Sustainable Resilience: Topping Off Our Four Energy Tanks
Did you catch last month’s Sustaining Resilience article? We explored the way human energy ebbs and flows, using a smartphone battery as a visual analogy. Check it out to discover ways to recharge your personal battery, and how to go into battery saving mode when your energy begins to drain.
We also posed an invitation for you to recognize what saps your energy. We’re curious what you noticed. Our realization is that our big energy leaks are very often rooted in our emotional states of mind.
Are you ready to build on this energy concept? What if we told you that everyone has the capability to increase our battery capacity? Unlike with a smartphone battery, we are able to build and sustain our resilience. Think of it as supersizing your own energy supply to extend your personal capacity when you’re on the run.
You see, each of us has four energy sources that directly affect the duration and vitality of our charge, as well as how much strain we can bear. And in contrast to the battery analogy, these four energy sources can not only recharge but also deplete our energy supply. And as you may have noticed, some of life’s situations require a lot more energy than others!
Once we understand what fills and depletes each energy tank, we can intentionally top off our tanks. The reward is greater clarity, focus and fulfillment in our lives!
Let’s take a closer look at each of these four energy tanks.
This is the foundational cornerstone to consider when it comes to energy management. There’s a lot we can employ immediately to ensure that our Physical Energy tank stays nearly full. Think of when you’ve contended with the likes of a headache, a growling stomach, or lack of sleep, and how depleted it makes you. You’ll use more energy to focus, stay engaged and be empathetic with others.
Deborah learned this lesson at 16 years old, at her first job as a short-order cook.
“I was in the middle of my second training night. It was following a full day of high school classes, after having awakened while it was still dark to do my track workout. I was 2½ hours into the shift, learning how to make a Reuben, a quiche, and a “Turkey Salad-Salad” when I just couldn’t think due to exhaustion.
The woman training me sensed I’d hit a wall and suggested I ate something. As I devoured a simple sandwich, I could feel my body perk up like a wilted flower being watered. Most importantly, I could now absorb all of the culinary brilliance being conveyed— tips I still use to this day in my home kitchen.”
When it comes to your Physical Energy tank, ask yourself, “Am I a workhorse or a racehorse?”. As unsexy as it sounds, getting enough sleep, exercise and nutrients are the best things you can do for your body. This ripples out to serve your emotional, mental and spiritual well-being, too.
This is the elusive energy tank, being the source of serious energy leaks, hiding plainly in sight. Culturally, we’re told to suppress our emotions. “Suck it up”, “muscle through”, “get over it”.
Vincent Van Gogh was onto something when he proclaimed, “Let’s not forget that the little emotions are the captains of our lives, and we obey them without realizing it”. You see, often emotions like impatience, frustration, defensiveness, worry, and judgment are living right beneath our consciousness, resembling the music in a horror movie. We don’t realize these emotions are festering, and requiring extra energy to focus, stay engaged and be empathetic with others.
Recognizing this is imperative, since emotions allow us to connect with others. Emotions also lead to disconnection when we’re not regulated. And when we are disconnected from others, we experience exclusion. This is NOT healthy, considering we are social creatures. This disconnection leaves us lacking an important energy provider.
As career-minded individuals, this is the precious tank we must continually top off. It enables us to make decisions and guides our interactions in the workplace as well as at home.
Yet with a schedule crammed with back to back obligations in which we are interacting with coworkers, making decisions, and managing perpetual interruptions and distractions, we’re not even aware that this tank is being depleted during the workday— and quickly at that. The good news is that our mental energy, what we as knowledge workers get paid for, is also the most easily replenished. Try taking a 5-minute break between meetings. This seemingly tiny shift is an effective, science-backed solution to mental fatigue!
Ahhhh! This is the energy tank we consider the “secret sauce”. And when it’s depleted for too long, due to worries about things we can’t entirely control, real trouble can arise. This tank is filled when gratitude, appreciation, connection, and celebration are embodied. You’ll know your Spiritual Energy is replenished when you experience a feeling of abundance and ‘completeness’, living in sync with the world around you.
Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz shared the importance of strategic energy management in 2005 with their book The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal. Two decades later, and many life and work experiences richer, we now know there are good days and bad days regarding our personal energy management. This is reason enough to consider the pyramid that can help bring us back on-track to well-filled energy tanks and batteries for a more balanced life, sustained resilience, and well-being.
In next month’s article, we’ll begin to further investigate each energy tank.