This is one of those books that just makes sense. Even though the book was written over ten years ago, I would argue that all of the premises in the book hold true today. The overall idea is that everyone is busy. The technology in our lives that is supposed to make things easier, actually keeps us busier. How many of us start our days by checking something on our phones, messages, social media, email? And how many of us end our days the exact same way. To manage our busy lifestyles, we need to understand the importance of managing the energy that we put into our professional and personal lives. According to Loehr and Schwartz, “To be fully engaged, we must be physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focused and spiritually aligned with a purpose beyond our immediate self-interest.”
The authors of this book began their work with professional athletes and eventually expanded to work with many different types of companies and businesses. The book outlines 4 principals that will help you build your capacity to live a fully engaged life.
Principal One: Full engagement requires drawing on four separate but related sources of energy: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
Principal Two: Because energy capacity diminishes both with overuse and underuse, we must balance energy expenditure with intermittent energy renewal.
Principal Three: To build capacity, we must push beyond our normal limits, training in the same systematic way that elite athletes do.
Principal Four: Positive energy rituals (highly specific routines for managing energy) are the key to full engagement and sustained high performance.
But just understanding the principals will not lead to change. They also outline a three-step process for change. Define your purpose, Face the Truth, and Take Action.
The book is very easy to read. It begins with an overview. I think I have mentioned before that I like to read non-fiction books with a highlighter. The first chapter of this book has multiple highlights on every page. The principals, the idea of the mind and body working together, the change process. It all set the stage for the rest of the book.
In the second chapter we meet “Roger”. Roger is a client of the authors whose boss sends him to work with them. Roger shows up throughout the book and in the last chapter we see how Roger is able to make the changes that he needs and how he sticks with them. Each chapter after this introduces us to different people who have come to work through the authors program and through these snapshots, we are able to really visualize the principals and concepts outlined in the book.
The third chapter really focuses on the second and third principals. The idea of recovery after sustained energy usage. You can’t really be at your best productivity if you work for hours with out a break. Even a short break after every 90-120 minutes of work, can help to increase your focus and energy levels. This spending and recovering of energy is called oscillation. The third principal points out the need to push beyond our comfort level in order to build our capacity.
Once we have a good understanding of these principals the authors then go back to the ideas in the first principal. There are chapters about building capacity with physical energy, emotional energy, mental energy and spiritual energy. The book ends with chapters outlining the process for change. Defining your purpose goes back to your spiritual energy and your why. Facing the truth and the need to be honest with yourself about your values and how you are spending your energy. And finally taking action. This chapter wraps up with the fourth principal about “rituals” or we might also call them habits and how having defined rituals can help you maximize your energy. The book also has some helpful resources at the end. My favorite is the “Most Important Physical Energy Management Strategies”.
The Power of Full Engagement is full of really helpful information and it gives the reader a lot to think about. The idea that you can’t just keep going without giving yourself time for recovery. Realizing that your physical energy is tied to your mental, emotional and spiritual energy. Knowing that to be truly engaged you need to have a purpose and be willing to push yourself out of your comfort zone. A couple years ago the coaches at Forward Fitness read this book and if you participate in our monthly accountability groups or have taken part in a challenge, you might hear Suzanne’s voice in your head as you read this book and that is not a bad thing.