Self-Leadership: Managing Energy In Yourself, First

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash.

My personal blog is about making sense of the workplace and improving others’ careers. Effectively, I set out to highlight self-leadership.

For context, James G. Clawson defines leadership as “managing energy, first in yourself and then in those around you.”[1] The latter portion aside, is managing energy first in yourself not an applicable baseline for arriving to work, ready to go? That’s common sense self-leadership.

How I Manage My Own Energy

I’ve given away some keys to the kingdom already. My previous posts, Is An MBA Worth It?, and Scaling-Up Personal Ambition touch on important points. A breakdown of top-level considerations using myself as an example proves how and what I perpetually keep in mind:

  • My purpose: to support the ambitions of others to meet promise and potential.
  • The composition of my personal ambition, or the aggregate of my personality, character, motivation and aspirations.
  • My ability to scale-up: recognizing my current resources and opportunities, and then pairing them with potentially new resources and opportunities through creativity, new possibilities and strategic fit.

(‘And then there’s what I call my ‘fitness for ambition’. I’ll likely write about fitness for and restraints on ambition in another post in the near future. ‘An interesting discovery.)

My Professional Beginning

Photo by Ethan Air on Unsplash.

A milestone anecdote serves to illustrate how I got started managing my own energy. Look for transformative themes of

#managing energy

NBA-Level Talent

He was the talk of Day 2; only, he wasn’t there in the gym.

It was October 3, 1995. I was 16, a junior in high school. I had arrived at Montgomery College of Rockville’s basketball gymnasium on my second day as the volunteer Team Manager.

The 100 or so 18- and 19-year-old hopefuls on Day 1 were down to about 50, all on the bleachers, all wondering. Even I wanted to know.

An extraordinarily-talented player stood out the day before. He was so clearly better than everyone in the gym. Beyond outstanding talent, he was the most gifted athlete, and obviously in better shape than all others. Day 1 had been a grueling physical event. This guy seemed above it all.

It was the first time I’d witnessed a glow on a player. The same happened the following season when we played against Stevie Francis at Allegany Community College. For those who don’t know or remember, Francis went on to star at the University of Maryland, and became the 2nd overall pick in the 1999 NBA Draft.

Better Is Always Possible

Photo by Jarrod Erbe on Unsplash.

I’ve had a hero for the better part of 30 years. Then-Montgomery College of Rockville Head Basketball Coach, Steve Hobson, taught me that better is always possible – so long as one keeps to his values, and does things the right way. Back to the story…

All chatter hushed as Coach made his way into the gym.

“I’m not going to pretend that I don’t know what you’re all wondering. I made the decision to cut [name] yesterday after workouts. He wasn’t right. He was out for himself, to make himself look good. I’m the captain of this ship, boys. We’re going to do things my way – as a team. If you have another idea or take exception, then let’s talk about it afterwards. Remember, family first, then school, then basketball. Yes, even during pre-season tryouts.”

Coach Hobson coached a team, not players; and teams are always far better than individual players.

Coach Hobson is a legend. He preferred to operate under the radar, deferring kudos to those he supported. Anyone who knows me knows I prefer this tact. I have a lot to live up to. Coach’s track record is darn near unbelievable. His personal ambition “placed hundreds of players into four-year college programs” including a small handful in the NBA (Simms, 2018).

And with that, drills for Day 2 began.

To summarize, Clawson explains that a certain “level of conscious thought” of “strongly held values, assumptions, beliefs and expectations” dictates our approach to managing energy, first in ourselves. It is imperative that one comes to understand one’s purpose, personal ambition and personal growth opportunities in order to be an effective professional – for the workplace and one’s own career.


[1] Clawson, James G. Level Three Leadership: Getting Below The Surface. 4th ed., Pearson Education, Inc., 2009, pp. 3, 34.

[2] Simms, Brandy L. “MC Honors Basketball Coaching Legend”. Montgomery County Sentinel, 2018, Accessed 20 May 2022.

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