We’ve all had our share of bad days. Consider the last time you arrived at the office and you were feeling far less than “100 percent.” Maybe you arrived a few minutes later than usual, or you had a negative experience during your commute. Maybe you were experiencing unique challenges in your personal life, like a breakup or an argument with your partner. Whatever it is, you decide to shrug off whatever’s causing you stress, and you show up prepared to focus on work.
As you move through your day, you realize your colleagues have asked you if you’re okay a few times. It startles you because you’ve told yourself to put all your personal stress on hold to make it through the day. Then, as you’re discussing work-related matters during a team meeting, you realize fewer people are engaging directly with you. Their feedback is more brief, they choose their words more carefully, and they’re avoiding eye contact with you. You wonder, what seems to be the problem?
Most likely, your colleagues picked up on your energy. They may have read your facial expression as upset, interpreted your body language as standoffish, or realized that your tone of voice was more abrupt than usual.
Every day when we show up for work, we bring with us the total complexity of our lives.
We might tell ourselves to “check our attitudes at the door,” but in reality, there are so many factors that influence the energy we have when we enter the building or log on virtually. In conscious leadership, we gain a deeper understanding of the different kinds of energy we have when working or interacting with others. The practice shows us how we relate to others, what impact it makes, and how we can shift course for the better of everyone.
Exploring Conscious Leadership: Part Four
The conscious leadership model encourages us to be mindful of our thoughts, emotions, actions, choices, and overall presence. It shows us that we, as individuals, have a responsibility with how we show up for others. That’s because organizations who empower their team to prioritize themselves and their colleagues as people – as opposed to titles and counterparts – perform better, last longer, and inspire more satisfaction and pride in their staff.
There are four principles of Conscious Leadership:
- Suspending judgment
- True vs. Truth
- Energetic responsibility
We go into detail about the first three principles of Conscious Leadership in these articles: “The Connection Between Our Thoughts, Emotions, and Actions,” “How to Suspend Judgment,” and “Identifying What’s Truth and What’s the Truth.”
In this article, we take a closer look at the fourth principle.
Catabolic and Anabolic Energy
There are two types of physiological processes that occur in the body: catabolic and anabolic. Catabolic energy wears you out and releases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Anabolic builds you up and releases energy-producing chemicals.
Both forms of energy have a specific use, and neither is inherently good or bad.
In the workplace, catabolic energy can be rather destructive. Its most commonly understood occurrence is “fight-or-flight” scenarios, in which a rush of adrenaline either causes you to act upon a major event or flee from the potential dangers of an event. Catabolic energy can, literally, save you in the appropriate situation – but it’s not sustainable energy for your body. Stress certainly occurs at work, and while this can be useful at times, it’s exhausting for the body to maintain for long periods of time.
Anabolic energy is the opposite of destructive: It contributes to building, innovation, construction, and healing. You experience it in a good workflow, when you make your way through your to-do list, when you collaborate with your team to generate ideas, and when you take pride in your work. Anabolic energy is positive, peaceful, and productive.
Recall the scenario at the beginning of this article: You arrived at work, weighed down with personal stress, and your colleagues immediately picked up on it. It affected your entire day. Catabolic energy was flowing through you, and others were able to notice without having to diagnose it. When we’re overwhelmed with this kind of energy, we might think we have control over it, but usually, we don’t.
The 7 Levels of Energy
Within these two forms of energy, we can break down a total of seven different levels. Each of these has a mix of catabolic (destructive) and anabolic (constructive) energy. Likewise, each level offers key perspectives, tendencies, advantages, and disadvantages. Here’s a brief description of each level:
- Level 1
- Mindset: “I lose.”
- Composition: 100 percent catabolic energy
- Level 2
- Mindset: “I win, you lose.”
- Composition: 80 percent catabolic energy
- Level 3
- Mindset: “I win, if you win too, great.”
- Composition: 60 percent anabolic energy
- Level 4
- Mindset: “You win.”
- Composition: 70 percent anabolic energy
- Level 5
- Mindset: “We both win.”
- Composition: 80 percent anabolic energy
- Level 6
- Mindset: “Everyone always wins.”
- Composition: 90 percent anabolic energy
- Level 7
- Mindset: “Winning and losing are illusions.”
- Composition: 100 percent anabolic energy
We use the seven levels of energy as a way to understand ourselves and others in any given scenario. They help us consider what we’re contributing to, or taking away from, a situation, and they serve as a barometer for how we’re showing up. Ultimately, understanding our energy improves the way we manage ourselves.
We all have a bad day from time to time. But we can all choose what we do with our energy so we can contribute, build, and collaborate when we’re at work. Keep these insights in mind as you move through your day. You’ll start to fine-tune your awareness at the office, at home, while you’re running errands, and when you’re spending time with others.