As we walked into the Raleigh Convention Center to check-in for the IRONMAN 70.3, I could feel the adrenaline and excitement in the air. It was the day before the race, and the athletes were checking-in, setting up their transition areas, and it was apparent they were filled with nervous energy. But why was I filled with nervous energy too? I wasn’t even competing! Although, by the time I left that convention center about 45 minutes later, I felt like I was ready to!
Energy is contagious. All energy. Good, bad or ugly. Have you ever been in a great mood until you walked into work and the first person you encountered was extremely annoyed, and then the next one you spoke to was in a bad mood as well? Did you find your outlook getting better or worse? If I was a betting woman, I would say your mood probably followed suite to theirs, even though you may not have recognized it immediately, or at all for that matter. Or how about the opposite? Have you ever been in a place that has really high, awesome energy? Perhaps a college basketball game or professional football game. You probably found yourself with really high energy, feeling excited, even feeling a little nervous in the pit of your stomach. Energy at sporting events is usually extra contagious because of the close proximity of the mass amounts of patrons. I imagine it like the Mentos in the Diet Coke bottle experiment. The Mentos is the energy and the bottle is the arena. Pretty soon the whole contents of the bottle is exploding with energy fizz!
Being aware that energy is “contagious” is important in understanding what happens to your own feelings not only when you encounter it, but when you are the giver as well! Your energy can have a strong impact on others, even if you think you’re doing a good job of hiding your emotions. I’m the Queen of being in a terrible mood or not feeling well and still declaring that “I’m fine”. The energy we put out is far stronger than our words. Things like body language, posture, facial expressions, even the rate in which we breathe can all be unspoken signals to others about what’s going. Especially if it’s someone you have known for a long time or are close to. You can probably take one look at them and know how they’re feeling, no matter if they tell you otherwise.
As a Health Care Administrator for the past several years, I have had the opportunity to observe the impact of energy in groups firsthand. Every morning around 9am we have a staff meeting to discuss the happenings of the last 24 hours and what the group needs to know about the 24 hours ahead. The group consists of 15-17 leaders in the facility who all pack into a conference room for the approximately 15 minute-briefing. Even before the meeting starts and anyone says a word, you can feel the energy of the group. Next time you’re in a staff meeting or other gathering of folks, check-in with yourself before you become a part of the group, do it during the gathering, and again after. See how your energy changes, or how your feelings shift. Just recognizing that the group is probably affecting your energy, good or bad, is an awesome tool to have in your kit. For me, I know that I am easily affected by other’s energy (everyone varies). So, if I recognize that someone is extremely negative, and I don’t like to feel that way, I try not to spend a great deal of time with them if they are currently in that mindset. On the flip side, if I need some inspiration or positivity, I can easily surround myself with others who put off that positive vibe! Luckily, it works both ways.
As with everything these days, technology has an impact as well! We’ve all heard that the news is filled with negative stories, depressing headlines, yada yada yada. But, also pay attention to what you’re exposing your brain and energy to on social media as well. You might be thinking, “there’s no way that what I’m reading or watching is affecting my energy and/or mood. I’m way too smart for that. I just watch or scroll through that stuff for entertainment, I don’t really take it to heart.” Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. But, for me, I know that even the energy put out on social media by strangers can affect me if I surround myself with it for long enough.
I love that quote by Jim Rohn that says “you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. Look around. More importantly, feel around. Make sure you’re surrounding yourself with the energy you want in your life. Also make sure you’re giving the energy you’d want to be surrounded by as well. And if you need any inspiration or motivation, just go to the finish line of any IRONMAN event! It’s electric!