Monday, July 26, 2004

The Power of Full Engagement by Loehr and Schwartz

by Asim Jalis

Here are the main points from Loehr and Schwartz's The Power of Full Engagement: 1. If you don't use a muscle it atrophies. If you push it too hard without repairing it, it gets damaged. If you push it past your comfort zone and then give it time to renew itself it becomes stronger. 2. The brain is a biological entity like the muscle. Concentration and focus depend upon blood circulation and neurochemical interactions. Too much concentration and focus are exhausting because they deplete biochemicals. 3. The punchline: The brain can be trained much like muscles. If you don't use it it will atrophy. If you push it too hard you burn out. But if you push it past the comfort zone and then give it time to recuperate it becomes stronger. The oxygen channels to the brain widen. 4. They report some interesting studies. (a) People who do focused with their brains into the retirement are less impaired by Alzheimer's disease. (b) Sleeping too much or too little increases the chances of mortality. They recommend 7-8 hours. 5. People who burn out stress out their brains but do not give it an opportunity to recover. E.g. they are like athletes who push to hard and injure their muscles. 6. The authors were mental trainers to Monica Seles and Pete Sampras. Instead of helping them improve their playing skills they taught them how to stay focused on the game and how to increase their concentration stamina. 7. This is the opposite of the self-2 strategy. You make your self-1 more and more powerful by training it. th 8. Their other point is the importance of ritual in repair and renewal. E.g. pick a time and take a walk every day at that time. Or do something else that is relaxing, but fix the time, and turn it into a ritual. One of their patients walked to a park and read a book every day at lunch time. 9. The concept of ritual here is important. It is not enough to do something fun. You have to build it into your schedule in such a way that your whole body, your conscious mind and the other systems become trained to expect the renewal at a certain time and following specific cues. This allows your systems to push hard just before the ritualized break and then to achieve an extreme state of relaxation when the break arrives. Naps are also good.