Review of The Power of Full Engagement

July 13th, 2010

If you’ve read one book about time management, you’ve probably read them all—at least that’s the conclusion I’ve been coming to after reading a bunch of them.

So, imagine my surprise when I read a book that hits upon a novel concept:


But did the concept live up to its billing?

The Good

I liked this book for 2 reasons:

#1 It offered compelling insights

#2 Unlike most books of this type, it didn’t rely on fluff to sell things. It actually had some substance.

They key insights in this book arre:

  1. The key to high performance is energy not time
  2. You must not overuse or underuse your energy
  3. Press beyond limits to build capacity
  4. Rituals, not discipline, is key

The authors use the metaphor of the athlete in this book and approach managing energy the same way athletes do.  They make a distinction between marathon and sprints.   The Power of Full Engagement says you should live your life like a sprint and do more when you have energy and then rest when you don’t.

The authors recommend breaking your day into 90-minute “sprints” with 15 minutes of rest.

I found this to be interesting given that in another book I read” The Brain Rules” it states that the brain cannot concentrate for long periods of time.  So, a break is good both mentally and physically.

The key they say is to keep your energy high in order to get things done,  you should tap into 4 sources of energy:

  • physical (and includes strategies for “fueling the fire” through exercise, nutrition, and sleep),
  • emotional (“transforming threat into challenge”),
  • mental (“appropriate focus and realistic optimism”)
  • spiritual (“having a ‘why’ to live”)

By combining these 4 sources of energy, the authors say you become fully engaged.

I like this book mostly because it shows a new way of dealing with things. Here is a chart from the book:

Old Paradigm New Paradigm
Manage time

Avoid stress

Life is a marathon

Downtime is wasted time

Rewards fuel performance

Self-discipline rules

The power of positive thinking

Manage energy

Seek stress

Life is a series of sprints

Downtime is productive time

Purpose fuels performance

Rituals rule

The power of full engagement

The second part of the book is related to showing how to do all this.

The Bad

I liked most of the book.  There are times when the authors rely on storytelling (one of the authors also wrote a book on the power of stories) instead of giving more information.  But I don’t think they went overboard and they don’t fall into inspiroof.   However, at times I was thinking that I would choke if I had to hear one more story.

One thing people may not like about the book is that its roots are in athletics and its training is like training “corporate athletes”.  I find that even though athletes are good to study, their realm is mainly physical more than mental.   Some things that work for them do not always translate into the “real” world.

Another thing is I think this book is longer than it needs to be.   I found it repetitive in some parts.  And the writing style can be dull, making the book harder to read in some spots than it needs to be.

The Verdict

Despite these problems, I definitely recommend this book. I put some of the things in this book into practice and found they work for me.  But I think the insights this book offers are worth the price of admission and a good place to start when thinking about time management.

The link is my Amazon affiliate link.


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