Managing our energy to make a difference

Leaders on leadership

Laurie Coe

13 September 2017

Laurie Coe from our partner The Energy Project, reflects on helping a group of our Future Stewards learn to look after themselves as well as the planet.

Climate experts think a lot about sustainable fuel for our planet – but how often do they notice their own energy reserves?

In May, I ran a workshop with Leaders’ Quest partner Annie Perrin to help 60 leaders on climate change address just that issue.

They were in the San Francisco Bay Area for the three-day Pathfinders Quest – part of the wider Future Stewards initiative to foster bold leadership on climate change.

While these people’s life’s work is the sustainability of our planet, we wanted to focus on their personal sustainability in a world of increasing pressure, demands, and concerns for the environment.

They completed a self-assessment to see how they are managing their energy in four dimensions – physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.

This formed the basis of a rich discussion about the challenge of managing your own energy when the mission to save the planet is so daunting. Many people were also struggling with the need to care for others in their lives (parents or children) at the expense of their self-care.

What became apparent was that if we don’t look after ourselves, we can’t be there for others, let alone the planet. While there was no question that this group’s sense of purpose– their spiritual energy – was a huge source of fuel, that isn’t enough to sustain them by itself.

With that awareness, the group explored how to build in renewal to their routines, to balance their energy expenditure and sustain high performance across all four sources of energy.

Together, they created an extensive list of actions to allow them to renew more often, enabling them to fully engage in their mission. Many were simple activities that could be built into their days, for example taking a walk, talking to loved ones, reading, meditating, laughing, and being in nature.

There was an acknowledgment that balancing self-care with caring for others and the planet is sometimes challenging. Yet I was struck by the increased sense of optimism when these leaders made the connection between managing their energy and fulfilling their mission.

After all, you can’t save the world when you’re running on empty.