Sustaining Our Energy to Sustain Our Planet

Recently in a partnership between Leader’s Quest and The Energy Project, Annie Perrin (Partner, Leader’s Quest) and I facilitated a session with 60 of the top world leaders in climate change. These leaders were in the Bay Area for a three-day Quest looking at leadership in grassroots, government, and corporate organizations: Glide, Singularity, San Francisco AIDS Foundation, Saving the Presidio, and, to name a few.  

While the focus of these leaders’ life’s work is on the sustainability of our planet, the session Annie and I facilitated was on each person’s own personal sustainability in a world of increasing pressure, demands, and concerns for the environment.  The participants completed a self-assessment to see how they are managing their energy in four dimensions (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual).

After some individual reflection, there was a rich discussion about the challenge of managing one’s own energy when the mission to save the planet is so daunting.  Many people were also struggling with the need to care for others (parents or children) in their lives at the expense of their own self-care.

What became apparent was that in the absence of caring for ourselves, we cannot be there for others, let alone the planet.

While there was no question that this group’s sense of purpose and meaning – their spiritual energy – was a huge source of fuel for them, it is not sufficient unto itself to fuel the other three dimensions of energy.

With that awareness, the group spent time exploring ways to build in renewal throughout the day as a way to balance the expenditure of energy and to fuel sustainable high performance across all four sources of energy.

There was an acknowledgment that balancing self-care with caring for others and the planet is sometimes challenging to do.  Yet at the end of the day, the group created an extensive list of actions to take that would allow them to renew more often, enabling them to fully engage in their mission to save the planet.  Many were simple activities that could be built into their days, for example taking a walk, talking to loved ones, reading, meditating, laughing, and being in nature.

I was most struck by the increased sense of optimism in these leaders when they made the connection that caring for themselves was critical to fueling their work to save the planet.

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