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Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz explain The Power of Full Engagement.

Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz explain The Power of Full Engagement.

Picture of Jeff  Kelly Lowenstein

We've all done it at some point or another. Waking up after a fitful night of sleep, we've pumped ourselves full of caffeine and sugar to get through the day. Despite our efforts, we remain on the verge of exhaustion, struggling to concentrate on any topic for more than about 12 seconds. Fortunately, there's lots of help. Stephen Covey's phenomenally successful The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and Covey and Roger Merrill's First Things First are just two of the many avalable time management books and seminars. Performance psychologist Jim Loehr and Donald Trump memoir co-author Tony Schwartz take a different approach. The key, they say, to high performance on the job and in one's personal life is not time management, but energy management. They make their case in their intriguing and informative book, The Power of Full Engagement, which I brother from my brother Jon. The authors maintain that the realms of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy are interrelated and need to be observed and managed attentively in order to perform consistently at high levels. Having worked with many world class athletes, Loehr and his co-author advance a Corporate Athlete Training System for people to achieve their goals. A major part of the program is based on the idea of rituals and recovery. In addition to providing a time for renewal and reflection, rituals, the authors say, are more anchored in an oscillating, rather than linear, sense of time. They also form the basis for how people respond in times of crisis, or, at the least, high pressure. Recovery is critical, too. Loehr and Schwartz say that building in recovery time-an extended Jack Nicklaus quote in which he discusses winding up his intensity before each stroke and releasing it in between-is vital in having sufficient levels of energy throughout an activity. Although there are examples of athletes like Nicklaus and Ivan Lendl, who willed himself through a series of precise rituals to tennis greatness, the main focus is on ordinary corporate workers who may feel much more familiar. The authors use these workers to exemplify different tendencies and possible corrective actions they can take. The Power of Full Performance is divided broadly into an explanation of the authors' vision and an explanation of the Corporate Athlete Training System. Like many of this ilk, this involves a period of diagnosis and assessment followed by an application of the prescriptions the authors recommend. Some many say that many of these self-help/time/energy management books sound the same. Readers of The Power of Full Engagement will not be shocked to learn that eating well, exercising and going to sleep at the same time each day after having wound down and getting seven to eight hours are better practices than the opposite. People familiar with Martin Seligman's research on optimism can breeze through the part of the book that recaps his work. The book, like many others, calls for a mission statement. Still, the authors sprinkle in helpful information with which I was not familiar and look forward to pursuing; a couple of references to the five stages of the creative process caught my attention, for example. And the broader point about energy, rather than time, being the unit of currency was eye opening for me. as was the emphasis on intervals. So even if you don't use the Corporate Athlete Personal Development Plan, I do recommend giving this quick book a read. At the very least, it could supply another way to understand and alter the highly stressed way in which many of us live our lives.


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