Want to understand how energy levels drive peak performance?
It’s a question many Exec teams ask me, as they want to understand how to make their team more productive, mentally resilient and feel emotionally in control of their working world.
Here is the clue, energy is a precursor to performance. Elevated and quality energy levels allow us to perform better for longer and thus thrive or operate in the ‘peak’ zone, much like an athlete may. You may be running off adrenalin and feeling the initial boost and high this brings, but it’s not sustainable in the long run.
We’re humans not machines and we are not designed to work continuously without rest, connection, fuel and importantly, playfulness or boredom time.
There are three important questions we’ll cover off: How do you fuel yourself? What boosts and drains your energy? How do you sustain high performance? Let’s dive in…
How do you fuel yourself?
Awareness of your beliefs and how they are propelling you forward or holding you back directly impacts how you fuel your body, mind and spirit. Enlightening, huh? Let me tell you more…
Your output is directly affected by what you hold as a ‘truth’, and gets reinforced or embedded over time. Build a strong foundation belief in the power and importance of looking after yourself (not just lip service), and tend to it like you would water a plant, and you’ll reap the benefit.
There is an excellent book from author Bruce Lipton, the Biology of Belief, that has scientific proof of how our beliefs shape the health of our bodies – for ease or disease. Aligned to the writings of Louise Hay in her 80s sensation (and a personal bible of mine) You Can Heal Your Life.
Your life is a direct manifestation of where you direct your energy. Consider carefully your purpose, and intentions, and how that supports the channeling of your energy. It’s a very powerful tool to take responsibility of. We don’t get a manual on how to use our minds, but we can learn how to channel it effectively. Learn how to direct and master where your awareness goes to guide your actions and behaviour.
When looking at our fuel, we need to address the whole picture of health, to create a holistic view that incorporates all elements of your life. To do this we need to go big picture on the four aspects. Then come back down into some smaller tactical ways to look at what changes are necessary.
Physical health; the foundation of all other dimensions of energy, physical energy is comprised of sleep, fitness and movement, nutrition and hydration, and intermittent time for rest and renewal.
Emotional contentment; emotional energy is about learning to cultivate the specific emotions associated with high performance (e.g. optimism, joy, recognition) because how people feel profoundly influences how they perform. This includes building strong relationships with yourself and others.
Mental focus; mental energy is about learning to focus in an absorbed way and switching intentionally between tactical and big-picture thinking. How our thoughts affect our wellbeing and approach to the world. Plus developing cognitive skills in resilience, empathy and decision-making.
Spiritual purpose; spiritual energy is the energy derived from serving something larger than oneself and your ability to deeply connect with yourself and others. Alignment to what is important to us, and how we contribute beyond our own gain.
Experiment a little…
So what is a practical tool to use? Let’s look at the nitty gritty, an average day of what is fuelling you… I developed an energy boost and drain exercise with a friend and business collaborator of mine, Julie (thank you Julie!), it had profound insights for people when we tested it both individually, with teams, and entire organisations. Here is a snippet for you to try for yourself…
Identify your energy boosts and drains…
It’s important to look at activities both at work and at home to get an accurate assessment of your energy throughout the day. This exercise will create your ‘daily energy picture’. It’s really fun and easy to do!
Grab an A4 (or ideally A3) piece of paper and position as landscape. Draw a line down the middle so you can have above the line as your boosts and below the line your drains. The line through the middle is your timeline for the day, on the left start with the time you wake and mark the hours across to the right until you reach the edge and the time you go to sleep (not just bed!).
Next, start to track all the main activities you carry out in a day. Such as, the way you wake up, the routine for getting ready in the morning, your commute to work, how you greet colleagues, your initial tasks, how you eat through out the day, your productivity areas, work tasks that are optimal (or less than), when you leave, how you get home, evening activities, any movement or exercise. Be as broad or specific as you desire, remember to track these either above (as a boost) or below (as a drain) the line. Also think about what you’re doing against own body rhythms (e.g. I am most productive between 8-10am, then creative brain kicks in near 3pm and again at 8pm). Last, connect the dots and see exactly how your energy gets tracked over the day…
How does this affect you being your energetic best?
The simple act of visualising our energy can make it really apparent. Seeing what you prioritise and how you ‘do’ activities can have an impact on energy levels (can be enlightening!). As always, there is a way to shift it. Going back to our beliefs – and knowing you have the ability to control where your awareness goes.
Reflect for yourself – what are ways to manage your drains better? A different morning routine can set you up for a day that flows vs. feeling behind the eight ball, going to sleep earlier can improve focus the next day, having an afternoon walk for 15 minutes around the block vs. a sugary treat can pull you through the afternoon slump, giving who you are with in a meeting and what you’re discussing your undivided attention vs. having to follow up with subsequent conversations to remind actions.
How can you integrate it into your way of leading?
How can you take responsibility? How can you start with one thing, and do it really well?
How can you introduce this with your team? And optimise when you do tasks, meetings, gather and connect, so it matches the best quality energy of your people?