Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to Full Engagement and Optimal Performance
by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz

Eliciting optimal performance from every employee every day is the ultimate goal in corporate America. Instead, faced with a sputtering economy, continuing layoffs, corporate scandals and the demand to do more with less, companies are suffering from an epidemic of disengagement. Recent statistics suggest that more than two-thirds of America's workforce is disengaged - a cost in productivity that exceeds $250 billion a year. Unprecedented numbers of people are going to work each day feeling physically fatigued, emotionally on edge, easily distracted and drained of passion and commitment to the companies for which they work.

Extraordinary performance demands full engagement - a state defined as being physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focused and spiritually aligned with the organizational mission The key is learning to manage energy more skillfully. The authors first learned these lessons during 25 years of working with world class athletes such as Jim Courier, Monica Seles, Mark O'Meara, Eddie Cheever, Grant Hill and Dan Jansen. The Full Engagement model applies these insights to help people become Corporate Athletes®, training in the same multidimensional way that elite athletes do.

Four principles lie at the heart of the Full Engagement model:

  1. Energy is Multidimensional. Human beings are complex energy systems. Full Engagement requires drawing on four separate but related sources of energy: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Both individuals and organizations must have a sufficient quantity of energy, but also the right quality, focus and force of energy.

  2. Full Engagement Requires Periodic Disengagement. Because both increased demand and the natural aging process progressively deplete our energy reserves, we must learn to balance energy expenditure with intermittent energy renewal. When we live highly linear lives - spending too much energy without recovery -- the consequence is breakdown, burnout, atrophy and even premature death. Recovery is a critical component of sustained high performance.

  3. To Build Energy Capacity, We Must Push Beyond Our Normal Limits. Stress is not the enemy in our lives, but rather the key to growth. Where capacity is insufficient to meet demand, we must train in the same systematic way that elite athletes do. This is true not just for building strength in a physical muscle such as a bicep or a tricep but also for building "muscles" in every dimension of our lives, from patience and empathy, to focus and optimism, to integrity and commitment.

  4. Positive Energy Rituals are the Key to Making Change that Lasts. Because we are creatures of habit and because will and self-discipline are severely limited resources, change is difficult. The key to building and sustaining behaviors that serve full engagement is creating positive energy rituals - highly precise behaviors that become automatic over time, fueled by deeply held values.

The Full Engagement Training System for Corporate Athletes® has been embraced by CEOs and senior executives at Fortune 500 companies such as Hyatt, Estée Lauder Companies, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pfizer and Merrill Lynch. Great leaders are stewards of organizational energy. They begin by effectively managing their own energy. As leaders, they must mobilize, focus, invest, channel, renew and expand the energy of others.

The Power Of Full Engagement picks up where Stephen Covey's classic work The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People left off, introducing a new paradigm for maximizing individual and organizational full engagement and high performance.

Old Paradigm

  • Manage time
  • Avoid stress
  • Life is a marathon
  • Downtime is wasted time
  • Self-discipline rules
  • The Power of Positive Thinking

New Paradigm

  • Manage energy
  • Seek stress
  • Life is a series of sprints
  • Down time is productive time
  • Rituals rule
  • The Power of Full Engagement

Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz are senior partners and principals at LGE Performance Systems. They co-developed the Full Engagement Training for Corporate Athletes® and they have each worked with hundreds of executives and managers. As a performance psychologist, Jim has also trained hundreds of athletes. The author of 12 books, including Stress for Success, Jim Lives in Orlando, Florida. Tony is co-author with Donald Trump of the #1 bestselling Art of the Deal and of What Really Matters: Searching for Wisdom in America. He lives in New York City.

The Power Of Full Engagement:
Managing Energy, not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal
The Free Press
February 2003

Many more articles in Executive Performance in The CEO Refresher Archives


Copyright 2003 by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. All rights reserved.

Current Issue - Archives - CEO Links - News - Conferences - Recommended Reading