Energy Drains- Blog Response

The following is a response to a blog posting by an excellent entrepreneur, David Cummings. His posts are insightful and this particular one is applicable to a primary weakness that entrepreneurs struggle with.


Solving One Problem Magnifies Another


My response:

Another excellent topic!!

Solving problems is what the entrepreneurial CEO position does. You provide the vision, lead the development of the strategies to execute the vision, provide resources and solve problems so your team can execute. I chat with many entrepreneurs and when they start complaining about all the problems, then we discuss assessing their best role in the company.


I call these problems “energy drains” since they are typically dwelling around in your mind sucking out mental energy that could be best applied elsewhere. My approach is to document all of the problems, prioritize their importance and develop a plan (with timeline) to eliminate or mitigate the energy drain. As part of my daily planning, I reviewed my energy drains list (I use mind maps to make it easy to manage) and determined my action for the day regarding that energy drain.

As an example….as the organization grows, you find that most of your “energy drains” are people. You are fretting about your CXO doing the right things, being overwhelmed, distracted, unable to execute, misaligned to your culture, etc. You hope that by putting off the issue, then a miracle will occur and he/she will resume appropriate execution and your problem goes away. However, this seldom happens without candid leadership. As part of my plan to eliminate the energy drain, I would have a candid chat with the person, let them know they are currently on my energy drain list and why I “feel” that they are. Collaboratively, the issue is discussed and resolution is sought.  I challenged myself to eliminate people related energy drains within a week. Some of these conversations are tough and require leadership and finesse to make them productive. However, avoiding the issue does not help a fast growth company prosper.

By documenting (which requires intellectualizing) the problem, then solutions can become more apparent and the criticality of the issue is prioritized. There can be many problems, so you want to address the ones that matter the most. Just solving the easy problems doesn’t make the business healthy.




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