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The Power of Full Engagement

Jan 17th 2010
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I have been called the Energizer Bunny on Steroids and people often ask me, “How do you have so much energy?”  I never really thought much about it until I read The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz.  The number of hours in a day is fixed, but the quantity and quality of energy available to us is not. This is something we can control with our decisions and actions.

We live in the digital age and our pace is fast and relentless.  We face heavy workloads, many family responsibilities and we try to cram as much as possible into every day.  We may be wired up, but we are melting down.  Time management is no longer a solution; instead, we need to learn how to manage our energy.  As energy is the key to high performance as well as health, happiness and life balance.
The book outlines four key principles to increase our energy level:
1.                  Mobilize four key sources of energy:
a.      Physical – exercise, nutrition and sleep
b.      Emotional – transforming threat into challenge
c.      Mental – appropriate focus and realistic optimism
d.      Spiritual – having a “why” to live
2.                  Balance energy expenditure with intermittent energy renewal.
3.                  Expand capacity in the same systematic way that elite athletes do.
4.                  Create highly specific, positive energy management rituals.
The authors write that energy is the basic element all people bring to their jobs and utilize in society. They have observed that human energy, not time, is the needed resource and the key detriment to growth and success. Loehr and Schwartz state that life isn’t a marathon; rather it’s a series of sprints. To be successful, individuals need to balance recovery time with actual sprinting.
In observing how tennis player Ivan Lendl played the game, Loehr discovered it was not how Lendl played the points, but how he behaved between points. He observed that Lendl had developed rituals to relax and calm down between points: “Lendl predictably wiped his brow with his wristband, knocked the head of his racket against each of his heels, took sawdust from his pocket, bounced the ball four times and visualized where he intended to hit the ball. In the process, Lendl was recalibrating his energy; pushing away distraction, calming his physiology, focusing his attention, triggering reengagement and preparing his body to perform at its best.”
Loehr and Schwartz assert that many executives, managers, and workers don’t have rituals to help them relax and remain effective. They state that rituals help us connect to our values and assure our efforts are directed to serve our most important goals. These rituals are only effective if the reader can get to the point where their rituals are nearly automatic.
The back of the book contains “The Training System” developed by Loehr and Schwartz. This system assists the reader to develop energy rituals that balance production and recovery. The Power of Full Engagement is another on my list of books that highly recommend.