It’s important to look after your energy levels so that you can be your best self, more of the time, or at least as much of the time as possible.
Steve Radcliffe, in his book ‘Leadership – Plain and Simple’ writes really interestingly about what he calls ‘the four energies’. He talks about these within the context of leadership and how managing your own energy, as well as the energy of others, is paramount to your role as a leader. I think that what he writes about can be taken to any context, about managing your own life. The four energies he writes about are:
- Intellectual energy
- Emotional energy
- Spirit energy
- Physical energy
I’ll explain these in turn:
This is the energy of your thinking and analysis. It’s about how you use logic and rationality and is used in debate and critical thinking. It’s useful so that people can organise their thoughts, but too much of it can suppress passion and enthusiasm.
This is the energy of connection between people. It’s the energy that makes you feel listened to, valued and cared for. It also taps into the sense of belonging to a community, which is a deep human need. This is an essential energy for networking, alignment and collaboration.
This is the energy of feeling alive and is strongly linked to your purpose. If you are full of this energy you will feel passion for the future and will have a strong sense of possibility. It brings hope and optimism to people, so is especially important if you are trying to inspire and lead others. Giving yourself some reflection time, so you can see the bigger picture and connecting with the ‘why’ of what you are doing is important.
This is the energy of getting things done. It also helps us maintain concentration and commitment to a task. We can help this energy by taking care of our physical selves. We can do this by watching what we eat, taking exercise, giving ourselves time to relax and getting a good night’s sleep.
Being aware of these four energies and their ebb and flow can help us. Thinking about what you can practise to try to manage these energies better is key. Using ‘conscious practice’ to be aware of these energies, ask yourself whether you are paying attention to all four of them, rather than just focusing on two or three, for example.
Being at your best more of the time
If you are able to effectively manage your energy, then you will be able to achieve the goal of being at your best, more of the time.
The picture below describes how we are a mix of feelings, beliefs and energies, some moving us forwards and some holding us back:
The doubts, fears and beliefs will never entirely go away, however the good news is that you can get them to loosen their grip on you. The conscious practice here is to at any moment be aware of who you are being and whether this is who you would like to be.
This is not all that easy and it’s useful to think about the concept of being ‘at your best’ versus ‘just surviving’. There are high energy and low energy modes applicable to when you are living in either of these two concepts. For example: you can be high energy and just surviving, if something triggers you to be angry and irritated. In this way of being you may be on the defensive and snap at someone. You can also be in the place where you have low energy and are just surviving if something makes you feel withdrawn.
With the low energies that you might feel, you can step back and think which of the four energies you are feeling, or are lacking in, so that you can try to adjust these. If you are feeling low energy, you can have a break, go for a walk, you can also try to think about the bigger picture and view the current situation from there. Talking the issue over with someone else can sometimes also help. Often by simply just by lightening up and/or, by engaging in some social interaction, this can make a difference.
When you are your best
Bigger picture thinking can help you to be at your best, even when you are experiencing low energy. If you are feeling this low energy when you are at your best, it can feel like a peaceful, calm energy, where you can be in a good space to reflect on things. This is not a bad place to be.
When you are at your best and look after your energy levels, this is going to be where you are the most productive. You’ll be buzzing, on the front foot and feeling really confident. A great place to be…
If you have enjoyed reading this, have a look at some of my other blogs that are related: