A few years ago I worked with Michael a CEO of a manufacturing business who was struggling to cope with the pressures of his job. Michael was dealing with the challenges of high turnover among his executives, low morale and confidence across his team and an economic climate that was making the job of running a profitable business especially difficult. The climate and circumstances Michael found himself in were more challenging than he had ever experienced before.
While Michael is passionate about his business, at the time I met him he was finding it difficult to even muster enough energy to go to work. Despite knowing how important it was that he be there and act to resolve issues, Michael struggled to engage. He lost focus and wasted time being indecisive over even minor operational issues. Anyone who knew how energetic and driven Michael usually was could see he had run out of steam and was struggling to keep up the pace.
Michael is just one of the many CEOs and business owners I meet whose spirit is so drained of energy they just want to give up. Many of the leaders I meet are struggling to deal with challenges while at the same time lacking the fuel they need to get them through each day. Driving change, shifting the way we think, feel and act takes energy people who have hit rock bottom struggle to muster. The only way up from the depths of exhaustion I find some people in is to focus on re-energizing their spirit.
Four key factors influence the strength of our spirit; the way we choose to think, the strength and wellbeing of our body, the positivity and health of our environments and the quality of our interactions with other people. Each has the power to energise or drain us of positive energy. Reflect on your own relationships, mind, body and environment. How does each energize or drain your spirit?
Choose positive thoughts; what you allow to go through your mind and choose to entertain impacts the way you feel. The way you feel determines the extent to which you draw or lose positive energy from your experiences. Deliberately choosing to entertain thoughts that are energizing is an important way of strengthening your spirit.
- Write a list of things you like about yourself; include your talents and best qualities.
- Read your list each morning and reflect on how your strengths will influence your success that day
- Write or talk to someone about 2 things that have gone well at the end of each day
The food you eat, rest you get and fitness you build all contribute to your physical and mental well-being. Contemplate for yourself the draining impacts of being unwell or unfit. Take steps to ensure your body has a positive impact on your mind and energizing influence on your spirit.
- Get enough sleep: most people need 7 ½ to 8 hours each night to function at full capacity.
- Give your body the fuel it needs by eating a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- Create time for exercise such as going for a walk in the morning before work
Take every opportunity to spend time in places and spaces you enjoy. If you are energized when near the sea, among trees, sitting in a vibrant city café, alone in a quiet library or in a cozy room with a view, spend time there. Strive to be wherever it is that gives you energy, as often as possible.
- Travel the long way around occasionally if it means you get to see a view you enjoy
- Slow down enough to enjoy the time you get to be in places you like
- Prioritize the time you need to visit places you enjoy
The people we interact and engage with including our friends, family, colleagues, boss, customers and associates all have the potential to energizes or drain us. How we allow people to behave toward us can have a profound impact on the strength of our spirit, health and well-being.
- Recognize the types of people who uplift your spirit and spend more time them
- Avoid being with people who drain your spirit and undermine your confidence
- Deal with issues before they escalate and become even more draining on your spirit
Each day Michael did four things; each had a profound impact on his ability to turn his life around:
- Mind: every morning Michael wrote down three reasons he was grateful for the day before and three reasons he believed today would be a success
- Body: eating well and sleeping 8 hours a night became Michaels number one priority.
- Environment: every day Michael allowed himself at least 30 minutes sitting outside or in his favourite café. His choice mostly depended on the weather.
- Relationships: once a week Michael finished work in time to pick up his two children from school.
By doing just these things Michael was able to slowly begin to rebuild the strength of his spirit and the resilience he needed to take his business forward. While he continued to face tough times, the priority Michael learned to place on nurturing his spirit meant he maintained the strength he needed to lift his team and business performance.