Are you an energy thief? - Michelle Gibbings

The last couple of weeks in the southern Australian states have been hot – very hot, and as I was sitting and sweltering in the shade the other day it got me thinking about energy.  But energy of a different kind.

Not the energy that powers our lights, electrical equipment and the like, rather our internal energy.

The energy we generate ourselves.

We get up every day and there is only so much energy we have in each day – both physical and mental.  It’s not an unlimited resource.

Just as we heed advice on how to conserve our consumption of energy as the temperature soars, it’s worth considering how we use our energy and how our behaviour and action impacts other people’s energy.

We can easily waste our own energy, and perhaps worst, waste other people’s energy.

Ask yourself – Are you an energy thief?

You may be one, and you may also have energy thieves in your life.

An energy thief saps you of energy.  They drain your focus.  Waste your time and can throw you off track.

An energy thief shows up in a number of different ways.  They may:

  • Solely focus on their needs – showing little or no interest in the needs of others
  • Be constantly wanting people to do things for them – demanding attention and support – whilst not offering to ever help others
  • Being unappreciative of the help and advice those around them provide
  • Show little respect for time – their time or the time of others.  They’ll be late, disorganised and expect other people to do things for them that they could do themselves
  • Always focus on the negative aspects of life and seek to drag others down

As the brilliant Oprah Winfrey said: You are responsible for the energy that you create for yourself, and you’re responsible for the energy that you bring to others.

If you are the energy thief, then it’s worth thinking about the steps you can take to refocus your thought processes and actions.

If you have energy thieves around you, it’s not simply the case of walking away from the relationship.  The person may really need your help and support, and it’s important to be compassionate.  And let’s be honest – we all have bad days when we need to unload on someone!

It’s about finding the balance.

To manage your energy, consider:

  • How you use your time
  • How you use the time of others
  • How you can best help and support those around you
  • Have you can create space in your day for reflection and time-out
  • If there are unproductive habits that are impeding your energy use, and if so, what you may need to change
  • The impact other people have on your energy levels, and how to better manage
  • How to balance the time you spend with people who lift you up (and do the opposite)

It’s worth also checking out this article by Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy.  It’s been around for a while, but it’s still worth a read (or a re-read).

So what energy saving practices are you going to put in place?  I’d love to hear your ideas.

Get ready for tomorrow, today.

Michelle Gibbings is a change leadership and career expert and founder of Change Meridian.  Michelle works with global leaders and teams to help them get fit for the future of work. She is the Author of ‘Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work’ and ‘Career Leap: How to Reinvent and Liberate your Career’. For more information: or contact