There’s only so much time in a day—just twenty-four hours last I checked. And there’s no optional upgrade or booster pack available. Time is fixed. But your energy has flex.
Our energy expands or contracts through the day based on variables like rest, nutrition, and exercise. But another critical variable—and one we often forget—are the people we spend our time with.
The Effect of Peers on Our Energy
“The undeniable reality is that how well you do in life and business depends not only on what you do and how you do it . . . but also on who is doing it with you or to you,” says Dr. Henry Cloud in his new book, The Power of the Other.
Our relationships have tremendous impact on us. I’ve seen this in my own life, and I bet you have too. Some of my most significant personal and professional experiences have come through interactions with friends and peers.
What’s great about The Power of the Other is how Dr. Cloud ties this reality back to maximizing our energy. “[I]t’s not just about managing your workload and taking breaks,” he says; “it’s just as important to manage the energy sources around you.”
If we’re unaware of how our peers affect our energy, we can often find ourselves drained. Conversely, if we’re intentional, we can leverage relationships to power our way through the day.
Using Relationships for a Boost
Here are three simple steps to ensure our peers drive us forward, instead of hold us back:
- Study your energy bill. Relationships can calm us down or stress us out. But lots of times we’re simply unconscious of the effect others have on our energy levels. What would happen if we ignored our electricity bills like that?
The first thing we have to do is notice how our interactions impact us emotionally and even physically. Who enhances your energy? Who sucks you dry? Once we’re aware of how people are affecting us, we can start making informed choices about who we spend our time with.
Pursue high-voltage relationships. I try to bring positive energy into all my interactions, and I intentionally stay close to people who do the same for me—in or out of the office. This is critical for my hiring decisions. We only bring people aboard with infectious enthusiasm, who come with batteries included.
It’s also critical for my friendships. I want to hang out with people who help me grow intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.
Count the cost. We can’t avoid all draining relationships. Here’s what Dr. Cloud says about this:
Being a fruitful person, the kind of person who actually changes the world around you, means that you sometimes intentionally enter negative situations and work hard to transform them. You are not afraid of problems or “problem people,” so you can’t, nor should you try to, avoid all negativity. . . Be a change agent if possible.
But it’s also critical, he says, “to know who the drains are in your life, why you’re spending time with them, and what their impact is” (my emphasis). That why is important. It means we’re fully aware of the reason for our relationship. Some costs are worth it, but we need to count them nonetheless.
A Choice to Make
“You don’t have a choice about whether or not others have power in your life,” says Dr. Cloud. “But you do have a choice as to what kind of power others are going to have.”
And it’s a two-way street. Remember, you can get a charge from being a positive influence in the life of friends and coworkers as well. One of the best ways to have the friends and peers you want is to start being that for others.
Question: Who are the drains in your life? What can you do to minimize their effect on your productivity?