By Greg Conderacci
We used to call him “Freddie Freewheel.”
In the paceline, he had a distinct cycling pattern: pedal, pedal, pedal…coast…pedal, pedal, pedal….coast…
Pretty soon, if you were on his wheel, YOU were pedaling the same way. And so was the guy behind you and the guy behind him…
And that’s what an Energy Vampire does: destroys the rhythm of the group, wastes energy, slows everything down, and, in the process, makes you crazy. And turns YOU into a vampire, too.
Cycling – and life – are full of vampires. They are some of the nicest people. Sometimes, they are even you and me. In an earlier article, I suggested you spot vampire behavior FAST: noticing their fear, their avoidance of risk and responsibility, their negative sayings and their defeatist thinking.
You, The Vampire Slayer
Everybody knows how to dispose of vampires: a stake right through their black little hearts, preferably in broad daylight when they can’t do anything about it. While you’re fantasizing about that bright prospect, understand that you’re probably not going to get away with a clean kill. Still, STAKE might prove a good strategy:
- Speak “energy” to them. Since nobody wants to be seen as a vampire, especially vampires, using energy language to describe their negative behavior might be effective. Something like, “Did you realize, Freddie, that when you coast like that you make it harder for everybody behind you?” Or, perhaps, “Mary, by trashing Phil’s idea before he could fully explain it, did you know you sapped all the positive momentum in the room?” Or, even, “Denny, because your report was late, we lost the sale and wasted all the energy everybody put into the case.”
- Take away perverse incentives. These are the unintended consequences that work against the very goals the incentives are trying to support. For example, paying Lance Armstrong a lot of money for winning the Tour de France actually undermines the value of that investment when the world finds out he’s a cheat.
- Acquire “buddies.” If you must work in a space occupied by vampires, having Energy Buddies can counteract some of the negative impact. A couple of buddies can be more positive than one vampire. Maybe you can afford to let Freddie Freewheel sit on the back of the pack if you and two others are drafting smoothly at the front. We’ll talk more about Energy Buddies in the next article.
- Kill ‘em with kindness. Because vampirism is fear-based, sometimes just being nice to vampires does the trick. Something like, “Freddie, you’re looking a little tired and so your pedaling is a bit uneven. Why don’t you go back and draft until you feel stronger?” Unless they are hardened cases, usually people will respond to good behavior with good behavior. You can certainly out-smile them (it’s hard to smile with fangs). But don’t waste your energy arguing with them. If you say “Yes…but,” they’ll suck you right into their trap.
- Eliminate them. In the end, if all else fails, they have to go. Personally, I like, “Wow, Freddy. You’re really strong today. Why don’t you go on ahead while I get a Coke at this rest stop?” Some folks ask, “But what if the vampire is your boss?” Well, perhaps you have to fire your boss. It’s called quitting. We talked about that in this article [link].
Next, we’ll talk about the importance of Energy Buddies – and how they can literally save your life.
Greg Conderacci is a marketing consultant and a former Wall Street Journal reporter, non-profit entrepreneur, and investment bank chief marketing officer. In Getting UP!, he brings you the same skills he teaches at a top graduate school and Fortune 500 companies. Lots of people promise better performance … Greg proves it. Using his energy techniques, in 2015 he rode a bicycle across America in just 18 days — averaging 150 miles a day.