It takes energy to lead. For the past two weeks we’ve been talking about nurturing, which comes naturally but which is impossible if our cup is empty. We have to cultivate a life that has a sustainable energy source. Naturally, I draw most of my metaphors for life from the movies, so let’s talk about the Avengers. They all have some sort of innate energy source — Thor’s hammer, Ironman’s arc reactor, Hulk’s rage — but the most astounding is Black Panther’s rechargeable kinetic energy suit. Every time someone strikes the suit, it absorbs and repurposes the kinetic energy of that blow, making Black Panther stronger.

Do you think it’s possible we can repurpose the charge of energy against us and use it for good? John Maxwell, author of more than 60 books on leadership, actually talks about using failure as a sort of kinetic energy charge to move forward. He also talks about the fact that many of us communicate and few connect because we lack the energy that develops as we focus on the person in front of us. It takes energy to lead and we have to recharge every day, throughout the day. Here are a few ways how to recharge our energy so we can make an effective impact on our world:

Nature recharges our kinetic energy. I’ve been taking long walks lately. Instead of listening to books and training tapes in my chair, I take it on the road with my bluetooth headset. I’ve developed a habit of reaching out to prune the dead pine needles off of low hanging branches because just touching a tree recharges my kinetic energy. Don’t have access to a tree? Keep a plant in your office that requires frequent pruning.

Food provides energy, naturally, but let’s be honest – most of us don’t each much real food. Most of us grab convenient food that’s completely dead, as far from its living source as the mind can conceive. Pursue food that’s as close to alive as possible and notice the difference in your body’s reaction.

Touch is tricky terrain to navigate in the workplace. We’ve become so paranoid about law suits that we’ve forgotten how to be human. Appropriate touch on a a hand or an occasional shoulder increases connection and kinetic energy between teammates.

Dance can actually restructure your brain, bringing not only pleasure but happiness as well. If your boss walks by your office wondering why you’re jamming to Uptown Funk, tell her that Harvard Business School told you about the neurological effects of dancing on your motivation and productivity.

Play has a substantial impact on our brains, especially high-challenge, low-risk activities that take us out of our comfort zone, like zip lining. One of the things I love about the programs we conducted at The Center for Creative Leadership is that we always included physical challenge to take people out of their comfort zones. Some would rather hike than hit the zip line, but everyone noticed a dramatic impact on their energy level and attention span.

What do you do to raise your energy level? When in doubt, put on your sneakers and just see what happens.


Photo by Autumn Goodman.