Book Review: The Power of Full Engagement

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Some books are game-changers. The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz was a game-changer for me.

Game-changers are well-written and, usually, well-researched. What makes a game-changer a game-changer is that you read it at a time in your life where the contents are precisely what you need to make important changes.

The Power of Full Engagement was a game-changer for me because after I read it, I developed a new way of looking at productivity. Before The Power of Full Engagement, I looked at productivity as a matter of efficiency and time management. After The Power of Full Engagement, I looked at productivity as an important result of the way I live my life and do my work.

The book is based on four principles.

Principle 1: There are four sources of energy: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.

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

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

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

The authors flesh out those principles by adding examples, support, and how-tos. I worked out and played sports (mostly basketball) for years before I read this book. The authors gave me a way to connect the routines and practices I used in physical training, such as interval training, to improve my performance at work.

Another thing that made this book a game-changer for me was that it was holistic. It wasn’t just about high performance or physical performance or business performance. I took lessons from it about the way I live my life. More than 15 years later, I’m still applying them.

Caution. Some of what’s in this book is dated, but most of it still applies.

Many things seem commonplace today. They weren’t commonplace when this book was published in 2003. Today, there are many books on the importance of sleep and the importance of recovery, but this was the first book where I saw those principles. Reviewing the book now reminds me of something I first heard from Mike LeBeouf. “The great truths are too important to be new.”

In A Nutshell

The Power of Full Engagement was a game-changer for me, and it might be for you. It builds ideas about how to improve the way you live and work on four basic principles.

Additional Resources

Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with The New Science of Success by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness

Atomic Habits by James Clear


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