The Power of Full Engagement Book Summary

Posted on August 1st, 2013

Book: The power of full engagement: managing energy, not time, is the key to high performance and personal renewal by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz

Key Ideas

  • Your most valuable resource is energy – not time.

  • Energy management makes full engagement possible.

  • Energy has four dimensions: body, emotions, mind and spirit. Each one is necessary, but no single one is sufficient.

  • In mental training, as in physical training, it is important to exercise and then rest.

  • Regain physical and spiritual energy by building recovery rituals into your routine. Positive habits create energy; negative habits waste energy.

  • Emotional energy is generated by self-confidence, self-discipline, sociability and empathy.

  • Pleasure builds job performance; negative emotions undermine performance.

  • Stress and rest are both necessary, in a rhythmic cycle.

  • Too much work can be a fatal addiction.

  • Becoming fully engaged is a change that requires defining a goal, examining where you are and taking action.

Key Recommendations

  • Going to bed and getting up at a consistent time.
  • Regular exercise is important for energy renewal.
  • It’s good to work and to rest, and each has its place.

Four basic energy management principles

  1. Energy has four dimensions: body, emotion, mind and spirit. Draw energy from each. Every dimension is necessary, but no single one is sufficient.

  2. Rhythmically balance stress and rest. Some stress is actually good. To maintain a powerful drive in our lives, we must learn how to rhythmically spend and renew energy.

  3. Push beyond your limits systematically. Building “mental, emotional and spiritual strength” is like building physical strength. No pain, no gain.

  4. Use energy rituals to renew your energy.

Body Rhythm

The body uses energy resources when it works, and must rest to replenish them. When athletes experience problems with performance, it is usually because they trained too much or not enough. Too much energy spent without enough rest and recovery, leads to problems. Too much rest without enough energy spent, also leads to problems.

Rhythms are everywhere in the universe: sunrise, sunset; full moon, new moon; summer, autumn, winter, spring. Your heartbeat and sleep are also rhythmic. How can you restore your energy during the day, week, month, and year? One of your fundamental needs to spend and recover energy.

Unplug and reset. Unplug from your email, work, phone, computer or anything else that consumes your energy. Take a mini-vacation.

Physical Energy

  • Healthy nutrition is essential.
  • Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
  • Drink water during the day.
  • Find what you like and exercise often.
  • Interval training is very beneficial.
  • Quality of sleep is as important as quantity of sleep.
  • Take daily 15-30 minute naps if you can.


  • Emotional energy influences your self-confidence, self-discipline, sociability and empathy.
  • Frustration, anger, sorrow or fear are toxic for your body and mind.
  • Positive emotions are like muscles that you can build.
  • Pleasure in your life is very important.
  • Positive energy can come from doing what you enjoy.
  • Pleasure quality jus more important than quantity.
  • Watching TV is an illusion of pleasure.
  • Focus on finding meaningful pleasure.
  • Establish positive relationships that build emotional energy.
  • Pleasure quality is more important than quantity.
  • Meaningful relationships at work can boost your performance.
  • Practice listening to people and expressing empathy.
  • Effective leaders can elicit positive emotions at times of stress.
  • Balance exercise and recovery in emotional energy.
  • Push yourself past your limits, rest and renew, then push again.


Physical and emotional energy are important for mental functioning. Each dimensions of energy has an influence on the other dimensions of energy. Just like physical and emotional energy, mental energy requires a rhythmic approach.

People often think of their best ideas when they take a break and rest. Common examples or mental energy renewal include jogging, walking, gardening or even day dreaming.

  • Productivity and attention depends on mental ability.
  • Optimistic realism is the mental attitude worth striving for.
  • Prepare, visualize, encourage yourself to create.
  • Change from one activity to another to shift your mental energy (not multitasking).
  • Physical exercise has a strong influence on mental capacity.
  • In mental training is similar to physical training. Remember to exercise and then rest.
  • Mental challenges increase the longevity of your brain.

The five stages of creativity

Creativity is the process of jumping between the eft brain and tight brain. Creativity doesn’t come from stagnation. You have to keep your mind moving.

  1. Insight - define problem or creative challenge.

  2. Saturation - identify the task and immerse yourself in similar work created by the masters and study it.

  3. Incubation - walk away from the task and let it sit in your head for awhile. Allow the right hemisphere of the brain to process the thoughts creatively.

  4. Illumination - do something to break up your day. If you’re at your desk, step away and go somewhere else. You are more likely get your best ideas away from your usual surroundings. Put yourself in a new situation and let that aha! moment surface.

  5. Verification - test your inspiration and create.

Creativity - 4 Steps of Creative Thinking Process


Spiritual energy comes from having a sense of purpose, developed values, helping others, and character muscle. Having a strong character means doing things according to your values even when you have to face some of the hardest challenges in life.

Spiritual energy can heal you. Spirituality can help you find meaning and build resilience during some of the hardest moments in life.

  • Spiritual energy makes everything else possible – it’s the source of passion, courage and commitment.
  • Spiritual energy requires selflessness and compassion.
  • Spiritual energy recovery depends on exercise and rest.
  • Spiritual work has the power to expend and renew energy simultaneously.
  • Like other dimensions, spiritual development requires going past your limits.
  • The spirit can be stronger than the body. Everything can be taken away from you but your attitude.

Self-Improvement Through Training

The power of full engagement can be achieved through training, which includes developing a sense of purpose, self-reflection and creating energy renewal rituals.

  1. Determine what you really want in life and what life is all about for your. What is your purpose? Including helping other people as part of your purpose can be very empowering.
  2. Examine yourself through self-reflection. How do you currently spend your energy?
  3. Plan for new rituals by building new positive habits and breaking bad ones.
  4. Be specific and moderate.
  5. Create a map of your life and your goals. Have enough room for flexibility and change.
  6. Use self-reflection every week or month to track your progress.

Visual Summary

Click to enlarge

The Power of Full Engagement - Part 1

The Power of Full Engagement - Part 2

Physical Energy Management Strategies - Tony Schwartz

Time Management vs Energy Management - Tony Schwartz

Types Of Energy Management - Tony Schwartz

Daily Productivity - Energy Management

Energy in the human system


Full-Engagement Training System

Full-Engagement Training System Summary


Loehr, J. E., & Schwartz, T. (2003). The power of full engagement: managing energy, not time, is the key to high performance and personal renewal. New York: Free Press.

Questions or comments? Send me an email