At last, you say, he’s on the final letter of LIFE!

Sorry for you. But, more seriously, I have enjoyed writing these blogs amidst the doom and gloom of our beautiful, tortured country and its property market that’s in the consequent doldrums. Keeping ourselves motivated and humoured is probably more important than the energy that we throw at our work. Nothing is as sapping as a sense of duty driving us towards our goals and little saps our energy like bad news.

I’m sitting at a corporate, probably the most progressive company with which I deal. On the bleeding edge of what they do, industry leaders in their field, giving the banks a run for their money in a core competence , vertically and horizontally integrated in every sector that touches their business and doing deals, both funding and shareholding, that most of us dream of but never quite mange to achieve. Down in the workface, away from the rarefied air of top management quarters, this little poster caught my eye:

Have you ever….

Taken an extra half an hour for lunch without permission? Pulled a sickie? Cyber-slacked? Spent excessive time socializing during work hours? Taken long smoke breaks? Left work early without permission?

These types of behaviour are considered unethical use of company time, because you have been paid for time at work which wasn’t work.

As you see, the topic here was Ethics, but at the heart of much of our behaviour can also be Energy.

The physics formula for Potential Energy is: PE = MGH, where:

M = mass in kilograms
G = the acceleration due to gravity [9.8m/s2 at the surface of the earth]
H = the height in meters.
PE is the energy that an object has relative to its position. If you’re standing at the top of the stairs, you potentially have more energy than if you’re standing at the bottom.

Let me give you an example. When I wake up in the morning, it’s normally still dark outside. Once I’ve done my thing, my spaniel, Lyla, joins me for loves. Then she lies at our bedroom door because she needs to do hers and get a Dentastix. [It is supposed to keep her teeth clean, but it doesn’t and really it’s her rusk, but I think it just costs twice as much.] Anyhow, I open the door and approach the steps. In the dark, we both catch our breath at the top. My toe feels for the first step as my eyes adapt to the dim light of the street lamps and Lyla stands with me – adapting just as I am. Then I step forward and so does she…my 92kgs, 1.83m and gravity potentially accelerating me at 9.8m/s2.

Let me spare you the calculation; if I missed the next step picture, the blood and guts that would land at the bottom of the stairs. No cowboy movie stuntman could ever replicate the tumble of my wobbly little body rolling down tile-cladded stairs with such absence of aplomb that would befit an idiot who – you’ve got the idea – lost his footing on his stairs. Lyla, of course, would be completely different. With her smooth fur and short legs, she would slide and bump down each stair, but with little more than chest bruises. So there you have it, Potential Energy early in the morning in the Trevena home.

But… wait for it… later in the day something else occurs like clockwork. Lyla and her little brother, JJ the sausage dog, beg, scratch, bark and plead for their daily walk. The same Lyla who gingerly stuck her nose over the first stair that morning and waddled down with tail wagging, becomes crazy dog. Her ball becomes her focus and only a stray Hadeda can rip her away from her chase. Ball or Hadeda? – you can see her two brain cells screaming at each other. This way or that? Up or along? – if the ball had wings, the choice would be easy but squawking Hadedas are just too much distraction. She runs twice as much, gets shouted back onto the field from the direction of the dangerous road – sleek, shiny and fast – she runs up and around the cricket field.


I could close now. I have made my point.

We all have a measure of energy. Normally physical by nature, we have heard to boredom that we can improve it by eating proper food, drinking proper wine [not really J], and getting proper exercise. Throwing in some good habits improves it further. Really Guys, this stuff is true. You don’t need to Google it, just go for a walk every night after work and feel the slow, but sure difference. Not all of us can have a body like a Greek god, but we can all enjoy the fresh air and sweat of a good walk; long time before we tackle The Epic, Argus or the neighbourhood Fun Run. Get energetic at its first base and enjoy life; not just longer but with vitality. Even Lyla knows this kind of lifestyle!

There are many other energies, so let’s discuss Emotional Energy [EE]. Without perfect definition, let’s agree EE is that energy which stirs in us every morning, a resource to center our emotions for a range of realities in our lives, in which or for which we become capable to perform emotionally. With EE, we don’t lose it nor do we care less, we simply cope well psychologically. Closely linked to EE is Emotional Intelligence [EI] of Daniel Goleman fame, which is defined as: the capacity to be aware of, control and express one’s emotions and to handle interpersonal relations judiciously and empathetically [read: “well” for the last two big words]

We are often stressed and sometimes exhausted by hard days at work. Working Moms have done it all in the day – up and ready, kids ready, lunches boxed, off to work and then everything in reverse every afternoon – leave work, pick up the kids, supper, homework and bed. What a day – every day! Our emotions are sapped by the sheer speed, urgency and incessancy of it all. Identify? – of course you do. Our emotional energy often becomes “no energy, just emotion.” And Dad is not spared but let’s just simply say, he’s paying the bond and stretched like a rubber band. Like muscular energy, emotional energy needs exercising, reserves and restoration, but how?

Just for starters, the formula above deserves a look in. If EE was defined as MGH, we could say that they stand for something like this:

M = the size of the problem
G = the speed at which it’s coming
H = the height of the fall.

So, you would agree that gaining weight, from eating ice cream daily, and putting on 5 kilograms in a month cannot be compared with being told you don’t have a job, leaving at the end of the month with a three months package. Simply put, you need a whole lot more EE to cope with job-loss than to slow down on ice cream.

Therein may lie my first point. As the adage goes, Pick your battles. Sometimes we want to fight them all; same ones, same place, every day. You and I, my friend, are not built to do that. We are built far more like cheetahs than like elephants – the former runs furiously for short bursts and then rests because she has to [in fact, that rest is so crucial that if she does not, she is vulnerable right then to her predators], but an elephant can trot at pace for hours. Of course, we can do both, but we are built to cope a life time not to burst forth for a day. Many of us do and have run our lives like the latter. We’re exhausted and deplete of EE.

Juts a quick point, we all exercise our EE and do it through overcoming problems. Times of recreation, vacation, joy and happiness are very nice and they “recharge our batteries”, but it’s in the tough times of life that we really learn to cope. [I’ve just returned from the country market and we met the ladies I mention below. One of them was telling me that she lost her husband last year but 10 years ago her daughter also, to Bipolar disorder. I looked at her cheerful disposition and thought you’re going to be mentioned in this blog for sheer emotional energy and even, guts. She is an overcomer of note, loaded with emotional reserves. Of course, she was shattered in each case and felt terrible loss when her life partner also “left her”, but she’s made new friends, stayed in touch with old and keeps herself fit and hearty. If she can do it, so can we!]

Then, of course, the issue becomes, How do we exercise EE in order to build it up? To build what we could also term: Resilience?  To be “aware of, control and express” emotions, you need to be exercised in these practices but before the next time your EE and/or EI is tested, just spend some time thinking about some LIFE questions:

How much of what I have do I need?

Am I focused on urgent or important things?

When last did I take a break?

What do I expose my mind to that is uplifting and refreshing?

What do I expose my heart to that is uplifting and refreshing?

How are my key relationships?

Am I emotional or emotionally mature?

You see, emotion energy is far more difficult to give easy answers to. Physical – go for a walk each day for 20 minutes – easy. Your dogs will love you and if you do it with the family, they’ll love you too, but Emotional Energy is more complicated. For those of us with a happy, uncomplicated disposition towards life it can be done with little thought. For the other 99% of us, it may be deeper than we think.

And by the way, it’s not age related at all. At church on Sunday, two ladies [as mentioned above] walked into church. They are both over 80, have lost their husbands, and had walked about 3kms from their retirement village to church in the sunshine. They were dressed brightly with colourful sun hats and track shoes. They were chipper and energetic. Best of all, those of us who were concerned offered them lifts home. “No way!” they replied, “It’s too nice a day to ride home.” Talk about energy, that was personified in those two ladies – age is definitely not a determinant of EE.

Picking your battles, as we mentioned above, just enables all the issues to be discounted for the most important issues that need to be tackled with the EE we have available. In other words, don’t worry about everything, just worry about what’s important.

As I also understand the secret, it seems to be a combination of attitude, well-being and hope. Attitude we have discussed so often but just to remind you that a real positive attitude even learns from the “bad stuff” as well as the good stuff. Well-being admittedly has a health factor, but it certainly includes your approach to your environment, our locus of control, your expectations and your level of contentment. Finally, hope is the elixir that lifts our sights from the depths of despair to the heights of possibility. Together with others I’m sure, these three attributes make for an ability to endure where need be and to be happy and content with where we’re at. Relationships form a huge part of our potential energy, including our EE; it’s so good to give and receive support.

I have not raised spiritual energy, but it too can be the source of faith and hope in the direst of situations. “Seek peace and ensue it“, says the Good Book.

There is so much more to say on all these matters. In the rough and tough of business, the market and the country issues, take some time to consider what you need to work on to improve your reserves of emotional energy. Luck may come your way, but for the rest of us, it’s a combination of hard work and application. One thing we wish on you is contentment and gain. Be kind to yourself and give to others everything you’re able within respectful boundaries.

Remember, as an organisation, HLJ has its own persona with EE as a component. Times have been blessed and while we have much to be thankful for, we need encouragement and support in these difficult days of the marketplace. Thank you to each of you who breathe so much life into our business. We value and appreciate you.

Yours in Property.

Jack Trevena
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