People are not your most valuable resource.

Firstly, because us humans are not carbon based units of production. I am not a resource and I don’t think anyone else is either. 

Secondly, because in so many of my conversations with leaders over the last 30 years, the one thing that regularly comes up as their most precious resource isn’t cash or equipment or leadership models or tech. Important? Maybe. Most valuable? Nah.

It’s energy

Having the right quality of energy available where and when it’s needed enables leaders to be the best of themselves for the people they lead, their organisations and themselves.

For the last 20 years, together with the team at PlanetK2, I’ve been helping leaders understand their sources of energy. It’s not complicated, we all kind of know the answer and that’s not what this post is about. But just in case, us humans create physical energy for ourselves by (stunning revelation alert):

Expanding it – we have to spend it to grow it 

Consuming it – the things we eat and drink

Recovering it – through sleep and types of rest

The thing I’ve noticed is that having done the hard work in creating it, so many leaders spend it like it’s worthless. 

Several ex-partners helped me understand that you only really see the value of something when it’s gone. The only time many seem to recognise the value of their energy is when it’s also packed its bags and gone home to mother. Then we get ill, run down, burned out, unhappy or worse and we tend to sit up (if we have the energy) and take notice. 

Over the years I’ve learned how to preserve my energy so I’ve got it when I need it – which is pretty much every day. Here goes:

I severely limit the amount of time and energy I spend with people who don’t nourish me. For me, that’s subtly but importantly different from spending time with people who do nourish me. I do that too, but without doing both, it’s like running a bath with both taps on and the plug out.

I take a similar approach to the amount of time I spend thinking about people or situations that fail to nourish me or about which I can do very little. Why would I do that to myself?

I’m really conscious every day about where I’m going to spend my energy and make sure the set list of my day has some feel-good tracks, alongside the moments when I feel the need to sing the blues.  

If I notice I’m tired, I do something. I know, I’m just a crazy kid. That might mean I take a nap. It might also be putting on some music, going for a walk, calling someone whose spirit soothes me or you know, drinking some water and eating something.

BTW, WTF is with the power nap thing? If you feel less guilty about taking rest by putting the word “power” before the word “nap” then that’s cool, but when you’re power napping and I’m having a nap, we’re both doing the same thing, honey.

I have no idea how I’d do my job without treating my energy as my most precious resource.