The Power Of Full Engagement Summary
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The Power of Full Engagement Summary and Review | Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz

Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal

Jim Loehr’s Perspective

Jim Loehr is a world-renowned performance psychologist. He used his knowledge to co-found the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute. He has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show and often writes for the Harvard Business Review. He is the author of 17 self-help books, including his most recent, Leading with Character. It is his belief that our character is our most powerful tool when it comes to optimizing performance in our home and work lives.

Tony Schwartz’s Perspective

Tony Schwartz is an American journalist and business book author. In the 1980s, he co-authored Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal. Tony has also co-authored a book with the then CEO of Walt Disney Company, Michael Eisner. He writes a bi-weekly column for The New York Times on financial news. 

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Can you reach your peak performance levels without the right sort of energy? Did you know that there is more than one type of energy that fuels your success? The Power of Full Engagement emphasizes the importance of energy for both sports and professional performance. In the digital age, time management is no longer an option. We have access to the rest of the world 24/7. The Power of Full Engagement tells us how to reclaim control of our energy rather than our time. 

Released in 2003, it is a New York Times bestseller and has helped many companies improve efficiency.

StoryShot #1: Energy, Not Time, Is Our Most Precious Resource

Our performance runs on the currency of energy. The best energy state for improving performance is full engagement. The time we spend on something is not what makes our life work. Instead, the energy we bring to that time is important.

Four principles underpin full engagement. The first type of energy is physical. We all understand physical energy. It is the type that helps us move. As with all energy, physical energy depends on flexibility, endurance, and strength. 

The second type of energy is emotional. Emotional flexibility allows us to express a vast range of feelings. We experience different emotions in different situations. We can also experience several emotions during one experience. For example, a scary experience might include fear, curiosity, and perseverance. 

Mental energy is integral to focus. It is necessary for resilience. We draw on this when we feel like giving up, but we know we cannot. An example of this would be completing mundane work tasks, as you would lose your job if you did not do them. 

The final type is spiritual energy. Spiritual energy is about keeping in touch with our core values. We use our spiritual energy to help us make the right decisions. Our morals help dictate our decision-making. An example of this would be rejecting a well-paid job at an unethical company.

To reach our peak performance, we must ensure that all four energy levels are as full as possible. Our physical and emotional energy levels are the most important. But all energy types contribute to our performance. 

StoryShot #2: We Must Balance Energy Expenditure With Energy Renewal

Energy expenditure is vital for peak performance. But, we need to learn how to replenish our energy reserves after expenditure. Here are five ways you can encourage energy replenishment:

  1. Oscillation: Every biological process in the human body oscillates. Nothing is continually working in your body. Even your heart takes breaks between beats. If all you do is work and push yourself, you will struggle. So, you need to take time off to renew your energy. We have to be more like sprinters with our work. Work very hard when doing essential tasks or during important meetings. Then, we must relax.
  2. Rituals: Athletes can manage extraordinary demands by building powerful rituals. Rituals improve our resilience. We should build rituals around eating, exercising, and activities with friends and family.
  3. Awareness of your energy levels: You have to be aware of your energy levels to respond appropriately. One way to do this is by using a timer that prompts you to take breaks. But this is not always dependent on your energy levels at that point. Therefore, you need to learn when your energy levels are low and you need a break. For example, if you have to read an email 3 or 4 times, you will likely need a break. We must pay attention to the ‘window of circadian uncertainty.’ This low-energy time is often between 2 and 4 pm.
  4. A positive mindset: If you feel stressed or something terrible has happened, it is easy to be negative. Do something positive to reset your mood. Enjoy your favorite food or watch your favorite comedian. To recover mentally, you have to turn off the negative response neurons. Do something that uses a different part of your brain. The brain works best when it is entirely on, then turned fully off. 
  5. Reconnect to your purpose: Your experience should align with your values. You should engage in purposeful activities to refill your spiritual energy reserves. You could spend time with loved ones or read literature that has meaning to you.

StoryShot #3: We Need to Train Like Athletes

Our energy reserves are not infinite. Thus, we cannot continually work. If we did this, it would lead to burnout. We need to train our four energy types like muscles. 

Taking small steps outside our comfort zone increases our energy reserves. With the analogy of muscles, we tear muscle fibers, so they can grow. In the same way, we sometimes have to push ourselves harder than the average person to build up our reserves. Like athletes, we have to let ourselves recover after depleting our energy reserves. 

Imagine having constant negative thoughts due to a build-up of negative emotional energy. Instead of ignoring them, you should write these thoughts on paper. This forces you to re-read these thoughts. It might be uncomfortable, but it prompts you to track your feelings. Thus, strengthening your emotional energy the next time you have negative thoughts. 

These key muscles fuel positive emotional energy: self-confidence, self-control, interpersonal effectiveness, and empathy. Negative emotions are essential for survival, but they are not crucial for performance. To make our emotional muscles accessible, we have to balance exercise and recovery.

A great leader can foster positive emotions in colleagues in times of stress. Do this by encouraging them with enjoyable, fulfilling, and affirming activities. 

StoryShot #4: Build Positive Energy Rituals

The most important rituals are those associated with positive energy. One of the benefits of rituals is that they become habits. Habits use less brain activity, saving us time and energy. Only 5 percent of our actions are conscious. So, 95 percent of our actions are rituals. 

Complete self-control requires too much energy. Thus, rituals are fundamental to balancing our energy expenditure and renewal. 

As well as saving energy, rituals create positive patterns that help us live by our values. Living by our values helps us develop our spiritual energy. 

You should develop rituals through substitution. This involves training yourself to do something good every time you are tempted to do something bad. For example, every time you want a packet of potato chips, you would instead have a handful of nuts. Eventually, eating nuts will become a ritual. If you can continue to introduce new rituals, you can align your life with your values. 


We rate this book 4/5.

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This article is an unofficial summary and analysis. It was first published in March 2022.

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