Are you fully engaged?

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I read a book last year called “The Power of Full Engagement”, by Tony Schwartz and Jim Loehr. It’s a great book if you are in any kind of business and want to really adopt the motivation and determination it takes to move forward in your career, or take your business to the next level. business_people_running

There’s a section where the authors use an analogy to athletes that I thought was highly relevant to triathletes:

“You must become a Corporate Athlete. The challenge of great performance is to  manage your energy more effectively in all dimensions to achieve your goals.”

Can you see how this might also apply to your next triathlon? Let’s go over these 4 principles from the book and see how to benefit from them in your next triathlon (or open water swim, or marathon, or ride):

“Four key energy management principles drive this process:

Principle 1: Full engagement requires drawing on four separate but related sources of energy: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Physical energy capacity is measured in terms of quantity (high to low) and emotional capacity in quality (negative to positive).”

Think about your race. Do you just need physical energy? No, you need to draw on all four of these sources in order to succeed. Especially in the swim. If it were just physical, swimming would be much easier to train for. Just do a bunch of laps every other day for a few weeks and you’re good to go, right? Haha. In your triathlon, you will have to overcome emotional hardships and mental challenges. Your spirit will also be challenged, often in many instances throughout your race.

“Principle 2: Because energy diminishes both with overuse and under use, we must balance energy expenditure with intermittent energy renewal. The richest, happiest and most productive lives are characterized by the ability to fully engage in the challenge at hand, but also to disengage periodically and seek renewal.”

Go out too fast in your swim, or utilize improper technique, and your energy expenditure will do you in! The “renewal” here is the level of efficiency you can achieve in your swim, combined with the overall pace you are capable of.

“Principle 3: To build capacity we must push beyond our normal limits training in the same systematic way that elite athletes do. We build emotional, mental and spiritual capacity in precisely the same way that we build physical capacity. We grow at all levels by expending energy beyond our ordinary limits and then recovering. Any form of stress that prompts discomfort has the potential to expand our capacity – physically, mentally,  emotionally or spiritually – so long as it is followed by adequate recovery.”

In training, you will test your limits, so that in a race, we can rise above challenges to the four sources of energy- and go beyond what we have previously accomplished. Keep in mind, recovery is key, and overtraining can be even more costly than under-training when it comes to endurance races.

“Principle 4: Positive energy rituals – highly specific routines for managing energy – are the key to full engagement and sustained high performance. A positive ritual is a behavior that becomes automatic over time, fueled by some deeply held value. The power of rituals is that they insure that we use as little conscious energy as possible where it is not absolutely necessary, freeing us to strategically focus the energy available to us in creative, enriching ways. Creating positive rituals is the most powerful  means the authors have found to effectively manage energy in the service of full engagement.”

This is something we discuss when it comes to open water swimming. Many triathletes beat themselves up in the open water portion of a race. “Everyone else knows what they are doing, I’m lost!” is going through the heads of so many on the swim. Positive rituals will overpower any negative emotions that hold us back in the swim, and cause us to want to quit later in the race. An example of a positive ritual may be a mantra. For swimming, it may be as simple as keeping a 1-2 count going throughout the race (i.e. counting your strokes “1, 2, 1, 2…”). Every time you get thrown off, you can just go back to the stroke count.

Business and racing triathlons often are interestingly related, and you can learn a lot from one to help the other!

If you’re looking for a new source of inspiration to improve your life, business and to fuel your innovation, check out http://100mustreads.com for over 100 top business book summaries (including The Power of Full Engagement).