During my long daily commute, I often listen to audiobooks or podcasts. I love fiction and have found to my surprise that I enjoy listening to novels I might not pick up to read–literary fiction, long historical novels, etc. But I try to alternate between fiction and nonfiction during my drive-time. Recently I listened to The Power of Full Engagement, a book by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. The book's premise (and subtitle) is that “Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal.”
The audio version is abridged and took just over four hours to listen to. For me, that's two trips to the office and back.
This book was meaty enough that I'll probably buy a hard copy of it so I can go back through it, take notes, and think through some of the concepts they discussed. The downside of listening to a book like this, rather than reading it, is it's impossible to go back and note particularly relevant quotes. I found a lot of food for thought in the book. Here are some of the highlights that pop to mind without benefit of notes:
- There are four areas in which you are, at all times, either building energy or spending it: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. In all these areas, it's critical for your well being and effectiveness that you alternate between times of “spending” energy and times of rest and renewal. Not enough “work,” and the muscles (whether physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual) will atrophy. Too much work, and they'll burn out.
- You are most energized when you are acting in ways consistent with your most deeply held values. Knowing what those values truly are (not just what you think they should be) is key to increasing your energy and therefore creating the life you want.
- Each of us has a different set of barriers to our own optimal performance in each of these areas. By taking a careful, honest look at ourselves, we can identify those barriers and create a plan to overcome them.
- Self-control is a limited resource, requiring the expenditure of negative energy, and each time you use it to overcome one challenge, it becomes less available to overcome a subsequent challenge. Most of what we do in life is almost unconscious, and the best way to “improve” your life is to make the right actions unconscious and automatic.
- The key to improving performance is developing specific habits–what the authors call positive rituals–targeting the behaviors you want to change in order to increase your energy in each of those four areas (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual).
- You can't add more than a few positive rituals to your life/routine at a time. Choose one or two to focus on until they become ingrained in your daily life, then add a couple more.
I plan to listen again to The Power of Full Engagement and think through the questions the authors ask, including creating a vision statement for my life, both personally and professionally. In the meantime, I recommend this book for those who want to accomplish more and find more fulfillment in their lives.
Your turn: Do you read or listen to nonfiction? What's the best nonfiction book you've read (or listened to) lately?