January 26th, 2010 by Collin Canright | Filed under Philosophy, Psychology.

Today I considered engagement and what it means to live an engaged life. This is a way of living and being that I have explored for years, but today at the Men’s Leadership Development Week at the Wright Leadership Institute the deeper meaning of engagement as a way of being began to become more clear.

To say “way of being” is to use language with the tones of existential philosophy, but to use it in a practical, living sense, not solely an intellectual sense. Choice is one of the primary existential principles of living, and engagement is a choice.

In existential terms, it is a choice of being or nonbeing, a choice of living or not living, at least in the sense that to be alive is to be conscious and aware of oneself and one’s internal and external states and feelings. Engagement in this sense is to be or not to be.

In daily terms, being and nonbeing is not so lofty as it may sound. It’s picking up the phone to make a cold sales call–or not. It’s telling your spouse that you’re angry and why–or not. It’s correcting an employee–or not. It’s asking someone to lunch–or not.

In any of those acts, there is a risk–the risk of rejection, or nonbeing. And with risk there is fear.

So engagement becomes facing fear and having mastery over fear. Think of when you have faced a fear and how satisfying that feeling is. That is the satisfaction of engagement.

For there is also a yearning or desire to have something more that leads to the decision to engage–or not.

Engagement is a fuller expression of self, a choice to be oneself, as opposed to a simple act. We are aiming to be fully engaged.

I have missed a lot of the subtleties here and a broader context of leadership development. More on engagement to come.

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