I have always loved symbolism and having reasons to explain things. I like to know how things work. I like to ask people what they mean. I feel good collecting information. I extra love applying this data-seeking awareness to myself with my Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, Human Design, Four Tendencies. Strengths Finder... all the things. I even went through an intense (yet brief) period of self-tracking and biohacking (thanks San Francisco). Collecting data gives me a sort of “owner’s manual” for how something (including myself) should work.
My absolute favorite tool for crafting this “owner’s manual” of sorts for myself is an assessment called the Energy Leadership Index. In this post I’m going to break down the “ELI” and why, as a leadership coach, I think it’s so darn beneficial.
The assessment is based on catabolic and anabolic energy.
The idea behind it is that every aspect of our life (interactions with others, self-talk, looking in the mirror, scrolling Instagram, sending emails, etc) is either constructive (“anabolic”) or destructive (“catabolic.”) Anabolic thoughts an entrepreneur might have include: "There is an abundance of clients for me” or “I add value to my clients’ lives.” Some examples of catabolic thoughts entrepreneurs might have are things like: “I’m never going to figure this out” or “I’m wasting everyone’s time.”
Depending on how we feel about the things happening in our day-to-day lives, we start to see the world through certain lenses or mindsets. If we’re constantly stressed out and feel like we’re always messing up, we may have a pretty catabolic view of the world. To contrast, if we take some joy in (or at least some responsibility for) our day-to-day actions we view the world more anabolically.
The assessment is attitudinal, rather than personality-based; meaning we can affect our results over time.
The beauty (and distinguishing factor) of the ELI is that it’s an attitudinal assessment, rather than a personality assessment, like some of the ones I mentioned earlier. This means that rather than saying “This is your result for all-time based on who you are” the ELI says, “This is a snapshot of who you are currently.” Your ELI results can (and probably will!) change over time.
The 7 Self-Leadership Mindsets for Entrepreneurs
So, along this continuum (from heavy, draining catabolic energy to light, inspiring anabolic energy) there are 7 mindsets through which we can view the world. In short they can be characterized like this:
Chances are, you relate to a few of these (and probably experience all 7 depending on the situation!). That's exactly how it works, and why I love thinking of these as mental models! We all have some that come out most frequently (I'm a 5-3-6) and it's important to remember that: 1. They can change over time and 2. They are all available, to all of us, all the time!
Let’s do an example to show what I mean. Whenever something happens, we have an immediate reaction to it. The more anabolic we are, the more likely we are to realize that while we might react one way, we can actually choose to respond however we want. This is the real power of using these levels as mental models for the mindset you want to have!
The scenario we’re imagining is: Your big launch has completely flopped. No one signed up and you didn’t make any money. You actually lost money on advertising, not to mention the hours you spent working. Here is how each energy level would respond:
1- The Cocooning Leader - I’m such a failure. I never want to do that again. I’m so embarrassed. Maybe I’ll just give up this dream of entrepreneurship.
2 - The "I Must Win" Leader - I am shocked that no one bought. They would have been lucky to work with me. Everyone is making a huge mistake. Other people are so dumb and can’t even see what they need.
3 -The Status Quo Leader - Shoot. I guess I probably didn’t talk about it enough? Or maybe now isn’t the right time? I don’t know. I’ll research more, try again, and maybe (hopefully) get it next time?
4 - The "How Can I Help You" Leader - How can I better connect with people? I just want to help. How can I learn their needs so I can help them better?
5 - The "Everything is an Opportunity" Leader - What can I learn from this? What specifically can I improve for next time? How has this benefited me as an entrepreneur?
6 - The "We're Better Together" Leader - How can I better leverage my community in the future? Maybe I can talk to some friends about their launches? Maybe I can put together some collaborations to promote?
7 - The "Everything is Possible" Leader - This happened exactly as it was meant to so I can take from it what I will.
If you’re like most folks, a “failed” launch would probably bring up those level 1 thoughts (shame, failure, etc) initially. The beauty of having this “Energy Level” language is that you can tangibly choose another response. You may also see yourself cycle through a few. For example: Level 1- “I’m a failure” to Level 3 - “I guess I can see why that happened” to Level 5 - “What can I learn from this?” or maybe you’re more heart-centered and resonate with that nurturing Level 4 and shift from “I’m a failure” to “I guess I see why it happened” to “How can I better connect to my people?”
ELI results are as unique as each of us and there is no right or wrong breakdown of your energy. Gaining awareness of how it shows up for you allows you to lean into your natural strengths and strategically walk through life choosing your responses. Get to know your unique leadership strengths by starting here!