Energy. The thing that fuels our thought processes, our bodies, our teams, our businesses, and ultimately our survival. With a bucket-load of energy, the most fabulous, creative, even innovative things happen; and without it, everything can slow to a grind. I wrote an article back in January entitled “Energy Leakage in 2020 – Attitude Determines Altitude” where I talked about minding how we gather, guard and direct our energy to make best use of it.
Because energy is what fuels and drives us, gathering it, guarding it and directing it will always be a relevant personal and team pursuit. As we progress down this latest and interesting chapter that we’re in, the realities governing our energy are changing, and figuring out how to conserve it and direct it requires some rethinking.
It’s natural that during extended periods of stress and uncertainty, energy levels will be in flux. You may wake up one day with a fabulous new idea, and all the joy of Spring as you consider moving towards it. You may wake up the next day feeling depleted and unenthusiastic when it comes to the implementation. At the moment, many people are reporting that their energy and its direction are not consistent or given. Therefore, neither is their thinking.
There are 3 new things well worth considering when it comes to managing your energy and that of your team in this phase:
We’re all living double lives
At present, most of the world is still on some degree of lockdown. Schools are closed, business is limited, and there are some restrictions in place that mean things like acquiring food, paying regular bills, and travelling to any degree look wholly different to what we’re used to. We’re all trying to juggle the new normal, and everyone has their own version. Households where both parents worked may now have children of all ages home-schooling or schooling online at home. Not only are we chief cook and bottle washer, but we are snack provider, chivvier, project videographer, tech master, psychologist and fitness coach.
Many teams may have members at home without access to reliable wifi. We may be supporting other members of our family and community in different ways. Suffice to say, most people have got something out of the norm going on which is requiring a degree of reconfiguring.
Reconfiguring of time, energy and resources. This can be a huge drain all round if we’re not patient and accepting of ourselves and these circumstances. We have concerns about how things will work moving forward; when children will go back to school; when our businesses will be fully operational again etc – and these changes and thoughts require our consideration. They WILL take energy from us that we’re not used to expending, and they leave us with a choice. Either we can consider that expenditure of energy and be grateful for the up sides of the differences (the incredible time I have at home with my son for example), or we can choose to try and move forward like nothing has change and our energy is not differently shared – in which case, we’re likely to drive ourselves and others into the ground within a fairly short period of time.
This is a Winter phase for many people and businesses
It’s not a new concept that we and our businesses go through different seasons, and that acknowledging each season for what it is allows us to work effectively on what’s needed at the time. If you’re not familiar with this concept, you can read a short article on Seasons here. Normally, the seasons are predictably consecutive and spaced. This year has been a little different, and most teams and businesses were just starting to enter the momentum of Summer before plunged into a Winter phase. Summer is the time for gathering, for reaping what you’ve sown – when everything you’ve prepared for comes to harvest, and the stockpiles are starting to fatten. This year, we blinked and Summer was gone, leaving many without reserves and facing a Winter period with reduced sustenance.
Winter is a very useful and necessary phase though, and remembering what to use it for is vital to us being ready for Spring. Winter is about cutting back on that which is unhealthy, dead or un-need. It’s about deepening roots and thickening layers of bark – building the relationships within our teams and with our clients, investing internally in stabilising and reconfiguring, rather than in shooting out the beautiful frills that Spring and Summer require. Winter is about conservation of resources and metered investment into renewal that leaves you clean, strong and ready to re-blossom when the time comes.
This is, for most, a particularly lean Winter. But two things are certain – Winter is a necessary phase and we must make use of it whilst it’s here; and Spring and Summer will come around again – and we’d better be ready! They may also look considerably different and require new things of us – and we’d better be ready!
Staying in your lane saves energy
One of the very best ways that you can conserve energy in this period of time is to stay in your lane. Normally, in business, this would mean sticking to your job description. Right now, staying in your lane is a slightly different beast, and has everything to do with properly identifying what your personal talents and passions are – and standing in them!
Why? Because when we are working in alignment with what we do best and what we love to do best, we require the least amount of energy to do so. In fact, we’re self-propelled on a different level altogether. So if you’re not sure of what it is you’re good at and love to do, now is the time to listen to yourself and figure it out.
If you’re a team leader, stick to leading. Now is not the time for micro-management, or for taking on other people’s things. Now is the time to remain centred and be super defined about your role. As a leader, your main jobs right now are to create the space for your team to speak new ideas from their own strengths, and to up your processing speed between consideration, decision and action so that your team can flow. You are an obstacle remover. A safe space creator. An encourager. A breaker of barriers like job descriptions that stop team members bringing other strengths they may have to the table that you may not previously have been aware of. For example, if you have Millennials on your team, NOW would be the time to be brainstorming with them about how your business could be more digitally accessible and easy. If something is out of your lane and draining your energy, figure out if there’s a team member whose strengths it speaks to. Reconfigure.
Staying in our lane also means being even more super clear than normal about what the goals are for this week and which 2 or 3 steps we’ll need to complete today.
We all need to be super cognisant of how far our depleted energy is spread right now. How incredibly awesome we are that we’re all still looking to the future and figuring out how to reconfigure for the unpredictable. How many gifts we’re being given in different forms (I would not give up being chief cook and chivvier right now for the world!), and the opportunities that are arising, the absence of may have meant we’d bumble along in our same form for years to come. We are incredible in what we can accomplish. We are resilient. We are inventive. We are human.
One of the best quotes I’ve heard this past week is, “You’re not being asked to become a faster caterpillar. You’re being asked to become the butterfly you were meant to be.”
This is true for ourselves, for our businesses, for our world. Becoming a butterfly requires that the worms is broken down and rebuilt into something entirely different. Something incredibly beautiful. What will your next phase be? As an individual. As a family. As a team. As a business. As a contributor.
by Christen Killick
May 25th, 2020