What would be different for you with a Superpower at your fingertips? What impact would it have on your leadership and your team, your results and even on your overall quality of life?
That’s the question that Bruce D. Schneider, Ph.D. explores in his 2008 book, Energy Leadership. He discovered that your Energy is the single most important factor in differentiating those masterful leaders who inspire confidence in both their clients and their colleagues, as well as a deep loyalty from their employees.
If you’re wondering how this Superpower works, think about the last time you were on a long airplane flight where you were experiencing turbulence. In an instant, your heart is in your throat, your belly has dropped to the floor, and you’re sweating from every pore in your body. Your first thought is to find the flight attendant, so you can judge your chances for survival.
Then you notice that s/he is strapped into their seat, calmly smiling, maybe even reading book on their phone or a magazine in their lap. To all outward appearances, they don’t have a care in the world. Clearly, this turbulence is nothing to them—which instantly reduces its impact on you.
Now think of any leader with whom you’ve ever worked, who had that same kind of calm in the face of some organizational storm. Day in and day out—no matter what part of the typical business Volatility, Uncertainty, Chaos, or Ambiguity is creating emotional turbulence for the team—he or she is calmly facing the storm and making sure their team gets through it unscathed.
How do they do that? They do it by knowing how to identify and manage their energy, so it works for them instead of against them.
Although we don’t think about it very much, wouldn’t you agree that it’s pretty easy to get a sense of someone else’s energy when you’re with them? Do they “lift you up” or “bring you down?” We have the language for it, yet we don’t pay much attention to it most of the time.
Here’s what’s different about those leaders—and flight attendants—who have the ability to stay calm in the face of any storm: they know how to manage their own energy. As a result, they have a powerfully positive impact on those around them.
Two Kinds of Energy
Now that you’re paying attention, this Superpower is within reach. The first thing you can do is to be aware of the quality of your own—and other people’s—energy.
Does it “lift you up?” That’s Anabolic Energy. Dr. Schneider describes this kind of energy as “constructive, expanding, fueling, healing and growth-oriented.” That’s how you have access to information—and intuition—that seems totally out of reach of mere mortals. (Hence, the Superpower label, even though anyone can access this once you know how!)
This type of energy is based in possibility-thinking, so it:
- Helps you to move forward towards any goal, so you can achieve positive, long-term, sustainable results
- Can be used to lead yourself as well as others
- Allows you to be more aware and conscious of everything that’s happening around you; as a result, you have more options. You can easily come up with solutions and innovations, even in the midst of a proverbial “storm.”
On the other hand, if the energy “brings you down,” it’s Catabolic Energy. Dr. Schneider describes this kind of energy as “draining, resisting, contracting.” And it’s totally normal, since this is the world we all live in, we’re all socialized in, and—more importantly—what many people believe is “real life.”
This type of energy is based in fear, so it:
- Holds you back from moving forward, whether out of concern about making a mistake, preventing yourself from doing something you’re afraid of or losing something you want to maintain.
- Can be a “default” response that you are unaware of, even though it affects others as well as you
- Gives you “tunnel vision” so it’s hard to see anything outside of yourself. Your focus is on protecting, defending and denying, so you have no access to possibility—let alone intuition!
What Can You Do Now?
The first step in harnessing this Superpower is to pay attention to the kind of energy you have in any moment. Pretty soon you’ll be able to choose your own energy, which is the secret of masterful leaders (and flight attendants).
When things are going well for you, when you’re handling challenges and moving forward, odds are high that you’re lifting yourself up as well as lifting up the others around you. Take a moment and check it out—increase your skill at noticing your own Anabolic Energy so you can easily recognize it in yourself and others.
On the other hand, when things don’t seem to be working out so well for you, when you find yourself struggling, or resisting, or protecting or denying, pay attention to your energy. Are you bringing yourself—and those around you—down? That’s Catabolic Energy. Soon it will be very easy to spot, because it feels totally different than Anabolic Energy.
Simply noticing those differences brings this Superpower within your reach.
Next week, you’ll discover the 7 Levels of Energy that Dr. Schneider found, and see how you can choose any level of energy you want—any time. Accessing your own Superpower is definitely a Simple Shift you can use to Forge Ahead Faster!