Let’s define “high energy myth”:
The “high energy” myth presupposes that extreme extroversion, loud talking, and generally drawing attention to oneself leads to better social results such as higher status, more respect, more and better mating opportunities, and better connections and friendships.
But is the high-energy approach the best and most effective approach?
This article explains why “high energy” might not be the best option to achieve results (and what you need to do to make “high energy” truly effective).
First off, let’s define “high-energy”.
To be “high-energy” you’ll usually need a good chunk of these:
- Talk a lot
- Talk loudly
- Talk to lots of people
- Move around
- Crack a lot of jokes
- “Have fun” yourself
- Make others have fun
- Open many conversational threads (breadth, rather than depth)
- Gesticulate a lot
- Dance -ideally, dance while drawing lots of attention-
- Draw attention to yourself
Alcohol, drugs or some arcane techniques to “get in state” are sometimes used to fuel the high energy, but are not necessary.
In any event, as per the list above, high energy is more typical of extroverts. And to be high energy you most often need to expend a lot of effort.
As we mentioned, “high energy” is a very popular approach to self-help.
And not just social self-help, but also self-help in general. “High-energy” is often equated with “happiness”, “effectiveness”, and “getting things done”.
Many self-help coaches are extroverts and high-energy themselves, and they recommend the same approach to their customers and followers.
Tony Robbins for example:
Tony Robbins also demands the same high-energy “state” from his audience.
Dating coaches and PUAs have also long focused on high energy, doing lots of approaches, and being the life of the party.
The lingo for acting high-energy used to be “put yourself in state”, where “state” meant “high energy”. Several techniques were used to enter a high-energy state, ranging from pre-gaming with alcohol to talking to everyone before entering the club, to dancing like an idiot or shouting in the street.
RSD Tyler for example used to make his male students hold hands and jump in the club -not the most effective approach, as you can imagine-.
Even socially advanced guys like Ben and Charlie from Charisma on Command largely base their course Charisma University on being high energy.
So, given all this popularity… What’s wrong with that?
If you do it well -and in the right circumstances-, nothing.
But that’s a big IF.
Because very few people I’ve seen do high energy well and effectively.
High-Energy And Its Limitations
This website has sometimes discouraged or cautioned against the “high-energy” route to social self-improvement.
High energy is great.
You have fun, can help people have fun, draw people in, and potentially meet a lot of new people.
BUT, bBe it to achieve social power, social success, dating success, or status within groups, it’s very easy to do “high-energy” wrong.
Because, from a social power dynamics point of view, the high-energy approach is inherently high-effort.
So as per the fundamental laws of power, unless you’re getting extra returns for that effort, then you can easily become the low-power jester (and that achieves little results beyond the high of getting people’s reactions).
The jester, also called the “entertainer” is the guy who expends lots of effort trying to make others laugh and feel good, but gets little returns.
He gets reactions, but little concrete returns.
At the lowest power level, which is the jesters who aren’t even particularly funny, people consider them a noisy nuisance that’s better avoided.
At the low-intermediate level, people might laugh with them (or at them), but nobody respects them.
Ineffectively Great Looking
High-energy is popular because it can feel and look great and successful… Even while it’s actually being ineffective to achieve pragmatic goals.
Take what many consider the pinnacle of the high-energy approach: to be the “life of the party”.
That can easily end up being a rather empty pursuit if your goal was more practical -as it’s often the case for those looking into self-help-.
Things like acquiring a mate (the more silent guy can connect with her or sexualize with her 1:1 and leave with her), making friends (the more silent guy can do a lot of 1:1 convo and make real friends), or getting status (the dominance hierarchies are rarely negotiated in high-energy party mode).
And if you do it really wrong, which is also possible, then the extra effort of the high-energy is like going 10x faster in the wrong direction.
There are ways of being high-energy and winning.
Doing High-Energy Right: Add Power
Doing high energy well means reaping the rewards for the high effort you’re expending.
That often means: you must add power and/or dominance to the energy.
Luckily, I got to experience two different examples of doing high-energy successfully.
- Ahole approach: Power-taking, social climbing, derisive high energy
- Eagle approach: Value-giving high energy
You may be surprised to find the ahole approach listed as “effective”.
But as long as power-taking is not overly aggressive or directly crude, then both approaches can be successful to achieve life-relevant results such as status, mating opportunities, respect from others, etc.
There are few advantages that value-taking even holds over the eagle approach, but generally speaking, it’s less effective.
Let’s dig deeper with two real-life examples:
1. Ahole Approach: High-Energy + High-Dominance + Low-Warmth
The example I have is from E., my former classmate.
In high school, E. gave me the invaluable opportunity to experience life as both high status, and low(er) status.
Before high school I was high-status and well-liked in most groups I was part of, in and outside of school.
During the high school years outside of school, I was also mostly high status. Even those who were higher status than I was I’d say that few if any were much higher, even including older, more socially aggressive, or “cooler” guys.
BUT I was quite low-status in high school compared to E.
E. was on another level and seemed to have everything going on for him and “more” than I had.
It’s not too bad not being at the top if you’re still around the top. Actually, that’s great.
But since for a large chunk of high school it was only two men in the class, there wasn’t any “group”. There was just him, in charge, and then there was me, below him.
E. was very high-energy, but he was no jester.
He was high dominance, and reaped full results for his efforts (dating included).
At the time of writing, we recently met again and it was an incredible opportunity to measure my progress:
He was a beast back then, and was even more of a beast today.
As soon as he arrived -late-, he didn’t walk in.
He stopped a few meters away from the table and grabbed everyone’s attention while staying silent, smiling, and heavily gesticulating as if to say “come on, can you believe this”. And then dropped some jokes from afar.
He hadn’t even walked into the group, and he was already leading.
Then he went around the table, hugged the organizer of the event, made some jokes about her, kissed her on the head (affectionate dominance) and added: “but you know I love you” (push-pull, similar to “self-amusing” style, but he did a lot more “pushing” on her during the night).
Later he sees some people he knows at the restaurant and even though he has no interest whatsoever in children, he picks up their baby:
He talks to the woman’s husband who raptly listens to him… While He has his arm around his wife.
For all his success, E. often failed to grow closer, connect, or truly bond with people.
Even today, when he told me to meet again on some other day, I took no steps to make it happen. And was not looking forward to it.
He said “I’d be happy to” meet again. But actions speak louder than words, and if your actions push people down, then that “you‘d be happy to” means jack squat.
That’s because his dominance was often power and value-taking.
His jokes were derisive and pushing others down. Yes, people laughed, but subconsciously they also knew that they could be the next target. That naturally keeps people at arms’ length -including the ones who aren’t competing hard for status and/or are thick-skinned enough not to take the jokes too personally-.
He improved a lot in that department as well, but still largely relied on social climbing and deriding to hold court.
In a way, the social-climbing way is probably the easier shortcut.
On this website, we’re not fans of value-taking and asshole approaches.
Especially since better and more effective alternatives exist.
Enter, the eagle approach to high energy:
2. Eagle Approach: High-Energy + High-Dominance + High Warmth
Now compare to Davide.
Davide is a truly unique blend of high-energy/high-dominance because he adds not just boatloads of friendliness and warmth (as you’ll see, we might even call it “love” in this case), but also lots of empathy and vulnerability.
Davide was equally high-energy and (almost) equally dominant as my former classmate.
But instead of the default mode being value-taking, he had a value-giving default mode.
He was like that as a kid.
And when I saw him again the other night, he got even better.
I took some clips yesterday night because it’s great stuff for power dynamics:
While being the life of the party, Davide also:
- Displays dominance with love and affection: look at how he enters the conversation at minute 1:04. He interrupts. But his foot forward is with love. He, a straight guy, takes and holds a straight guy’s hand Oprah style. He does it seamlessly, while keeping the festive atmosphere. Even if my other friend might have wanted to keep his conversation going, how can you reject someone who comes at you with that much love?
- Pull the group up: the stories he talks about are stories of us being great (including the “reminisce stories” of us as kids, all directly or indirectly said “we’re great”)
- Pull individuals up: everything he says either privately or publicly is good and uplifting about people
- Displays joy both for life and for the people: he’s always happy and cheerful. Notice how he looks at people in the eyes. Especially the very beginning, where he sees my friend for the first time. Straight, unwavering, high-power… But also “full of joy to see them” (actually, full of love). His nonverbals sub-communicates “I’m so happy to see you and be with you”
- Be vulnerable while still being the most dominant guy: notice how often he touches his heart. He said “my heart is racing” and “you guys made my heart swell up tonight”. And he openly talked about his past issues with drugs
- Connect with individuals as he addressed many: he sometimes talked to someone, then switched to addressing the group, but still talking about the individual (something positive or uplifting)
- Connect 1:1 with more private conversation
The last one blew me away.
David had been complimentary and uplifting all night.
But before leaving he made it lower energy, and more personal. He got close to me, and with his unwavering eye contact said: “ah Lu, you believe me? I look at you straight. You know I love you right? Even though we don’t see each other for a lifetime, you’re the N.1. I am happy you’re doing great”.
Right after that, he went back to higher energy social again, bid farewell, and exited like a boss.
The loudest guy, was also the guy who touched me the deepest (and, I bet, who also touched deep many other people in his life).
So much so, that I call this blend of high-energy, dominance, and love the “Davide style”, in his honor.
Calibrating Energy Levels
If we’re talking about effectiveness and energy, then we need to talk about calibration.
There are always exceptions of course.
So sometimes amping up the state of a low-energy group can make you the undisputed leader. And taking someone from high energy to a more intimate -or seductive- one-on-one is what starts a deeper friendship -or seduction-.
However, as a general rule, calibrate your energy level to the environment and to the people you’re interacting with.
Generally speaking, you want to be higher energy in high-energy environments and groups -it would be harder getting people’s and groups’ attention while talking slow, quiet, and little at a club-. And you want to be chiller in lower energy environments and groups -you wouldn’t fit in as the odd one out-.
Ted and Lilly: (hangover and low-energy)
Robin: (odd one out being too high energy)
Calibrating for Your Goals
Also, energy levels should match your goals.
Need to meet lots of people?
You need higher energy.
Want to look high-power and worldly, like you’ve seen been everywhere and seen it all?
Lower your energy.
As a general rule though, the “high energy” approach can sometimes sub-communicate you’re looking for something -approval, connections, or mates-. And the person who’s looking for something is almost inherently lower power.
See this example from “How I Met Your Mother”. It’s a comedy of course, but it’s a good reflection of real social dynamics: the higher energy folks are the ones who want/need a mate.
And that is one of the reasons why, unless it’s done really well or for self-amusement, I’m not the biggest fan of high energy to achieve social and personal success.
Especially if you’re not feeling like being high-energy.
Should You Learn “Effective High-Energy?”
Yes, it’s very useful.
There will be times when you need to carry the conversation, at least initially. And you need to talk more, or even to “steal” a laugh or smile to get your foot properly in.
And there are times when high-energy is the most effective mode to reach certain goals -or just to have fun-.
Sometimes, low-energy people are hiding behind low-energy and they instead need to learn how to let go, and how to have some good old unrestrained fun.
That being said, never forget that high energy is useless -or even counterproductive- without power.
So I’d prioritize power above high energy. Power is the foundation.
High energy socialization is a popular approach to (social) self-development.
It’s common both in general socialization, as well as for dating.
High energy socializing is not bad per se.
And can be both great fun and effective, if done well.
As a matter of fact, learning to be a high-energy, “life of the party” guy can be a worthwhile pursuit and something you might also want to work on.
And it might especially good for introverts to work on, since it’s not a “mode” that comes naturally to them. But it can be helpful, or even necessary, to achieve results in many higher-energy social scenarios.
Yet, “high-energy” is not very effective per se. And to make it truly work high energy needs power.
Power without high-energy works. High-energy without power doesn’t work.
Once you combine the two, high-energy works.
Ideally, you’ll also add the high-quality, eagle attitude that builds people up. And you’ll develop the social and emotional intelligence that allows you to take some breaks from the high energy and empathize and connect with individuals at a 1:1 level.
Then high-energy truly turns into an all-around, win-win-win, very successful social approach.