Leading with Fire: What to Do When You Have No Energy with Daria Tsvenger

Our 2021 Future of Work Virtual Roundtable Series recently continued with a session by Daria Tsvenger, an executive & mindset coach, angel investor, and founder of The Dream Sprint, a personal growth challenge that helps people in finding motivation and their true calling in life.


Below is an excerpt of Tsvenger’s presentation, entitled “Leading With Fire: What To Do When You Have No Energy.” Join us for our upcoming Future of Work sessions by signing up here. And, to experience Mursion’s virtual reality simulations and see for yourself how this platform can support your own business to achieve its leadership development and other business goals, schedule a demo today.


I help entrepreneurs and executives and leaders to transform their life so they can achieve their goals with happiness alongside. Yes, because who needs to achieve goals without being happy at all. This, unfortunately, is what happens a lot when a really successful people come to my coaching and they have all of these achievements but none of these achievements gives fulfillment or real joy or real feeling that you actually live this life and not just going through it.

The Three Pillars of Energy Management and Motivation


We’ll go over three pillars of energy management and motivation. 


For me, the first pillar is, from my point of view, is the most important one because when we are able to manage our emotional states, we are actually able to change it, this energy and motivation on demand. Unfortunately, not everything is so simple. If it was just really simple that we can switch our emotional states on and off like this, everything would be just too simple, but our emotional bodies, our emotional world is really, really complex. The emotions that one person is experiencing will be really, really different from emotions that another person is experiencing towards the same situation.


When we are able to manage our emotional states, we are actually able to change it, this energy and motivation on demand.


It’s so because the way we’ve been forming as human beings because all of us have different childhoods, different positive and negative events in our life. Every single emotionally imprinting event it gives us this emotional signature, which we are always meeting in different situations in our life. That’s why sometimes it’s so hard to understand other people’s emotions because whatever we’re not feeling on ourselves it’s really hard to understand where the person’s coming from. What I know for sure, is that every single person is acting out of their own laugh, joy, or out of their own pain. You think that other people relate to you in a bad way, it’s actually more about them than about you. It’s, of course, easier said than done. 


A second pillar that we talk about is sleep. I’m sure you know everything about it. We’ll just recap. Third is nutrition, also a very important one.


When were the times when you felt energized, motivating before, anticipating something to happen? Not after it happened, but anticipating something to happen yet, because this is what applicable to our jobs and things that we have to do because sometimes we anticipate things that we don’t want to do and we hold energy for them. Starts a new project, like remodeling bathroom, go on a vacation, travels in your place.


When were the times when you felt energized, motivating before, anticipating something to happen?


Our minds are designed in a very interesting way. When we really anticipate something and where we are excited for something, energy is no problem. Waking up at 5 AM to go to an airport, and then to embark to an amazing trip, no problem. Waking at 5 AM for like a Zoom call with another time zone with people who be, for example, in another work-related stuff, “Okay,” snooze, snooze, snooze. We all have things that we are excited about. What I want us to learn from these things is that we can indeed be energetic and excited. It’s possible, but it’s possible only when the thing that you are anticipating to do, you really anticipate to do this thing.


Of course, I can ask you right now the question to make a mental note of things that you have to do, you have it in your schedule, but just a thought of this thing already drains your energy. Maybe it’s an anticipation of a difficult conversation. Maybe it’s something that you know that will be really hard for you to do, or maybe it’s something that you’ve never done before, and you just don’t know how will you do this. Take a mental note of the times when you felt no energy and no desire to do some tasks that you really have to do.


What is the difference? The difference is that as humans we are always either moving towards pleasure or moving away from pain. Two words, towards pleasure, away from pain. Guess what if what we have to do, yes, have to do, should do is directly linked to fear, to pain. By pain, I mean, not physical, but emotional pain, this anticipation of being tired, being exhausted, already creates tiredness and exhaustion.


It is said that the most productive hour of the week, it’s an hour right before the deadline. Why? Because with a deadline, we are moving away from pain. We don’t want for the deadline to come and our work not be done and then we may have much severe circumstances.


How to Hack Yourself

We, humans, we are pretty much very similar to one another and in a way we beat ourselves up, we are also very similar, but if we happen to learn the way our mind works and the tricks it plays with us, it may help us to basically hack ourselves. It may help us to improve the relationship with ourselves because if we are using our tricks, the tricks that our mind plays in order to get things done that we should do, we become proud of ourselves. It’s a great feeling and it’s a great contribution towards your personal relationship with yourself.


This effect, it’s called the Zeigarnik effect. It says that our minds quickly forget finished tasks. However, they are programmed to continually interrupt us with reminders of an unfinished task. What does it mean? It means that we can basically surpass this rule of moving towards pleasure or away from pain because sometimes when we have a really boring thing to do, we just don’t want to do this, but there is a hack to that. If you start doing this, and if you give yourself just three minutes or four minutes, some really short amount of time to start doing the easiest thing from this task, your mind will kick in, and this trick, the Zeigarnik effect, will activate. Little did you know you will find yourself enthusiastically continue to do this task. 


The next one, sleep. It’s so easy to stay up late, to fall asleep at 3 AM, and then wake up when you have to wake up, and then go on and on in this pattern. Then, of course, when sleep-deprived, of course, we can’t function properly. It’s just not possible. I’m sure that you’ve already heard about the effects of the blue light on our retina when we are looking in our devices right before the bed, how it affects our retina.


There is this study by Harvard Health. The main thing when the blue light from our devices affects our retina, of course, our brain has this signal that it’s still light, and then the hormone for balance sleep, the melatonin, is not released, hence, you’re physically very tired, but mentally you can’t put yourself to sleep. That’s why it’s so easy to spend half a night with your device or in front of the TV and do not feel tired enough to sleep right away. Of course, over the long term of sleep deprivation, a specific neurotoxin is created which makes it even harder to go to sleep. It’s the circle when at some point it becomes a medical problem but until some point, we can manage it ourselves.


Let me switch to the next pillar, nutrition. Also, the pillar that you know about. Many people know that you shouldn’t eat before you go to sleep because your digestive tract takes a lot of energy to digest the food, but the goal of our sleep is for your body to detoxify itself, to release all the toxins that it’s been acquiring throughout the day. If we are keeping our system busy, which is digesting food, it means that there is no time to restore the body to remove toxins. Hence, if we keep these toxins in our body, it means that we do not feel energized.


Putting the Lessons Into Practice


Of course, just learning this information does nothing. It just tells us, ‘Okay, this exists,’ but when we are in the situation when it’s we just finished working, we really want to order some food and we really want to watch our TV show, this information, it’s not motivating enough to do anything. When I work with clients, I’m always about figuring out what is the underlying reason of a certain behavior, rather than just pushing and creating the discipline and the willpower.


Our willpower and our discipline, it’s a short-term sprint, but we want to transform our life for it to be a long-term, happy, and joyful marathon. For that, we have to understand what are the underlying reason of us eating at night. Those may be different reasons for many people, very different reasons. It just depends on your own set of emotional, positive, negative events, traumas, and things like that.


Our willpower and our discipline, it's a short-term sprint, but we want to transform our life for it to be a long-term, happy, and joyful marathon.


The ideal relationship with ourselves is when we understand ourselves and are honest enough with ourselves about digging into the reasons about why some behaviors that we don’t want are still there. Because there’s some kind of pleasure, some kind of need that you’re meeting with the means that you have like food, TV shows, news consumption, and things like that.


To wrap up my short presentation, I want to ask you the question and answer it afterward, about the scientific reason, the biological reason about why do we always avoid pain or seek pleasure? There is a pretty logical explanation to that and it would take me five minutes to explain this from a standpoint of neuroscience. We have these two modes, seek pleasure or avoid pain because of the evolution. During our evolution, our brain has been developing under the circumstances that existed back then and our brain has been developing during millions and millions of years.


Right now, our brain is pretty developed as the most advanced brain on our planet. Physiologically, we are the most advanced beings on this planet and our brain is very complex, and it bears so many, many functions. The tissue of our brain consists with different cells, and one of those cells they’re called neurons. We have 86 billions of neurons in our brain. Neurons, those are nerve cells, which communicate with one another. When these nerve cells communicate with one another, they record something which is happening around you.


Every time we receive a painful experience, especially since we’re children, because this is when our mind is very open, we don’t know anything about this world, every time there is a painful experience, our brain wants to protect us from it, and that’s why it will do everything to prevent you from repeating this experience over and over again.


Sometimes non-productive things are being recorded. For example, if a person experienced some kind of bullying, they are painful, hence, they are deemed traumatic by the brain, hence, they’re put in a special bucket, ‘Okay, do not talk to other people any more. Do not trust other people or do not engage in a relationship.’


These things are recorded deep in our subconscious mind, and that’s why when we are doing something over and over again, some kind of behavior, it can be food, it can be constant consumption of news and social media, there is something that we are avoiding, that we are avoiding to face, and it’s a very personal thing to figure out. 


Because we have that many thoughts per day, 70,000 to 90,000 thoughts per day, there is no way we are in control. It’s just not possible to be in control because the majority of these thoughts, 90% of the thoughts, they’re the same, and they’re produced automatically by our mind. At some point in our lives, we can notice that everything that we think about, that we do, and that we experience day by day, it’s the same, pretty much the same. In order for us to be introduced to a completely new thought, it requires a lot of courage, it requires a lot of proactive actions to help your brain to be flexible.


In order for us to be introduced to a completely new thought, it requires a lot of courage, it requires a lot of proactive actions to help your brain to be flexible.


The last thing, very important, during our evolution, we developed to run away from fear because it was the best survival strategy ever. People who were able to spot some danger, and to run away from this danger very quickly, they survived, and because we are offspring of these people, it means that our brain recorded this mechanism of constantly looking for threats in our environment.


Nowadays, our threats are different. Our threats are dreadful events in our life, our threats are deadlines, and all these other things that we face on a daily basis. If we are to embark on the self-discovery journey and ask ourselves, of course, with the help of a professional, a lot of smart self-discovery questions, we can indeed transform our life and transform our behaviors when we know what is the root cause of them.


What you practice grows stronger.


I want you to leave with this quote, “What you practice grows stronger.” It’s inevitable biological mechanism, whatever you practice grows stronger. If you practice self-blame, self-blame grows stronger. If you practice doing things that you have to do, this grows stronger, but if you practice acceptance, then this grows strong. You can incorporate it into every behavior in yourself.”