Why Your Energy Determines Success

a man in a white shirt and glasses standing in front of a white wall

As always, the first thing you do at work each morning is open your to-do-list. Here’s how it reads:

  • Invoice client for following month
  • Contact a disgruntled client to provide an update on progress
  • Train staff on new policies and procedures
  • Onboard new client
  • Research, plan and rework pitch deck
  • Review legal processes and meet Lawyer to discuss
  • Exercise
  • Schedule meetings
  • Attend networking events

The list goes on, and on.

The examples above might not be entirely accurate of your situation, but the point is the work you have to power through never stops.

Looking at your to-do-list it’s easy to feel buggered before you’ve even ticked off one task.

It can be defeating and affect one of the most important attributes you have in business, your energy level.

Here’s how I define what ‘energy’ is:

Energy is the right mindset that pumps you up to help you stay focused, with the courage and persistence to drive you forward until you achieve success.

No matter what you face in business or life, whether on a daily basis or when everything around you seems to collapse, your persistence and right mindset is what keeps you moving forward.

As an added bonus, energy also exudes a positive vibe that is infectious. It is reflected in your attitude and outlook on life, which then affects the people around you, your investors, employees, suppliers and even your customers.

Going a step further, here are four descriptions of energy from well known resources:

“Energy, in physics, the capacity for doing work” – Encyclopedia Britannica

“Energy is determination and enthusiasm about doing things” – Collins Dictionary

“Energy is the power and ability to be physically and mentally active” – Cambridge Dictionary

“The capacity for vigorous activity; available power” – Dictionary.com

There’s a common theme here – energy determines your ability to succeed in business.

While it’s great to understand its meaning, it doesn’t address the reasons why your energy levels dip or identify signs you need to watch out for.

How your energy can take a beating:

Diet: It goes without saying that poor diet results in low energy. It’s ironic that when energy is low, this is the point we often grab a sweet treat to get us through, or unwind with a wine.

I’m a big fan of the thoughts and ideas discussed in the keynote presentations of Economist, Bernard Salt. I see him as a thought-leader operating at his prime and I find it interesting that he has a no-alcohol policy.

According to Salt, after one week of no drinking he felt less tired (and seemingly more energized). To me, this indicates someone who knows what it takes to perform at peak-levels and the impact poor diet plays in stopping this happening.

Recently at a networking function with a client, I was taken aback by his resolve to not drink booze while everyone else (including me) was. In fact, I even applied pressure to get him to have one.

On reflection, I realized he’d shown great strength and that I was wrong to dissuade him. I called him the following day to apologize and encourage him to continue.

While you’re allowed indulgence on occasion, too much of it forms a bad repeatable habit. Remaining aware of your eating and drinking consumptions-levels is a vital step in improving your energy.

All effort, no result: We’ve all been there in business. Working long hours pulling a customer proposal together, remaining in contact, answering their questions, amending the proposal to their feedback only to find out they’ve gone elsewhere. It’s deflating.

All that effort and what do you have to show for it? Usually low energy. When dealing with my clients, this situation is a common occurrence for a decrease in motivation. They then go after their next potential customer with lower energy because of their last experience.

While understandable, this pattern is dangerous in business. People are attracted to business operators with energy and if they don’t sense it, they will be reluctant to buy from you.

Negative customers interactions: Much like a potential customer playing hide and seek when it comes time to commit, another source of frustration (and low energy) for my clients is having negative interactions with your current customers.

They might question your value or leave you all together. Reality is, you’re going to lose a customer at some point. It will just happen and for a variety of reasons. Don’t let it affect how you operate.

Receiving a terse phone call or email can be a real energy killer, particularly if it happens early in the day.

There are many reasons and situations that will affect your energy levels while at work. As an owner, you need to identify when it’s happening and combat it before it sets in.

Signs your energy is suffering (or is soon to do so):

Here are some common signs you don’t have the energy needed to function at optimum levels (or that your energy is soon to dip):

  • You’re disengaged: It might be with a task or in your general demeanor, but work is not your focus and distractions like social media are favoured over getting the job done.
  • You’ve lost sight of what’s important: Why are you in business? If you can’t answer that because you’re too busy dealing with customers, meeting deadlines, staff training maybe you’ve forgotten what’s important to you.
  • You work long hours: This is hard not to do when you run your own thing, but eventually it will impact your energy and it will hit you like a freight-train.
  • You’re living on somebody else’s goal-plan: You didn’t enter business to be a slave, yet with customer demands it can happen. Constantly working to other people’s desires will break you, to the point where you may even consider shutting up shop. Your business was meant to be about freedom. If you don’t have it, you’re in trouble.

How to correct low energy:

Improving your diet goes without saying, so make a point to increase the foods that benefit your body and decrease the foods (and drinks) that don’t.

To supplement this, engage in physical activity. I have clients that go to kickboxing, play tennis and I love to run, ride and walk.

In fact, my day normally starts (assuming no early client meetings) with a long walk along the river to get a coffee. This is when I collect my thoughts, mentally set up my day and agree to what must be achieved with it. By the time I get back I’m caffeinated and rearing to get stuck in.

It starts my day with high energy (and the coffee helps too). Sometimes though it doesn’t last all day. Like everybody, my energy levels dip but because I practice pattern interrupt, I’m able to get back on course quickly.

According to a HuffPost article pattern interrupt is:

“A technique to change a particular thought, behavior or situation. Behavioral psychology and neuro linguistic programming use this technique to interrupt and change thought patterns and behaviors. It can be as simple as initiating a handshake or as definitive as seizing the moment to travel or fulfill your bucket list”.

So, if a situation arises that can lower your energy you need to switch it up and do something different. That often means getting out of the office, if only for a short time.

I recently introduced pattern interrupt to my clients and it’s working. A Singapore based client was having a terrible day for some of the reasons I’ve mentioned above, he called in a panic.

Nothing was going right and nothing was getting done. He told me he was hot and bothered, fuming and annoyed.

I told him to go for a swim. After some convincing, he did.

He did and it broke the pattern. He was able to recalibrate. When he came back to the office he spent less time at work, but had regained his focus and was more productive.

Pattern interrupt is a great idea for short term problems but you can’t always rush out of the office at a moments notice.

To keep my clients energy level high over the longer term, I insist that they only work in blocks of 90 days at a time. I work with them to forecast the next three months to outline what needs to be achieved and the strategy to ensure it is.

The benefits on energy levels are huge working in 90 days cycles. My clients can see the finish line as the 90 block begins, meaning there’s momentum behind it from the get-go.

At the end of the 90 days, they can reward themselves with some time off – I suggest a Friday, weekend and Monday – because they have ticked-off their achievement list they don’t feel guilty.

Energy is important in life, not just in business. Ultimately it means productivity and efficiency.

If you don’t have energy it will negatively impact you and your business.

Your business cannot grow if your energy is low. It won’t attract new interest, encourage your staff to work towards your goals and the direction of your business, led by you, will stagnate.

Your mindset, of which energy is an integral part, is the driving force behind your success in business.