#15 Energy as a resource. Empathy as a skill.
Mhm, we're doing this.
This is Room To Fail, a newsletter about communication and brand strategy and how to let ourselves fail at that or at any other things, just to only get things right the next time. Or the next.
I’m Irina. Welcome and buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Hopefully.
Today’s read takes 5 minutes. And feels like a new start. Again.
For years I thought the two biggest parts of the work equation were time and money. Two resources. You get time, but less money. You get money, but have to work more and lose the time for other things. Sure, this is true for a lot of situations, but the new part in my equation is energy. The one that helps you stand on two feet and also work through your PhD. ‘Cause it’s the same.
You would give break to a computer that burns because of processing or kill some of the switches when you need to cut on your electrical invoice, right? Why don’t we do that with our body-mind energy?
Strategising my own daily energy resources has been a challenge for the past year. It feels like this computer with a lot going on in the background but as soon as I realised that is happening and I cannot control all of it, a lot of things changed.
The things processing behind our conscious mind every day can sometimes take all of our energy - that moment when getting out of bed feels like an achievement is a good example. There are moments when background processes take 50% of the energy and that can feel like you are a functioning adult but don’t quite know why everything feels so hard to do. And that is just life.
What do I do now when I realise that? Well, I try to understand better what my mind is processing in the background, see if I can clear cache, and find what feels good with the rest of my energy for that day - moving my body, making something delish to eat, working on something that brings me joy or feels like a small achievement - like this newsletter, take a walk, read or learn something new.
So we can take some of that strategy tools, like defining problems and resource planning, finding creative ways to spend them or thinking about new ways to measure success and work on ourselves and our energy resources. And communication skills are as great for your inner dialogue.
I don’t know about you, but realising this connection makes me feel whole.
🔧 NEW SKILLS TO FAIL AT
I’ve come to realise that I actually don’t use that many frameworks or tools while I work on my projects besides the classic brand pyramid, positioning phrase, brand archetypes or GET/TO/BY brief. I create different structures for different clients and that feels right for me. So I want to talk more about the skills that stand behind my 100% approval rate for brand strategies.
Today, let’s talk about empathy.
I believe empathy is a skill because we can learn it and become better and better at it. For me, empathy is the capacity to stand in someone else’s shoes and see the world through their lenses, with as few of your own biases as possible. Easier said than done, ofc, especially during working hours.
But more often than not I see how empathy lands in my own conversations with clients. ‘‘I try to understand your business and see how I can help without destroying everything you build up until now” gets a smile and some ease of heart versus “Unfortunately we have to redo everything because there is nothing to build upon” that turns into fear, disappointment and lack of trust. Does this have and echo in your head too?
Tools to build empathy:
Read - the best way to educate ourselves. I thought it was just me, a book by Brene Brown, has a whole chapter on empathy. Also, read diverse fiction as it puts you in so many different situations without living them in real life. This is also a great article on this topic.
Asking more unloaded questions, with pure curiosity, at work or at home. And listen closely to the answers.
Be honest to yourself. This is a tough one that needs a lot of practice, but this is the right place to fail and get at it again. We are all biassed, we all have feelings and triggers, we all need to feel good about ourselves, but being honest takes us truly there.
🔗 THE STRATEGY LINK CLUB
3 cool things that help me in my work:
Connecting to mentors in a short zoom session through The 30 Minute - University of Planning
Because more and more of my clients feel that they need a TikTok account, here are some social media reports that can help with that decision.
A talk about the new McDs UK add “Raise your arches” with Tom Sussman, Head of Strategy and Joe Beveridge, Planning Director from Leo Burnett London.
Thanks for putting that energy into reading all of this. You can take a nap now. Or share this newsletter with a friend.
See you laterz,