The Power of Full Engagement


Managing your energy, not your time, must be the main goal in order to achieve sustainable, long-term high performance

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Key Takeaways
  1. Performance, health and happiness are grounded in the skillful management of energy
  2. Four Principles of managing your energy
    1. Full engagement requires drawing on four separate but related sources of energy - physical, mental, emotional and spiritual
      1. Sleep (7-8 hours), diet (5-6 small, nutritious meals) and exercise (interval training) are all necessary to perform at your highest level
    2. Because energy capacity diminishes both with overuse and with underuse, we must balance energy expenditure with intermittent energy renewal
      1. Deep focus on your breathing is one of the quickest and most effective renewal exercises
      2. People heal, grow and think most creatively during these periods of recovery
      3. Determine which activities help you release stress and schedule time for them every day. Must treat this time as sacrosanct - it is its own reward but it is also key for sustained, high performance
      4. The more scheduled and systematic your positive rituals become, the more renewal they provide (in as little as 60-90 seconds)
      5. Aim to be fully engaged or strategically disengaged
    3. To build capacity, we must push beyond our normal limits, training in the same systematic way that elite athletes do
    4. Highly specific, positive energy rituals are key to full engagement and high performance
      1. Making a change which lasts requires a three step process - define your purpose, face the truth and take action
      2. The "deeper the storm," the more inclined we are to revert to our survival habits and the more important positive rituals become
      3. Will and discipline are far more limited than most of us realize and therefore must be called on as selectively as possible.  "The sobering truth is that we have the capacity for very few conscious acts of self-control in a day
      4. Rituals help us create and implement structure into our chaotic lives and to facilitate change. Habits must have specificity of timing and precision of behavior
      5. Implement positive rituals (do something) rather than negative rituals (don't do / stop doing something) as not doing something requires conscious energy and depletes your limited reservoir of will power
      6. The more exacting the challenge and the greater the pressure, the more rigorous our rituals need to be
  3. Long-term and sustainable success must stem from fierce resolve and humility (pair with Collins' Good to Great)
What I got out of it
  1. Very similar to what Schwartz discusses in The Way We're Working Isn't Working - manage your energy carefully and take renewal breaks in order to have sustained, long-term high performance
  • Key competencies which fuel positive emotion are self-confidence, self-control, social skills and empathy. Smaller skills include patience, openness, trust and enjoyment
  • True empathy requires letting few of your own agenda, at least temporarily
  • The key competencies which fuel mental energy include mental preparation, visualization, positive self-talk, effective time management and creativity
  • Five stages of the creative process - insight, saturation, incubation, illumination and verification
  • Key competencies that fuel spiritual energy is character - the courage and conviction to live by your values, even when doing so requires personal sacrifice and hardship. Smaller skills include passion, commitment, integrity and honesty.
  • Living out your purpose is a lifelong challenge. Actively use your life as a vehicle though which to express your deepest values
  • Do not let yourself be "too busy" to discover your true meaning. Purpose becomes a more powerful and enduring source of energy in our lives in three ways: when its source moves from negative to positive, external to internal and self to others
  • Three important questions
    • Jump to the end of your life. What are the three most important lessons you have learned and why are they so critical?
      • Do your best - you will never regret it and it is simply the best way to live
      • Don't take things personally - very, very rarely is it truly about you
      • Don't make assumptions
      • Learn and experience as much as you can
    • Who are you at your best
      • Enthusiastic, loving, curious,
    • What one sentence inscription would you like to see on your tombstone that would capture who you really were in life?
      • Lived fully and lovingly. Died with no regrets
  • A value is ultimately just a road map for action
  • "Most often, self-deception is unconscious and provides short term relief while prompting long-term costs. At the most basic level, we deceive ourselves in order to protect our self-esteem - our image of who we are or wish to be. To keep at bay the truths that we find most painful and unacceptable - most notably the places in our lives where our behavior conflicts with our deepest values - we use a range of strategies." (drugs, alcohol, etc.)
    • Can use projection (attributing one's own unacknowledged impulses to others), somatizing (conversion of unacknowledged anxiety and anger into physical symptoms), sublimation (channeling an unacceptable feeling such as greediness into excessive generosity)
  • The central defect of evil is not the sin but the refusal to acknowledge it
  • Facing the truth requires making yourself the object of inquiry - conduct an audit of your life and hold yourself accountable for the energy consequences of your behaviors
  • Think for a moment of someone you actively dislike. What quality in that person do you find most objectionable? Now ask yourself, "How am I that?"
  • Until we embrace all of who we are, we remain our own worst enemies
  • Avoiding the truth consumes great energy and effort
  • It is both a danger and a delusion when we come too identified with any singular view of ourselves. We are all a blend of light and shadow, virtues and vices
  • Nothing succeeds like success and nothing fails like excess - don't take on too much too quickly, build habits in increments
    • Chart the course - what you want to accomplish and how
    • Chart the progress - hold yourself accountable (even implement a checklist if you want)
  • Three great lessons
    • Marry someone you love and respect and make your family your highest priority
    • Work hard, keep your standards high and never settle for anything less than what you are capable of achieving
    • Treat other people with respect and kindness

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