The Secret to More Energy Isn't What You Think

Happy business coworkers celebrating

Happy business coworkers celebrating

You probably have some go-to strategies for when you need more energy, from listening to upbeat songs to squeezing in an extra workout to hitting your favorite coffee shop.  

Have you thought, though, about the energy you surround yourself with? The people we're around regularly have a huge effect on whether we feel lively and productive or depleted and crabby.

Researchers Rob Cross and Robert J. Thomas study how people succeed or fail based on their networks. They’ve found that "if those around you are enthusiastic, authentic, and generous, you will be, too. … Energizers bring out the best in everyone around them, and our data show that having them in your network is a strong predictor of success over time."

But Cross and Thomas also warn of de-energizers: "And our own research suggests that roughly 90% of anxiety at work is created by 5% of one’s network—the people who sap energy."

That's why I recommend taking an "energy audit" of the people in your life. Ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Who are the people you spend the most time around?

  2. How does each person on that list affect your energy? Do you feel more energy or less after spending time with your boss (for example)? Or is she more of a neutral person?

  3. What cumulative impact do these people have on your energy? Do the energizers counteract the energy drainers, or do you have an energy deficit?

With the results of your audit, you might decide to take one or both of the following actions to give yourself more energy.

  1. Distance yourself from de-energizers. This has been a major change in my own life, especially during key periods where I know I need to maintain as much energy as I can. I've gotten a lot more selective about who's in my inner circle.

  2. If you can't escape from someone who drains your energy, develop strategies for dealing with that person to protect and replenish your energy. If, for example, you have a colleague who's always negative, accept that she isn't capable of showing up with positivity. Knowing that, how do you want to engage with her? Can you limit your time with her or put a stop to her habit of swinging by your office every afternoon to complain? (This blog has some good strategies for dealing with a complainer.) What can you do before or after seeing this person to replace the energy she takes from you?

This week, pay attention to how others fuel or drain your energy. Surrounding yourself with people who bring out your best is key to your success. The small changes we've talked about here minimize the effects of the people who drag you down – and free up time to spend with people who fire you up.

I'll be speaking on how to get more energy on May 11 at a luncheon presented by the Plano Chamber of Commerce Women's Division. You can find additional tips in "Staying Engaged" and "Building a Powerful Network," two titles in my Leadership EDGE SeriesSM.