Expend Energy; Deplete Energy; Replenish Energy – The Full Engagement Formula from Tony Schwartz; But, the Problem is the Implementation Problem

#1 – You will be depleted. It will happen more often than you realize. You have to become an “am I depleted?” observer of your own life.
#2 – This depletion has an impact on each part of your life. In other words, depletion at work depletes the energy you have at home, for home, and, everywhere else. 
#3 – After you are depleted, you can’t just keep going. You have to replenish your energy after it has been depleted.
My first three takeaways from The Power of Full Engagement


Power of EngagementI’m revisiting the terrific Tony Schwartz (and Jim Loehr) book The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal. (I’m presenting a synopsis session of this book next week for a national sales team).

It is a sobering revisiting. I first presented this book nearly 12 years ago (May, 2003). I remembered a lot about the book. But… and here’s the rub, I haven’t remembered to “do” what I had intended to “do” after reading the book. In other words, I have not implemented, over the long-haul, the lessons learned from this book.

And, I suspect that this failure to implement holds true for many other lessons learned from many other books I have presented. I read, I learn (in my head) the concepts, but I don’t implement the concepts into my life in an enduring way.


Call it the “knowing-implementing gap.” (a first cousin to the “knowing-doing gap”). And I have a sneaking suspicion that I am not the only one with such failures.

Why haven’t I implemented the lessons learned?

One reason I/(we) have great trouble is that we don’t focus like we should. Here’s a key finding (from his New York Times article: The Secret to Sustaining High Job Performance):

Only one-fifth of respondents said they were consistently able to focus on one thing at a time at work, but those who did reported that they were 29 percent more engaged at work – and far more productive during the day.

And, in his article Addicted to Distraction, he describes his own current struggle to maintain focus:

One evening early this summer, I opened a book and found myself reading the same paragraph over and over, a half dozen times before concluding that it was hopeless to continue. I simply couldn’t marshal the necessary focus.

So, Tony Schwartz, the author of this and other books, the true “energy-engaging guru,” confessed his own “backsliding.” He attributes it to the creeping omnipresence of technology (SmartPhones; devices).

I’m sorry that he has abandoned some of his disciplines, but it gave me some comfort. If he, the energy-focusing guru, has trouble practicing these principles over the long haul, then maybe it is genuinely hard — a “universal” struggle, if you will.

Here’s another key excerpt, kind of the big explanation, from this article:

“The net is designed to be an interruption system, a machine geared to dividing attention,” Nicholas Carr explains in his book “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains.” “We willingly accept the loss of concentration and focus, the division of our attention and the fragmentation of our thoughts, in return for the wealth of compelling or at least diverting information we receive.”

In time management books of yesteryear, there were all these tips on how to “avoid distractions.” “Close the door to your office; find a quiet spot to work.’’ Good advice! But now, with your door closed, in your quiet spot, you carry your own distractions. It is always right there; the iPhone in your hand, the computer on your desk (or lap). You are your own distraction machine.

And every click of the mouse or tap of your finger takes you away from your focus, and depletes your energy in ways that may not get you any closer to finishing your actual, important, current task.

And that is quite a problem!

So, let’s recap:

You replenish energy so that you can focus all of your energy on the one thing you need to focus on.
You then expend that energy — you deplete your energy.
You then replenish your energy; again.
And then, you get back at it.

When you are distracted, and expend your energy on stuff/tasks other than what you need to focus on at the moment, the energy is still used up, and now the energy is not there for what you need to focus your energy on.

So, maybe lesson #1 is this – learn to focus on one thing at a time.

If only that was an easy thing to learn, and implement, and keep-implemented…




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