Book Review: The Power of Full Engagement


Book Review:  The Power of Full Engagement The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Perofrmance and Personal Renewal by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz is a game changer. So often we think we need to manage our time better or learn how to control stress more effectively. But what if we’re focusing on the wrong things? What if we could just learn how to manage our energy and everything else would fall into place?

The book was published in 2003, so some of the technology references are out of date. Still, the overarching principle of learning how to skillfully manage energy is timeless. It makes so much sense. I’m surprised it’s not something that’s talked about more. This book is very much targeted toward business leaders but the concept of managing energy applies to everyone who’s looking to find balance AND success.

The key takeaway for me was this: “Because energy capacity diminishes both with overuse and with underuse, we must balance energy expenditure with intermittent energy renewal.” In other words, we must balance work and rest. Too much or too little of either results in stagnation, or worse, deterioration.

Not too long ago, I bragged that I had only watched one hour of television since we had PCSed to our current location six months before. Many families are trying to cut down on screen time, so on the surface this might look like a big accomplishment. Really, it was just one symptom of overwork and imbalance. I also wasn’t getting enough sleep or spending quality time with my family. I was starting to feel bitter when I heard of other people having movie nights or fun outings with their families. I was working at a non-sustainable pace.

The Power of Full Engagement profiles executives and pro-athletes in relatable ways, charting their courses over time so we can see the impact that rest and priority shifting can make on an individual. Things aren’t going well at work? Well, work more. Right? Wrong. The answer is rest and recharge. Isn’t it nice to have permission?!

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

  • When demand exceeds our capacity, we begin to make expedient choices that get us through our days and nights, but take a toll over time.
  • Energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance.
  • Performance, health, and happiness are grounded in the skillful management of energy.
  • The number of hours in a day is fixed, but the quantity and quality of energy available to us is not.
  • Energy is the X factor that makes it possible to fully ignite talent and skill.
  • Sadly, the need for recovery is often viewed as evidence of weakness rather than as an integral aspect of sustained performance. The result is that we give almost no attention to renewing and expanding our energy reserves, individually or organizationally.
  • To maintain a powerful pulse in our lives, we must learn how to rhythmically spend and renew energy.
  • But just as negative habits and routines in our lives can be undermining and destructive, so positive ones can be uplifting and revitalizing.
  • We must learn to establish stopping points in our days, inviolable times when we step off the track, cease processing information, and shift our attention from achievement to restoration.
  • Because we have a limited number of hours in a day, we must not only make intelligent choices about how to use them but must also insure that we have the energy available to invest in our highest priorities.
  • Since will and discipline are far more limited and precious resources than most of us realize, they must be called upon very selectively.
  • Growth and change won’t occur unless you push past your comfort zone, but pushing too hard increases the likelihood that you will give up.

Intrigued? When you decide to pick up this book, be sure to check out the resources section at the back. I read the electronic version so I didn’t see the back until the very end. Previewing the summary would have been helpful to help grasp the flow of the book and it would be helpful to fill out the worksheets while reading along.

Do you think you could manage your energy better? What books have you recently enjoyed reading?