How energy affects your resilience

In a series of wellbeing columns Karen Beaven offers advice to others in HR

In last issue’s column we looked at the concept of ‘bouncebackability’ and what it takes to get back on your feet after you have taken a knock. This issue we’re going to look at how energy fuels or detracts from your ability to do this.

You might think that the more energy you have the more resilient you will be. But that’s not always the case. The important thing here is balance, and to an extent judgement over what sources of energy you choose and how you manage external demands on your energy.

Too little energy and everything is going to feel hard. Too much energy and your output can become unstable and unpredictable. So you need to aim for a delicate state of homeostasis where you’re able to maintain stability and consciously adjust to compensate for any changes in the external environment. It is this state of balance and intelligent management of energy that will allow you to flex and bounce back when you need to.

It can be easy to fall into the trap of not taking ownership of your energy levels or getting stuck in a certain state of being. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Get comfortable with experimenting to see what boosts your energy and what drains it.

Think about the effect different people have on you. Someone once told me there are two types of people in the world: ‘radiators’ and ‘drains’. The former radiate positive energy that reflects on the people around them. The drains suck the energy from the people around them. Ask yourself: which type of person are you and what type of people do you spend the most time with?

Make a list of all of your current sources of energy and be honest with yourself about which are the healthy ones and which are not – for example energy drinks, processed food and refined sugar, all of which may be masking an underlying issue that you need to deal with.

Then look at where your energy goes and how you expend it. What are the situations currently draining your energy? Do you really need to stay in those situations and how are you replenishing the energy that is lost?

Once you are clear on those things the final step is to think about what you want to achieve. Create a compelling vision for yourself and goals that support it. Then channel your energy into activities that support your vision and that will help you achieve your goals. Limit drains on your energy by staying focused on your vision and the compelling reason you have chosen to pursue it.

Basically you need to take three steps:

1. Assess where you are now with regard to sources of energy and drains on it. Be really honest with yourself here.

2. Detox any unhealthy or unsustainable energy sources, habits or environments; switch them out or find a way to distance yourself from them.

3. Align your energy with a clear vision you want to achieve and the goals that will support you.

When you get a handle on this you can then start to think about what this might mean at team and even an organisational level. There are a few extra steps in the process at these levels, but fundamentally the model is the same.

This is important because the balance of our energy doesn’t just connect with our ability to bounce back. It underpins everything – including wellbeing, productivity, our ability to be creative and the quality of work we deliver.

This is a big deal and something that we really need to tune into if we want to achieve our true potential and enable other people and organisations to achieve theirs too.

Now go find some radiators to hang out with!

Karen Beaven is founder of the HR Entrepreneurs Network and an IVF and fertility coach

Further reading

Knowing when to pick your battles

What to do when you hit 'The Wall'

Does HR make you happy?

How to beat imposter syndrome