NET OUT: The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz

Energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance

  • Without the right quantity, quality, focus and force of energy, we are compromised in any activity we undertake.


Performance, Health and Happiness are grounded in the skillful management of energy.

  • To be fully engaged, we must be physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focused and spiritually aligned with a purpose beyond our immediate self-interest. Full engagement begins with feeling eager to get to work in the morning, equally happy to return home in the evening and capable of setting clear boundaries between the two.
  • Finally, professional athletes have an average career span of five to seven years. If they handled their finances reasonably well, they are often set for life. Few of them are under pressure to run out and get another job. By contrast, you can probably expect to work for forty to fifty years without any significant breaks.


Principle 1: Full Engagement requires drawing on four separate but related sources of energy. Physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.

  • We must learn to hold ourselves at least equally accountable for how we manage our energy physically, emotionally, mentally & spiritually.


To maintain a powerful pulse in our lives, we must learn how to rhythmically spend and renew energy.

  • We too must learn to live our own lives as a series of sprints- fully engaging for long periods of time, and then fully disengaging and seeking renewal before jumping back into the fray to face whatever challenge confronts us.

We build emotional, mental and spiritual capacity in precisely the same way that we build physical capacity.

  • Creating positive rituals is the most powerful means we have found to effectively manage energy in the service of full engagement.
  • Exp. Include- relying on junk food for bursts of energy, smoking or drinking to manage anxiety, furiously multitasking to meet demands, setting aside more challenging, long-term projects in favor of what feels immediately pressing and easier to accomplish, and devoting little energy to personal relationships.


(Keep in mind- Managing energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance. Performance is grounded in the skillful management of energy. 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.)

Energy is simply the capacity to do work. Our most fundamental need as human beings is to spend and recover energy.

  • They were over training or under training in one or more dimensions- P, E, M or S.
  • Spiritual energy capacity depends on regularly revisiting our deepest values and holding ourselves accountable in our behavior.
  • Cultures that encourage people to seek intermittent renewal not only inspire greater commitment, but also more productivity.


We are oscillatory beings in an oscillatory universe. Rhythmicity is our inheritance.

  • 90- to 120-minute cycles- ultradian rhythms.
  • Somewhere between 90 and 120 minutes, the body begins to crave a period of rest and recovery.
  • We are machined-centered in our thinking- focused on the optimization of technology and equipment- rather than human-centered, focused on the optimization of human alertness and performance.
  • “He makes me lie down in the green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.” Intermittently disengaging is what allows us to passionately re-engage.
  • When we operate at a high enough intensity for long enough, we progressively lose the capacity to shift to any other gear.


Death from overwork

  • It is not the intensity of energy expenditure that produces burnout, impaired performance and physical breakdown, but rather the duration of expenditure without recovery.
  • He began taking a break every 90 to 120 minutes, during which he ate something, drank some water and took at least a brief walk.


Expanding capacity requires a willingness to endure short-term discomfort in the service of long-term reward.

  • We tend to hoard the energy we have and use our limited stores in the service of self-protection. (defense spending)


(keep in mind: Our most fundamental need as human beings is to spend and recover energy. We call this oscillation. “Performance Pyramid”- Physical, Emotional, Mental and Spiritual. Expanding capacity requires a willingness to endure short-term discomfort in the service of long-term reward.)

Physical Energy: Fueling the Fire

  • Physical Energy is the fundamental source of fuel.
  • Breathing into a count of three and out to a count of six, lowers arousal and quiets not just the body but also the mind and the emotions.
  • When you awake in the mornings, after eight to twelve hours of not eating, your blood glucose levels are at a low ebb, even if you don’t feel consciously hungry.
  • Sustained performance depends not just on eating at regular intervals but also on eating only as much as you need to drive your energy for the next two to three hours. Portion control is critical.
  • We must become more attuned to what satisfaction actually feels like.
  • If 80% of what you eat fuels performance and health, you can eat whatever you like for the other 20%- so long as you control the size of portions.
  • Eating, breathing and sleeping eight to twelves hours a night is necessary to function optimally.
  • Best of all, catnaps sometime in the afternoon- consistently report that they sustain high energy into the evenings.
  • In a study of eight executives over a nine-month period, those who worked out regularly improved their fitness by 22% and demonstrated a 70% improvement in their ability to make complex decisions as compared to nonexercisers.


(Keep in mind: The two most important regulators of physical energy are breathing and eating. Eat five to six low calorie, highly nutritious meals a day… Take breaks every 90-120 minutes.)

Emotional Energy: Transforming Threat into Challenge

  • Physical and emotional energy capacity are inextricably connected.
  • Whenever he felt consumed by frustration, a racy sort of exhaustion set in.


Holding Opposites

  • Celebrating what the Stoic philosophers called anacoluthia- the mutual entailment of the virtues. No virtue was a virtue itself.
  • We are, in effect, the sum of our complexities and contradictions.


(Keep in mind: Any activity that is enjoyable, fulfilling or affirming serves as a source of emotional renewal and recovery.)

Mental Energy: Appropriate Focus and Realistic Optimism

  • Physical energy = fuel for mental skill
  • The key supportive muscles that fuel optimal mental energy include mental preparation, visualization, positive self-talk, effective time management, and creativity.
  • The increased fatigue that results from too little sleep or poor fitness makes it more difficult to concentrate.
  • Thinking uses up a great deal of energy. The brain represents 2% of the bodies weight, yet requires up to 25% of it’s oxygen.
  • “Almost no one gets their best ideas at work.” – Michael Gelb
  • “The greatest geniuses sometimes accomplish more when they work less.” – Leonardo Da Vinci
  • He was less interested in how much time they had devoted to their jobs than the quality of energy they brought into their tasks.


The Plasticity of the Brain

  • The balance of stress and recovery appears to be a critical factor in maximizing cognitive capacity.
  • “Every time you learn something new it builds new connections to the brain cells.” – Margery Silver


Pessimism, Negativity

  • Ask yourself “What is the worst possible case scenario here?”
  • Be fueled by possibility rather than fear


Poor Time Management, Short Attention Span

  • Creative brainstorming, reflection and attending to longer-range planning and writing projects all tend to get pushed aside.


(Keep in mind: They key supportive mental muscles- Preparation, Visualization, Positive Self-Talk, Effective Time Management and Creativity. Continuing to challenge the brain serves as protection against age-related mental decline.)

Spiritual Energy: He Who Has a Why to Live

  • When we lack sufficient spiritual energy, we must find systematic ways to go deeper- to challenge our complacency and expediency. In Roger B’s case, the disconnection from a compelling sense of purpose had robbed him of passion and of any clear sense of direction. He operated instead in survival mode, doing what was necessary to fill immediate needs and to get by day-to-day.  All of his energy systems were compromised.
  • Understand the significance of purpose.
  • Gain access to a wellspring of focused purpose.
  • Spiritual renewal, on the other hand, comes from feeling inspired by and reconnected to our sense of purpose and our deepest values.
  • Activities to generate considerable spiritual renewal- walking through nature, reading inspirational books, listening to music, or hearing a great speaker.
  • Concentrate on all service to others, which involves considerable effort and even inconvenience,  but may also provide a profound source of meaning and deep satisfaction.


Lack of Follow Through, Unreliability

  • Ask yourself when new challenges arise- “Is this something I need to do myself?”, “When does it need to be finished, and can I reasonably get it done by then?”


Defining Purpose: The Rules of Engagement

  • Because we so often lack deep roots- firm beliefs and compelling values- we are easily buffeted by the prevailing winds. If we lack a strong sense of purpose we cannot hold our ground when we are challenged by life’s inevitable storms.


Intrinsic Purpose

  • The point is that we feel more passion for and derive more pleasure from doing what we freely choose and most enjoy.


A Purpose Beyond One’s Self

  • The third factor that ignites a deeper sense of purpose is shifting attention from fulfilling our own needs and desires to serving something beyond ourselves.
  • “Is the life that I am living worth what I am giving up to have it?”


Values & Virtues

  • Jump ahead to the end of your life. What are the three most important lessons you have learned and why are they so critical?
  • Think of someone you deeply respect. Describe three qualities in this person that you admire.
  • Who are you at your best?
  • What one-sentence inscription would you like to see on your tombstone that would capture who you really were in life.
  • A value is ultimately just a roadmap for action.
  • A value in action is a virtue.

(Keep in mind: A vision statement, grounded in values that are meaningful and compelling, creates a blueprint for how to invest our energy.)

Face the Truth: How Are You Managing Your Energy Now?

  • We have argued that full engagement and optimal performance depend on the capacity to marshal high positive energy.
  • Compromised energy, a much higher likelihood of diabetes and heart disease and a far greater likelihood of early death.


Gathering the Facts

  • Where are the disconnects?
  • How effectively are the choices that you are making physically- your habits of nutrition, exercise, sleep and the balance of stress.
  • How are your habits of sleeping, eating and exercising affect your available energy?

Perception and Reality

  • “I am overwhelmed with my anxiety” to the more dispassionate “My anxiety is trying to overwhelm me.” In one, we are victims. In the other, we have the power to make choices and take action.
  • Confidence unmeditated by humility becomes grandiosity, egomania and even fanaticism.
  • We often feel most hostile to those who remind of us aspects of ourselves that we prefer not to see.


(Keep in mind: Facing the truth frees up energy. Avoiding the truth consumes great effort and energy. Truth without compassion is cruelty, to others and to ourselves. A common form of self-deception is assuming that our view represents the truth, when it is really just a lens through which we chose to view the world. Facing the truth requires that we remain an ongoing openness to the possibility that we may not be seeing ourselves-or others- accurately.)

Taking Action: The Power of Positive Rituals

  • 95% of what we do occurs automatically or in reaction to a demand or an anxiety.
  • Positive energy rituals. Every time we participate in a ritual, we are expressing our beliefs, either verbally or implicitly.
  • Families who sit down together every night for dinner are saying without words that they believe in the need for families to have shared time together.
  • Conscious will and discipline are rooted in the fact that every demand on our self-control- from deciding what we eat to managing frustration, from building and exercise regimen to persisting at a difficult task- all draw on the same easily depleted reservoir of energy.
  • Rituals come from the fact that they conserve energy.
  • Since will and discipline are far more limited and precious resources than most of us realize, they must be called upon very selectively.
  • We have the capacity for very few conscious acts of self-control in a day.


The Rituals of Stress and Recovery

  • The more precise and effective our recovery rituals, the more quickly we can restore our energy reserves,
  • The more scheduled and systematic these rituals became, the more renewal they provided.


Precision and Specificity

  • Specificity of timing and precision of behavior dramatically increase the likelihood of success. The explanation once again relies in the fact that our conscious capacity for self-control is limited and easily depleted.


Doing Vs. Not Doing

  • “I won’t overtreat,” or “I will not get angry” are examples of rapidly depleting our stores of will and discipline. NOT doing something requires continuous self-control.


Basic Training

  • Chart the course- put your goals down on paper.
  • Chart the progress- if you are trying to eat a healthier diet, it is critical to have rituals that define what and when you are going to eat, but also have to measure at the end of each day how well you have followed your plan.
  • If you are falling short of implementing a particular ritual of achieving the outcome that you are seeking, it may be that the ritual isn’t grounded in a value or vision that is truly compelling to you, it may be the goal that you had set is simply too ambitious and needs to be implemented more slowly and progressively, no matter what it is- measuring your progress is not a weapon but a learning tool to help you change.


(Keep in mind: The more exacting the challenge and the greater the pressure, the more rigorous our rituals need to be. Trying not to do something rapidly depletes our limited stores of will & discipline.)

Purpose as a Fuel

  • Work out at least 3 times a week.
  • Commit to a healthy, high-protein breakfast everyday.
Tamira Eliseo

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