Technology keeps us plugged in 24/7. Do you routinely check your inbox one last time before you hit the hay at night? Is your phone the first thing you look at when you open your eyes in the morning? If so, your brain is under siege. And it’s time to take back control.
Perhaps you want to show more compassion toward your staff or be more open to what they have to say. But if it doesn’t come to you naturally, the shift can be hard to manage. Changing your behaviour takes energy. After a traditional career in sales, management and leadership, Chris Obst hired a coach. It proved to be a positive experience – so much so that he decided he would become a coach himself. “I was working with top execs of some very big companies. Most of the people I was coaching were running on fumes. In fact, their tank was already on empty before they even started the engine,” Obst recalls, explaining why he decided to focus his efforts on one specific aspect: energy management.
In today’s society, it seems as if everybody is tired all the time. Our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual energy shapes our demeanour. “I realized that no matter how smart, motivated and educated my clients were, and no matter how much effort they were putting into things, they simply weren’t getting the results they wanted,” says Obst. “So it became clear that I had to start by assessing their energy capacity.”
Most people have heard messages about managing their health, but not about managing their energy. Society is constantly driving home the importance of physical fitness and healthy eating, both of which are tied into appearance. We all know very well what we “should” change. But very few leaders have made a connection between that and their on-the-job results. They think that taking care of themselves is a personal indulgence rather than something that can drive their performance. When people sleep better, exercise and eat well, the quality of their output increases. They make fewer mistakes, are more engaged, have more stamina and enjoy more fulfilling relationships with the people around them.
Nobody these days is ever truly “caught up” with what they have to do. We are constantly bombarded with information at a dizzying speed. And nobody can help manage it: not society, not your boss, not even the best companies in the world. If you don’t set your limits, nobody else will do it for you.
Your energy and your undivided attention are the best gift you can give anyone. Multitasking and trying to be everywhere at once are counterproductive. Focusing on the quality of your energy is therefore vital. “Introverts need to realize that the simple fact of being physically present in a workplace or learning institution can be draining. Work puts a strain on them. They have to take it upon themselves to get some alone time on a regular basis. The key here is their capacity to recharge their batteries.”
The brain works better when the body is properly taken care of. Our society places a high value on the finished product, speed and productivity. But nobody talks about the value of taking time out. But a high-level athlete cannot train for 12 hours a day, every day, right before the Olympics. They have to take breaks to be at their best when it really counts.
With “Strengthen Your Leadership by Increasing Your Personal Energy,” a course offered by Executive Education HEC Montréal, Obst will guide participants in developing a personalized action plan. “It usually involves a combination of saying no to certain things, like working until 7 p.m. every night, and saying yes to others, like going for an hour-long walk at lunchtime or taking a regular screen break. Perfection isn’t the goal here. It’s about pinpointing which parts of your life you need to pay more attention to. Then we develop rituals, and these rituals eventually become habits.”