Emerge and Spread Your Wings

Energy Savings

Am I alone in finding consistent energy a fickle, elusive state? I take the advice to eat well, exercise, get sufficient sleep and reduce my stress levels, but I frequently find myself lacking in get-up-and-go when it comes to my day ahead. One thing I have found helps me is a broader understanding of energy beyond the physical.

Early on in my parenting and work life I discovered the MBTI – the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, based on the personality theory work by Carl G Yung. This questionnaire categorises personalities into 16 types. These types consider our individual combination of personality characteristics, how we perceive the world, how we structure our world, how we react to stimuli and where we get our mental energy from. This last part has been like a key to me.

Myers Briggs Type Indicator divides personality types into:

Introvert “I like getting my energy from dealing with the ideas, pictures, memories, and reactions that are inside my head, in my inner world. I often prefer doing things alone or with one or two people I feel comfortable with. I take time to reflect so that I have a clear idea of what I’ll be doing when I decide to act. Ideas are almost solid things for me. Sometimes I like the idea of something better than the real thing.” and…

Extrovert – “I like getting my energy from active involvement in events and having a lot of different activities. I’m excited when I’m around people and I like to energize other people. I like moving into action and making things happen. I generally feel at home in the world. I often understand a problem better when I can talk out loud about it and hear what others have to say.”

Do these definitions fit people you know? While we are aware of the stereotypical images of these definitions, what is key for me is where we get our energy from – what energises us?

For Introverts (like me) we are energised by space to ourselves to internally reflect, on our own. For an introvert being with lots of people, in a busy chaotic, stimulating space is a drain on energy. (Hello! 4 kids, what was I thinking?) This means for me that I need to build space into my day to re-energise in order to function at my best.

For Extraverts energy is gained from outside activities, people, being actively involved. My recent light-bulb moment, was when my Extrovert friend said that she had been stuck in the house on her own for days and she needed to get out somewhere stimulating with people doing interesting stuff.

This understanding of energy can be a really useful concept to reflect on in our work life, and with our clients. How does your work role fit with your personality? Do you love the buzz of a busy office, brainstorming meetings, lots going on, or are you much better having in-depth conversations with clients, perhaps with some out-of-office driving time to clear your head? Maybe you working in a role that conflicts with your personality preference, and as a result finding yourself exhausted, or bored, or needing a complete contrast in your home life to recharge?

The same might be true for your clients, so being somewhat clued into their personality preference might help tailor your interventions more effectively, or for long term success. Sometimes a simple question like “if you had an hour to do any activity what would you choose to top you up?” might glean some useful understanding.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on what energises you and what drains your energy?

(A fantastic resource on parenting by personality for those of you who are mothers, is this book by Janet Penley called Motherstyles.)