The notion that people radiate energy probably isn’t too shocking to the scientifically enlightened. What might be a bit more of a stretch for those who are steeped in science and technology is accepting the idea that the energy people radiate can be either healthy or toxic, and that a company’s business results can be affected by the type of energy the people within the company radiate. So it’s probably an eyebrow-raiser that IT companies are some of the most fervent champions of what many might dismiss as new-wave nonsense.
The healthy versus toxic human energy discussion is being led by Gina Soleil, a Minneapolis-based organizational leadership consultant and author of the new book, “Fuel Your Business: How to Energize People, Ignite Action, and Drive Profits.” I recently had the opportunity to interview Soleil, a dynamic personality who is clearly passionate about the human energy discussion as it relates to business results. In the interview, she described the difference between healthy human energy and toxic human energy this way:
Negative, or toxic, human energy is the energy people carry around when they’re absolutely exhausted, and they’re [exhibiting] dysfunctional type of behavior. It’s when it feels like life is getting the best of you, when you are reactive to the world, versus proactively living life the way you want to live it. That would be an example of when you are walking around with toxic energy. And when you’re doing that, people feel it. It radiates off of them. When people walk around with healthy energy, it’s not that they are exuding happiness and joy—there’s just a centeredness about them. They’re grounded, calm, and at peace. Their personality is whatever it is. But they themselves are the type of people that when you are around them, you just want to sit down with them and be with them. Because you, just being in their presence, are also feeling at peace.
Soleil said that in the hiring process, a lot of companies are no longer selecting candidates on the basis of the skills they possess. Skills, these companies maintain, can be taught. Instead, they’re selecting candidates on the basis of how well they’ll fit into the company’s culture. Soleil pointed out that a “huge percentage” of her clients are technology companies that have gone this route, and have seen impressive results. She cited the example of one of her clients, Network Medics, an IT consulting firm in Minneapolis that increased its gross profit by 20 percent within a year. Ingram Micro, the global technology products distributor, got wind of that, Soleil said, and invited her in to give a presentation (registration required to download) on the healthy human energy concept and the principles that underlie it.
Soleil said that when she began her consulting career, her first big client was The Nerdery, a Web developer in Bloomington, Minn. “What’s been fascinating to me,” she said, “is the number of technology companies who are becoming early adopters of this methodology.” She’s thought a lot about why that has been the case, and she explained it this way:
In technology companies, so many of the leaders are people who didn’t fit inside the corporate box, so they set out to start their own organization. Most technology entrepreneurs are risk-takers, so they are open to new and different ideas for making things work. They’re saying, ‘Gina, we don’t get it 100 percent, but here’s what we do know: We know that whatever you’re doing is actually working. We know that these principles you’re applying are making a difference, and so we’re willing to take a chance on you.’ Our whole world is predicated on technology; energy is the way of the world. So as technology is moving forward, this is the new engagement strategy. This is the new way organizations are going to start improving profits within their companies. So with it being a completely new and different approach, it makes complete sense to me that the ones moving technology forward are the ones who are gravitating to this. There’s logic built into it—yes, it’s new and different, but it’s logical. And tech companies are not afraid of it. Technology companies are the pioneers of this new way to run business. Most tech companies move much faster than the average corporation due to their agility, and they can take a concept like this and move it forward much faster. The fact that we were able to do it with Network Medics in a year is unbelievable.
I asked Soleil whether it’s the case that people are the sources of toxic energy, or it’s that people just manifest toxic energy that has come from somewhere else. She said it’s both:
It’s pure choice. Contrary to what people might think, there’s one thing in this world we can control: We have the ability to protect and control our energy. Einstein said we’re all matter. And we have the ability to control how that matter radiates into this world. And we also have a choice of what energy we bring into ourselves. When you’re around somebody who’s toxic, you have the choice of whether or not you’re going to take that energy on as your own. It’s all about mindful awareness, and realizing when you are putting healthy energy into this world, and when you’re putting toxic energy into this world.
In fact, Soleil identified mindful awareness as the single personal trait that’s the most essential element in healthy human energy:
It’s literally looking at yourself in the mirror. What you see in the mirror is both your problem, and your solution. It’s how you become mindful of how you show up in this world. If you’re not mindful of that, the organization will never change. It doesn’t matter what the process is, or what your procedures are. It doesn’t matter how efficient you get, or what your mantra is. It will not work unless you figure out how to change how you’re showing up.