I just fiading Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long, by David Rock. One of the book’s testimonials comes from the late, great Warren Bennis: “This is the best, the most helpful, and the brainiest book I’ve read on how the brain affects how, why and what we do and act.” That’s high praise indeed, notwithstanding the somewhat tortured syntax at the tail end of that sentence.
In one passage, Rock writes about a meeting in an organization facing a big decision about whether or not to invest in a new business, emphasizing that the four most important things on which the organization should focus during such a meeting are: “The organization’s overall goals; The desired outcome from the meeting, such as to decide yes or no; The main argument for the investment; and The main argument against the investment.”
What often happens instead, according to Rock, is that the meeting will turn to discussions of details of the new business. Why? Because they’re fresh in mind and therefore more tangible. The four items listed above, though more important, “are also a bit intangible; thus they take more effort to consider. We all often think about what’s easy to think about, rather than what’s right to think about.”
That, in a nutshell, is what makes engagement and its first cousins—trust, respect, and empowerment—so bloody difficult to wrestle to the ground.