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Leadership tip - How do get more energy?

25 Nov 2013

When I speak to clients about their energy I ask them to imagine an open topped pot with a valve at its base. It’s full of liquid, and when they turn the valve it begins drains away. This liquid is their energy, both physical and psychological. What most people are experts at is turning the valve on, and then leaving it on so that their energy slowing ebbs away. What fewer people are good at is filling is the pot back up with new liquid, and what very few can do is to learn to turn off the valve. To do this requires you to be authentic. It’s hard because as we’ve seen being inauthentic is hard-wired into us. Saying yes when we really mean no.  Lying about our age. Lying about what we like doing (and actually do) in our spare time. Exaggerating about how much we earn. Being with ‘friends' we don’t really like because we feel we should. Drinking too much because our friends do it. Following a football team because it makes us appear cool. When we’re trying to be someone else and when we try to impress others, when we allow ought tos and shoulds to dictate our time, we’re directing our energy and focus away from the things that meet our values, needs and our authentic life goals. When we’re in this space our behaviour and the emotions this behaviour creates drain our energy pot. It’s a tiring business being inauthentic.

This is not to say that being authentic doesn’t require energy, only that the energy is spent on making sure we’re guarding against inauthentic behaviour and directed towards challenges that provide opportunities for learning, creativity and development that will help us and others develop.

Greed, fear, revenge, jealously, distain even hatred for others, blame, intolerance, a poor person’s mentality, self-interest, procrastination and negativity are amongst the common and most draining emotional states. We look out on the world and what we see causes us anxiety. And equally as draining on our energy levels are inward-looking emotions and states deriving from low self-belief. These emotional states, when combined with poor time management, all serve to add to our stress. With 20% of British workers currently suffering from stress, (source: Health and Safety Executive 2008.) and only 2% of staff believing that their manager could help if they suffered from stress then it’s very much down to the individual to take the initiative, to address these issues head on and put energy back into your energy pot.  This section of the book will help you rebalance your stress levels and help you understand how you can keep your mental energy pot restocked by developing new perspectives, belief and attitudes.

Energy-drain exercise

To help you understand where most of your energy is being lost, take at look at the energy-drain circle. Within each section of the pie you’ll see the most common energy-drainers.  For each section of the pie mark how many minutes you spend each day.

1. How many minutes a day goes into pleasing other people?
2. How many minutes a day goes into negative self talk each day?
3. How many minutes a day goes into revenge, resentments or petty arguments?
4. How many minutes a day do you put into trying to control others?
5. How many minutes a day do you spend on past regrets?
6. How many minutes a day do you spend on procrastination?
7. How many minutes a day do you spend on trying to impress others?
8. How many minutes a day do you give away to others by blaming them?

Marie Willis, Director of Lequin Leadership Development, an international leadership development, executive coaching, customer service training, coaching skills training, outplacement support, and career coaching business. 

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