"Get into it!” -- How to drive progress by improving moment-by-moment engagement
This course has nine lessons, and the first lesson is in the column to the right -->
"There are a lot of 'peak performance coaches' on the internet currently, but your material is the most comprehensive and substantive." -- Rev. Rob Bethancourt, Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Fullerton, California
The following questions are answered in this course. How many can you answer?
You can use these links for navigation through the course:
Lesson 1 - Inner and outer games, progress, and engagement
Lesson 2 - Sorting Cards into Books for Time
Lesson 3 - Card sorting for time, second series
Lesson 4 - What guarantees peak productivity and well-being at the same time?
Lesson 5 - Monitoring real-time engagement to Improve Emotional Intelligence
Lesson 6 - General four-step approach to accomplishment, creativity, and change
Lesson 7 - What is the zone of peak experience and performance?
Lesson 8 - Build an Engagement playing field
Lesson 9 - The range of our participation
For me the whole concept of looking at time in a different way was something I had never thought about before, and so I struggled with that through the day. . . . sort of like, “Oh, you can’t do that.” And yet experiencing it through some of those exercises . . . Part of me was saying “Oh, this isn’t possible,” and the other part was saying “Oh, this is wonderful!”… I think you really have something rather terrific there. —Lauretta Spenader, Human Resources Department, Syntex Laboratories
Your portrayal of time as a kind of conveyor belt passing through past, present, and future rooms . . . followed by the exercise where we turned our usual [temporal] perspective around, produced a real shift in consciousness, a new perception of time. —Rev. Stan Hampson, Palo Alto Unity Church
The tools you gave me at this workshop will last a lifetime. —Marilyn Bankert
Lesson 1 - Inner and outer: games, progress, and engagement
The outer, conventional world and the inner, experiential field
Whatever we do in life, it has two aspects, the outer, conventional world of objects, results, and events, and the inner world of our experience, perception, and states of mind.
Today business, Wall Street, and most individuals focus on conventional productivity and the "bottom line," a means of measuring the ‘outer’ financial health of an organization. However, as Timothy Gallwey clearly pointed out in his books, the inner game holds the key to the outer game of our lives. "How aware you are of this game can make the difference between success and failure in the outer game.”
Nevertheless, "as a culture, we [Westerners] have put much more emphasis on mastering the outer game and making changes in the external world. . . . our understanding and control of the Inner Game has not evolved equally. . . . We have a profound need to better understand, and learn to make changes in, the domain we call ourselves." (Gallwey)
A main objective of this course is to help improve our understanding and control of the inner or mental game and how it drives both inner and outer progress.
Outer and inner progress
It can be helpful to define two broad types of progress, corresponding to the outer, conventional world, and the inner, experiential world. If your concern is productivity or the delivery of services, you are focusing on what may be called conventional progress, or performance goals, typically measured by the 'bottom line', profits, speed, or quarterly results. On the other hand, if your concern is the quality of experience or personal change, you are focusing on what may be called learning goals or experiential or transformational progress.
Gallwey points out a very important, but seldom recognized difference between conventional performance and learning or experiential progress: "The [conventional] performance goals may or may not require any change in capability on the part of the performer. They each describe a single external accomplishment. The learning goals, on the other hand, represent changes in capability. Each learning goal has the potential to contribute to the attainment of countless future performance goals. The difference in leverage between the development of a capability and the accomplishment of a specific task is largely underrated in a performance-oriented culture." In other words, in the West we favor task accomplishment over experiential progress, seldom taking advantage of the leverage gained by the development of our capabilities.
Of course, both types of progress will usually be of interest, and may be monitored and measured for a project. Since on any long-term project, a preoccupation with conventional progress can easily (and often does) lead to poor motivation or even apathy, burnout, and health issues, it's advisable to somehow balance one's focus on conventional progress with a focus on an inner, experiential progress based on one's self-actualization need--which, according to Abraham Maslow--never seems to be extinguished, 'die out', or 'get old'. In fact, here it's recommended that a long-term experiential objective be given priority over conventional goals.
Significantly, Gallwey turns around the usual priority of outer performance over inner progress in asking, "Can we play a satisfying Inner Game and at the same time meet the requirements of the outer game?" And he replies: "play to learn, to fulfill your own potential . . . you will actually get better performance."
His statement may be surprising in a culture where we're taught to focus on results, but my own research and practice agrees with him. I find that you can best drive progress by improving inner engagement. We'll make a more direct argument for this conclusion in Lesson #3, and we take up a discussion of engagement next.
Definitions: Inner and Outer Engagement or Involvement
Engagement is now a popular topic in the business world. More and more research shows that driving progress by improving engagement--as contrasted with being preoccupied with the bottom line–drives not just productivity, but employee well-being and quality of products and services as well. (For a discussion of this, see Lesson #4.) However, engagement has been defined in many different ways, leading to a lot of confusion, as well as questionable results in the research focused on it.
We can distinguish two main types of engagement, behavioral or outer, corresponding to the outer, conventional world, and inner engagement, corresponding to the inner, experiential world. Behavioral or outer engagement results from certain observable, often organizational or social actions. For example, one might join a group concerned with the total quality movement. Much of the literature on involvement or engagement seems to implicitly focus on this behavioral type of engagement.
However, in this course, engagement usually refers to inner, or experiential engagement or involvement. Inner engagement might be defined as the degree to which one is typically absorbed in whatever's at hand--which is correlated to an individual's level of self-actualizing, as shown by his research:
Maslow found that in self-actualizing people, "absorption in perceiving, in doing, in enjoying, in creating can be very complete, very integrated and very pure. . . . He is more able to fuse with the world, with what was formerly not-self, e.g., the lovers come closer to forming a unit rather than two people, the I-Thou monism becomes more possible, the creator becomes one with his work being created, the mother feels one with her child, the appreciator becomes the music . . . Or the painting, or the dance, the astronomer is "out there" with the stars (rather than a separateness peering across an abyss at another separateness through a telescopic-keyhole)." (Toward a Psychology of Being, 2nd ed.)
In addition, Maslow found: "The person . . . feels more integrated (unified, whole, all-of-a-piece), than at other times. He also looks (to the observer) more integrated in various ways . . . e.g. less split or dissociated, less fighting against himself, more at peace with himself, less split between an experiencing-self and an observing-self, more one-pointed, more harmoniously organized, more efficiently organized with all his parts functioning very nicely with each other, more synergic, with less internal friction, etc." (p. 104)
From this we could reasonably conclude that the closer one is to being self-actualized, the greater would be the integration of all one's inner resources. Thus another way to define inner engagement is the degree to which one's inner resources are integrated.
Among our inner resources are awareness, concentration, energy, openness, work capacity (the individual's capacity to get things done), balance / equanimity, emotional intelligence, intellect / thinking capacity, discrimination / clarity, and appreciation / caring / compassion.
Then inner engagement is not just thoughts, attitudes, or feelings, but includes these. It's not a survey score, not behavior or actions, but a (momentary) state of one's (inner) resources.
The business case for improving inner engagement should then be obvious: improving inner engagement will integrate one's resources, moving one closer to self-actualization, where we are, and work at our best.
What can we say about the business case for improving outer, or behavioral engagement? What can we tell just by observing a person's behavior, without knowing their motivation? Outer behavior, such as attending meetings, is often correlated with 'positive motivation', such as an intention to contribute more to the organization, but these aren't always congruent: it's well known that people can just ‘act the part’: "talk the talk" outside, but still not "walk the walk" inside. Indeed, incongruence of thought and deed can be extreme in the case of employee spying or criminal sabotage. People can act the part of beneficially engaged employees, even while harboring malicious intentions.
Thus putting a lot of faith in appearances can be misleading. The long-term outcome may be contrary to what we forecast from appearances or mere surveys of behavior. For better or for worse, it’s pretty obvious that "Our state of mind creates our state of results." (Hansen and Allen, p. 28) Thus of the two types of engagement, inner engagement is much more determinative, and much more important.
Nevertheless, even among those advocating for improving engagement in organizations, there seems to be little appreciation for the value, methodology, and measurement of inner engagement. To see an example showing the vast potential for improving inner engagement, you can examine the account of a work period in Lesson #3, and an even more detailed account in this article: http://wp.me/ps9h2-3n
The Next Lessons
Whether or not you feel proficient at playing the inner game, it is your way "to steer a confident [or uncertain] course while navigating your way toward personal and professional goals." It is "our state of mind creates our state of results."
In Lesson #2 we experiment with a mock work situation, sorting a deck of cards. We are challenged to do this simple task quickly, and see how we currently deal with common inner obstacles to improve our performance. We can also investigate the source of time pressure, to see how involvement relates to pressure, and to see whether physical speed is independent of our feeling of time passing.
In terms of the type of goals, sorting the cards as quickly as we can is our conventional goal. Our learning goal is to see exactly what is involved experientially in improving our performance. Do we need to break through any beliefs or habits?
In Lesson #3 we experiment further with the card sorting exercise, continually and quickly dissolving experiential obstacles as they arise, more and more fully integrating and clarifying our inner resources. We can see how we increase one of our inner resources, our work capacity--the amount of work we can accomplish in a period of time. The importance of work capacity is seldom recognized, nor is the means by which it is improved.