on January 31, 2004
Those of us who are retired and not living with others are a perfect market for this book. Without jobs or family members making demands on us, with most of our time our own, we can fall into habits that work against us: watching TV at all hours of the day and night, sleeping erratically and at all hours, napping during the day even when we're not tired.
This book provides us with both the rationale and the know-how for setting up routines that can transform our lives. After decades of productivity, I found myself rattling around the house wondering,"What am I DOING with my life?". With nothing pressing, my "well-earned rest" turned into an unfocused waste of time and an uncomfortable feeling that I was wasting my life. My mood started to sink, as did my energy.
This book has galvanized me to action. I started with bedtime and arising routines, which quickly led to an exercise routine, then regularly scheduled meals. My energy has returned - I feel like the "old me"! - and my time is now filled with pleasurable and stimulating activities. This book has stopped me from growing old, and I am extremely grateful.
on February 5, 2003
THE POWER OF FULL ENGAGEMENT has the potential to change your life with one single insight: that managing ENERGY, not time, is the key to high performance and personal renewal. While I have as many hours in a day as I had in my 20s, I have to admit that my energy and productivity levels had dropped over the years. This book explains how to increase your energy levels through tapping four primary sources of energy: physical (and includes strategies for "fueling the fire" through exercise, nutrition, and sleep), emotional ("transforming threat into challenge"), mental ("appropriate focus and realistic optimism"), and spiritual ("having a 'why' to live"). The training system this book espouses asks the reader to define their purpose, to face the truth about how they're managing their energy now, and to take action through positive rituals. Since learning and putting into practice some of the ideas in this book, I have managed to at least DOUBLE my energy level during the day as well as my effectiveness in accomplishing the things that are most important to me. You can't put a price tag on results like these -- but if you could, [the price] seems like a miraculous bargain to me.
on March 9, 2003
As an author, my work requires focus and concentration, and in the especially intense period right before a deadline, I often found myself working 12 or more hours a day, hardly stopping to eat lunch and/or dinner. (Despite the fact that I write books about gastronomy, while on deadline meals too often meant grabbing whatever was fast and easy.) The ideas in THE POWER OF FULL ENGAGEMENT, to which I was previously exposed through attending programs led by author Tony Schwartz, changed my habits and productivity radically. Instead of the aforementioned "marathon" approach, I now break my workday into 90-minute "sprints," punctuated by 15-minute breaks which serve to re-energize and re-vitalize my efforts. Instead of feeling guilty for going for my daily run in Central Park, I now see it as "recovery" time that is not only a mini-vacation but vital to my overall productivity. Since researching and writing about food definitely stimulates the appetite, instead of skipping meals I now eat all day -- but just five small meals a day, which has actually helped me lose weight and keeps my energy up. And instead of working through the weekend, I now "force" myself to take at least one day off so that I can return to my work refreshed and renewed.
The results, for me, have been astounding -- both in terms of what I have been able to accomplish, and how I feel. My co-author and I recently finished not one but two books, both of which will be coming out in October 2003. And learning to tap new sources of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy has been a great positive charge in my life.
I can't recommend THE POWER OF FULL ENGAGEMENT more highly to anyone who wants to improve the quality of their professional and personal lives.
--Andrew Dornenburg, James Beard Award-winning author...
on June 21, 2003
Loehr and Schwartz have individually worked most of their careers on researching how humans achieve peak performance, and have together written a summary of what they've discovered to date. What impressed me about this book is that it's 1) based on actual research rather than theory, and 2) written in a manner that is very easy to understand and implement.
Loehr's work in the past centered around seeking the source of human capacity - what makes it possible for some people to perform at the highest levels even under extraordinary pressure. He's noteworthy for having started an institute that has worked over the years with many top athletes including Pete Sampras, Dan Jansen, Mark O'Meara, and Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini among others. Schwart's background has involved understanding the nature of wisdom - what constitutes a satisfying, productive and well-lived life. Together they've developed a model for peak living that combines the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
They state that which is obvious but not followed well by most of us Americans - that without physical energy and health it's impossible to follow the rest of our dreams and ambitions in life. In the physical realm their analysis specifically of top athletes shows that peak performance involves both a willingness to push the body to the limit, and also hugely importantly regular periods of rest and recovery. They apply this to the "corporate athlete" who is their target audience for the book with the following advice - seek out stressful situations that push your range of psychological muscles - AND find time regularly for recovery. They have specific recommendations for incorporating rest and recovery throughout every day. They say that in the work world we tend to live linearly - meaning working straight through long days - which results in low energy periods/burnout/unreleased stress/etc. I completely identified with this section of the book and am going to use many of their concepts successfully tested on successful athletes and include them in my business day planning.
The book acknowledges that without a personal big "why" driving what you do in life having physical energy is pointless - with the opposite holding true as well. Plentiful physical energy without a reason for existence goes nowhere and a crystal clear purpose can't be lived out without ample physical energy to make it happen. As with all of the book the chapter on spiritual energy is filled with real life examples of people who have been through their institute and whom they've helped develop a game plan for overall life performance.
The chapters on emotional and mental energy are really the glue that holds the physical and spiritual together - and are also interesting.
The book finishes with a "resource" section that includes a summary of the main points they've made, worksheets on connecting with a big purpose and on connecting the small habits (little muscles) into bigger habits and successes (large muscles).
A great read - stimulating - thought provoking - and possessing that rarest of information in today's world - some actual wisdom.
Much of the information in this book can be found in other books on time management and personal productivity. Readers will need to decide whether to revile the authors for repeating so much conventional wisdom or appreciate their efforts to gather it together in one place. Information about proper sleep and nutrition habits, for example, remains useful even when it is not new.
The unique value of this book goes beyond its organization of personal energy into physical, emotional, mental and physical energy. We have read most of these concepts before in the sales motivation literature. The book's practical value is in its advice about how to incorporate regular energy renewal routines into your life. Steven Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) calls this "sharpening the saw." These authors expand on the concept with a full range of suggestions and examples.
The authors' studies of professional athletes have taught them two principles. One is that high performers work hard to stretch their limits and increase their capacity over the long term. This is not news. The second--and more interesting--lesson is that top athletes build replenishment into both their training and performance routines. In one example they describe a tennis player who uses breathing exercises to lower his heart rate between each set. They authors argue that this kind of renewal in the middle of the game is essential to high performance. And that it generalizes from athletes to the rest of us.
I'm sufficiently convinced of the value of renewal rituals that I have used the book's advice to design two of my own. I have discovered an unexploited hour of time in the mornings between when I drop off my son at a before-school activity and when I must leave for work. It is just enough time to fit in 30 minutes of swimming that will help me face the day. I've also resumed an old habit to walk two extra miles toward home after work before getting on my commuter train. I hope that this will not only give me some additional exercise, but provide a buffer between the stresses of work and returning home. Both seem to be helping after two weeks. We'll see about the long-term.
I advise borrowing this book--or audio book--from a library or a friend to see what good it has to offer. Frankly, I wouldn't buy it if I could borrow it.
on May 5, 2003
Theme: Time is limited (365days, 24hrs) to handle increasing demands in life. We can manage this by increasing our energy in four aspects: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. The key is to challenge our energy limits to expand our energy capacity, and to recover afterwards before the next challenge.
This energy management concept does give you hope after so many futile efforts in putting our life in order. The theme is intellectually sound, and the coverage (4 dimensions) is comprehensive. The tone is motivational: It encourages us to challenge ourselves, while advises us to take a break despite some societies admire hard work and busy schedule.
The authors are consultants with actual experience in enhancing sports people and business executives' energy performance. They are able to provide a lot of cases to illustrate ideas, plus useful details what can be done for specific problems.
This book is useful only to people who are determined to act to improve his/her energy.
The book is easy & light to read.
The context of energy is new, but the ideas inside (e.g. balanced diet, physical exercises, positive thinking etc.) may sound ordinary to some people. You can interpret "energy" as "health" actually. The scope of four dimensions are wide, so the contents are only quick overviews. Some of the points are repetitive while some sound detached from main theme. This is particularly noticeable in later sessions (Chapter 9 and 10.)
on May 7, 2006
First of all, let's see whether you can accept the ideas below:-
- Managing energy, not time, is the key to high performance.
- Capacity is a function of one's ability to expend and recover energy.
- Every thought, feeling and action has an energy consequence.
- Full engagement requires drawing on four separate but related sources/capacity of energy: Physical, Emotional, Mental and Spiritual, defined respectively by quantity, quality, focus and force.
If you intuitively feel okay with the above, the chance is high that you will find this book helpful like I do. Though I dont like the case studies from clients anonymous at all, I am impressed by the authors' frequent quote of research data, good writing skill and straight to the point style, not to mention those highly differentiated opinions. In short, if you are a self help book lover and receptive to new ideas, you will benefit a lot from this book.
p.s. Below please find some of my favorite passages for your reference.
To be fully engaged, we must be physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focused and spiritually aligned with a purpose beyond our immediate self interest. pg 5
Epidemiologist David Snowdon in his study of 678 aging nuns in the School Sisters of Notre Dame Congregation suggests that a history of depression - the most insidious of all negative emotions - increase twofold the likelihood fo eventually developing Alzheimer's. pg 73
Gallup found that one of the key factors in sustained performance is having at least one good friend at work. The pulse of a strong relationship involves a rhythmic movement between giving and taking, talking and listening, valuing the other person and feeling commensurately valued in return. pg 81
The best way to build an emotional muscle, much like a physical muscle, is to push past your current comfort zone and then recover. pg 84
The brain represents just 2% of the body's weight, but requires almost 25% of its oxygen. pg 96
"Where are you when you get your best ideas?" - How to think like Leonardo da Vinci, Michael Gelb pg 96
What allowed Cantor Fitzgerald's employees, the bond trading company which lost nearly everything in 911, to move forward. It's chairman, announced that 25% of any profits the firm earned during the subsequent five years would go to the families of employees who had lost their lives. This mobilized the remaining employees to fight for a purpose beyond themselves. The survivors became "a band of brothers". pg 111
"He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how." Nietzsche pg 117
In a study where women were asked to perform a breast self exam during the subsequent month, nearly 100% of those who designated when and where they would do the exam completed it. Only 53% of the second group did so, despite equally strong intentions to conduct the exam. pg 175
Practice makes perfect only if the practice is perfect - or at least aims for perfection. pg 176
on June 12, 2003
How can one expect to achieve high performance and personal renewal without energy? Energy is a basic aspect of existence that is not well understood in relation to individual and corporate performance. To realize your energy you must point on the idea "We become what we think." Only in developing, supporting, and applying your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual "muscles", you become "fully engaged." This is the only way of programming your mental computer.
Your life isn't a persistent marathon, it's rather a series of sprints. To be successful, you need to balance recovery time with actual sprinting. The greatest players developed rituals to help relax themselves in the short time between points. The less successful players didn't have rituals to help them recover between points. Their heart rates remained high between points, and they couldn't seem to calm their stress.
After reading just the first chapters, I found Loehr and Schwartz to be full of wonderful knowledge. The reading alone caused my energy to increase. This book will give you real tools to manage effectively your energy. With simple explanations and stories that every reader can relate to. So everybody should read this book. You'll be amazed at all the unproductive thinking habits you have developed.
I highly recommend it to those who wants to improve the quality of their professional and personal lives.
on April 14, 2003
Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, senior partners at LGE Performance Systems, are renown for helping well-known professional athletes achieve the highest level of success in their fields. In adapting their methods for business professionals, the authors found a greater challenge than in working with professional athletes. Athletes spend most of their "work" time practicing for a relatively short period of "performance"; business people have almost no practice time and their workdays consist primarily of "performance". Additionally, most athletes have an off-season where they aren't performing. The authors' Corporate Athlete Training program is rooted in these facts, and THE POWER OF FULL ENGAGEMENT is their training program in book format.
In working with athletes at the highest level of performance, Loehr and Schwarz found that among the top people in a given sport who were matched in terms of talent and training, some performed more consistently than others. They found that the consistently high performers had unconscious rest/rejuvenation rituals that supported their high levels of performance. Core elements of the training program also include the concepts of balancing and building key areas of life - physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. The authors provide tools to assist individuals in identifying key areas where they are lacking balance and/or not building in some of these areas.
The key thrust of the book is two fold - identifying the changes that should be made and then ensuring that the changes endure. The changes to be made include working fewer total hours, getting more sleep, eating healthily (eating many small meals, not a few large ones), exercising (building a combination of strength and endurance, but focusing on strength), taking work breaks (every 90-120 minutes), incorporating a brief mid-day nap if possible, delegating, and doing the most important things first. By having higher energy levels and better thought processes, more effective work is accomplished.
Loehr and Schwartz weave the story of one of their clients throughout the book - Roger B., a recently promoted sales manager who is in a downward spiral and grudgingly comes to their program at his boss' insistence. A number of other success stories are told in briefer form as the book unfolds.
The authors stress the proper balance of work and recovery - challenging the system to do better without wearing it out or putting it in a chronic fatigue state, while allowing it to build & grow, much like an athlete must train to build strength and endurance without overtraining.
By using rituals - " a behavior that becomes automatic over time - fueled by some deeply held value", we conserve our energy. Changes in personal behavior often fail because there is too much energy that has to be put into the new behavior. By making the new behavior a ritual, that energy is not needed on an on-going basis and can be directed elsewhere. Additionally, the authors point out it takes 30 to 60 days for a new behavior to be cemented and occassional back-sliding is to be expected.
The exercises in the book allow you to create and work a very personalized plan. In developing, supporting, and applying your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual "muscles", you become "fully engaged." This enables you not only to produce high-quality work, but also increase your rates of effective output, thus eliminating the need to work excessive hours and neglect other parts of your life.
This is a book to be read, studied and used.
on October 8, 2005
Are you proud of the long hours you put in at work? Do you praise employees who sit at their desks and work for hours at a time without a break? Do you measure engagement in work by how long a person persists at a task without stopping? If so, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz would tell you to change your ways. The authors are founders of and executives at LGE Performance Systems, an executive training program based on athletic coaching programs. Their full engagement training system embodies the methods of interval or periodical training used by elite athletes to maximize performance capacity. The authors urge us to approach our work activities like a sprinter, not a marathoner, balancing stress and recovery.
Loehr and Schwartz state the essence of their system in this passage: "Balancing stress and recovery is critical not just in competitive sports, but also in managing energy in all facets of our lives. Emotional depth and resilience depend on active engagement with others and with our own feelings." A recent Gallup poll has confirmed suspicions that the majority of workers are not deeply engaged in their work. At the same time, we keep hearing about the intense pressures on executives and resulting problems of burnout. Pushing ourselves and others to do more for longer won't work. We will reach full engagement, say Loehr and Schwartz when we skillfully manage energy in all dimensions: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.
Full engagement comes when we are physically energized, mentally focused, emotionally connected, and spiritually aligned. The authors explain what each of these requires and say that the most fundamental source of energy is physical, while the most significant is spiritual. Unfortunately, most of us are undertrained physically and spiritually and overtrained mentally and emotionally.
To build ourselves up to a level of full engagement requires realizing that fully engaged energy rather than time is our most precious resource, and that energy capacity is diminished by both overuse-chronic stress without recovery-and underuse-chronic recovery without stress. Therefore, we must learn to balance energy expenditure with intermittent energy renewal. To build capacity we must push beyond our normal limits while managing energy carefully. Positive energy rituals can help us do this.
The book's resources include a summary of the full engagement training system, a list of the most important physical energy management strategies, glycemic index examples, and the full engagement personal development plan worksheet. Loehr and Schwartz do a good job of explaining the principles of the system, but the training program itself could be better defined. However, executives should be in their element developing and customizing the program.