Thursday, July 31, 2008

Values, Vision and Engagement

The Power of Full Engagement includes a helpful template for an action plan near the end of the book. I began filling it out while on vacation last week, and this morning have solidified my focus for how to more consistently be fully engaged in the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energy spheres.

The foundation of this action plan for engagement is clarifying one's values. I had to really wrestle with this, striving to embrace brutal honesty in order to distinguish between what I say I value and what my behavior reveals as my true values. Hopefully I found that honest synthesis, and here's what I have listed:

Connection (intimacy with God, family, friends, colleagues)

Next, the plan calls for an examination of one's strengths. Rather than re-inventing the wheel, I turned to the terminology derived from my Gallup StrengthsFinder assessment, which I took nearly three years ago and have consistently integrated into my approach to work and my coaching of others:

Input (collecting and categorizing ideas and tools for future use)
Learner (constant desire to learn and understand more)
Connectedness (constantly connecting the dots and seeing the larger picture)
Ideation (creative brainstorming)
Intellection (consistently thinking things through)

The template asks readers to contemplate the "Three Most Important Life-End Lessons" they'll want to have learned and passed on to others. i wrote:

1. Most things are not worth worrying or stressing about
2. Follow your central passions from the start, for they open all the right doors
3. Authentic relationships are the key to sustainable peace and joy

Next is an imagined "tombstone inscription." Although a little morbid to consider in general, here's what I would like:

John was a creative and compassionate flame who burned brightly across his entire lifetime.

The next step in the action plan is to describe who I am when I am at my best. Not who I am every single moment or day, but when I am in the zone, when I thrive, what does it look like...and I said that in my strongest moments I am a "brainstorming, quick-witted, outgoing person who can energize, encourage and inspire those around him."

Next, a personal vision that incorporates my values:

I embrace a holistically-healthy approach to life, leveraging my key values to impact those I love and serve as an individual and a professional, respectively.

For my career/work vision, I listed the phrase I have been using for at least the past year:

Leveraging the power of words to help others thrive and discover timeless truths.

All of this preparation and insight leads to the commitment toward some key rituals designed to overcome certain work-related performance barriers that one has identified. I will save those for another entry...but in the meantime, READ THIS BOOK!!! :-)

Monday, July 28, 2008

A Room With a View

The past two months of my life have been consumed by house hunting in this lovely city of Franklin, Tenn., so vibrant and teeming with beauty in the spring and summer and early fall. The reflective life has, at least temporarily, been displaced by the suburban pursuit. Everything has its season...and soon I will have my own home office again, overlooking a large, quiet cluster of trees. Perhaps then...perhaps, the river of creativity will flow once again.

My sister Fran is now really enjoying the book The Power of Full Engagement, which I bought for her. I completed the action plan template found at the appendix, making some commitments for some new positive rituals that could lead to more emotional, mental and spiritual energy and focus in my life. Executing the rituals is much harder than writing them down. But writing them down, even though I did it in pencil, is a great start.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Energy Equals Engagement

At the suggestion of my boss, I've started reading a book called The Power of Full Engagement, by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. When I first heard the title, I assumed it was another business book along the lines of First Break All the Rules or other fairly recent publications dealing with how to deal with employees who are engaged, not engaged or actively disengaged. I was mistaken.

Instead, Loehr and Schwartz's work delves into a far bigger picture. They view energy as "the most fundamental currency of high performance," a vital resource that must be skillfully managed. Furthermore, the authors assert that to be "fully engaged," we must be physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focused and spiritually aligned with a purpose beyond our immediate self-interest.

I am just getting to the section of the book that begins to unpack the dynamics of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy one at a time. But the authors certainly have hooked me with their premises, as well as their observations of the maddening grind that depletes so many of us of one or more of these dimensions of energy. We wear our scars from the rat race like badges of courage. Spending little time training or practicing to build endurance or capacity for our energies, we move at rapid-fire speed and multitask numerous challenges each day--and our bodies, relationships and, at times, careers pay a heavy price.

In particular, this book has my attention because of the recent stress in my own life that has sapped so much of my creativity. I take note that this current blog entry is dated nearly a month after the last one. That's a long dry spell. I've been consumed in some things that are necessary but draining, and have not liked the lack of balance in my life. This book comes at the perfect time. I will keep reading, and hope to have some a-ha moments.