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By David Harder on May, 26, 2017

Why We Are At War With Disengagement

Gallup’s latest global engagement survey indicates that only 13% of the world’s workers are engaged.

The problem of disengagement is so vast that it is far more than a vexing business problem, it is a tragedy that inhabits our homes, schools, roads, families, and daily routines. It is a society filled with individuals going through the motions. Disengagement doesn’t imply slow. We see disengagement in the frenzied pace of modern life, people filling their moments with stuff, tasks, devices, texts, e-mails. In Los Angeles, we dodge disengagement in traffic every day. We find the trance in the aimlessness of lives without personalized vision, mission, and purpose. We experience the symptoms in the ugly outbursts from social media because picking on others is far more comforting than encountering emptiness, a lack of meaning, of purpose. Anger seems easier.

I am at war with disengagement.

The workplace is a good place to launch the attack because work, from a time perspective, represents our biggest relationship. Time and time again, I find that if we settle for a mediocre relationship with our work, that experience carries over into every other aspect of our lives. The trance becomes our silent companion. The trance impacts everyone around us.


Disengagement is going through the motions without thinking of motion’s consequences.

In 1990, we opened the doors to a program that has changed the professional lives of thousands. The work has given me the opportunity to observe many, many people successfully break away from stagnant and unfulfilling work and progress to a personalized and practical ideal – alive, meaningful, and buoyant. I know that people can change – dramatically. And, they can change in very short periods of time. That breakthrough begins with skilled self-inquiry because everything that we need to be fulfilled is already inside of us.

Most people living in the world of disengagement believe they cannot change. We are now living in the prophecies of the late Alvin Toffler, our greatest futurist. He told us that after the turn of the century, the rate of change would accelerate with such growing force that most people would settle into a state of “future shock.” He characterized this state as “trying to absorb too much change in too short a period of time.” Most of us were conditioned to associate change with pain. Consequently, the very skills that help us change are often rejected. In 2017, some of us have not only learned how to change, we have realized that skilled change allows us to experience more as humans than we ever could have conceived. Growth and learning are the payoffs. But, our good fortune does not let us off the hook. If the world is going to be a great place to live, the rest will depend on these early adopters of change skills.

Because the rest are hanging on for dear life. They stand like deer in the glow of their smartphones. Clocking in and clocking out. Many “flying below the radar” and angry the career they chose is giving lower and lower returns. In some cases, the trance is so deep some tell their kids to go get “a real job” just like the ones they hated. Their deeply misinformed fear of change shields them from opportunity through cynicism and sometimes even contempt. As change marches on more quickly each day, many settle for underemployment.

This is why I am at war with disengagement.

If you are in an organization having difficulty with disengagement, don’t issue yet another employee survey. Learn how to change. Teach others how to do it.

Because anyone who takes the initiative to learn how to change can also learn how to engage.

Until we teach everyone how to change, how will they possibly engage?

Disengagement, as it stands, is killing what is possible for our economy, our culture, and our future.

Once again, disengagement is more than a business problem.

This one belongs to all of us.

Brought to you by David Harder, President – Inspired Work, Inc.

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