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Feb
24
Brady Wilson

This article is the second of a Juice blog series on “fossil fuel” and personal energy in the workplace. Stay tuned for more in the series over the next few months!

Like many people, I was active in my youth…and then fell into a sedentary lifestyle in my 20s.

Then, at the age of 45, I had a wake-up call that motivated me to change my life and get active once again. And that involved running.

I wish you could have seen my first running efforts! I ran from one telephone pole to the next, completely winded, having to walk for the next two. With practice, I was able to run for two telephone poles and walk for one. Success!

Over time, my running improved and I could sustain longer distances.

Unfortunately, early on in my journey, I got injured and had to diversify my training as a result. I added swimming and cycling to eliminate some of the strain on my body. This led me to triathlons.

Several years after my wake up call, I started training for my first IRONMAN triathlon: a gruelling four-km swim, 180-km cycle and 42-km run. This was a very serious challenge for a soft man in his 50s!

I trained for a year, fitting 15-20 hours of training per week into my life. It took an incredible amount of effort but I was fuelled by renewable energy:

  • the passion of achieving something big,
  • the joy of learning and growing, and
  • the connection I had to my triathlon community.
     

Energy crisis!

My first event was the Somersault IRONMAN in Ottawa. I arrived energized that day, ready to engage in the challenge.

I completed the 4-km swim without complication, and then began the 180-km bike ride. It was challenging but doable. The renewable fuel of passion, joy and connection energized all the right things in me—and helped to keep me going.

Part-way through the running portion, I was surprised by some familiar voices: my eldest son, his wife and their three children. They had driven all the way to Ottawa to surprise me. I couldn’t have been more delighted.

This should have been a huge boost but shockingly, it wasn’t. I started thinking about my family: “I can’t let them down! I can’t disappoint them after coming all this way. I have to show my grandchildren that you never quit. Don’t. Screw. This. Up!”

Suddenly, I switched from burning clean, renewable energy to fossil fuel. I started burning:

  • the fear of failure,
  • the shame I’d experience if I failed, and
  • the over-blown obligation of being the paragon of determination.

Those fossil fuels burned hot—and while I was able to keep going for a few more kilometers, they couldn’t sustain me for the long haul.

Thirty-one kilometres into the marathon, I ended up lying on the side of the road, convulsing in shock. The medics gave me oxygen and declared I could not finish the race!

I was devastated.

Yes, I had trained hard, was committed to the cause and determined not to fail—but my energy depleted, and I crashed big time. Burning all that fossil fuel—the wrong fuel (fear, shame and obligation) had corroded my energy and fouled up my entire system. (Note: Just in case you’re wondering, my son and his family are clear that my dysfunctional response to their arrival was my issue, not theirs!)

I had been engaged, but not energized.

 

Energy in the workplace

Many managers and employees experience a very similar dynamic in today’s workplace.

Good people are engaged but not energized. Certainly, they are loyal and committed—but the fossil fuels of guilt, obligation, control, manipulation and shame that run rampant through their organization corrode their employee experience, making them feel overwhelmed and improperly fuelled.

These employees will try to do their best work—but without the renewable energy of focus, passion, autonomy, progress and meaning, they are in danger of not making it to the end of their “race.”

 

How are you fuelling your employees?

You might be wondering which fuel mix you are supplying to your employees. Is it clean, renewable fuel—or depleting fossil fuel? (For a reminder of what each fuel encompasses, read the previous article in this series.)

Look around you: you can usually tell what kind of fuel an organization is burning by the impact on the organization’s ecosystem. Burnout, stress leave, absenteeism and workplace conflict can all be signs of fossil fuel.

Making the switch from burning fossil to renewable fuel can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible.

After all, just look at me: after experiencing several additional challenges in my active lifestyle, I found myself burning an abundance of renewable fuel at the 2014 Boston Marathon—and completing one of my best times ever!

 

Want to learn more about burning clean energy in you workplace? Register for one of Juice Inc.’s upcoming webinars on the Beyond Engagement training program!


 

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Brady Wilson

Brady Wilson

Co-Founder of Juice Inc, Thought Leader & Author

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