By Greg Conderacci
You know EXACTLY who I’m talking about.
They can be strong, but they refuse to go to the front to take on the wind and to offer shelter, even briefly, to the other riders. They exude a negative, “elbows out” competitiveness. Sometimes, they’ll disrupt the flow, dashing ahead of the pack for no apparent reason. The group often will accelerate to catch them, squandering energy. Caught, they will slide back into the peloton, where they will coast and weave, making it difficult for the other riders to draft them.
They are Energy Vampires. These oxygen bandits can suck the energy out of a pack, a club ride, a breakaway, a grand tour, a career, a relationship and a life. When I travel the country, giving seminars on energy, most folks want to talk about the vampires.
In my younger, meaner, more competitive years, we had a recipe for crushing the wheel-suckers at the back of the pack. When you came off the front, to get a break from having your nose in the wind, they would offer you a spot – in front of them. Our recipe would be to coast and let a nice gap open – and sprint to get back on. Of course, they would have to do that, too.
The next guy off the front would repeat the process. Again, they would have to sprint to hang on. And again. And again. Pretty soon, they either took their turn pulling or dropped off the back.
Now, an older and (I like to think) somewhat kinder rider, I let them sit at the back. That’s fine for riding. Maybe not so good for life, though.
Spotting Vampires FAST!
I tell folks in my talks that it’s important to spot vampires FAST. Energy Vampires…
- Fear: and are both scary and afraid. Often, to cover that fear, they do things to make you fear them, too. They will hunt for any point of leverage over you and others that they can find. Sometimes, they are bullies; sometimes, seducers; sometimes, they play victim. They are not always “bad” people from a moral standpoint, but they are always bad for energy — yours, your team’s, and your organization’s.
- Avoid: risk, blame, change, sunlight. Because they are afraid, they will work hard to shift the blame for anything bad to someone else. They abhor change, especially if there is any potential risk to them. Most of all, they fear exposure for what they truly are. They will universally deny being vampires; first, to themselves and then, to anyone who will listen.
- Say: no, negative, nothing, never, not me. These are the “N-words” of energy management. (Consider them the slurs that they are.) “When people become fearful, they recognize and communicate the dangers,” says Robert Quinn in Change the World. “They do not recognize and communicate the opportunities.”
- Think: it can’t be done. Can you guess why they think that whatever is on the table can’t be done? Of course: THERE’S NOT ENOUGH TIME! Which is why vampires have to live forever!
Do you know who’s the biggest vampire in my life? ME!
Sure, I can be pretty positive. But I spend a lot of time with me and, well, I have my bad days and my good days. Sometimes I’ve only got a little smear of positivity on a big bad ball of negativity.
Next, we’ll talk about some strategies for dealing with the vampires on the road – and in 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.