"Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it." — Henry Ford
If you ever run into me out and about there’s a very good chance that you’ll find me in my signature blue shirt, black vest and golden necktie. I got the idea to always dress to the nines from my friend Mel. One day he pulled me aside and said, “You know Jonas, when there’s a shine on your shoes there’s a melody in your heart. What a wonderful way to start your day!”
It’s kind of like the saying that goes: “No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, and show up.” I really took this mantra to heart from a young age, because looking the part of whatever lifestyle you’re after is great advice. It gets us started, however it only gets us halfway; if we stop there it’s like just putting a suit on a mannequin!
When I was a kid my favorite television show was a show called Today’s Special. It took place in a department store after-hours, and at just when the store closed for the night someone would put a hat on a mannequin and then say magic words, “Hocus Pocus Alamagocus,” and all of a sudden the mannequin would come to life! It was like someone had just turned him on turned him on and he’d be dancing and signing!
The dancing and singing, inspired by the Magic Words, is what needs to happen after getting up, dressing up, and showing up. I don’t mean literal dancing and singing, but sometimes it does require dancing and singing!
I had a professor in at Salem State University, Professor Mandy Lobraico, who highlighted for me the potential power of engagement. You may have known some teachers during your life who seem to gain a profound sense of joy from seeing their students struggle. These teachers present their lessons as riddles to be solved rather than as knowledge to be gained, and then they wonder why their students don’t do well! This was not the case for Professor Lobraico. She made sure every question was answered and she wouldn’t test us on what she taught until she was sure we understood each lesson.
What I appreciated most about her method of teaching is that so long as you showed up each day and engaged in each lesson, you’d be guaranteed to succeed. Failure would not be possible so long as you showed up and engaged in the material. Of course, some students still failed, because some students didn’t bother showing up! Other students showed up but sat in the back of the room and tuned out. They may have dressed up and showed up, but they weren’t really there because they lacked engagement. The Magic Word Engage reminds us that dressing up and showing up is half the battle; the other half is fully engaging in what you are doing.
Have you been struggling with a lack of engagement? If so, why do you think that is? What kind of adjustments do you need to make to get back on track? If you are already engaged, what can you do to prepare yourself for moments of disengagement? It’s easy to stay engaged when the tides are in your favor; it’s another matter when the tides go against you! Preparing yourself for the storms now will ensure consistent engagement regardless of circumstances.
Jonas Cain is an educator, facilitator, and coach, working to engage, empower, and encourage leaders and the people they serve to experience joy.