I have recently finished reading The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz and found it quite useful.
The main idea behind the book is that you should focus on managing your energy, and not your time to excel in your professional and personal lives.
The authors train with athletes to manage their performance, and they have used the same principles to train corporate executives to better perform in their work.
The comparison with athletes is an interesting one and they speak about how athletes train 90% of the time to perform the remaining 10% time, and how this number is so skewed for corporate executives who probably work 90% of the time with just 10% time off.
This was a very interesting concept to me and while most of us may never feel the same performance pressure as an athlete; we also never get the same luxury of training and rejuvenating that they do.
The authors build on this concept of training the mind and body like athletes and talk about four different types of energies that you need to build in order to excel:
Physical: The foundation of success and well being is good health and they talk about the importance of building your physical energy reserves and how you can do so. There was a section here that spoke about how your physical capacity diminishes if you don’t exercise and I felt that although it is an easy to understand concept, it is not very intuitive. Before I started working out regularly, I never stopped to think that by not working out, I’m losing strength and my body is atrophying. While at the gym, I saw people much older than myself work out much harder, and while it is embarrassing, it is quite eye opening and inspiring to think that you can be that fit even decades from now.
Emotional: Emotional energy is the range of positive or negative emotions you experience, and the authors speak about doing things for the sake of doing them in order to renew your emotional energy. I could relate to this as I had stopped reading Mahabharata some time ago due to my busy schedule, and I felt that this is something I just can’t spend time on right now. The authors say that when you do things just because you like doing them, and not because they are required of you, those things renew your emotional energy and help become more focused in your professional and personal lives.
Mental: Mental energy is your power of concentration, ability to remain focused, creativity, activities that challenge your brain like solving a puzzle or playing a game of Chess. I see this as anything that pushes you out of your comfort zone intellectually, whether it be a game of Scrabble or in my case, trying to read a map!
Spiritual: Frankly, I had thought that I would just skip this section of the book as I’m usually not very keen on matters of religion, or spirituality but I found this part of the book most interesting.
The way they have defined spirituality is really in terms of virtues and values that are most important to you. And what is sometimes frustrating and even somewhat depressing is that you can’t name the values that are most important to you.
One of the things I liked best about this section was where they asked you to think about people you admire and then think about the qualities that you admire the most about them. At first I started thinking of public figures and leaders, and their qualities but then my mind wandered to people I knew in real life, and the qualities that I admire in them and that make me go wow, and lo behold these are your own personal values. What you admire in others is what you wish to see in yourself.
So, I realized that when I praised someone’s frank and straightforward attitude, that is the quality I want to see in myself as well. Doing this exercise was very meaningful and revealing for me.
I really liked The Power of Full Engagement and I think this is definitely a book that you should add to your list in this new year. Some of the concepts discussed are new and novel, while some others are refreshing reminders of what you may know already, all in all – very useful.
Disclosure: The links to the book will take you to Flipkart and if you buy the book from that website I will get a commission.