One of my favorite things to talk about with my executive coaching clients is “What are your energy givers and your energy drainers?”
That’s almost always a useful conversation because when leaders are working through their agenda day after day it’s easy to lose sight of the kinds of work and people who either give them energy or drain their energy. Since just about everyone does their best work when they’re energized instead of deenergized, it’s an important dynamic to be aware of and act on.
Here are three simple but effective things you can do to ensure you get the optimal mix of energy in your work as a leader.
Make a List of Your Givers and Drainers – First, take some personal time to step back and make a list of the work, projects or people who are consistent energy givers for you. An easy way to do this is to look at your calendar or notes for the past month or so to identify the events or conversations that sparked your creativity, enthusiasm and optimism. What patterns do you see? They’re showing you who your energy givers are. On the flip side, review the record for energy drainers. You’ll know them when you feel them. It’s likely that just reading the name of the energy draining topic or person is going to induce a little rumble in your gut, a tightening in your jaw or some other physical reaction. Those are clues you shouldn’t ignore. Any topic or person that sparks a visceral reaction is an energy drainer for you.
Spend Regular Time on the Energy Givers – Now that you’ve identified your energy givers, do your best to spend regular time with those people or on those projects. Be intentional about using your time with the energy givers to create, solve problems, brainstorm or just connect. This is where you’re going to do your best work and have the biggest impact.
Don’t Overinvest in the Energy Drainers – Set a time and attention budget for your energy drainers and do your best to stick to the budget. It’s not that you can or even should totally avoid working with the energy drainers. They’re a part of life. There’s even a chance that you might influence the energy draining people in your life to take a more productive path. That said, you don’t want them to overtake your calendar or your thought process. If you find yourself consistently dwelling on how much the energy drainers annoy you or sap you, they’re taking up too much of your mental and emotional bandwidth. When you catch yourself overinvesting your time and attention on the drainers, redirect your investments back to the energy givers. Again, that’s where you’re going to do your best work. And just before you redirect, reset your own energy by taking a few minutes to clear your mind with some deep breaths or some physical activity.
Set yourself up to shift your time and attention from the energy drainers to the energy givers.
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