“Failure is more frequently from want of energy than want of capital.” – Daniel Webster
We spend a lot of time in our businesses and organizations talking about resources – conserving resources, allocating resources, etc. Most of the time if you ask people what resources they’re talking about, you hear one (or both) of the following answers: “Time” and/or “Money”.
Certainly, the amount of time we get in a day is limited to 24 hours (although, as H. Jackson Brown said, “Don’t say you don’t have enough time – You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein”). And almost none of us has unlimited amounts of money. But I would argue there is another resource that has a bigger impact on the success of leaders (and their organizations) than either of those two: Energy.
This isn’t a physical fitness blog so I’m not going to talk about how working out regularly gives you more energy (it does). Nor am I going to talk about how eating healthily and cutting out certain types of foods gives you more energy (it does). I want you to briefly think about a group of people in your life that do nothing but drain energy from you: Energy Vampires.
You know the people I’m talking about. After every encounter with one of these Vampires you go back to your desk or office and feel like you need a nap. After 5 minutes with an Energy Vampire all the ideas about which you were so passionate now just seem like work. As you read this I’m sure several faces are popping into your head.
There are four types of energy vampires:
- Interrogator – These people grill you with questions & put you on the defensive.
- Intimidator – They don’t bother asking questions, they just attack.
- Poor me (or you) – They want sympathy. Or, they think you should want sympathy because the whole world is terrible and will never get any better and we might as well all just give up.
- Aloof – They want you to make the first move. You never really know what they think or how they feel, and you burn through energy either worrying about it or trying to find out what’s going on.
It doesn’t matter which type you’re dealing with – everybody’s dealing with them. And there’s no magic formula for overcoming them (please don’t try stakes through the heart or silver bullets). But here are some general suggestions:
- Eliminate them – If at all possible, completely cut them out of your life. If you’re not required to be around them, then don’t be. Unfortunately, some Energy Vampires are relatives or co-workers that you just can’t eliminate.
- No One-on-One – If you have to be around a Vampire, use the buddy system. If you’re alone, all that negativity comes right at you. If there’s more than one of you, it gets spread around. Plus, you can work together to keep the Vampire from driving the conversation off a cliff.
- Understand & Address – There is usually a reason somebody is an Energy Vampire. How well do you know this person? Think about whether there is some kind of personal or professional issue that is causing their Vampireness (new word). At the very least, if you know what topics bring out their inner Vampire, avoid those topics.
Finally, ask yourself one question: Am I an Energy Vampire? Am I regularly doing things that drain other people’s energy? Why? And what can I do to fix it? My suggestion would be to start using different affirmations (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, see last week’s blog post). Stop being a Vampire – come out & enjoy the sun.