In The Power of Full Engagement, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz teach you what they have learned about the importance of managing energy from their work in professional sports. Energy is one of your five most precious resources and must be managed wisely.
For thirty years, their organization has worked with world-class athletes, law enforcement, medical professionals, and business leaders to help them consistently perform at peak performance in demanding environments. This book will teach you how to do the following:
- Handle the four critical sources of energy;
- Balance the usage and recharging of your energy;
- Expand your energy capacity in the same way that high-performers do; and
- Establish specific rituals to manage your energy.
Dynamics of Full Engagement
Become Fully Engaged
The precious resource of energy, not time, is fundamental to high performance in a demanding world. Everything requires energy and skillfully managing energy results in harnessing the power of full engagement. The power of full engagement results in higher performance, better health, and more happiness.
|Old Paradigm||New Paradigm|
|Manage time||Manage energy|
|Avoid Stress||Seek stress|
|Life is a marathon||Life is a series of sprints|
|Downtime is wasted time||Downtime is productive time|
|Rewards fuel performance Self-discipline rules||Purpose fuels performance Rituals rule|
|The power of positive thinking||The power of full engagement|
The Four Principles of Full Engagement
You can achieve full engagement by managing your energy through the following four principles:
Principle 1: “Full engagement requires drawing on four separate but related sources of energy: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.” You must be physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focused, and spiritually aligned with a higher purpose driving you.
Principle 2: “Because energy capacity diminishes both with overuse and with underuse, we must balance energy expenditure with intermittent energy renewal.” You must rhythmically use and recharge your energy to maintain momentum toward your goals.
Principle 3: “To build capacity, we must push beyond our normal limits, training in the same systematic way that elite athletes do.” You must stress yourself physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually beyond your limits to grow and then give yourself time for recovery.
Principle 4: “Positive energy rituals—highly specific routines for managing energy—are the key to full engagement and sustained high performance.” A positive ritual is a behavior that is automatically adapted over time and motivated by a deeply-held value.
The Change Process for Full Engagement
There is a three-step process for making significant long-lasting changes (Purpose, Truth, Action):
- Define Purpose: Determine the most critical values in your life and establish a vision for your personal and professional life.
- Face the Truth: Gather credible metrics to measure your management of energy physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
- Take Action: Make moves and manage your energy to close the gap between your purpose (where you want to be) and the truth (where you are right now).
Balancing Stress and Recovery
Energy is the capacity to do work.
As humans, we have a fundamental need to spend and recover energy. We need energy for performance, health, and happiness, and has to be balanced with recovery:
Rhythmic wave oscillation is the balancing of stress and recovery critical to high performance personally and professionally.
Rhythmic wave oscillation is the fundamental pulse of life. Thus, the more power powerful our pulse, the more fully engaged we can be. As humans, we are oscillatory beings that need to spend and recover energy. We draw down our energy supply during expenditure and recharge our energy supply during recovery. In contrast, we can stress or recover too much with the opposite of oscillation:
Linearity is too much energy expenditure without recovery or too much recovery without sufficient energy expenditure.
If we spend too much energy without sufficient recovery, we will burn out and break down. If we recover too much energy without enough stress, we will atrophy and become weaker.
Like building physical capacity, we grow emotional, mental, and spiritual capacity in the same way. To be successful, we must maintain healthy oscillatory rhythms at all four levels (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual) of the performance pyramid:
We grow at all levels by stressing ourselves past our limits and then giving ourselves time to recover. Thus, we must regularly expose ourselves to the short-term discomfort of stress beyond our normal limits, followed by adequate recovery to achieve our long-term goals.
Physical energy is the fundamental source of fuel in the fire that is life as
Physical Capacity is defined by the quantity of energy and reflected in one’s ability to expend and recover energy at the physical level. The quantity of available energy is measured in terms of volume (low to high). The goal is to achieve the greatest quantity of energy.
Simply, physical energy comes from the interaction between oxygen and glucose. Thus, the most important regulators of physical energy are breathing and eating, as well as sleeping, intermittent recovery, and level of fitness:
- Breathe Deely: Inhale in for three seconds and exhale for six seconds to relax the mind, body, and emotions. Continuous breathing provides alertness, energy, and focus.
- Eat Healthily: Eat five to six low-calorie, highly nutritious meals per day. Stick to foods that are low on the glycemic index, which is the rate at which sugar releases into the bloodstream.
- Stay Hydrated: Drink at least sixty-four ounces of water daily to stay hydrated.
- Sleep Enough: Sleep about seven to eight hours of sleep per night to function optimally. Go to bed early, avoid working late, and wake up early to help optimize performance.
- Take Breaks: Take recovery breaks at least every 90 to 120 minutes using a non-work activity to relax and disengage from work. Short naps (40 minutes to an hour) improve performance and alertness.
- Exercise: Strength train (twice per week) and cardio train (twice per week) to push your limits, prevent aging, and increase metabolism. Interval training, instead of steady-state exercise, better improves capacity and recovery.
To perform using the power of full engagement, we must manage our emotional energy:
Emotional Capacity is defined by the quality of energy and reflected in one’s ability to expend and recover energy at the emotional level. The quality of available energy is measured in from unpleasant (negative) to pleasant (positive). The goal is to achieve the highest quality of energy.
Simply, emotional intelligence is the ability to manage emotions skillfully to be positive and fully engaged. In stressful moments, we must muster positive emotions. The key factors to fuel emotional capacity include self-confidence, self-control (self-regulation), social skills (interpersonal effectiveness), and empathy:
- Access Positive Emotions: Summon positive and pleasant emotions, such as the experience of enjoyment, challenge, adventure, and opportunity.
- Manage Negative Emotions: Push past the negative emotions that arise from threats (fear, frustration, anger, sadness) serve survival but are toxic and harmful to performance.
- Do Enjoyable Activities: Take part in any activity that is enjoyable, fulfilling, and affirming. These activities will arouse positive emotions and pleasure, which is vital for sustained performance.
- Cultivate Relationships: Seek out healthy friendships as these provide a power source of positive energy and renewal.
- Expand Emotional Capacity: Experience a full range of feelings by holding contradictory impulses. We tend to pick sides and value specific emotions while ignoring and discrediting others.
Mental capacity is used to organize our lives and focus our attention:
Mental Capacity is defined by the focus of energy and reflected in one’s ability to expend and recover energy at the mental level. The focus of available energy is measured in terms of broad to narrow and external to internal. The goal is to achieve the clearest focus of energy.
We build mental capacity by pushing past our comfort zone to challenge the brain, which helps prevent against age-related mental decline. The critical factors in building mental capacity include mental preparation, visualization, positive self-talk, effective time management, and creativity:
- Be Optimistic: Work toward a positive desired outcome or solution while being realistic about how the world operates.
- Physically Exercise: Stimulate cognitive capacity through physical activity. The mind and body are heavily linked.
- Visualize Your Day: Think through the personal and professional challenges that may show up in the day ahead and visualize how you would face those challenges.
- Seek Creativity: Switch modes to allow different parts of your brain to activate and spur creativity. Creativity rhythmically depends on engagement, thinking, and activity.
- Manage Your Time: Make smart choices about prioritizing what is urgent versus important. You deplete your energy when you spend time on tasks that do not advance your vision.
- Build-in Downtime: Rest and recover as your brain needs time to encode new information and experiences. Without downtime, your brain will not be efficient at learning.
Spiritual energy provides the force for action in all facets of our lives:
Spiritual Capacity is defined as the force of energy and reflected in one’s ability to expend and recover energy at the spiritual level. The force of available energy is measured in terms of self to others, external to internal, and negative to positive. Our goal is to achieve the maximum force of energy.
Spiritual energy emanates from a connection to a set of deeply held values and a purpose beyond our own self-interest. Anything that kindles the human spirit helps to harness the power of full engagement and maximize performance in whatever mission we are on. The key factors that fuel spiritual energy are character, passion, commitment, integrity, and honesty:
- Live by Your Values: Character is the courage and conviction to live by your deepest values even when it requires personal sacrifice and hardship.
- Commit to a Higher Purpose: Commit to a purpose beyond your own self-interest. The energy of the human spirit can override even severe limitations of physical energy.
- Have Integrity and Honesty: Do what you say you are going to do when you say you are going to do it.
- Conduct Self-Care: Seek regular ways to rest and rejuvenate and to reconnect with the values that you find most inspiring and meaningful. Self-care will counterbalance your commitment to your higher purpose.
The Change Process
The Change Process is a three-step process for making significant long-lasting changes (Purpose, Truth, Action). If growth and development take place from the bottom up (physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually), change occurs from the top down.
Since the start of recorded history, the search from meaning endures as a dominant theme in every culture. Known as the “hero’s journey,” the hero goes on an adventure, wins a victory in a crisis scenario, and returns home changed or transformed. The hero endeavors the journey with a strong sense of purpose and employs his energy in service of what matters most.
Purpose comes from spiritual energy, which provides us with a set of deeply held values and a higher purpose. It powers full engagement by igniting our desire to invest our precious resources, especially energy, toward specific tasks, goals, or vision. When we lack meaning, the chaos of life will take over and prevent us from reaching our goals.
Our purpose becomes more compelling and enduring when it comes from the following energy sources:
- Positive: This source is constructive, optimistic, or instills confidence, which opens our mind and expands our possibilities.
- Negative: This source is defensive and deficit-based, which arises from threats, narrows our focus, and limits our opportunities.
- Intrinsic: This source spawns from our desire to participate in an activity due to the internal pleasure it provides.
- Extrinsic: This source follows our desire to gain more of something that we think we lack: money, approval, social status, power, or love.
- Beyond Ourselves: This source moves us past our own needs and wants to serve something greater than ourselves.
Defining purpose requires deep work, which is the quiet, uninterrupted time that many of us need to do more of.
Values provide a foundation for our purpose and define the code of conduct to turn our vision into reality.
Virtues are values in action, so alignment occurs when we take action on our values and transform them into virtues.
After defining purpose and values, we can establish our vision:
A Vision Statement establishes a plan for investing our energy and is grounded in our meaningful and compelling values.
Face the Truth
Tendency to Avoid the Truth
We tend to avoid the truth, which consumes a great deal of effort and energy:
- Denial: We refuse to see the truth and become disengaged.
- Fear: We are scared of the truth and become defensive, rigid, and constricted.
- Overwhelm: The truth is too difficult to understand at once and should be digested in small chunks.
- Ignorance: We act unknowingly or unconsciously and never acknowledge the truth.
- Self-Deception: We assume our view represents the truth; however, it is just a perspective to see the world.
We deceive ourselves from the truth to protect our self-esteem.
Face Your Truth
After defining our purpose, we need to face the truth. We need to audit our behavior and be accountable for our actions. In this step, we will gather credible data to measure your management of energy: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
Facing the truth allows us to recognize and address negative feelings instead of acting on impulse. We should be open to the possibility that we do not see ourselves or others accurately. Additionally, we need to accept our weaknesses to reduce our defensiveness and improve the amount of positive energy available.
All high performers use positive rituals to manage their energy and control their actions in the face of limited willpower and discipline. You can establish positive energy rituals to close the gap between your purpose (where you want to be) and the truth (where you are right now).
Positive Energy Rituals
Positive energy rituals help you take action and manage energy on three levels:
- They ensure that we effectively manage energy between expenditure and renewal in the power of full engagement.
- They create structure in our lives. In demanding situations, rituals reduce relying on our limited will and discipline to take action.
- They help translate our values and priorities into action. Rituals embody what matters most to us in our everyday behaviors.
Here are some guidelines for devising rituals that address your primary performance issues and hold yourself accountable to your commitments:
- Increase levels of rigor in your ritual actions for more challenging and stressful situations.
- Become automatic as soon as possible using your deeply held values to overpower for your limited will and discipline.
- Be precise and specific with your actions in the thirty-to sixty-day period of acquiring the ritual.
- Avoid trying not to do a behavior, as this will quickly exhaust your limited reserve of willpower and discipline.
- Focus on making one significant change at a time to create serial rituals that endure.
When you use the power of full engagement, you can manage your energy physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I hope this post will help you be more successful in using and reviving your energy. Also, I hope you are inspired to get your own copy of The Power of Full Engagement.
If you have any further questions or need additional help, feel free to comment below or send me an email. Also, if you want more Process Hacker content, you should subscribe to our weekly newsletter on Productivity, Habits, and Resources.