Book: The Power of Full Engagement

Time management is important. But don’t ignore energy management. This is the premise of The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. Feeling flat at work? Tired all the time? Unfocused or down? You might want to check under the hood of your life to see what – if anything – is fuelling your engine.

As human beings, we are continually expending and replenishing our energy. What is energy? It’s your capacity to do life. You might be stellar at checking boxes on your task list, but if you aren’t managing your energy, you’ll tether your performance and may even set yourself up for a break down.

If you want to step up your game or pursue mastery, you need to keep your eye on your energy levels. “Energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance….Performance, health and happiness are grounded in the skillful management of energy” (4-5).

Success in life means becoming fully engaged. Full engagement requires managing your energy. I appreciate the author’s four energy-management principles:

Principle 1: Full engagement requires drawing on four separate but related sources of energy: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.

Principle 2: Because energy capacity diminishes both with overuse and with underuse, we must balance energy expenditure with intermittent energy renewal.

Principle 3: To build capacity, we must push beyond our normal limits, training in the same systematic way that elite athletes do.

Principle 4: Positive energy rituals – highly specific routines for managing energy – are the key to full engagement and sustained high performance.

Here’s the bottom line. When you frequently lack energy, it can probably be traced to one of four diminishing sources: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Think of these as four large batteries. These batteries are special – they can be continually developed over time to hold a stronger charge, and last longer. You draw from these four batteries (sources), but you also need to build capacity in each. The more you do this, the more overall energy you will have. For example, if you develop your physical battery (diet, sleep, exercise), by applying stress and recovery (working out, hiding the Twinkies), you will increase your physical capacity. Over time, this will give you more physical energy to draw on. To increase any capacity, you must be willing to endure short-term discomfort for the sake of long-term reward. A large part of the book is focused on how to increase your capacity for each source.

From a faith perspective, energy management is not at odds with a Christian worldview. You were uniquely created by God – the pinnacle of his creation. You were made to bear his image in the world. You were fearfully and wonderfully made, with physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual capacities. God’s care for you is wholistic – he cares for every part of you. He wants you to take care of yourself more than you do.

I’ve barely scratched the surface of this book. So to get to the good stuff, you’ll have to dig deeper yourself.

Listen, engaging in life requires more than efficiently managing tasks. You need to manage your energy. And in case you’re wondering…no amount of excessive caffeine consumption, binge-watching, hurry, or self-obsession will build your energy capacity.

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