Dad loved his cars.


Out in the back of the barn, he had old cars he claimed he’d ‘fix up one day.’ There was a ’40 Ford Coupe, ’56 Mercury Montclair, and the ’63 Ford Falcon that he and my Mom took cross country to Nova Scotia for their 25th wedding anniversary.


I remember snippets of conversations over the years about how the regulator wasn’t working on his tractor or was bad on his Ram pickup truck.


I didn’t really understand what he was talking about but became more interested as I approached 16.


Eager to get my driving permit, one weekend I asked dad to take me out to practice driving.


When we got back home, he offered an overview of all things car related: a) how to check the oil and fluid levels, b) how to locate the correct PSI on the door jamb, and c) how check the air in all the tires so they register somewhere between 33-36 PSI.


He put a fine point on keeping the air in the tires constant, informing me that, “You get better mileage that way, Kiddo.” (Key point, take note!)


He thought it was time for me to learn how to change a tire too: engage the parking brake, get the jack from the trunk, and grab the spare. Place the jack under the car and raise it up. Remove the hubcap, loosen the lug nuts with some elbow grease, have the spare handy, then switch out the tire. Whew! I did it!


I remember feeling so proud. It had only taken me about an hour. He smiled, but then told me, “Go ahead, you’re going to change it again.”


So, I did it again – twice more!



Regulators and alternators are essential for a car to function well. I wish Dad had taught me more about how alternators and regulators worked, and how to know when they need adjusting.


Can you guess why?


If the input voltage – energy– to the alternator in your car is too high, it could overload the electrical systems. If it’s too low, it could shut down the systems all together, draining any charge.


This is where the regulator comes in.


It ensures that the alternator maintains a steady sweet spot of voltage between 13.5V and 14.5V – enough constant voltage to recharge the battery without overloading the car’s electrical components and circuits.


We’re not cars, of course, but our inner regulator – homeostasis – is what keeps our internal systems – body temperature, oxygen levels, blood sugars and pressure – in dynamic play.


Homeostasis is characteristic of living things. Without it we’d be unable to adjust to the constant changes both around us and within us.


Yet, homeostasis can get thrown off when our energy is too high or too low–like when we’re overly stressed, impacting things like our blood pressure, oxygen levels, and sleep.


It’s feedback that regulates our body’s response to a stimulus, affecting the original stimulus. For example, remember a time when you experienced a chilly draft – you may have put on a sweater that reduced the chill you were experiencing.


Negative feedback occurs when the response to a stimulus reduces the original stimulus. Positive feedback occurs when the response to a stimulus increases the original stimulus.


Because the internal and external environments of a cell are constantly changing, adjustments must be made continuously to stay at or near the set point – just like a car regulator keeps the voltage between 13.5 – 14.5 volts.


Like dad said about constant air pressure in the tires because “you get better mileage that way,” we need our internal regulators in tip top shape to function well, combat record levels of stress, prevent burnout, and provide a steady stream of energy for daily life and leadership.


What’s impacting your regulator these days? Do you need a tune up? I’d love to hear! Reach me at


ABOUT THE CREATOR OF The Leadership Pause

I’m Dr. Chris Johnson, I coach changemakers and leaders with practical tools to pause, feel, and zero in on their old strategies to renew their energy, extend compassion, make clear decisions, and create real change by using their power skills. Learn more at:

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