Stopping the Energy Drain

"I've suffered a great many catastrophes in my life. Most of them never happened." - Mark Twain

There are an infinite number of management and leadership articles that have been published over the years. They talk about important things like finance, emotional intelligence, communication skills, and dozens of other relevant topics. And while those certainly are critical, I think most of them forget one of the most critical of all: energy.

Energy sounds a little harder to measure, and it doesn't involve charts and graphs. But without energy you can't possibly do what you need to do as a leader. You won't think as clearly, you won't be as resilient, your emotional intelligence level will decrease - the list goes on and on.

I could spend a couple paragraphs talking about exercise and eating habits. I could talk about life balance. I could talk about the importance of getting enough sleep. All of those things matter, but I'll let you read about them somewhere else.

I'd rather talk about one of the biggest energy killers I see leaders face on a regular basis - worry. Most leaders spend countless hours worrying about all the terrible things that could happen in their business. They could lose a key person, a key customer, their building could burn down, they could get sued, they could have problems getting raw materials, and so on and so on. They're paralysed by worry and a feeling of helplessness, so they don't do anything except stress about it, and all that stress is exhausting.

The best way to fight is to get to work. You can't address all of those potential problems, and you don't have to because some of them aren't that big a deal. Write down the 5 or 10 things in your head right now that are worrying you. Then ask yourself, how likely are these things to happen? If they actually happened, how serious would it be? If they were going to happen, would we see it coming in time to do anything about it? If you really work through those questions, you'll find there are probably only 1 or 2 that require your immediate attention.

Once you know what to focus on you can put together a plan. What are you going to do to address those potential issues over the next 60 days? Break it into manageable pieces and start working on them. After 60 days see where you're at, make any necessary adjustments, and go for another 60 days.

As soon as you start actively tackling problems you'll find your energy levels increasing. You'll also find that a whole bunch of the things you're worried about won't end up happening. So quit wasting your energy on worrying and get to work making change.

Article reproduced with the kind permission of Matt Heemstra.

Matt is a director of Cain Ellsworth & Co. LLP, USA.

For over fifteen years he has worked with small and mid-size businesses, helping them to envision their future and then make it happen.

Matt heads up Growth & Profit Solutions (GPS), a division of Cain Ellsworth.