Educator, spiritual director, and consultant Millis (Conversation: The Sacred Art) proposes a new method to help individuals and communities connect more honestly with one another. Millis suggests a way to move from deep listening to deep engagement on any scale. Chapter titles are short maxims, like “be who you are" and “use everything," that are developed into invitations to pause, ponder, and practice each chapter's core concept. Some ideas help readers examine their own lives, while “listen generously" and “ask meaningful questions" are guidelines that can be applied to relationships with others. Drawing on her work teaching leadership skills with the Fetzer Institute and the Lilly Endowment, Millis writes that strong communities can be founded on honest engagement and the willingness to improvise. Appealing to both corporate leaders and self-help readers, Millis writes with heart and compassion without veering into fuzziness or jargon. She includes a good bibliography for those wishing to deepen their explorations of her ideas. (Apr.)
Synopsis: In the pages of Deepening Engagement: Essential Wisdom for Listening and Leading with Purpose, Meaning and Joy, professional leadership consultant and coach Diane M. Millis offers a tool kit for aspiring and practicing leaders of all kinds and all levels of spiritual involvement including people of faith, people of no faith, spiritual but not religious. Deepening Engagement focuses upon deepening our engagement with our true selves, one another and the communities in which we live and work. Millis provides guiding precepts from many wisdom traditions to help us realize what we most value and identify where we find passion and purpose. As a result, we will be better able to inspire others in all that we do. Intriguing and challenging, this thought-provoking resource is ideal for use in personal reflection as well as for small group discussion, as a way to invite others to tap into their own leadership potential.
Critique: Impressively well written, organized and presented, Deepening Engagement: Essential Wisdom for Listening and Leading with Purpose, Meaning and Joy is an inherently fascinating and informative read and highly recommended for both community and academic Self-Help/Self-Improvement/Personal Growth reference collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that Deepening Engagement: Essential Wisdom for Listening and Leading with Purpose, Meaning and Joy is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.49).
"Those with the most authority tend to tell more often than ask...We tend to offer thinly veiled advice through our questions instead of seeking to better understand another's perspective... Our questions are tools. Our questions have consequences. Really good questions have the potential to illuminate uncharted or rarely explored terrain... If you think you already know how the other person will respond, try to come up with a different question."
Dr. Diane Millis, Deepening Engagement: Essential Wisdom for Listening and Leading with Purpose, Meaning and Joy.
This is the kind of book that's best absorbed slowly, taking the time between chapters to journal or discuss our responses to the poems, stories, and questions.
There are two dozen short chapters, divided into three themes:
- Part 1: Engaging Our True Self
- Part 2: Engaging One Another
- Part 3: Cultivating Engaged Communities
Each chapter begins with an invitation to "Pause" by reading and reflecting on a poem or quotation. This is followed by a story to "Ponder," fromthe author's own experience or another person's life. The third part of each chapter is "Practice," a deceptively simple action to integrate thetheme into our day.
For example, the first chapter begins with St. Francis de Sales' advice to "Be who you are and be that well." This is followed by the story ofHenry David Thoreau's struggle to find his voice as a writer. Finally, we are asked to "do one small activity that you enjoy doing and you do well."
A later chapter begins with a quote from Ann Patchett about learning "to see school as something that goes on everywhere, all the time, not just in libraries but in parking lots, in airports, in trees." Millis follows this with an anecdote about an elderly man at her local park who delighted in teaching passersby how to create giant bubbles. The chapter ends with the suggestion to "reflect upon everyone you met today, both planned and unplanned, and call to mind one person in particular from whom you learned something unexpected."
Deepening Engagementis for anyone who wants to take the time to reflect on and discuss the deeper questions of our lives, our relationships, and our society.
"What most differentiates deeply engaged leaders … is their overriding concern for their way of being in the world rather than the position they hold or the roles they occupy.… Regardless of who we are or what we do for a living, each of us has opportunities to listen, lead, and contribute to shaping a better future."
You can read an excerpt atcollegevilleinstitute.org, about what it means to be deeply engaged, and how this is demonstrated by a pastry chef from Burkina Faso whose relationships with his employees matter as much as the desserts they produce.
"Deeply engaging! It gets to the heart of engagement by seeing it as an inside-out, holistic dynamic of engaging oneself, others and the community to contribute on-purpose and in-service." Kevin Cashman, senior partner, Korn Ferry; best-selling author, Leadership from the Inside Out and The Pause Principle
"A magnificent soul-searching resource…. A true treasure for both individuals and small groups that I will make great use of." The Rt. Rev. Brian N. Prior, bishop, Episcopal Church in Minnesota
"Wise [and] luminous, Millis trains [our] ear to listen and [our] heart to be still…. Plant the wisdom of this book into your daily engagements and harvest the bounty.” Dr. Marty Stortz, Bernhard M. Christensen Professor of Religion and Vocation, Augsburg College, Minneapolis, Minnesota
“Whether read alone or in groups (I'd recommend groups!), this book is a marvelous guide to all who seek to venture into the self-renewing spiritual depths awaiting us.” John Wimmer, program director, Religion, Lilly Endowment, Inc.
“A fine book with a brilliant ... structure that provides us with a rhythm of application that we can carry with us long after the reading is done.” Robert R. Stains, Jr., senior vice president for training, Public Conversations Project
“Gentle, invitational and useful …. The simple, profound practices could be transformational. An important guide for almost anyone!” Judy Brown, leadership educator, poet; author, A Leader's Guide to Reflective Practice and The Art and Spirit of Leadership
“This beautiful gem of a book sparkles with clarity, gently inviting the reader to open-heartedly engage self, other and community. A must-read for anyone wanting to listen and/or lead authentically and effectively.” Margaret Benefiel, author, Soul at Work and The Soul of a Leader