How to Flame Up, Not Out
Leaders flame-out because consequences come slowly.
- Neglecting your team doesn’t bite you immediately.
- Chasing urgencies – instead of priorities – seems like success for a while.
- Working long hours works for a while.
Consequences catch us around the next corner.
The law of consequence:
Habits have results. Decisions and actions eventually come home.
A series of small compromises leads to big consequences.
It might take years of unmanaged stress before your heart gives up and you flame-out, for example.
How to Flame Up, Not Out:
Manage energy, not time. (Loehr & Schwartz)
Time can’t be managed, but you can manage work-rest rations. Pour out energy and intentionally restore it.
Energy restoring tips:
- Sprint and rest. Engage in concentrated hard work for 52 minutes and take a short walk.
- Begin and end your day slowly. You can’t control everything that hits you during your day, but you can control the beginning and end. Begin your day stretching or another centering activity.
- Adopt rituals. Send a gratitude email at the end of every day, for example.
- Know who you are. Introverts find energy in quiet. Extroverts restore energy in social settings.
- Turn off technology an hour before bedtime. (No email, Facebook, or Snap Chat.)
Spend a few days noticing when you’re at your best and when you’re drained.
- When are you sharpest during the day? Are you a lark or a night owl? How will you guard and maximize your best time?
- List three things that fuel your energy. How will you do more of that?
- List three things that drain your energy. (Procrastination, for example.) How will you do less of that?
Leadership begins with you but always ends with influencing others.
Learn to manage your energy. Teach others the principles of energy management.
How might leaders restore their own energy?
The Power of Full Engagement: The Four Energy Management Principles That Drive Performance (fs.blog)
Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time (hbr.org)
You are really spot on here. I find this to be so true.
With the risk of becoming philosophical. Isn’t most stuff we do, related to managing energy and energies in different forms?
The best leadership class I have taken was a qigong-teacher class. I can’t revert to my old way of seeing it. And the more I think about it, I see parallells with leadership and martial arts (qigong,tai chi and even yoga). It’s all about managing and maintaining energy and life force.
Thanks Mats. Thanks for the lesson! 🙂
Energy is the essential for all achievement, yet there aren’t many leadership courses personal energy management. I wish you well.
How might leaders restore their own energy?
A few things I do:
-review my purpose
-go for walks
-help someone else
I’m a big believer that each leader needs to find a set of practices that work for them. And the idea of “restoring your energy” is very important.
Thanks Paul. Great suggestions. The thing I’m noticing is it’s too easy to skip a few days of personal energy management while we wait for the weekend.
It’s more about daily practices than isolated events.
Chasing priorities instead of urgencies really resonates with me; the person with the urgent problem, though, is certainly difficult to ignore, while the priorities don’t harass you for attention. I try to remember this by having a set-aside time, sunday nights, to plan my week. I keep my long term priorities visible during those planning sessions.
Thanks Leslie. Great suggestion re: Sunday nights. Rituals and patterns are stabilizing influences in life.
BTW … it’s pretty hard to ignore shiny objects. 🙂
Begin and end your day slowly. You can’t control everything that hits you during your day, but you can control the beginning and end. Begin your day stretching or another centering activity. This is so spot on. When I decided to adopt this technique my production and my health was better in all ways. I get to work early and ease into the day. At the end of the day for the last 20 minutes I do a cool down and just note what I need to look at the next day. It works and when you do this you will find your day is better run and you get more done.
All very true and valuable.
In reading this post, I couldn’t help remembering a “performance discussion” I had with a chronically underperforming employee many years ago. As our discussion concluded and we were both leaving my office, the employee said, “I think maybe I’m just burned out.” I didn’t really know how to respond to that, but later when I told my boss what the employee had said, he retorted, “Burned out? That sumbitch ain’t never caught fire, even for a little while! Burned out? Hell, he ain’t even scorched!”
That memory has stayed with me for over thirty years. I’m glad I didn’t say that to the employee in question.
I start slowly- waking up well before I need to start work. I realized jumping directly into emails/calls without self care in the morning (read the WSJ, have some coffee, review to-do list and prioritize, work-out, etc.) I find myself to be stressed and chasing fires all day! For me, setting the day the right way in the morning carries-over throughout the entire day.