How Leaders Increase Their Personal Energy

I recently posted an article tha dealt with ways leaders create energy in their organizations through their beliefs and behaviors. This article deals with how leaders sustain and increase their personal energy. In our discussions, leaders divided energy into two dimensions - external and internal. The external dimension is what's seen - what's perceived by others through behavior.

Internal energy is what occurs as a result of internal attitudes, values and beliefs - elements like optimism, curiosity, sense of self, opportunities. Many highly successful, highly energetic people don't appear energetic in the external, Energizer Bunny, kind of way. But what they possess is the kind of internal energy that keeps them moving and asking and discovering and recharging their batteries through action. Most leaders we talked to agreed that part of high energy, both internal and external, is probably genetic - some people's motors just run faster. But having said that, they all said the biggest elements of energy creation and renewal are passion, commitment, focus and accomplishment.

Many of the leaders we talked to used exercising as an example of how the two dimensions of energy work with - or against - each other. They described times they forced themselves to exercise even though they were angry, or frustrated, or disappointed. The effect of forcing themselves to meet their commitment to themselves lifted them up, and renewed their energy. They were proud that they fought through the negative emotions to do what they had committed to do.

And even though their level of performance may have initially suffered because of the negative emotions, the action of keeping a commitment energized them - internally and externally. As one leader joked about exercise " It feels so good when I'm finished." Leaders increase personal energy by pressing on, even when obstacles and emotions would make it easy to stop, pull back, defer. Action creates energy.

Leaders create and renew energy through accomplishment. The saying " Nothing succeeds like success" is so true - at all levels. And it's not just personal accomplishment that creates energy - it's accomplishment at the organizational, individual, workgroup and family level. Leaders look for accomplishment as a means of sustaining and growing their energy, as well as the energy of others. Leaders take inspiration from the pleasure and achievement of others.

They know there's plenty for everybody. Leaders say breaking out - doing something they've never done before, can be terrifying, exhilarating, but always energizing. It doesn't have to be climbing Everest - it can be much more down to earth.

The important thing is that it's new - new sports, new places, new physical challenges, new mental challenges. As one former teacher put it - "the only difference between a rut and a grave is a rut's longer." Ruts don't create energy - they pull it down at all levels.

Leaders like to travel to new places that test their assumptions. Going to a place where they're not in a position of leadership, where the language is different, the food is different, the culture is different, and observing and embracing it without comparison, is a great way to feel more alive - more energetic. Leaders create effective, productive routines for the day to day things they need to do. They know weaving the important things into day to day routines is liberating.

The fewer exceptional efforts required to complete the day - to - days, the more energy available for the creative, new, challenging, accomplishment - directed things. Leaders find sources of inspiration - and are energized by them. Challenges in their enterprises, biographies of people that have overcome challenges, self help and motivation books, music, poetry, speeches, seminars, relationships with successful people, all add energy. Leaders find a way to give and give back.

They give their talent, their energy, their passion, their experience to others, and are energized by the experience. Thry give without calculating or expecting a return. And they're richer for it - renewed energy is just one of the rewards. Leaders treasure small victories - they know they lead to big victories.

Small victories, well celebrated, have an enormous impact on energy. And there are so many more of them than just waiting for the few big victories. It goes without saying that the big victories really get celebrated. Finally, leaders cultivate optimism - in themselves and in others.

They start each day with the belief that soemthing special is gonna happen - if they make it happen. And leaders use that optimism to think the best of others - they know negative expectations of others results in low energy . Leaders we talked to offered many more ways they sustain and develop their personal energy. No single person does all of them. But they all agreed action is the basis for energy. While on the surface it might appear that action takes energy away, in reality it's the exact opposite.

Effective action adds energy. Your personal energy is a critical part of your success. Without a high level of both internal and external energy success is hard to find. Use the methods described in this article to help you create and sustain your own high level of energy. Act - today.

Andy Cox is President of Cox Consulting Group LLC. He founded his firm in 1995 after extensive experience in leadership positions in Fortune 500 corporations. His focus is on helping clients select, develop, retain and enhance the performance of leaders and emerging leaders. He can be reached at . Visit his blog at


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