The Power of Positive Rituals
by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz

Change is difficult. Human beings are creatures of habit and routine. What we did yesterday is what we are likely to do today. The problem with most efforts at change is that conscious effort can't be sustained over the long haul. Will and discipline are far more limited resources than most people recognize.

Positive rituals - highly specific routines for managing energy - are the key to full engagement and sustained high performance.

In contrast to will and discipline, which require that we push ourselves to a particular behavior, rituals pull at us. Their power is that they don't require conscious effort. The bigger the stresses and storms we face, the more inclined we are to revert to our survival habits, and the more important positive rituals become.

The Keys to Building Rituals

  • Focus on only one or two major changes at a time.

  • Design rituals that are highly precise in time and in behavior.

  • Create a supportive environment to help you sustain your rituals - removing temptations to old behaviors and enlisting others to keep you on track.

  • Focus on doing rather than not doing. "I will check my email at three specific times a day" rather than "I will stop checking my email so often."

  • Failure is part of the change process. Setbacks are both predictable and inevitable. They create an opportunity to learn and make adjustments. Creating a ritual that lasts often takes three or four tries.

The Benefit of Rituals

  • Rituals create structure, order and harmony in our lives.

  • Rituals help insure that we live in alignment with our deepest values, both on and off the job.

  • Rituals help us to build the capacity to more gracefully and resiliently manage life's biggest storms.


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

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

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