I recently re-read this book and was curious to know to what extent (if any) it has lost any of its relevance during the years since it was first published, in 2003. My conclusion? If anything, it is even more relevant now than it was before. However, that said, I still presume to suggest to those who are thinking about reading that they ignore the title and focus on the methodology that Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz introduce and then explain. Of course, full engagement has power. However, I cannot think of even one company among those annually ranked by Fortune to be the most highly admired, the best to work for, etc. that has full engagement. In fact, the results of recent research by the Gallup Organization and Towers Perrin clearly indicate that, on average, about 25-30% of employees are actively and productively engaged, about 35-40% are passively engaged (doing as little as necessary to stay employed), and about the same percentage are actively disengaged, with many of them hostile and having a toxic effect within their workplace.
Obviously, the challenge for business leaders in all organizations (whatever their size and nature my be) is to increase the percentage of those workers who are actively and productively engaged. What do Loehr and Schwartz suggest? All of their insights and recommendations are based on a vast amount of real-world experience with all manner of organizations. What they offer in this volume is the Full Engagement Training System®, a comprehensive and cohesive program that enables us to manage energy efficiently. The methodology is based on four separate but interdependent principles:
1. Full engagement requires drawing on separate but related sources of energy: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. "All four dynamics are critical, none is sufficient by itself and each profoundly influences the others [for better or worse]. To perform at our best, we must skillfully manage each of these interconnected dimensions of energy."
2. Because energy capacity diminishes both with overuse and with underuse, we must balance energy expenditure with intermittent energy renewal. "We rarely consider how much energy we are spending because we take it for granted that the energy available to us is limitless. In fact, increased demand progressively depletes our energy reserves - especially in the absence of any effort to reverse the progressive loss of capacity that occurs with age."
3. To build capacity, we must push beyond our normal limits, training in the same systematic way that elite athletes do. "Stress is not the enemy in our lives. Paradoxically, it is the key to growth. In order to build strength in a muscle we must systematically stress it, expending energy beyond normal levels. Doing so literally causes microscopic tears in the muscle fibers. At the end of a training session, functional capacity is diminished. But give the muscle twenty-four to forty-eight hours to recover and it grows stronger and better able to handle the next stimulus."
4. Positive energy rituals - highly specific routines for managing energy - are the key to full engagement and sustained high performance. "Change is difficult. We are creatures of habit. Most of what we do is automatic and nonconscious. What we did yesterday is what we are likely to do today...A positive ritual is a behavior that becomes automatic over time - fueled by some deeply held value."
As indicated earlier, Loehr and Schwartz have devised what they call the Full Engagement Training System® and one of several key points they make is that both supervisors and those for whom they are directly responsible are active in this program, one that involves a shared journey of observation, revelation, and increased understanding. Another is that there are continuous role reversals for both "students" and "teachers" during frequent knowledge exchanges. Still another key point is that one of the most important drivers is the human need to find meaning, "among the most powerful and enduring themes in every culture since the origin of recorded history." And still another is that those who are purpose-driven must also constantly nurture and regularly renew their "most precious resource," energy, and expend it only in the service of what matters most.
Forget about having a workforce with full engagement and concentrate on increasing the number of workers who are fully engaged. Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz can provide invaluable assistance to those who are now planning or who are only recently embarked on efforts to achieve that worthy objective.
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About the reviewer
Robert Morris (Robert1936)
Professionally, I am an independent management consultant who specializes in accelerated executive development and breakthrough high-impact organizational performance. I also review mostly business books … more
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The authors, founders of and executives at LGE Performance Systems, an executive training program based on athletic coaching programs, offer a program aimed at stressed individuals who want to find more purpose in their work and ways to better handle their overburdened relationships. Just as athletes train, play and then recover, people need to recognize their own energy levels. "Balancing stress and recovery is critical not just in competitive sports, but also in managing energy in all facets of our lives. Emotional depth and resilience depend on active engagement with others and with our own feelings." Case studies demonstrate how some modest changes can have an immediate impact. Loehr (Mental Toughness Training for Sports) and Schwartz (Art of the Deal, writing with Donald Trump) also include a chart highlighting Action Steps, Targeted Muscle, Desired Outcome and Performance Barrier and apply these tenets to individual cases. A chart analyzing the benefits and costs to taking certain action shows the impact negative behavior can have on both physical and mental well-being. However, the actual "training program" whereby readers can learn how to institute certain rituals to change their behavior is less well-defined. Managers and other employees who have attended HR seminars may find this plan easy to use, but self-employed people and others less familiar with "training" may be unable to recognize their behavior patterns and change them. ...