FCC’s Faith Matchett posted a tweet that caught my attention “Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time” from Harvard Business Review (HBR) Oct. 2007 by Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy. Twelve years later the insights are still valuable.
As a farm family coach I hear way too many stories of farmers scrapping daily, wasting tons of emotional energy on drama that is draining their effectiveness to manage the farm business.
The HBR states, “When people are able to take more control of their emotions they can improve the quality of their energy, regardless of the external pressures they are facing.” What does your emotional intelligence look like these days?
- Be aware of how you feel. Can you express to others what you are feeling? We just lost a dear friend to cancer and the deep sadness needs to be recognized as we still have businesses to run. Do you agree that the emotional energy drain from too much unresolved drama on your farm is sucking away good energy that would be better invested for productivity?
- Choose to perform well and emote positive energy. Are you “my sunshine” or a storm cloud? Marilee Adams, author of Change Your Questions, Change Your Life is convinced that a learner mindset that takes responsibility for actions is a much happier outcome than the judger who drags others into the pit with negative behaviour. Download her practical choice map here.
- Control your anger. Do deep breathing, delaying your response if necessary. When you “fly off the handle” with swearing, yelling, or walking away from tough conversations you are embracing the “flight or fight” response and your adrenalin drains energy and clouds your thinking. Stay calm and carry on. Ask yourself, “Wow, I wonder why the other person is so upset,” then make the approach with, “I am just curious, what is going on for you, I’m here to listen.”
- Fill your farm team’s emotional bank account. This is Stephen Covey’s term for intentionally showing appreciation to others by verbally encouraging others, or giving written affirmations. There is a reason why I keep handwritten thank-you cards on my desk for months! Lack of appreciation is one of business coach Tom Hubler’s biggest reasons he sees family business transition getting stuck. When your well of positive emotions is full it is easier for negative withdrawals to not have a deep impact because there is something in the well to draw from. I have an entire presentation called “Encouraging the Heart of Your Business,” and yes, you can buy the book written by management gurus James M. Kouzes and Barry M. Posner. They created Encouraging the Heart: A Leader’s Guide to Rewarding and Recognizing Others.
- Slow down with great food to have regular meals and sit down! Pausing to refuel your body with nutritious food will keep your energy steady all day. Sitting down to connect with yourself and others will keep you self-aware regarding your energy flow and others. This is why I work hard to deliver hot meals to the field at seeding and harvest. A teenager who doesn’t understand agriculture told me yesterday that the workers should feed themselves. Have you been saying “thank you” to the food suppliers who keep your body satisfied and energized? I’ve found www.brightlineeating.com to be a great tool to help me eat well and lose weight. The result is more energy.
- Get rid of the gremlins on your back that tell you negative stories or thoughts. Letting go of “stinking thinking” will help you rise above your circumstances. When you change the story that you tell yourself you will become more hopeful and empowered. What are the morning rituals you employ that get your day off to a good start? For me, it’s oatmeal and berries for breakfast, then time in my quiet chair for Bible reading, prayer and reflection. In my office it’s entries in my daily planner journal to set the intentions for the workday. HBR says, “People can cultivate positive energy by learning to change the stories they tell themselves about the events in their lives. We teach them to tell the most hopeful stories possible.” You don’t need to label yourself as victim. You might want to seek counselling for tools to change your stories, and create healthy boundaries. I’m encouraged to meet more farmers who are seeing counselling as helpful to their journey.
- Change the lenses on how you see conflict. My goal as a farm family coach is to get folks to stop avoiding conflict and start embracing creating solutions with a respectful approach. Try to see things in reverse, I mean put yourself in the other person’s shoes. “What would the other person in this conflict say about the issue, and in what ways might this be true?”
- Take the long view. Will this matter in six months? Is this life or morally threatening?
- How can I learn and grow from this conflict? What are my emotions teaching me? How can I turn this negative energy into a positive energy flow?
Farmers love tools. The best tool I can offer to help you increase your awareness of how you do conflict is the Conflict Dynamic Profile that is done online. Go to elainefroese.com to ask me to set this up for you for $40. Eckerd College created the profile with a 9,000-person database. You’ll discover your constructive conflict behaviours, and the negative ones that need shifting. It also identifies your hot buttons. My hot buttons are people who are aloof, and those who are unreliable.
Rick Maurer has lots of free resources at energybartools.com.
Self-awareness, learning agility, influence, and communication are the four fundamental skills for success, according to Eckerd College. It’s time for farm families to manage their energy well to get more done, and be happier in the journey.