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The Power of Full Engagement:Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal
By Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz
The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz is a self-help book for business executives, managers, athletes, and others who feel overwhelmed by the demands of their jobs and who want to improve their effectiveness.
Loehr and Schwartz argue that life isn't a marathon, rather it's a series of sprints. To be successful, individuals need to balance recovery time with actual sprinting. A tired sprinter probably won't win the next race. And, most of us treat life like a constant race with no downtime.
Loehr, a performance psychologist, came upon these observations while he was studying professional tennis players to learn what separates the greatest players from the less successful players. Loehr discovered what separated the greatest players, such as Ivan Lendl, from the less successful players wasn't how they played tennis points. Rather, it was how they behaved between playing points.
The greatest players developed rituals to help calm and relax themselves in the short time between points. For example, Loehr and Schwartz tell us Lendl: "...predictably wiped his brow with his wristband, knocked the head of his racket against each of his heels, took sawdust from his pocket, bounced the ball four times and visualized where he intended to hit the ball. In the process, Lendl was recalibrating his energy: pushing away distraction, calming his physiology, focusing his attention, triggering reengagement and preparing his body to perform at its best."
When Loehr used EKG telemetry to monitor player heart rates, he discovered that: "In the sixteen to twenty seconds between points in a match, the heart rates of top competitors dropped as much as twenty beats per minute. By building highly efficient and focused recovery routines, these players had found a way to derive extraordinary energy renewal in a very short period of time."
The less successful players, on the other hand, 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.
Similarly, Loehr and Schwartz say many managers and executives don't have rituals to help them relax and remain effective. The authors argue that rituals help us connect to our values and what we hold most dear. Rituals assure our effort is directed to serve our most important goals.
Loehr and Schwartz write: "We hold ourselves accountable for the ways that we manage our time, and for that matter our money. We must learn to hold ourselves at least equally accountable for how we manage our energy physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually."
To help managers balance production with recovery, Loehr and Schwartz developed The Complete Corporate Athlete Training System. (Loehr and Schwartz are partners in LGE Performance Systems, which works with executives and managers.)
Consider the case of poor Roger B., discussed in The Power of Full Engagement. He's a mess. He skips breakfast. He doesn't exercise. He feels pressured and overwhelmed. He smokes and drinks, and he's gained weight. He's just not cutting it at work anymore. He's also aloof from his family, because he takes his work stress out on them.
His company sends Roger to LGE, where his body fat and cholesterol are measured and he's thrown on a treadmill. Even though he was a college athlete, Roger hasn't maintained his physical health.
Loehr and Schwartz tell us physical energy is crucial, even for those whose work is sedentary. If we don't take care of our health, everything else will become more difficult. So, one of Roger's rituals becomes setting aside fixed times for exercise.
Loehr and Schwartz say the specificity of goals is important to success. We can't spend too much time thinking about our rituals or they'll become equivalent to New Year's resolutions that are quickly dropped. Rituals must be nearly automatic.
In addition to the physical realm, Loehr and Schwartz argue we must similarly develop rituals to develop personally on emotional, mental, and spiritual levels.