I just returned from a trip to the mountains of North Carolina where the annual fall colors are on full display. Pastoral valleys, bucolic coves, rolling slopes were simply dazzling in the sunlight and everything seemed to be dancing on the wind.
The rich color of the leaves, peak perfect in all of their resplendent glory got me to thinking about, of all things, physics.
The striking colors we see on the leaves of the trees represent only the wavelengths of light reflected back to us. All of the other colors contained in sunlight are absorbed by the leaf and are not reflected. Therefore, we can not see them. We see only the colors that are reflected back to our eyes.
But the colors we do see, the ones that are reflected, tell us everything we need to know about what wavelengths were absorbed. What we actually see reflected is in large measure due to everything else that was absorbed.
I believe people are no different in this respect. What we see reflected from an individual is in large measure due to what the individual has absorbed. We are the sum total of the knowledge and experiences we absorb. How people view us is that portion we reflect.
What we reflect back to others depends on the quality of the knowledge and experience we seek, even more so than the quantity. The mirror with the sharpest image is the one that reflects 100% of any light, independent of it’s size.
I see people too overloaded with work being unfairly treated with no measure of control, in isolated environments with no sense of community and insufficient reward, where their personal values are being compromised on a daily basis.
If this is what is being absorbed, what you will see reflected back are the hallmarks of burnout – emotional exhaustion, depersonalization (cynicism), and inefficacy.
If, on the other hand, you see an individual who is reflecting engagement – energy, involvement and efficacy – then you are looking at someone with an intentional, purpose driven passion for excellence in every realm of their life and with every fiber of their being.
Engagement has the salient features of energy, involvement and efficacy, the exact opposites of exhaustion, cynicism and inefficacy. It describes a positive work-related state of mind characterized by:
- Vigor – Vigor reflects high energy, mental resilience, a willingness to invest effort in one’s work and persistence in the face of difficulties. Keyword: ENERGY
- Dedication – a strong involvement in one’s work with a sense of significance, enthusiasm, inspiration, pride, challenge and achievement. Keyword: INVOLVEMENT
- Absorption – happily engrossed and so concentrated in one’s work that time passes quickly to a point where one has difficulty separating and detaching from work. Keyword: EFFICACY
Engagement is an energetic state in which one is dedicated to excellent performance of work and confident of one’s effectiveness. To be engaged is to be completely present in your work. In fact, work is no longer viewed as work when one is fully engaged. No longer considered labor, work becomes a wellspring of joy and pleasure through intentional and purposeful effort to create or produce using one’s unique natural talents and abilities.
Engaged individuals seek balance in all areas of their life. They treat other people fairly while accepting no less than the same. They serve a community of like minded people using the utmost of their natural talent and abilities in a way that is concert with their core values. In doing so, they are richly rewarded while hardly ever having to ask.
An onlooker would be hard pressed to tell if a fully engaged individual is actually working or playing. That’s because a fully engaged individual does not work. They are simply expressing who they are by what they do. They are demonstrating to the world their passion and purpose. That is their reflection.
What will you absorb today which will help you to better reflect engagement?