To Attend is Good. To Engage is Better.
What is your definition of “engage”? Does it bring to mind that special time often in our young adult lives when we become engaged to a fiancé that we intend to marry? Such a fun period of time that I don’t remember much of.
When I hear ‘engage’ am I the only one that envisions and hears Captain Jean Luc Picard? A vivid and welcome childhood memory built on my dad’s love of all things old school Star Trek.
Somewhere out here on this Final Frontier is an entire generation of our family (my cousins, brother, and I) who were raised as tiny Trek fans as the series played in the background of nearly every family gathering (and the numbers on the top of the Starship have been family garage codes for years). But that may just be us.
Dictionary.com lists a dozen definitions for the word “ENGAGE” and I found my favorite listed at number 11: to occupy oneself; become INVOLVED. Just in case you actually noticed, I missed my last regularly scheduled segment of the blog mostly due to my ENGAGEMENT in the projects around me.
What’s been going on?
My “ENGAGEMENT” truck and trailer plunged over the edge at the end of September as Olivia and I took #theuniqueflowerfarmer to the Fair Grove Heritage Reunion Festival. My Fall 2022 strategy has been to take my local products to the customers in search of a bigger audience. This festival gave us an opportunity to make lots of connections and spend a lot of consecutive hours on the job. It was an overall good move for our Harvest Shop business.
Next was October 1st which should be widely known in Missouri as the 4H New Year. As the leader of our local 4H club, it was time to get all families together who are interested in joining 4H to see who this year’s team will include. Communications, counting, and planning to answer the most important questions led up to the start of another unique 4H year that I am looking forward to.
October also started with attendance at the Missouri Farm Bureau Southern Tractor Cruise…an entire day spent “cruising” a tractor along Missouri roads from Norwood to Mansfield and back, hosted by the Wright County Farm Bureau. I was just an attendee to this event but I put in my efforts in the days prior covering farm chores, making parts runs, and parking trucks and trailers at the appropriate farms so we would be able to load all the necessary provisions and leave just in time for participation after another whirlwind week. It was a fun marathon.
Last, but not least, was an event that we affectionately refer to as “The Southwest SHINDIG” which is a networking event for Young Farmer & Rancher members of Missouri Farm Bureau. I serve as the organizing chairperson and we have now hosted this event at our family’s Century Farm for three years. The event is fantastic in it’s design including food, fun, and fellowship for young families involved or interested in agriculture. But it is even more phenomenal for the lasting impression that it is making. We spend several months planning, but Shindig Day is definitely one of my biggest sprints of the year (second only to Mother’s Day). And still among all that engagement, the family ate groceries, the animals were kept fed, the Harvest Shop at the Outpost was open for business, soccer games were played, Bible class attended, and we always showed up wearing clean clothes…at least most of the days. With the Shindig in the rearview, I have made it to the bottom of this year’s “engagement cliff” and I hope to coast gently to Christmas (if for nothing else than the sake of my Favorite Farmer).
My Rules of Engagement
I really enjoy engagement, particularly in events and fall is the BEST time for events. I love to make the lists, think about the angles, involve fellow friends, check the boxes as the items needed are placed in the to-go pile, and make a schedule of tasks counting backwards on the clock so that the event happens wonderfully at the correct time. My weakness is usually the “after piles” that occur. After focusing on the event at hand, chores and etcetera are often left to wait until I “return home”. Then I spend a few days decompressing, evaluating, and catching up while the after piles sit invisibly in the middle of the floor until further notice. While I find my engagement invigorating, my Favorite Farmer is not always enthused (his distaste includes and is not limited those previously mentioned “after piles”). I think he is supportive of my quality of engagement but discontent with the quantity of engagement I sometimes get myself into. I feel like lately I have learned to engage in and own a finite number of very specific tasks.
However, a great number of those tasks seem to happen during the same time of year. It’s hard for me to attend an event with no job to do but I am trying to expand my skills. This year I have purposefully attended events at which I had no purpose other than to attend, just to see if I could do it. I survived those events to write about them….all the way through the nervous twitching….
Engagement Statistics are Down
I think one of the greatest arts and skills that we are losing as people is that of ENGAGEMENT, or to be involved. At some point too many people have decided it would be fine to float along and not contribute anything to tasks at hand, just to show up and partake. And while every event is made up of organizers and partakers, none of us should serve in one capacity or the other ALL of the time.
Too many don’t help set up tables, won’t even make a simple pie, and at the very least also refuse to RSVP these days. Those of us who thrive in ENGAGEMENT will carry on, but I am sad for those who don’t feel compelled to join in because they are missing so much!
Revive the Opportunities!
I believe there is some part of our inner being that needs to consume AND create just as much as we need food AND water to survive. Taking ownership is an important step of engagement, and no one was ever really interested in owning something awful. This starting point becomes the beginning of the circle that helps us all continually strive to better ourselves and our events.
“When people know they’re partially responsible for (an) organization’s success, they take greater ownership…” -Darren Reinke from ‘The Savage Leader‘
You don’t have to be the driver, chairperson, coach, or person on the stage up front to be involved. Great events are made up of teams of engaged individuals doing their best work.
It doesn’t matter what you engage in! Engage in sports, engage in professional organizations, engage in youth development, engage in community, engage in civic volunteering. Pick a few, pick two, or if nothing else just pick one! Your engagement will make you stronger and better. And if we are all stronger and better, our communities will be too!