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Anese Cavanaugh

March 10, 2014

Embracing the Energy of the Dark Side

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. It’s a basic rule of physics, but a challenging and oftentimes misunderstood principle in business. Especially when it comes to embracing the dark energy that success can bring along with it.

Succinctly, haters gonna hate. It’s what you do with that hate that can exponentially increase your effect on your team, business and community. Here’s how to catch all that flak and redirect it to double your impact.

Dark side, baby. Dark side. Love it up. You are on a spiritual roll.

When you tell your truth, live authentically, do big things, have an intense inspiring story, or are simply amazing… people are going to get triggered – for the good and the
bad. When you step up, along with the inspiration you leave in your wake… it’s okay – someone is bound to be a “drag”.

When the negative reflex of people dealing with your success comes… it just seems to have more pull. And the negative hurts. Especially if we take it personally, try to “fix”it, “prove” it, or make it “right” for the “hater” by making ourselves “smaller”.

The truth? Be ready for it. And be okay with it. And send that response a little love. We get to have the light with the dark. It’s part of leadership. It’s part of the package
of impact. Leadership is vulnerability.

The swing and the choice.

The middle ground of reaction is narrow – or at least not as wide as it used to be – and people seem to be swinging and committed to either negative or positive.

This is where we have a choice in who we want to be and which way we want to swing. By operating with a positive focus, being connected to purpose, getting the right
support, and being committed to “taking the high road”, we have a better chance of being able to lead through the tough stuff.

The most powerful energy wins.

Dark negative energy is powerful. It’s “contagious” and tends to pull others in fairly easily (especially if their energy is not strongly grounded). It’s an easy place to go
to and feel instantly validated – if even only energetically – by others in that space.

In fact, for many, the dark is much easier to deal with than the light. Much easier. The more we connect with our purpose, the more we lead with intention, and the better we
take care of ourselves — the easier it becomes to stay in a positive and strong energetic state. The “light” now becomes the desired norm and state. And from
here, it is easier to block, rebuff, and recover from the negative.

Bottom line? The most powerful energy “wins”, so the question becomes: Which energy will you let be stronger? The dark or the light?

Managing Leadership Energy = Making Sure the Positive Energy is the Most Powerful

It’s part of our greatest work as thought leaders, business leaders, and leaders of self in general, to take such great care of ourselves that we can “stand in the fire”. To build such reserves and such resiliency that even when we get knocked down, we can find our way back to ourselves, and our mission, and fast. That we can activate that “force field” instantaneously. And that we can be compassionate, yet fierce, with ourselves, and others, when needed throughout.

So what do you do when you hit the dark side of leadership and success? What do you do when you feeldiscouraged, beaten down, heartbroken, disenchanted? And you want to stay in, or get back to, the light?

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About Anese Cavanaugh

Anese Cavanaugh is devoted to helping people show up and bring their best selves to the table in order to create significant positive impact in their lives. She is the creator of the IEP Method® (Intentional Energetic Presence®), an advisor and thinking partner to leaders and organizations around the world, and author of CONTAGIOUS CULTURE: Show Up, Set the Tone, and Intentionally Create an Organization That Thrives (McGraw Hill, 11/15). As a leading voice on intention, energy, and presence in leadership and culture, she helps people unlock greater leadership potential, collaborate more inspiringly, create more openly, intuit more bravely, and lead more joyfully and effectively. Top innovators and executives in companies like IDEO, Zingerman’s, Cooper, GM Financial, Vistaprint, 15Five, Fitbit, Nike, Vivayic, Kaiser Permanente, and others have engaged with Anese to strengthen team health, maximize leadership impact, and optimize company culture. In addition to appearing in publications like Harvard Business Review, The Huffington Post,, and the NY Times, Anese writes for in her column “Showing Up”. She has just published her most recent book THE LEADER YOU WILL BE: An Invitation (a leadership storybook), and is currently working on her next book, CONTAGIOUS YOU: Unlock Your Incredible Power to Influence, Lead, and Create the Impact You Want (McGraw-Hill, Fall 2019).