Maintaining energy and passion

Being an innovator can be challenging. In charting new territories, we may encounter hurdles and push back. Here we share some thoughts on keeping our energy up through the highs and the lows.

Quick Summary

What helps:

  • Surround yourself by people and things that give energy
  • Use humour
  • Feel connected to what you do
  • Do things differently – get creative!
  • Practice self care
  • Celebrate other people’s achievements or strengths

What hinders:

  • Sweat the small stuff
  • Take things too seriously or personally. Allow yourself to move on
  • Lose energy to things you can’t change

Shane Phillips, Lake Cargelligo Community Connector reflects:

What helps

Surround yourself by people and things that give you the energy
Understand who gives you positive energy and recharges your passion. Reach out to them when you need a boost to continue your work.

Also, remember what makes worthwhile to come to work — and do more of that!

Use humour
Having a laugh, even in the though points of the work can release the tension and support us to cope with moments of adversity.


Feel connected to what you do

Finding the intrinsic motivation for what you are doing creates connection to the work and gives you the energy to keep going. When the energy dips, find ways to reconnect. For example, spend time with the people your work is intended to support.

“The end result of what we did was the mural, the kids got to own it and hang around. But if you would hang around when they were building it, you could feel the vibe. It was not about the mural, it was about young people feeling that they mattered.” –Shane Phillips, Lake Cargelligo Community Connector

Do things differently – get creative!
Look for new ways to do things differently. Take the time to prepare creative and participatory ways of working with people. Don’t be afraid to use games and different ways of storytelling.  

Take the time to prepare the sessions and build relationships with the people that you will be working with.

For example, Shane Phillips from Lake Cargelligo shared following approaches that they used with students in high school. To achieve the outcome she describes, they prepared fun questions, facilitated active sessions and had lollies for participants.

“We got a lot from them and we had them focused all the time.” – Shane Phillips


Practice self care
It’s important to take care of yourself when your work involves giving time and energy to others. Find ways within and outside work to take care of yourself – mentally, physically and spiritually.

Celebrate other people’s achievements or strengths
Notice the changes and the wins – even the small ones! Validating other people’s work gives them the energy to keep on going. Celebrating other people’s achievements and strengths shares the energy and passion. And when you are deep in your work, other people’s observations are very refreshing.

“For example you (Joli and Ingrid – TACSI) coming to the NAIDOC ball, that gave me a lot of energy.” – Shane Phillips

“Kids at school use the following example: filling other’s buckets and not emptying them, you feel better if you fill other people’s buckets” – Shane Phillips


What hinders

Don’t sweat the small stuff
Reflect on why it didn’t work, but avoid getting stuck in criticising yourself or over-analysis. Reflect on what you need to learn and continue moving forward.

It can take time to build failure muscles and the resilience to feel comfortable in the inevitable discomfort of failure. Not everyone is ready to talk openly about their own failings, or is skilled enough to stand back and do an honest appraisal. Many workplaces and sectors don’t have a culture that facilitates honest reflection without limiting one’s career prospects in the process. A tight-knit ‘Fail Club’ can be a great way to develop the resilience and reflective capabilities we need to fail well, in a safe space.

“We got a knock-back, so what? what now?” – Shane Phillips


Don’t take things overly seriously or personal. Allow yourself to move on.

You will always have moments where you leave with your hands up in the air. Don’t let frustration or cynicism become your driving force. These type of reactions become negative energy, rather than positive, and negative energy is harder to carry. Reflect on “why does this matter?” and make a decision on how to progress from there.

Don’t lose energy to things you can’t change
You can’t change others, but you can change the way you approach them or the way you ask for things. Accept if you are wrong and play on your strengths; go with the energy and willingness to change.

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” – Reinhold Niebuhr



Related capabilities

  • Continuous learning and curiosity: following the idea that “you never know enough” gives you the energy to keep on exploring and learning. This can be a key source to maintain energy and passion
  • Catalysing change through the right partnerships: being real and building trust, this is a way to give people energy and passion. It is about the personal investment from others.
  • Self awareness: reflecting on what gives you energy and what takes it away is helpful in both sustaining and increasing our energy when needed