Human energy, a property tied closely to one’s motivation, is a resource that we all have. The human being is designed this way – little boys and girls are able to act out a story, run a race, build a tree-house, etc.; teenagers and young adults are able to invest time and effort into building significant relationships whilst studying and working; older people busy themselves with projects, having fun and making meaningful contributions. The motivation to apply energy to a project or a task comes from a context – if the context is negative (having to visit someone who is always moaning, finding fault and blaming), there will be little motivation to employ one’s energy to the issue; if the context is positive (meeting your lover for a candle-lit dinner at a romantic restaurant), however, immense amounts of energy will be applied to make the occasion meaningful.
Feelings play a decisive role in motivation and the subsequent application of energy. This is particularly true in the workplace. If you feel that you are being micro-managed, you will only do what is required to please your boss. If you feel that your boss has it in for you, you will dread going to work. Negative emotions “drain” energy – energy is converted into fear, anxiety, protecting your back, etc. Here one says: “I don’t have the energy for this anymore”. Positive emotions, on the other hand, seem to accelerate the use of available energy – an empowering environment, an inviting context in which to offer your ideas, fun activities, warm relations with colleagues, etc. Here, energy is converted into action, effort, focus and going the extra mile.
We therefore need to listen to our emotions and gut feelings. They need to be examined and verified: Is what I am feeling accurate? Why am I feeling this way? Am I missing something? Is there another perspective that I can examine? Is there something else that is bothering me? Once we get to the bottom of the feelings, ideas start to flow – either to fix something that is broken or to accelerate doing something that will move you forward. The human being is full of ideas potentially if taking the time to step back from feelings and evaluate them – we don’t often do this, however, as advertising specialist, John Hunt, notes:
“Fewer and fewer people pay any attention whatever to what their gut is trying to tell them. They shun this feeling because it is exactly that…a feeling and feelings are messier than facts. They are difficult to matrix, quantify or extrapolate across a spreadsheet. So they are disregarded altogether.
Yet, when you are desperate for an idea, it’s the most precious commodity on Earth. At the early stages of something new, that’s often all you’ve got. An instinct, an inner twitch in your gut that says you might be on to something big.” (The Art of the Idea – John Hunt)
Colin Hall (Learning to Lead), an expert on human energy, notes: “When your energy is high, you listen to your gut, and crucial ideas flow…but certainly not when your energy slumps”.
Here are some of the actions that can be taken to ensure that your energy will be stimulated:
- Address issues that are troubling you – relational discord leads to feelings of negativity. Make time to resolve issues with your boss/colleagues to free up your relationships. Most of us can’t choose our respective bosses, so we have to work hard on keeping those relationships intact. For more information on how to address your boss, get my book: “How do I address my boss when…?”
- Share your ideas with your colleagues or friends – as you share ideas, thoughts gain clarity and form during the conversation. They are enhanced through interaction with others.
- Share emotional distress/trauma with a professional – ‘going it alone’ is not wise with emotional ailments. Seek professional help to assist with working through your feelings.
- Appoint a coach – a coach helps you align effort to the performance goals that you would like to achieve.
- Read voraciously – expose yourself to new thinking and the ideas and suggestions of others. Be selective, but read, read, read.
Take heed of feelings. Feelings, even in circumstances unsupported by much real evidence, have an impact on motivation and the subsequent application of energy. Your ‘gut’ sends you messages – take heed and act on them.