A successful company depends on successful employees, and successful employees depend on successful engagement. When an employee isn’t engaged, they’re minimizing their company’s potential by not maximizing their own. When engagement is down, employers falsely jump to external solutions; social gatherings, swag bags, and office arcades are superficial bandages and not long-term solutions. This is where award-winning career coach, author, motivational speaker, and small business owner Linda Binns can help. After years in the corporate world, Binns established her own energy consulting business that helps professionals maximize their productivity, satisfaction, and potential, not only in the workplace but also in life.
Binns’ professional life wasn’t always successful. Often feeling inadequate, Binns struggled to find her flow. By tapping into her intuitive nature and determined work ethic, she was able to boost her energy and her confidence at work. She noticed that the more she improved her personal life, the more she also improved her professional life.
“I always tell people what you think is the problem is never the problem,” said Binns in a podcast we did together. Part of the problem, Binns pointed out, is that humans are always looking for quick solutions. When they don’t find them, they freeze or give up or push back; they don’t work harder. In a world where everything from a meal to a mortgage to a mood change is a quick click away, many professionals are conditioned to expect quick-click results in all aspects of their lives, especially in their careers.
“What does work,” Binns advised, “is you just walk away from it. You stop. You focus on something else, and then you come back to it, and it’s amazing how easily the answer will come.” The most difficult part of this is the coming back part. It’s easy to walk away from a problem, but it’s difficult to come back to it and to try again. For Binns, resolving problems and boosting energy at work starts will self-awareness. This means knowing what’s personally and professionally important, regardless of what others may think.
Self-awareness begins with what Binns calls the “inner guidance system,” which tells us what we’re feeling and, most important, why. We often don’t pay attention to it; when we do, especially when our feelings are negative, we ignore it. “If you ignore it,” warned Binns, “[a small problem] has the potential to build and build and build until it can become something that is all out of proportion to the thing that triggered it in the first place.”
Binns suggests that professionals develop habits that enable them to regularly check in with themselves to identify those smaller triggers before they accumulate. This made me think of morning pages from The Artist’s Way at Work, which I do when I’m feeling like I’ve hit a professional roadblock. I’ll write for twenty minutes each morning to sort through my thoughts. “Once you start writing,” said Binns, “things can come out in the writing that you weren’t even aware of.” For those who don’t enjoy writing, speaking into a recorder or venting to a friend is also helpful. “Whatever it is,” Binns advised, “you first try to get it out of your mind and also your body, and then that brings some clarity so that you can start looking for and being open to solutions and ways that you can move forward.”
I ended my interview with Binns by asking her about something that’s at the forefront of my professional engagement and happiness, and that’s work-life balance. “I think we have this ideal there,” said Binns, “There’s this thing called work-life balance, and it should look a certain way. But it’s going to be different for every person. So I think, again, it comes back to knowing what it is that you really want and knowing what’s most important to you.” This is particularly important for employers to recognize. If an employee is disengaged, an employer should never assume that there’s a one-size-fits-all solution.
All of this takes time, and taking time to resolve internal issues often seems less productive than putting that time into external productivity. “I always look at managing energy rather than time,” said Binns. “If you understand what is important to you, and you understand what feeds your energy and what drains your energy, what feels good to you and what doesn’t, what you would find is that if you manage your energy, and you can accomplish your task based on the energy management system, you will accomplish so much more.”
You can listen to my podcast Bringing Energy to the Workplace to hear more from Linda Binns about employee engagement and happiness.