She coaches top generals, Olympians, Fortune 500 CEOs, multigenerational family business leaders, and tech startup founders. Siang loves hopes to enable greatness in others by helping them grow and develop their best selves. She's also an executive director at the Duke Business School, a professor, an author, and a mother of three. So how does she avoid burn-out and re-energize herself?
During an interview I asked her about what sometimes slows her down. Siang shared it's not always easy to make time and have the energy necessary for this work. Here is her powerful tip.
When you feel like you're making a contribution to the world, what you're doing will actually give you energy, instead of deplete it.
As a result, she thinks less in terms of time, but more in terms of energy levels. If you spend time positively contributing to someone, it actually generates more energy. It's like Einstein's formula, E = MC², reinterpreted as Energy (E) = Meaning (M) times Contribution (C²).
What Siang describes matches perfectly with what The Wharton School's highest-rated professor, Adam Grant, talks about in his best selling book, Give and Take. People who find their jobs stressful report higher burn out unless they have a sense of their impact. That feeling that you have made an impact on someone's life, protects you from stress and exhaustion. Grant says,
"When people know how their work makes a difference, they feel energized to contribute more."
To create energy when you're feeling exhausted, contributing to what's meaningful to you can help you avoid burnout.
Siang has learned about the meaning of her own work from her hero, Francis Hesselbein, formidable former CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA, who lives a life of service, creating opportunities to open the door for others and help their worlds get bigger. Hesselbein's motto is "To lead is to serve and to serve is to lead." She's someone who truly understands what her purpose is and spends her time doing that to create opportunities to open the door for others coupled with a spirit of generosity.
Sometimes when the going gets hard, it's easy to forget the core meaning of your work. But as Siang reveals, it's especially in those moments, that you need to be connected to the meaning of your work. If you're coming up empty-handed, here's a quick but efficient trick to get you out of your head and inspired--think of your heroes. Let them remind you of the meaning of your own work. In Siang's case would be to remember Hesselbein and the principle of serving others. Which brings us full circle to the work Siang loves, enabling greatness in others.