JKWhitehead & Associates

Have you done your own groundwork – dug deeper?

Have you done your own groundwork – dug deeper?


fields I am now more than halfway through the Executive Coaching course at Royal Roads University. It has been a fascinating journey so far. We have been asked to delve deep into our personal stories, vision and mission. Going through a personal groundwork process has been a very interesting, sometimes daunting, but ultimately illuminating and affirming exercise.

As we progress through the course I’ve noticed that I wasn’t having huge, mind-blowing “AHA” moments as some of my fellow classmates were, which I attribute to having had those experiences when I did my MA in 2010, undergoing these same sort of deep dives. However, I was surprised at some of the other things that have come up – specifically about something called our Dominant Energy Source. Our Dominant Energy Source is where we go to draw energy when we are tired and worn out. It is often a source that has a cost associated with it, “because the source comes from adrenaline” (Coaching Out of the Box: Personal Groundwork For Coaching, p. 99). It brings us back again to the old “fight and flight” mechanism that we all have as a holdover from our ancient, cave living ancestors. However in modern times, instead of getting ready to fight a sabretooth tiger or run away from a club wielding Neanderthal, we respond differently, in ways such as being disruptive, substance abuse, withdrawing from society, lashing out, etc. Constant use of these energy sources can lead to mental and physical health issues. Some believe that cancer, heart disease and other chronic health issues can be a result.

Based on an assessment to identify our dominant energy source, I was surprised that of the four sources (Busy, Drama, Obligation and Worry) mine was Drama. I realized that I was expending a huge amount of energy getting caught up in situations. As is pointed out in Coaching Out of the Box: Personal Groundwork for Coaching, a little drama is not necessarily a bad thing, but a lot can command a high price. Understanding our dominant energy sources and becoming more self-aware allows us to shift to new energy sources that are less disruptive. For a Drama addict, that might be responding to what is really happening versus anticipating what might happen; remaining compassionate and bypassing the empathy versus getting enmeshed in other people’s problems; following the rules; getting input from others versus often bypassing rules. I was really surprised to realize that I am constantly talking to people about managing what they can control vs what they can’t control – seems like I need to follow my own counsel.

At the end of the day, it is affirming for me to see that my values and personal mission are aligned with what I am doing; that my personal vision is aligned with the career track I am on, and that I am comfortable with it. The groundwork has provided a process/tool to put more clearly in focus my road ahead.

What is your Dominant Energy Source? How is it holding you back? Have you done your own groundwork; dug deeper? Working with a coach can help you identify and find those blind spots.


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