Lead with energy by mastering your transitions

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Daily leadership is busy. Managing a team of people, and generating top performance creates busy and hectic days of work. Daily kick-off meetings, followed by conference calls, unplanned emergencies, minor personal issues and emails all demand your attention. Calendars now work in blocks of 5 minutes, instead of 1 hour.

During especially busy times, with lots of different projects reaching a climax, this can become draining. Your ability to really focus on one thing at a time becomes limited. You realise that you are having a conversation with one of your team, while you are thinking about something else and answering another completely unrelated email all at the same time. When this happens, you are performing at 50%. Whenever you attempt to multi-task in this way, you are actually just completing multiple tasks in a sub-standard way.

However, this isn’t the most damaging part. Leading in this way isn’t leading. Leading in this way is managing. As a leader your role is to be present, focused and composed. When you lack the mental presence in front of your team, you become more distant and less of a leading figure. Maintaining a presence and focus when days are so busy and so varied may seem hard, if not impossible. However, the amount, and variation, of the tasks may actually work to your advantage.

Every time you change from one activity to the next, you have an opportunity to re-set and re-establish your focus. Leading performance coach, Brendon Burchard, calls these moments transitions. I’m here to tell you that making the most, and mastering, these transitions could be the most impactful thing you do this year.

For the past 3 months, during an especially busy period of work, I have been working hard of mastering my transitions. The positive impact this work has had on me has been remarkable. I can summarise them in 3 simple words.

Energy – I now have far more energy throughout the day, and hardly ever burn out towards the end. My mental stamina has increased by almost 50%.

Clarity – I have almost eliminated brain fog. This means that when I’m in meetings, or having a conversation I’m far more present and focused. I’m able to listen better and give more considered and meaningful input.

Composure – I value composure more highly than anything else, so I work hard to stay composed as much as possible, and mastering my transitions has helped me improve even more. I’m far less impacted by stressful situations, and am even more level-headed.

So how can you begin to master your transitions?

Brendon Burchard recommend a technique he calls “Release tension, set intention”. This involves taking yourself to one side before starting a new activity, and doing a small meditation technique. Close your eyes, try to relax the muscles in your head, neck and shoulders and repeat the word ‘release’ in your mind over and over for about 2 minutes. Following this, spend 1 minute thinking about the activity you’re about to start, and decide what energy and attitude you want to bring to that activity.

This may sound too elaborate to do every time you start a new exercise – at least that’s what I have found. However, this is a great practice for the beginning of your work day, and when you finish work and get home to spend time with your family and loved ones.

During the work day itself, I tend to do a shortened version of it, and make sure I take at least 1 minute to reflect on the next activity before heading into it. The idea here is to prevent you from drifting from one thing to another without being fully present at all.

However you decide to go about it, it’s important to notice how focused and present you are as a leader. The very best leaders make their team feel like they are the only people in the room when they’re talking to them – this is pure presence.

So the next time you get home after a busy day, truly ask yourself, in those big moments today, “How present was I really? Could I have been more focused? Could I have been more deliberate in setting my intention for that activity?”. If the answer is yes, then you need to work on your transitions.