"Everything is Energy and that is all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you can not help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics"
The energy that you have every day and in any situation can be categorized into anabolic and catabolic. The best way to explain them is through examples:
Think about someone in your team, a leader, or manager that his/her energy totally destroys your motivation in a project or work, it drains your energy to do something or even to show up at work. They see problems everywhere, blaming others, in conflict, they are in crisis mode all the time, seeing the worst in every situation. They feel that they need to command and control anything and everyone. Typically, they are very defensive and always need to be right. They put their needs before others and rarely give credit to anyone else. These people experience catabolic energy.
Now, think about someone in your team, a leader, or manager that his/her energy totally energizes you, makes you feel good, engages you, and you do anything to help because you feel inspired and motivated, you look forward to work. They are high performers that inspire collaboration, when a crisis or challenge arises they will move to resolve it confidently and tactfully, responding instead of reacting to their emotions. In meetings they are in “solution mode,” very intentional looking at all possibilities and what can they learn from any setbacks. These people experience anabolic energy.
So, where this energy is coming from?
When the mind perceives a threat, anabolic hormones, such as testosterone, decrease, while the catabolic hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline increase. The increase in catabolic hormones serves a short-term purpose by creating enough physical energy to meet the stressor.1
It is a “fight or flight” reaction that is natural to human beings.
Flight occurs when you believe you have no course of action that will bring a positive outcome. In the corporate arena, flight can be seen in avoidance of difficult issues, indecision, and lack of initiative – all resulting from feeling helpless to be able to make a difference in a given situation or circumstance. In time, this leads to lethargy, inaction, and disengagement in the workplace. 2
Fight, on the other hand, occurs when you lean into a situation with force – either through action or emotional intensity. In a typical corporate scenario, it’s how the body gives you a boost of adrenaline to get through intense projects and meet deadlines. It’s also the process that’s triggered in response to conflict – whether in reaction to someone else, or internal conflict. This response has you “stand up for yourself,” “get your point across,” and defend your position. All seemingly positive attributes, but ones that are likely to introduce more conflict – especially when there are other options to both express yourself and do so in a manner that builds excitement and agreement, instead of division and derision.3
Catabolic energy in the short-term can be perceived as beneficial, and it can protect us for danger in short-term basis, when used in long-term in different situations constant release of catabolic hormones, as cortisol, it takes a toll mentally, emotionally and physically; affecting not only us, but our teams, our organization and all those around us.
The opposite energy and process is anabolic. Anabolism is the process by which the body builds itself up and grows. Anabolic energy is constructive, expanding, rejuvenating, and sustainable. Anabolic perspectives, as opposed to fight or flight (or other catabolic tendencies), do not get “triggered” – meaning that anabolic tendencies are not typically at the effect of circumstances. Instead, anabolic energy or tendencies already begin focusing an individual’s perception in a manner that solves, resolves, understands, creates, and supports. Individuals with anabolic energy are already inclined towards seeing a situation as something that can move forward and have a solution. They look at “what is” and determine what they can make of it.4
Anabolic leaders have high emotional intelligence, acknowledge and seek to understand the perspectives of employees, and information flows freely and transparently in both directions (top-down, and bottom-up). Decisions – in strategy, in tactics, in policy, and even in daily work routines – receive real buy-in because the pros and cons, advantages/disadvantages are consciously reviewed; interpretations are willingly challenged; assumptions are examined; agendas are transparent; and multiple alternatives are proposed – even when a course of action seems fairly obvious – to see what truly is best. Individuals advocate passionately for their ideas which they believe are right, and listen intently when their views are challenged.5
In conclusion, Anabolic energy is positive, constructive, expanding, growth-oriented; and Catabolic energy is negative, destructive, breaks things down.
“Ideal leaders are anabolic leaders, meaning that they have the ability to motivate and inspire themselves and others to do extraordinary things” Bruce D Schneider, in Energy Leadership book.
1- Energy Leadership, transforming your workplace and your life from the core
2,3,4,5-D. Luke Lorio - The Impact of Corporate Catabolism on Engagement, Performance, & Bottom Line