[Book Summary] The power of full engagement By Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz.


We live in digital time. When our pace is rushed and relentless, most of us are just trying to do the best that we can. As a result, we celebrate breadth rather than depth, quick reaction more than considered reflection. We survive on too little sleep, wolf down fast foods on the run, and become short-tempered and easily distracted. Consequently, our lives are out of control and we don’t have enough energy to meet the relentless demand in a long run.

“The power of full engagement” is a practical approach to managing our energy for higher performance and better lives.

Managing energy, not time, is the key to enduring high performance as well as to health, happiness, and life balance.

 In this book, two authors have indicated 4 Principles to manage energy for full engagement.

Principle 1: Full engagement requires drawing on four separate but related sources of energy: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.

  • Physical capacity is defined by quantity of energy.
  • Emotional capacity is defined by quality of energy.
  • Mental capacity is defined by focus of energy.
  • Spiritual capacity is defined by force of energy.

In particular,

  • The quantity of available energy is measured in terms of volume (low to high).
  • The quality of available energy is measured in terms of unpleasant (negative) to pleasant (positive).
  • The focus of available energy is measured in terms of broad to narrow and external to internal.
  • The force of available energy is measured in terms of self to others, external to internal and negative to positive.

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

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

We grow at all levels by expending energy beyond our normal limits and then recovering.

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


  1. Physical Energy

In reality, physical energy is the fundamental source of fuel. It affects our ability to manage our emotions, sustain concentration, and even maintain our commitment to whatever mission we are on.

We can manage our physical energy through these key factors: breathing, eating, sleeping, and exercise.

Here are some suggestions you can take into consideration for a better health:

  • Go to bed early and wake up early
  • Go to sleep and wake up consistently at the same times
  • Eat breakfast every day
  • Eat a balanced, healthy diet
  • Drink about 2 litters of water daily
  • Take breaks every ninety minutes during work
  • Do exercise regularly

*Don’t take your health for granted because you can’t do anything without having a good health. Take care of yourself 😉

     2. Emotional Energy

Physical energy is the raw fuel for igniting our emotional skills and talents. In order to perform at our best we must access pleasant and positive emotions: enjoyment, challenge, adventure and opportunity.

In practical terms, the key “muscles” or competencies that fuel positive emotion are self-confidence, self-control, social skills, and empathy. Smaller, supportive “muscles” include patience, openness, trust and enjoyment.

  1. Mental Energy

Just as physical energy is the fundamental fuel for emotional competencies, so it is the fuel for mental skills.

The key supportive muscles that fuel optimal mental energy include mental preparation, visualization, positive self-talk, effective time management, and creativity.

  1. Spiritual Energy

The quantity of energy we have to spend at any given moment is a reflection of our physical capacity. Our motivation to spend what we have is largely a spiritual issue. Fundamentally, spiritual energy is a unique force for action in all dimensions of our lives. It is the most powerful source of our motivation, perseverance and direction. We define “spiritual” not in the religious sense, but rather in more simple and elemental terms: the connection to a deeply held set of values and to a purpose beyond our self-interest. The key muscle that fuels spiritual energy is character—the courage and conviction to live by our values, even when doing so requires personal sacrifice and hardship. Supportive spiritual muscles include passion, commitment, integrity and honesty.

“If growth and development take place from the bottom up—from physical to emotional to mental to spiritual—change is powered from the top down. The most compelling source of purpose is spiritual, the energy derived from connecting to deeply held values and a purpose beyond one’s self-interest. Purpose creates a destination. It drives full engagement by prompting our desire to invest focused energy in a particular activity or goal. We become fully engaged only when we care deeply, when we feel that what we are doing really matters. Purpose is what lights us up, floats our boats, and feeds our souls.”

In summary, managing energy is a key to high performance and personal renewal. In order to manage our energy effectively, we have to take four separated but related sources of energy into consideration: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. At all levels, we grow by expending beyond our normal limits and then recovery. Keep expenditure and renewal in balance.


Published by Oanh Nguyen

Be kind. Be happy. Be present.

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