Energy to Thrive

December 11, 2023by Carina Furlong0

Last weekend I was on my usual run with ifit trainer Max Robinson.

I am currently completing an ifit programme virtually exploring some of the stunning locations in Kenya. The programme is designed to build power and strength. He always arrives with a ‘Jambo’  welcome which is a Kenyan greeting for a ‘how are you’ message. How are you showing up today. During the session as we slowly began to warm up he shared ‘this is where you find your rhythm like Kenyan running – running from the soul’. Kenyans are known to be the fastest marathoners in the world and they always start with a slow schuffle before they pick up the pace. And on the wind down when we were in recovery mode he shares ‘treat yourself don’t cheat yourself’. Use this time to slow down and absorb the work your body has done and readjust.

The key messages got me thinking of a session l delivered with a client organisaton around resilience and performance. After the session many participants shared what resonated most was around the concept of managing your energy.

I was sharing Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy’s (HBR) work on energy and the four zones we toggle with- Performance, Refill, Survival, Flat zone. And the mix of energy between these zones- high energy, positive energy, low energy, negative energy.

In this piece of Tony Schwartz maintains that at any given time we are operating in one of four emotional states or zones. We can control it, but first we need to be aware of how we feel. I like to refer to this as intentionally checking in with ourselves.

Performance Zone

You have a lot of good quality energy. You’re quite calm and optimistic. You’re challenged yet invigorated. You’re highly engaged.

Recovery Zone

This is still a positive energy state-there’s just not as much of it. You’re refilling yourself. You’re relieved and very open and receptive.

Survival Zone

You may have energy left to draw from, but it’s negative. You’re just trying to survive or get through the day or week ahead. You can find yourself feeling impatient and frustrated. Your best self is not available and you can be very reactionary.

Flat zone (Burnout Zone)

This is what happens if you get stuck in survival zone on a loop. You’re exhausted and drained. Things look hopeless, and you see no light. None of us want to go there. It’s where we are least resilient.

What is key here is to bring intentional awareness at any given time to what zone are we in and what are our needs within that zone. Often when we have been in performance zone and then we move to recovery zone our body and mind do not necessarily compute this message and thinks we still need to be in performance zone. Can you think of a time after an incredibly hectic week when you finished a huge piece of work or project and the following week you found it challenging not to invest the same pace or to wind down and recover.? Almost like feeling guilty because you are not working as hard as you did the week before and can’t relax or unwind. I personally can think of many occasions where this shown up for me.

Like Max shared during my ifit session- to go the length you need to know your pace and connect to ‘soulful running’. Running at your own pace. Knowing when you need to toggle to the recovery zone and refill yourself with activities that give you energy. Know when to find your rhythm, ramp up, ramp down and recover.

I would like to leave you with two questions. What do each of these zones mean for you? How do you fill your cup or top up your energy. ?

Carina Furlong

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