⚡️ Kapowski! The Energy of Attention


"Energy flows where attention goes."

- Tony Robbins

The word energy is bandied around a lot these days. To be clear, in a design and leadership context, we're looking at the energy of attention. Where are we focussing it, in what ways, and with how much oomph?

Here are four types of energy to consider in the work you do.

Intellectual
As knowledge workers, we primarily use intellectual energy by thinking.

The brain takes up 2% of our body weight, yet uses 20% of our resting metabolic rate. Given this, it’s crucial to focus on productive thinking. Although we can’t control every thought, we can become aware of our thoughts and adjust them to support our tasks.

For instance, after a design critique session, instead of ruminating on critiques, it’s more productive to focus on necessary changes. Being aware of where your energy goes is key to becoming a masterful designer.

Emotional
When I read “Power vs. Force” by David R. Hawkins, it left such an impact that I couldn’t stop talking about it for months. Hawkins’ work measured shifts in the body’s electromagnetic field in response to emotions. Yes, it's a thing.

This is relevant to design because it involves both intellect and heart. Emotional literacy is crucial for understanding your feelings and the context you’re designing within. It takes energy to manage these emotions, and we need to be mindful of how much energy we spend. Awareness of emotional energy is essential to staying safe and effective in our work.

Relational
I focus on relational aspects of design because of my strong universalism and benevolence values. Relational energy exists between people, concepts, or steps in a journey. Understanding these connections is crucial. Paying attention to the interconnectivity within your team and with those involved in the design process helps you deliberately design relationships that best support the work and the people doing it.

Physical
We are most familiar with the energy used to move our bodies. We may not be familiar with the self-awareness that's needed to connect with our bodies and understand its current energetic state.

Your body provides valuable information about your work, whether during ideation, facilitating a workshop, or reading a draft report. Attuning to your body’s signals enhances your awareness of your energetic and emotional state. Establishing practices to maintain physical energy is as crucial as developing intellectual skills. A strong design character requires a strong body.


How This Is Relevant to Design and Leadership
Attention in design often focuses on capturing it rather than guiding design and leadership decisions. We must remember that a human being, with their unique character, creates these designs. The more we can build awareness of where our energy is being directed, the more clarity we gain about what motivates our design practice, and how to use this knowledge.

Understanding the connection between attention and energy shows that areas naturally interesting to you will be well-developed due to the energy you invest. Recognising less motivating values helps redirect your energy to other work aspects.

For example, if you’ve focused solely on intellectual attention, you might have excellent analysis but lack emotional engagement. This indicates a need to invest emotional energy.

If something feels off, it’s your body communicating. Your heart, gut, and body also process information. Paying attention to these signals is essential for a mindful, ethical design practice with a strong design character.

And the stronger your character, the more impact you will have.

You've got this,

PS. Check out the this human website for our upcoming facilitated courses: Design Character and Stories We Tell Ourselves. Both courses focus on the inner work that's required to make the impact you want to have in the world. They're fun, deep, and practical. What are you ready for?

Design Character

Gain the inner clarity you need to be a strong, confident advocate for your work and your career.

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This Human by Melis Senova

Enabling senior design professionals to be more influential within their organisations. ✨ Author of this human and design character, published by BIS Publishers.📚

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