“Stay away from negative people. They have a problem for every solution.” Albert Einstein
This week, our challenge is to eliminate the energy vampires from our lives. It is often said that energy is more important to your success than intelligence. None of us can afford to have energy vampires in our lives.
Energy vampires are easy to identify. They are always complaining about someone or something. They are constantly making excuses. Dale Carnegie often said, “Any fool can criticize, complain, and condemn—and most fools do.” They focus on problems and not solutions.
When someone presents a possible solution, they get excited about finding flaws. Jim Rohn described the pessimist’s life as very ugly. “A pessimist doesn’t see the sunset outside, he sees the dirt on the window.” He poked fun at the pessimist that got excited about telling you five good reasons why something won’t work. He said the pessimist is so stupid he doesn’t realize all you need is one good reason.
Attitudes, good or bad, are contagious. When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, the company was on the verge of bankruptcy. He held a staff meeting and explained the role passion would play in revitalizing the brand.
“Apple is not about making boxes for people to get their jobs done, although we do that well. Apple is about something more. Its core value is that we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better.” – Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs prized passion over all other personality traits. It was the characteristic he valued most in employees. He cultivated it. He ensured everyone understood they weren’t creating products, they were changing the world. Who wouldn’t want to shape the world? He believed that smart, passionate employees don’t need to be managed. Their passion, intelligence, and drive will guide their actions; they simply needed to understand the company’s vision.
Unfortunately, negative attitudes are more prevalent in our society than positive ones. That is why Week-12 focused on Overcoming Our Natural Tendency to be Negative. Negative is normal, but it isn’t helpful. We want to guard against negative influences. Our energy level is greatly affected by our physical and emotional state. Our physicality and psychology are inseparably linked. When I want to prime myself and generate energy, I like to do something that will get my heart racing for a couple of minutes. I keep a kettlebell in my home office for just that reason.
Next, I review my gratitude list and set my intention for the next activity. Both of these actions help me connect with my higher self. Gratitude chases away negative thoughts. It is impossible to be grateful and pessimistic at the same time. After gratitude, I set my intention. What is my desired outcome? What kind of energy do I want to bring to the activity?
Social contagion is real. We tend to mirror the behavior of those we spend our time with. If we spend our time with negative, low energy people, we will naturally begin to adopt their behaviors and attitude. This has been understood for hundreds of years. “If you live with a cripple, you will learn to limp.” Greek Philosopher Plutarch
“Say goodbye to the energy vampires in your life (the negative souls who steal your enthusiasm).” Robin Sharma
Get these energy drainers out of your life. These people only create drama and promote negativity. Tony Gaskins, motivational speaker, author and celebrity life coach says, “Evaluate the people in your life; then promote, demote, or terminate. You are the CEO of your life!” You cannot change the people around you, but you can change who you choose to be around.
“I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.” Gandhi
You should not expect to have a positive dynamic life if you surround yourself with negative people. Avoid negative people. They are toxic. They will rob you of your energy. In his international bestseller, The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy, author Jon Gordon describes these negative people as “energy vampires.”[i] He says “these people suck the life out of you and your goals and vision if you let them.”
This book is mandatory reading for many football teams like the University of Tennessee and the Jacksonville Jaguars.[ii] Mark Richt, the head football coach at the University of Georgia, requires all his players read the book. When one of his players is being an energy vampire, he puts their picture up against a huge mural he had painted in their team meeting room. If you’re a leader, this is one approach to take, but I would suggest a more enlightened approach.
No one wants to be an energy vampire. If we don’t put the effort forth to cultivate a positive attitude, a negative attitude is our default programming. It isn’t successful, but it is natural. In the absence of light, darkness fills the void. Many energy vampires aren’t aware of their poor attitude.
As leaders, we want to create a positive culture and make it clear that negativity that impacts the team’s performance isn’t acceptable. People either need to get on the bus or off the bus. Energy vampires hate the sun, so if you create a positive culture, they may choose to leave of their own accord.
Unfortunately, some energy vampires will be unwilling to change or leave. Worst case scenario, these energy vampires are leaders in your organization. In the bestselling book, Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win the authors tell the story of a company whose Chief Technology Officer, (CTO) was tearing the company apart with his negative attitude.[iii]
The company’s CEO brought the authors in to provide leadership training and consulting services. The company had recently experienced a poor product launch and was operating in the red. The CTO refused to take ownership of his performance or that of his team. His negative attitude and poor leadership were impacting multiple departments.
The authors told the CEO the majority of his team was very receptive to the concept of extreme ownership, but one key leader refused to accept any responsibility for his team’s performance. The CEO knew before he was told, that it was the CTO. He had hoped the CTO would see the benefits of taking ownership.
The CEO was reluctant to let the CTO go because he had a great deal of experience and expertise. The authors told the CEO if he wanted to improve the culture of his company, he had to make the concept of extreme ownership a company standard. They told him that when it comes to standards, it isn’t what you preach, it is what you accept that matters.
Since the CTO refused to embrace the culture that the CEO wanted for his company, he was ultimately forced to terminate the CTO’s employment. The new CTO embraced the leadership philosophy, and the company’s performance improved.
If you aren’t in a leadership position, your main recourse is to simply avoid the energy drainers. Minimize your interaction with them. When you are in their presence, make an extra effort to be positive. Overwhelm their negative energy with your positive energy. Your positive energy must be greater than all their negativity.
If you want to be more proactive; you could read The Energy Bus and then suggest it to your supervisor. After she has read it, you could ask her what she enjoyed most about the book. You could ask her if she thought you could apply any of the concepts to your companies culture.
Attitudes are contagious. Seek to be a source of positive energy. Avoid the energy drainers and surround yourself with other positive people as much as possible. Reading or listening to inspiring messages daily will assist you on your journey of living a more positive energetic life.
Motivation doesn’t last, but if you make it a daily habit, its impact will be profound. We are what we repeatedly do. We must nourish our positive energy every day if it is important to us. If cultivating a positive attitude isn’t a daily priority, it wont be a priority. It will be neglected and forgotten about. A small investment of 5-minutes repeated daily will provide hours of positivity.
I hope you will accept this week’s challenge to cultivate a more positive, vibrant and energetic attitude. Eliminating the energy vampires from your life is an important first step. The next is to become a more positive person so that your positivity will overwhelm the negativity you encounter. Learn more, Control the Spirit of Your Day with One Easy Habit.
Until next week, good luck!
Be a source of positive energy by developing the habit of cultivating it daily. Change your habits, change your life!
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Best wishes and Best Health!
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[i] Jon Gordon, The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy, Wiley; 1 edition (January 22, 2007)
[iI] Steve Megargee, “Self-help book has more teams riding ‘Energy Bus’,” Associated Press – Tuesday, September 16, 2014.
[iiI] Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win, St. Martin’s Press; First Edition (October 20, 2015) Chapter 2.