Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Radiators & Drains

You know when you hear of a concept, or idea for the first time, and you think "that's kinda cool - how come I’ve never heard of that before?", and then you hear it again - repeatedly? Well - it happened to me this week...
I was discussing my blog-post 'soul sucker', which relates the importance of powerful, positive energy in the competitive space, with Bolton and Wales defender Sam Ricketts, and he said "oh - you mean 'radiators and drains'". I'm assuming this is a British saying, because growing up mostly in North America, I had never heard of it...and even having spent the last two and a half years in London, I had never come across it. But since that brief chat with Sam - less than a week ago - I have come across it twice more.  Once was this morning, while I was doing my daily web-read.
I read a short piece on by Gretchen Rubin that was quite interesting. After introducing the subject, she wrote about the sometimes paradoxical nature of 'radiators and drains': 
“Perhaps counter-intuitively, in my experience, some people who are quite low-energy nevertheless act as radiators — because it’s not their personal verve that matters, but their level of engagement and quality of their ideas.
And some people who are very high-energy and gung-ho end up being drains, because they somehow make things harder instead of easier, or put a damper on other people’s observations and ideas”. 
This is similar to what I wrote last week. Rubin defines the concept by asking whether a person or situation makes you feel energized or not. Not whether the person or situation has energy. A subtle, but important distinction. I have seen many coaches and therapists that are not 'energetic' by nature (and I am one), but would not be considered 'drains'. Conversely, there are many that are bouncing off the walls, but leave you wanting to kill yourself. 
So what is it exactly about a person's character that makes other feel 'energized'? Are there defining characteristics? Important questions to ask for the therapist and coach, for 'just being happy and positive' is not enough.