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Manage your energy to get more done

Elaine Froese for Progressive Dairyman Published on 28 March 2019

Farm Credit Canada’s Faith Matchett posted a tweet that caught my attention: “Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time” from Harvard Business Review October 2007 by Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy.

As a farm family coach, I hear way too many stories of farmers scrapping daily, wasting tonnes of emotional energy on drama that is draining their effectiveness to manage the farm business.

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Harvard Business Review 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?

1. 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 the emotional energy drain from too much unresolved drama on your farm is sucking away good energy that would be better invested for productivity?

2. 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 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.

3. Control your anger with 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 adrenaline drains energy and clouds your thinking.

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Stay calm and carry on. Say to 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.”

4. 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.

“Encouraging the Heart of Your Business” was 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.”

5. Slow down with great food to have regular meals while sitting down. Pausing to re-fuel 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’.

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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 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 when I eat well and lose weight, I have more energy.

6. 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 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 work day. Harvard Business Review 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 counseling for tools to change your stories and create healthy boundaries. I’m encouraged to meet more farmers who are seeing counseling as helpful to their journey.

7. Change the lenses on how you see conflict. My goal as a farm family coach is to get people 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?”

8. Take the long view. Will this matter in six months? Is this life- or morally threatening?

9. 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?

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.  end mark

Elaine Froese, CAFA, CSP, offers an online conflict dynamic profile. If you are interested in increasing your awareness of how you do conflict, go to her website to order it.

Rick Maurer has lots of free resources online.

Elaine Froese
  • Elaine Froese

  • Certified Farm Family Coach
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