imagine that they are vampires who like to suck out positivity. That’s where we come across rule number six: get Energy Vampires off the bus. With negative people on your team, try to talk to them and understand where their negative attitude comes from, and if you have to work with them, how you can move forward and work together. If those people are unwilling to change, then you’ll have to move on from them. Or, in scenarios where you can’t get rid of negative people, notify your boss or supervisor and think of ways to boost your own positive energy. If you can do this, you’ll be able outweigh the negativity those people bring into your life.

The Energy Bus Key Idea #6: Others will feel your positive energy and become inspired by your enthusiasm.

Do you know someone who gets incredibly excited about new music or films? Are you aware that being around such an energetic person as they talk about their passion fills you with excitement and happiness as well? This is a natural response, because the human body senses the emotions of others. Just look at a study from the Institute of HeartMath, an American research and education organization that focuses on how the heart influences our well-being. They found that the heart can communicate emotions through its own electromagnetic field. Additionally, this field can be sensed up to ten feet away! This means that the people around us can recognize the way we are feeling and react to it. This is often why we can tell when someone is being dishonest. But it also lets us know that when others are deeply passionate about something, they can spread that enthusiasm and positive emotion with those around them. Because of this, it’s important that your entire bus feels energized with true enthusiasm. This is where we get rule number seven: enthusiasm will make more people join you and motivate them along the ride. In fact, the word “enthusiasm” originated from Greek word entheos, when means “inspired” or “filled with the divine.” So, as long as you show excitement about your work and the projects you’re completing, those around you will feel that as well. This positive energy is exactly what you need to fuel your ride for the long trip. Joy has a name for this: it is your CEO or Chief Energy Officer. Those who fill the CEO role will affect their team members, other employees, and even customers with their influential positive energy to inspires and motivate them.

The Energy Bus Key Idea #7: Let your passengers feel valued when by giving them your time and recognition.

You might have seen that you do more work when co-workers recognize your efforts and respect about you. It seems apparent, but this highlights to a deeper-rooted human need for appreciation. In other words, when you show care and respect for your fellow team members, you can make them feel strong and motivate them to do their best work. If you can do this, they will follow you wherever you go. This is our rule number eight: love the passengers on your bus. Here’s how you can do this: First, take the time to listen to others. Keep in mind that love and relationships take time to grow and blossom. Just as you have to spend time with a romantic partner to build a relationship, you need to spend quality time with your employees. Having regular individual meetings are key; these one-on-ones offer an opportunity to get to know your team on a personal level. When you have these meetings, listen carefully to what the other person says and show empathy for whatever they are going through. This will show your employees that you care and understand their desires and ideas. Moving on from there, it’s also important to see your employees as their own individual workers and show them that you appreciate the work they are doing. This should come as a no-brainer since people always want to be seen as individual people, not as robots. So, let your workers know that they mean more than being a cog in a machine. For instance, avoid sending a e-card or electronic birthday message. Rather, write out real birthday cards for team members and stop by to deliver them in person. Last, recognize the individual accomplishments of all the workers you manage. For example, look at George and his employee José – the one who didn’t want to get on his bus. One reason for this was because José never felt valued, even though he regularly worked late hours. George never thanked him for this. Also, when José asked for a raise, George took time to think about it, then ignored the request, never mentioning it again. But all of that was in the past for George. After learning rule number eight from Joy, George immediately thanked José for his hard work and promised him a raise. After this, José gladly joined George on his energy bus.

The Energy Bus Key Idea #8: Travel to new heights by embracing purpose and fun.

By putting into place the rules he’d learned thus far, George was able to get his marriage back on track and spend more and more time with his family. However, at work with his product close to launch, George wondered if he was able to inject any more energy into his team. If he was going to do that, then he needed to realize how purpose makes work easier. For example, there’s a story about President Johnson and a janitor at NASA. When the president visited the space program, he encountered a custodian cleaning the floors with great enthusiasm. The president told him that he was the best janitor he had ever met, and the janitor said, “Sir, I’m not a janitor. I just helped put a man on the moon.” This shows that with a higher purpose, you can find it easier to complete your everyday tasks, which leads to rule number nine: let yourself be driven by a higher purpose. George’s team was able to see themselves as more than creators of light bulbs, but as creators of light– something to illuminate the first book a child reads, for example. Once they realized this, it was easy to work late nights alongside George. This made the entire team united behind a shared mission and purpose. But most prominently, purpose and fun together can allow for a stellar performance. On George’s morning commute, a passenger told him about a study with two teams, with each one having to design a new airplane. One team was told that they were picked to design the best airplane that ever existed, and the other was told to just design components, without any information about the mission behind it. Not to anyone’s surprise, the team with a clear mission had performed better and worked harder, completing their project in half the time. This example helps reveal the final rule, rule number ten: you have to have fun on your ride. After all, success is simpler to reach when you’re having fun rather than stressing out.

In Review: The Energy Bus Book Summary

The key takeaway from this book: Our world is overloaded with competing pressures from work, to the demands of family life, and the general difficulty of paying bills and holding everything together. But there’s a solution: positive energy will help you take control of your life and find true happiness. Actionable advice: Learn from your obstacles. Making sure your bus arrives at its destination can be hard to pull off. To keep the bus on track, you’ll need to handle all the obstacles and challenges that come up. To do this, make it a habit to asking yourself what you can learn when you encounter such difficulties. What opportunities do they offer you and your coworkers? By thinking productively about all the obstacles in your way, the road to the vision you have for your life will be much smoother.
Suggested further reading: Find more great ideas like those contained in this summary in this article we wrote on Happiness