I’m guessing you’ve been there. Maybe not on an actual volcano, but, ya know, in life. You’re cruising along, making things happen. Smug smile firmly in place. You do a happy dance throwing your arms in the air. You are proud of yourself. And then you turn the corner. The fan comes on full speed and there’s no escaping.
As you head up the first hill, you start conserving energy. You realize that if you don’t slow down, you’ll never make it to the top. Burning sun frying your skin. Harsh winds blowing your feet into each other. You didn’t realize it would be this hard. That’s when you look over the side and realize it’s so dang pretty and you are so grateful for the opportunity.
You have these amazing friends cheering you on the whole way - because you were there for them. And you can walk - you’re allowed. Because who cares how fast you get there? It’s better to take your time and get to the top than to get a DNF (did not finish). One foot in front of the other, even when the wind tries to trip you. Another turn, more uphill. You’ve got this. You’re strong. You’re a fighter. This will NOT break you.
It all comes down to energy
and your awareness of it.
The amount of energy we have allows us to be full of movement and forward motion or to be still on a couch binge-watching the latest Netflix series. And we get to choose where we put our energy. Hitting the gym first thing, hitting the snooze button, getting through Mondays, getting out of bed on Thursdays, making all of our meetings, managing our teams, running errands, doing laundry, cleaning the house, learning new things, listening to the latest podcast episodes, reading books, spending time with friends, raising our families, building relationships, loving others, loving ourselves. We have to find energy to surmount our self-imposed mountains called to-do lists. The ever uphill battle of energy conservation in our fast-paced, high-speed first-world lives.
On The RobCast, a podcast by Rob Bell, in his recent Wisdom series he says, “Your growth is directly related to your awareness of the exercise of your energies. When you become more aware of the holy energies you hold, you are more careful of the battles you pick. What you give your energy to is a direct reflection of your power and engagement.”
Cue ton of bricks.
What am I giving my energy to?
Where is all my energy going?
Where does it come from?
I only started running 9 years ago. I was training for my first Half marathon while I was launching Sisarina and it helped me develop an early morning habit. To get up before dawn and pound the pavement. It helped channel my energies into something positive. It wasn’t until many years later that I realized how incredible this had been for my business, the Crew, and our clients. Those pre-dawn chats with myself or a running buddy worked through so many decisions and anxieties. It helped me stay grounded, stable. It allowed me to have energy to get through good days and bad. To get through meetings. To be creative for clients.
When I walk onto a stage for a big audience or into an office with one of my clients, I give every bit of my energy to the thing I’m in. 200%. I am focused, energized, giving, aware. I know what I need to do, what they expect of me, and how I can please the person who hired me. I know this is my purpose - to inspire humans to make intentional decisions in their businesses and their lives. To shout, to whisper, to use my entire body, to sweat profusely, to smile a lot, to be a part of them, to remind them what it means to be who they were meant to be. To wear myself out for them. Every tiny little bit of energy is drained from me when I do this - this is how I know I’m doing what I’m meant to do. But in the end, am I aware of the exercise of my energies? Am I growing from it?
“Your growth is directly related to
your awareness of the exercise of your energies.”
Yeah, that’s a different story. Growth and the awareness. What would happen if I started focusing on the awareness of the exercise of my energies - GROWTH! The ability to be fully aware in order to be effective, productive focused. Don’t they tell you to do this in yoga class? Energy flow? I basically just run myself ragged, hit a wall, fall down, pick myself back up, and do it again.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I have never analyzed my energy flow. This race gave me time to think about my energy in every aspect of my life. Stupid volcano.
I know for a fact that when I am at my best, I am creating. My energy deserves to be spent on creating. I am a creative human being. When I’m grounded and ready for creating, nothing stops me. When my clients need my creative energy, I am there! When I need to write a talk, a blog post, a workshop, or even just write things down - wait, where did Melanie go? I give everything to my clients but when I have to do something that would allow me to grow, cue Debbie Downer sounds. You feel my pain. Procrastination hits because I don’t feel like I’m worthy of my own time. …WHAT THE?!
I WANT to be creative. I want to grow. But when it comes time, there’s always something else that desires my energy more than the thing I really want to work on. I put my energy into everyone else instead of myself.
Perfect example: I’m writing this on a Monday late afternoon because I’m way overdue on it. My own deadline. I finally started writing it a week ago - then distracted myself. I was going to finish it yesterday. I was going to finish it this morning. I was going to write - and then my brain decided it didn’t want to so I put out fires. Untrue - THERE WERE NO FIRES. I just didn’t do it. Because distraction has become habit. I work on my inbox, do this thing, do that thing, look at that, think about this, come up with another of those, talk to a coworker, do a little chair dance, and do the other thing again. Hi, Monday. This is dumb. SUPER dumb.
Way back in the beginning when I was training for a Half and building all these good habits, I was also building a lot of bad ones. Working long hours, coming in to the office early and staying late, not taking lunches unless they were with potential clients, scheduling personal appointments for after hours, telling myself I can only workout at 6am because I’m too busy, being overly busy without needing to be, over-scheduling my life, blaming everyone else for my lack of time. It’s all bullsh*t. I did this to myself.
Last week, my trainer told me to come to her 7am class. I told her I couldn’t because I had to be at work at 8am. She looked at my surprised and said “Wait, don’t you own the business? Don’t you make your own hours?” I looked at her sideways - and then realized she was right. I made up my schedule AND my to do list. I had to start owning it. This business I started 7.5 years ago has changed a LOT. It’s not driven by fires and crazy requests from clients who think we’re a 24/7 emergency room, it’s the business I built because it’s the business I want with clients I love.
I have been exercising my energies without any awareness. And it was time to stop this lack of awareness. Or I would never make it to the end of this life in one piece.
Running up that ridiculous volcano, I had to learn how to conserve energy. I had to watch my breathing. I had to take notice of the pain in my legs on the crazy uphill climb. I had to allow myself to walk for small (ok, big) sections. I had to look strong on the parts I could handle, but my end goal was to make it to the top. And the awareness of the exercise of my energies was the only way it would happen.
That's where growth happens - on this uphill climb of business and life. It’s not big and scary, it’s where growth lives and thrives. I’m conserving energy, pushing when I need to, and learning how to be a better human, boss, leader, vendor, consultant, speaker, trainer, facilitator, Chief Inspiration Officer while I do it all. Being aware of our energy while ALSO exercising this energy is crucial for our growth.
As I was braving the wind and the sun, taking on that volcano, and dancing when good tunes started pumping through my headphones, I rediscovered a few lessons I’ve learned over the years in business and in life. It’s amazing how using up all your energy can produce so much more energy and ideas.
1. You're in training.
Before this race, my mom asked me when I was going to finish training. I said “Never. I'm training for life.”She was tickled by that. I overheard her telling her friend what I said and watching her beam with pride. But training for this race was tough. I had to figure out how to train to run three times in 36 hours. In the sunny evening, the middle of a cool night, and the middle of a hot day. Training for a race that doesn’t look like any other race is all about managing energy and not getting stuck in the trap of the energy suck. You have to fuel at the right times, sleep just enough, shake out your legs, and be careful not to cheer too hard.
Many of us get stuck in the trap of energy suck in every day life. Someone asks us to do something that doesn’t deserve our energy. We think we need to do this thing that doesn’t fill us up and drains us even more. So, the next time you’re asked to do something that will suck away your energy, Rob Bell gave me a great idea. Just say “I’m training.” When they ask what you're training for, answer, “Tomorrow. I’m training for life.” And see what they say! Just knowing you will forever be in training to stay aware of your energy - what a difference that will make to your growth as a human and to those around you.
2. Just keep moving.
"Stupid wind… grumble grumble." My feet kept smacking each other. Running up the diminishing shoulder of a road that winds up and up. The wind whipping so hard that I almost trip. "I have to keep moving. If I just keep going, I’ll be done.” One foot in front of the other. Slowly, painstakingly, climbing the heights of this elevation. I look over at the beauty of the sun reflecting off the ocean and think “I’m in Hawaii. Wow. This is what awe really feels like.” I was so focused on the road, on not tripping or getting hit by a car I couldn’t see the inspiring view next to me. And I would smile. Because when would I ever do THIS again?
When we’re heading up the hills, those hard painful hills, knowing the view just keeps getting better is such sweet motivation. As the elevation grows, so do you. You know how hard it was to get where you are now, so keep moving. Keep taking those steps and quit grumbling.
3. You are the average of your closest friends.
When you sign up for Ragnar Hawaii, you have to sign up as a team of 12. There are 2 vans with 6 people in each. Although you’re a part of the bigger team of 12, you are a cheerleader for the 5 other people in your van. They are your cheerleaders when you run. You eat with them, sleep in the van with them, relay to and from them, cheer them on as you drive by, leapfrog them so you can keep them motivated with your cheering, give them water, take photos of them. You are ON for 18 of the 36 hours - focused on getting them to their finish line. They are there for you when it’s your turn.
Jim Rohn says we’re the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. If this is true, you are only as good as the people in the van. And in life, you’re only as good as the people who stand with you. Who is standing with you? Look around. Are you an amazing average? Are they cheering for you? Are you cheering for them? If not, get new friends. Find new cheerleaders. You deserve to up your average.
4. Sometimes you have to look behind you.
When mixed with rain, the sun creates a rainbow. Yes, this happens a lot in Hawaii but it's a rare find in my everyday life. As I ran up the volcano, I was running with a rainbow behind me. I was so focused on where I was going that I didn’t stop and take a moment to look behind me. My teammates were standing at the top of one of the many hills and told me to turn around. More definition of the word: awesome.
We get so focused on where we’re going, we forget to look at where we’ve come from. We’re being chased by rainbows, signs of peace, signs of deliverance, signs of hope. Whatever you’ve been through, wherever you’ve come from, you are growing and moving forward. Take a moment to be thankful for what you’ve learned so far and how much it will help you get where you need to go.
5. You are here for more than yourself.
Ragnar Hawaii history was made when The Pineapple Express drove over the finish line much to the dismay of the finish-line announcer. We had a team member with heat stroke and it wasn’t looking like we were going to make it. We went into full-on panic mode and drove to the finish to find the medic, but everyone at the race was standing around waiting for their finishers. So, we took the path of least resistance. Straight down the chute to the finish. I jumped out of the van yelling at everyone to move, clearing a path for the wide berth of the 16 passenger van and we got her to safety. It wasn’t about us, it was about her. She was part of our team and it was our job to keep her safe.
Many of us think about what we want. We think about what is on our to-do list, what we have to do to get to the end of the day, and what we’re making for dinner tonight. Yes, we think about our teams and our families but we’re more focused on what we need from the world instead of what we’re giving it. Knowing we’re here for more than the daily to-do list is what helps us clear the way for others in such big ways. Giving them a wide berth to get where they need to go and finding space for them to grow. Humans aren’t meant to do things alone. We get energy from helping others. Find how you’re meant to serve.
6. Celebrate all the wins.
Running three very different legs of a really long race is all about celebrating the wins - big and tiny. Cheering every few miles for your teammates. Seeing the “one mile to go” sign. Slapping the bracelet on the next person’s wrist. Lying on the ground in a puddle of your own sweat because you made it. Drinking all the Gatorade. Eating the garlic fries. Finding a real bathroom. Putting on a fresh t-shirt and shorts. Wiping your skin with a wet-wipe. Getting a whole van bench to yourself. Finishing. You celebrate everything.
Most of us forget to celebrate anything other than anniversaries and birthdays. We get to the end of another week and TGIF, but we forget to party on a daily basis. We forget to cheer each other on, pump each other up, dance a little. All that energy we were given wasn’t meant to be used up sitting at a desk typing on a computer or hunched over in front of an phone screen. We were meant to move, to celebrate, to laugh, to smile. Celebrate something. Anything. The next cool thing that happens, create your happy dance and shimmy around the office.
-- Melanie vs the Volcano will never be forgotten. Those 5 miles will be forever burned into my soul. I am changed - as a runner and as a human. But what will I do next? I’m about to change my schedule pretty drastically (thanks to my lovely assistant and encouraging by Georgette). The biggest part: Sisa-bbatical. Yeah, you’re going to wish you had one. More soon!