In today’s Air Force, it can often feel like our workloads never diminish and our to-do lists quickly pile up with new and ever-increasing demands.
Unforeseen jobs arise that take precedence over the tasks neatly prioritized on your Outlook calendar, often adding stress and uncertainty as they change the trajectory of how you envisioned your day, week or month unfolding. I think it’s accurate to say this type of overload happens to all of us, both in our professional and personal lives, and dealing with it can be challenging.
In my 19 years of service, I have always admired leaders that possess the fortitude to execute the everyday mission while taking on unexpected challenges and tasks with passion and confidence.
Once, while I was working on a team and our objective changed unexpectedly after weeks of work, all it took was an enthusiastic “we’ve got this!” and a couple of high fives from the team leader to alleviate frustrations and ready us for the task at hand. For a long time, I couldn’t quite put my finger on what quality made these leaders so resilient, what made them different. Over time, I’ve realized it is something intrinsic to all of us; energy and how it’s focused.
Our energy can be expressed physically, emotionally or spiritually and unlike many of the finite resources in our work centers, it is limitless. It’s no surprise that the energy emitted by just one person can influence a climate positively or negatively; I’m sure we’ve all experienced how swift and powerful that shift can be. Energetic communication and contact is infectious, and we owe it to one another to show up with selfless purpose and the positive drive to master each day. We perform best when we are surrounded by positive energy. It creates momentum and generates that buzz and excitement that can propel you and your team to new heights.
I’m a huge Tony Robbins fan and I was fortunate enough to attend one of his leadership seminars recently where he spoke on the idea that “motion equals emotion.” If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and underappreciated, stand up, put a smile on your face and focus on reclaiming your energy. That might mean jumping or jogging in place for 30 seconds, going for a quick walk, or simply getting out from behind your desk and interacting with your co-workers face-to-face. Authentic human interaction is so important for our emotional wellness and can help re-invigorate us and give us purpose when sluggishness starts to set in. If you are isolated and need a quick re-adjust, close your eyes, breathe deeply and focus on something you are grateful for, then re-approach the task. Whatever your disposition, find which methods work for you and routinely apply them.
Establishing a healthy work-life flow is possible and emotional burnout is avoidable. I believe it is more important to manage your state of energy than your time, and the more positive your focus, the more productive you will be. Remember, the energy you project can significantly inspire, uplift and ignite others around you. Next time those negative feelings start to creep in, ask yourself how you want to be perceived as a leader and allow your abundant energy to flow.