Everyone of us is engaged right now. Whether you find great connection with your kids, the music you play, or the work you do, you are engaged right now. You may be engaged in challenging things like not having your bills paid, suffering through work, or wrestling in relationship to others, and you are engaged in those things. Anyway it goes, everyone of us is engaged right now.
So the question is not if we’re engaged, but what we’re engaged in. This leads to my next best practice in engagement.
Practice 6: Build Upon Existing Engagement.
Many well-meaning non-profit organizations and individuals look to get people into what they do. They look for volunteers who’ll serve their communities as tutors, house builders, tax form preparers, and board members. They hire staff who seem passionate and engaged. Politicians hope voters will care enough to rally around issues, and teachers think students want to learn what they’re teaching.
The reason why these and so many efforts to serve others fail is because the people who are being targeted aren’t actually engaged. The reason why they’re not engaged is because the person seeking to engage them didn’t build on the things those people were already engaged in.
More than 2,500 years ago Lao Tzu wrote, “At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.” This knowingness uses engagement to connect you in lasting ways to all that you know, all that you want, and who you are. This makes engagement so central to our existence as humans, and makes what we’re currently engaged in so central to our future engagements.
All programs that seek to engage people in something external to themselves are bound to fail if they don’t acknowledge what people are already engaged in right now. Imagine if every nonprofit, church, politician, teacher, doctor, and business sought to ultimately lead their communities, parishioners, voters, students, patients, and customers back to themselves. They would fulfill Rumi’s wise prescription: “I have been a seeker and I still am, but I stopped asking the books and the stars. I started listening to the teaching of my Soul.”
5 Questions to Acknowledging Personal Engagement
- What do you have lasting connections to within yourself right now?
- What do you have lasting connections to outsides yourself right now?
- Define what you think engagement means to you right now.
- What examples do you know of the people in your life that show different things people they’re engaged in right now?
- Identify what you’re engaged in right now.