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Book Review

The Power of Full Engagement

by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz

For a quick and easy read, The Power of Full Engagement packs quite a punch. The basic tenant, that performance, health and happiness are grounded in the skillful management of energy, is pretty solid and irrefutable once one relinquishes the belief that time can be managed. "To be fully engaged, we must be physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focuses and spiritually aligned with a purpose beyond our immediate self interest."

Following in the footsteps of many current business authors, Loehr and Schwartz tear down the barriers of compartmentalization that many of us fall prey to and examine the power of engagement in the context of work, home, personal and social spheres.

While some of the book does pertain to our roles as leaders in organizations, it deftly sketches a profile of how their principles apply to the whole person. “Leaders are the stewards of organizational energy—in companies, organizations and even in families. They inspire or demoralize others first by how effectively they manage their own energy and next by how well they mobilize, focus, invest and renew the collective energy of those they lead. The skillful management of energy, individually and organizationally, makes possible something that we call ‘full engagement.’”

Following the formula of most corporate development texts, it offers four basic principles, three action steps and a slew of anecdotes in which you are guaranteed to see at least one kindred spirit. The stories are about people who have gotten “stuck” in overdrive, are burnt out, distracted, unfocused, and how by using some common sense approaches, tapped into the natural flow and rhythm their bodies and lives follow. By shaping work and life around these rhythms, their clients were able to maximize their energy peaks and quickly renew and rejuvenate when reserves were low.

Sound too good to be true? It is and it isn’t. While the book sometimes takes on the guise of a master’s dissertation, complete with footnotes from heavies like philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, author Viktor Frankl, psychologist Martin Seligman and contemporaries like Jim Collins (Good to Great) and Joanne Ciulla (The Working Life), it does touch on some key points that are relatively fresh to most readers.

Read this book and you’ll learn how circadian and ultradian rhythms, the glycemic index, cortisol and interval training can improve every aspect of your life. You’ll learn how to create and adopt rituals that speed recovery from stressful states and situations. We definitely recommend this book, but to truly apply this knowledge, it will take commitment and a partner with whom to hold yourself accountable.