Take Care of Your Energy

My wife and I recently spent a few days in Penang to recharge the batteries. I was sitting by the pool with my eyes closed, listening to the beautiful tinkling of a nearby fountain. But the sound of dragging feet was taking the edge off the experience. I opened my eyes to see the pool attendant sluggishly wander by, head down, eyes unfocused. His mind was clearly elsewhere. It reminded me how our energy impacts on others.

How we maintain our personal vitality is also a huge predictor of success and satisfaction in business and life. For instance, energy emerges in the business research literature as a consistent characteristic of successful entrepreneurs. Reflect on people you know who are at the top of their game, and you will probably notice a high level of personal vitality. You’ll see it as a glint in their eyes; you’ll hear it in the clarity of their voice; and you’ll feel it in how they affect you.

By the way, personal vitality is not the temporary hyped-up energy that comes from being over-excited or stimulated. Rather it is a deep sense of drive that comes when you are fully engaged in activities you enjoy and find meaningful. But life is also about uncertainty and challenge. So here are some tips for maintaining personal vitality in those situations that test our resilience and confidence.

Connect to your purpose. Ask yourself “Why am I doing this?” Are you trying to get an important innovation to market? Help your customers solve a difficult problem? Make a difference to your local community? Or perhaps create opportunities for your family, your staff, or even yourself. (By the way, if you can’t answer this question, maybe it’s time to do something different.) Nothing generates energy like a clear sense of purpose.

Stay curious. Good decisions come from clear thinking and an openness to options. Yet faced with too much to do, or with what we see as unfair criticism, our brain can feel like it is shutting down on us! An effective way to get back a sense of clarity and control is to become intensely curious. Ask questions. Pay attention. Take the perspective of an investigative journalist who is seeking to fully understand the situation, and you will quickly regain your mental edge.

Lower your expectations. I once asked a mentor what he regarded as the secret to a happy life. He simply said “Have low expectations.” While he was half joking, there is wisdom in his comment. A common source of energy drain is disappointment, which is basically what happens when our expectations aren’t met. Accepting situations as they are is always the first step to making positive changes without the drama and emotional drain.

Pace yourself. My speaking work involves a lot of travel, so I am regularly jet lagged or operating on minimal sleep. While the above tips help me to manage my energy, I also take a 15 to 20 minute rest in the middle of my busy training days. There is always a quiet space somewhere where I can close my eyes, do some deep breathing and recharge the batteries.

In summary, if you want to stay healthy, enjoy your life, get things done, and make a positive difference to others, look after your energy. On behalf of the FRI team, I’d like to wish you a peaceful, safe and energizing festive season!

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