Do you have “range anxiety”?

leadership coaching Feb 06, 2020

I’m going to share something just a little embarrassing! It’s been a life lesson for me, and I trust it will help you also.

When I was younger, I found it challenging to see how far I could get on a tank of gas. I’d push the needle to empty and below, just to test the limit.   It was an easy way get that intense surge of energy that most entrepreneurs and leaders crave.

And I paid the price.  All too often, I ended up coasting down hills and sometimes driving on fumes; a few times I found myself hitching a ride to the nearest gas station.

Now I’m wiser—or like to think so! Going too far on less than a quarter tank of fuel can definitely give me “range anxiety”.

Range anxiety is a new term. It’s used to describe what electric car owners can feel. It refers to the stress experienced when there’s a real possibility of running out of power before the destination or charging station is reached.

It’s critical to know what’s in your tank

As a leader, do you test the limits? Do you compromise your energy, acting like it comes from a never-ending supply that’s right around the corner?

Without enough fuel in your tank, it’s impossible to go the distance.

You need consistent energy to achieve desired results, build productive relationships, create, build, and thrive without feeling drained or anxious.

Know the signs of running on empty

Unfortunately, you aren’t built a fuel gauge. Yet you will tend to exhibit certain signs when you are heading toward empty. Typically, these can include:

  • Lack of energy for lengthy team meetings
  • Lack of energy to do detailed work
  • Failure to listen well
  • Inability to make good decisions in challenging situations.
  • Lack of focus and passion
  • Apathy and irritability

Find your personal gas stations

You need to understand where you find your unique energy.  Your stress or “range anxiety” dissipates, when you proactively access the energy you need.

There are various sources of personal fuel. Some examples are; a collaborative or a competitive environment, time alone, focused goals, the need to be spoken to with respect, etc.

Once you’ve identified your fuel sources, try these tips for limiting range anxiety:

  1. Learn to ask for the kind of fuel you need.
  2. Be proactive. Learn to get your fuel before you show stress.
  3. Plan on getting even more fuel during difficult legs of your journey.
  4. Learn what your stress behaviours are telling you and how to read them in others. They are telling you something loud and clear. Are you listening?
  5. Learn how to quantify your energy. Measure it. Become aware and respond.

Take these actions

  • Take a moment and think about your personal fuel. What energizes you? What drains you?
  • Make a list, and be intentional about recharging on a regular basis.
  • If you have a moment, write them down and send me your list.

Leaders also need to understand that everyone is fueled differently. Don’t expect your direct reports to be energized the same way you are. This isn’t the time for guess work. The Birkman Method gives you a personal “owners manual” describing what energizes you and your team members.


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