A couple of weeks ago, I completed a lengthy journey to publish my first book when it finally went live on the major online bookstores. The title is Getting to the Heart of Employee Engagement: The Power and Purpose of Imagination and Free Will in the Workplace.
The title probably would’ve been a lot shorter in the days before SEO, but key words are king these days. The length also reflects the extent of the process for completing the book. It took me six months to write it … and six years to refine it. That’s a long time even for an inveterate editor like me. But I felt a strong need to let it “stew” and to get input along the way on how to add distinctive value to the prolific body of literature that already exists on employee engagement.
At this point, the virtual fingerprints of so many professional colleagues are on the book that it feels a bit like a community project. I wrote it as a business fable to capture the emotion and the messiness that swirls around the engagement mystique. Whether or not it adds “distinctive value” on the subject will be determined ultimately by the people continuing to seek new insights on how to crack the code to extraordinary employee engagement. Here’s a preview from the book’s Preface that explains the value I believe it contributes to the engagement dialogue:
I’ve always felt a longing to get at the heart—the essential elemental truths—of what gets people tuned in, turned on, and eager to go the extra mile for the mutual benefit of themselves and the organizations they work for. I’m convinced that understanding those truths will help people get past the stumbling blocks that so often derail and discourage efforts to tap into the full-blown potential of employee engagement.
At the risk of sounding a bit lofty, I’ve compared my quest to Einstein’s pursuit of the elusive unified field theory, the Holy Grail of physics. He searched for it most of his life to explain the connection between all of the forces of the universe in a single equation.
When I started writing this book, I wasn’t sure what my single “equation” might turn out to be for employee engagement. It seemed to me that it might be rooted in the uniquely human qualities of imagination and free will, but by themselves, those qualities certainly were not new, and they weren’t sufficient to shed significant new light on the subject.
Then it hit me. The answer is rooted in the intrinsic relationship between imagination and free will that plays out in this fable. The secret to employee engagement lies not merely in our capacity to imagine and choose, but in understanding how those qualities are inseparably interrelated.
That was a breakthrough moment for me, and it sparked a flood of insight about why organizations struggle with employee engagement. It also opened the door to understanding how nurturing the combined power of imagination and free will in the workplace can allow employees to contribute the greatest and be the best that human beings are designed to be.
For those of you who share my passion for the power and potential of employee engagement that transcends the norm, I hope the ideas in this book will challenge and inspire you to explore new ways to create the kind of organization where employees love to work and customers love doing business.
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