How We Discovered the Power of Full Engagement

book review, productivity, engagement, work smarter

The book that helped the Bottom Line team tap into their secret sources of productivity.

It all started with a Huffington Post blog. No, not one of the gossip section ones…it was a post written by Justin Rosenstein about his tips for better productivity. This is the guy who invented Asana, the project management software, so you know his tips are going to be legit.

You can read the full post here if you want, but the main thing it did was draw Jess' attention to a book he recommended: The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz.

(Well, the actual title is The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal RenewalBut for the sake of time, let's just use the first part of the title, shall we?)

If there is one thing Jess can't resist, it's a learning opportunity to help her work smarter. So, of course, she orders the book.

And in the four days it took her to read it cover to cover, she says, it completely rocked her world.

Four Key Sources of Energy

First, the book explains the four key sources of energy in our lives: spiritual, emotional, mental and physical. Each energy was described in terms of science, faith and some really amazing case studies that show how it works in people's lives.

Next, the book shows how each of these energies builds on the other:

  • Spiritual energy helps you connect to the purpose of the work you're doing–not just the result you're hoping for, but the work's relationship to your sense of personal purpose.
  • Once you have that purposeful connection, mental energy kicks in. Once you've assented to the job being worthwhile, your mind goes to work on its own initiative, ready to solve problems and create new ideas.
  • You probably already know how interconnected your mind is to how you feel, so the next level of energy won't surprise you. When emotional energy is triggered, you start feeling excited about what you're working on. You may even get that dizzy “falling in love” feeling that comes with thinking positively and constructively about something truly meaningful.
  • The final piece is physical energy. With those three initial energies fueling it, your physical energy absolutely skyrockets. You'll find yourself being crazy productive, yes, but you'll also be much more in tune with what your body needs from you. Eating right, sleeping enough and even taking time for recreation will come more and more naturally to you because it's what your body requires to get your work done.

Getting the Team Engaged

So as you might imagine, Jess finished the book and immediately told the Bottom Line team that we had to read it together. To be totally honest, I couldn't imagine it was going to impact us all at the level Jess experienced…

But it totally did.

As a team, our hot-button discussion top this past quarter has been productivity. But our approach had been the classic change-everything-at-once tactic that never, ever works very well. The thing is, we all totally dig systems and processes, but we were addicted to too many of them…which translated into stress.

[Tweet “We all love systems and processes, but we were addicted to too many of them…which translated into stress.”]

So as we worked through the book together, each of us decided on ONE energy we felt we needed to focus on for the next 90 days. Two of us elected to strengthen our spiritual energy, while the other two chose to strengthen their emotional energy. (It turned out to be a great decision for those two, because Jess got them both emotional aromatherapy oils for Christmas.)

The point is, rather than trying to change everything at once with new systems, we settled on “renewal rituals” for ourselves to improve balance, energy and productivity.

Here are just a few of the rituals this book inspired us to start:

  • Initiate a book of the month to help us focus on a team element together. (This means you'll be hearing a lot more book reviews from us in coming blog posts!)
  • “No-Meeting Monday.” It's as good as it sounds.
  • We already had Team Meetings on Fridays, but we introduced “the huddle” to our routine on Tuesdays and Fridays. These are active, working sessions to knock out must-do stuff that's just not getting done. On-the-spot productivity AND accountability is the “jam.”
  • We finally committed to tracking our time like mad  for everything we do. We do it inside our project management system, which also scores our productivity scores in real time, and then we bring our own time cards to Tuesday huddles.
  • Nap naked. This book has some very…um, creative?…suggestions on how to recharge your energy. Many of these suggestions are culled from great people in history. Taking a midday snooze in the buff was apparently a favorite habit of Winston Churchill. Food for thought, okay? Do with it what you want. 😉
  • Breathing. This one really taught me to never take anything for granted! Did you realize that none of us breathe enough?! I downloaded an app at to train myself to not only breathe, but meditate and focus. It's hard at first, but over time it really helps. Now when I'm tempted to yell, I breathe.

Favorite Quotes from The Power of Full Engagement

  • “Energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance.”
  • “Making change that lasts requires a three-step process: Define Purpose, Face the Truth and Take Action.”
  • “The ability to summon positive emotions during periods of intense stress lies at the heart of effective leadership.”
[Tweet “”Energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance.” –Jim Loehr/Tony Schwartz”]
  • “Honesty without compassion becomes cruelty.”
  • “To sustain full engagement, we must take a recovery break every 90 to 120 minutes.”

The Bottom Line

None of us can do it all, but we can do one thing until it sticks and then do another thing that sticks until we get to where we ultimately want to be.

I asked Jess what that is for her. Here was her answer:

“A caring, giving, high-performing, mission-driven entrepreneur who has the earned luxury of doing whatever I want, where I want, how I want and with who I want.”

Um, yes please.

Just think how freeing it would be to view productivity not as juggling a billion balls, but about creating a self-sustaining energy feed that fuels not just your job, but your entire life.

If you need to greatly improve how you spend your energy every day, like we did, this is the book for you. Check it out here and let us know what you think!

Have you read a work-related book that rocked your world? Tell us about it on our Facebook page!