Stop being an Energy Vampire – Regaining Control

By Bob Rausch, Ph.D.

I’ve known leaders who are massive energy vampires. It was if they took pride in being disrespectful to people and enjoyed treating them badly, all the while demanding 100%. Their attitude was you should be happy you have a job. How smart is that?

There are also leaders who have become energy vampires as a result of being overworked, overwhelmed and out of control. The stress of business and personal problems created such frustration they began draining the energy of their team.

I was in the office of a client who has become an energy vampire. He has so many issues going on in his life that he feels totally out of control. And because of his frustration and anger he’s draining the energy of those around him. As he talked I could see the frustration mounting until he finally jumped up and swept his arm across his desk throwing everything onto the floor and yelling, “I’m done. I can’t do this anymore.” 

I didn’t handle his outburst with the calm demeanor of the seasoned coach that I am. I was tired of his whining and in my frustration we had, what I call a “Come to Jesus” meeting; a straightforward, tough confrontation. I informed him that he had more control than he thought and complaining sure wasn’t going to get him anywhere. He was operating as though every time there was a problem he had to solve it. And, that if he would realize how much control he really had rather than whining about what’s going on in his life things would be very different.”

Evidently that night he thought our confrontation, because the next day I received this. “I’ve made my decision. I’m tired of whining. I’m better than this. I didn’t get where I am because stuff came easy. I just need to figure out a way to take the same level of intensity to this fight as I have with other things I’ve done. I’m cheating myself. I’m better than this. I may slip but I’m done whining. I’m committed to controlling my life. ”

If you are an energy vampire and feel out of control here are a few suggestions:

  1. Stop the energy draining thinking – Get a grip on runaway thoughts. When you are stressed it’s easy to let thinking run wild. The more you process negative things the worse they get.
  2. What’s the worst that can happen – After you define the worst thing everything else can be handled.
  3. Accept that you have control – You may not believe you can say “no” but you can. Determine what is and is not necessary.
  4. Use your energy on the necessary – If you do you will actually begin refueling your supply.
  5. Focus on what you can do, not how much you need to do – The job gets as big as you let it or as big as you think it is.
  6. Express gratitude for all you have – Nothing provides more energy than showing gratitude for what you have.

Being an innovative, effective leader means realizing that you control over what you do and how you do it.

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