Feeling overloaded?  Doing more is not the answer

Leaders on leadership

Annie Perrin

26 April 2019

Annie Perrin, an LQ Partner, has been helping people and teams manage their energy better for more than 12 years. Here she explains why doing more is not the answer.

Imagine a world in which we all had more energy. What would you do?

At Leaders’ Quest, many of our clients tell us that today’s world of non-stop, instant connectivity means they’re struggling to respond to workplace demands.

In the first of a series of blog posts, LQ Partner Annie shares ways to think about conserving energy – and use it effectively.

With a background in dance psychotherapy, Annie’s spent a lot of time exploring trauma and resilience, and teaching high-performing people to better manage their resources.

Here are her thoughts on practices to help us stay energised, rather than depleted. The goal? To show up better for ourselves, our families, our friends and colleagues.

Energy is the foundation

Energy is the foundation of everything we do in our lives. No matter how talented we are, without energy, we just can’t perform well.

Four sources of energy fuel our ability to reach peak performance. First and foremost is physical energy. This is the foundation of the three other forms: mental, spiritual and emotional.

We show up at our best when all four work in harmony. In simple terms, think how a supportive conversation with a loved one can help lift your spirits before you head into a tricky work environment. Or how a sleep-deprived night can be detrimental to your emotional wellbeing.

The higher the demand, the greater the need for renewal

For most of us, there’s a gap between the sheer volume of demand we face, and our ability to keep up. And most of us know that trying to close this gap takes a heavy toll.

When demand goes up, our instinct is to push harder, without a break, to make a dent in our To Do list. Yet working longer hours, at greater speed is not the answer. It’s unsustainable, and leads to poor quality results, inefficiency and breakdown.

This is a quote from Mastering Leadership (William Adams and Robert Anderson) that we use with our clients:

“Today’s leaders are swimming in complexity, wanting and needing to thrive,
knowing it could be different. There has to be a better way, one that doesn’t involve working more, harder, faster.”

Athletes have taught us about the importance of renewal. They push themselves hard and then pause to recover. This rhythmic pulse between intense effort and deep recovery builds resilience – across every dimension of energy.

As someone with a keen interest in energy, the thing that really inspires me is the idea that slowing down – and pausing – is the best way to boost capacity and avoid feeling overwhelmed by work.

It seems counterintuitive! ­But actually, it’s the healthiest way to keep pace with growing demands on our time. Ignoring this critical need for rest and recovery is a sure path to injury or breakdown.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing tips on making the most of our energy – starting with our mental energy.  

The good news is that small changes have a big impact. Once we start to take control of our lives, we can move forward with greater awareness. Yes, it’s a life journey, but it’s also life-changing – for the better.