It was an embarrassing place to be, worn out by the demands of leading. Trying to muster an ounce of energy to tackle the next challenge, win the next battle, overcome the next struggle, but there was nothing to draw from. I was leading on empty.

The thrill of leading and the adrenaline of winning had blinded me to the swelling fatigue taking place internally. I kept red lining my engine, driving hard to achieve our dreams as quickly as possible and it had caught up.

It Does Not Happen Over Night

Like most issues, this did not happen overnight. When you run hard and long without taking the time to take care of yourself – you wear out. When you wear out, you cannot perform at your best, your decisions are clouded, your thought process is scattered, everything is skewed by the fog of fatigue.

There are numerous side effects of Leading on Empty that if left unchecked will unravel and derail the best intentions, not to mention the potential of halting momentum and disrupting business growth and development, and worse – losing everything that matters.

Empty is a frustrating place to find yourself – life continues to ask, demand, and require your involvement and participation, but when you have nothing to give what do you do? Where do you find something, anything to give when there’s nothing left – all is spent?

You Are Not Alone

If you find yourself at the very place I describe, you’re not alone.  Leaders everywhere are leading on empty and they, the people they love, and the organizations they lead are suffering for it. But it doesn’t have to be this way nor does it have to stay this way.

The key to preventing or recovering from finding yourself without any energy reserves is to put this one practice into play in your life and leadership: Watch Your Internal Gauges!

Internal Gauges Speak to Your Every Day

Like the vehicle you drive, you have internal gauges that speak to you every second of every day. Leading on Empty is a result of ignoring internal gauges or not being aware of your internal gauges. You have a finite supply of energy that must be monitored and measured as you meet the demands of the work you do or the way you are living life. There is a perpetual draw from your limited energy supply and without taking the appropriate and necessary measures you will deplete the energy sources and reserves that you have.

Here are some things to think about from the dashboard of your vehicle:

How much fuel is in your tank?

This is measured by monitoring the amount of rest and recovery you are experiencing. Rest and recovery are the most important aspects of leading well and living fully. The old adage that less is more is very true when it comes to performance and productivity.

What RPM’s are you living and leading at?

RPM’s speak to the speed at which we are leading. When things are growing rapidly in an organization they can be a lot of fun. It can be very challenging to slow things down as the rush of adrenaline can become very addictive. Just like an engine that is red lining, eventually, it will give out and blow up if the engine is abused. Watch your RPM’s carefully and know that if you are smart with how you rev your leadership engine and how frequently you rev it will help you maintain and sustain long-term success.

Are the temperature gauges staying in normal ranges?

The temperature gauge is a subtle aspect of the performance of a leadership engine. It speaks to the levels of stress you are under and the effects of that stress on you personally. Your leadership temperature will scream at you the higher it gets. You can often measure your stress by the how your most important relationships are affected.

Top Performers Challenged With Leading on Empty

Leading on Empty is a real battle for top performers as they want to achieve and win every day. There’s no question that success can be sustained for long periods of time but a wise leader knows that they must watch their gauges and then do what it takes to make sure they don’t find themselves empty


If you find yourself at or nearing that place of Leading on Empty, reach out to me and let’s chat, I can help you recover and make sure you never end up here again.

Have an EPIC day!

Jerome Wade