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Lead with Energy: Balancing Performance and Recovery

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Science describes that everything is made of energy and that it is the building block of all matter.  According to quantum physics, everything - all matter - vibrates and emits energy.

Humans are energetic beings and it is woven within us. Throughout your body, every atom, molecule, cell, tissue, and body system is composed of energy. And according to energy theories – thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and attitudes – are composed of energy as well.  It’s fascinating to ponder that our thoughts even produce waves of energy!  Whoa!

So in a sense, energy interacts with everything all the time.  We cannot see it, but we can sense it.

Have you ever felt anxious as you walk into an airport?  Have you ever felt electric feelings before a big athletic event or before a concert?  Part of those sensations is your anticipation or excitement, but part of it is also the energy from others around you.  

Given that, it’s no surprise that we feed off the energy of others.  From a team aspect, this is a key point.

Leaders are the sages or guides of organizational team energy – we can inspire or deplete others based on how we manage our personal energy.  Additionally, how well leaders invest and renew the collective energy of a team, group, or company is equally important.

In order to learn more about how to effectively manage our energy, we can turn to a field of study focused on world class athletes.  Effective energy management is described as having two components:

  1. Movement between energy expenditure (stress) and energy renewal (recovery).
  2. Practices that promote energy gains and recovery.

These components of effective energy management are not just limited to athletes.  Performance psychologist Jim Loehr and author Tony Schwartz make the compelling case that the same components apply to leaders. In fact, they go further suggesting that the demands on leaders to sustain high performance day in and day out far exceed the challenges faced by athletes.  

Finding balance between performance and recovery is critical in managing energy and wellbeing.  When we use energy, we draw down the reservoir in the tank. Too much energy expenditure without renewal leads to burnout and decreased mental and emotional wellbeing. Too much recovery without some amount of stress leads to low motivation, weakness, and atrophy of different dimensions of ourselves.  What does balancing performance and recovery look like to you?

Let’s face it, our energy capacity fluctuates daily, sometimes by hour, and it affects our resilience and wellbeing. When we’re depleted emotionally, who has the presence and patience to show up well in relationships with colleagues or children at home?  What if you’re drained mentally?  It’s pretty difficult to withstand the pressures of work and life in this state. If you’re depleted spiritually, isn’t it difficult to find meaning and purpose in your job or life?  If you are physically drained because of lack of sleep, don’t you find it difficult to focus during the day?