Deepening Engagement: Essential Wisdom for Listening and Leading with  Purpose, Meaning and Joy

A tool kit for leaders of all kinds and all levels of spiritual involvement—people of faith, people of no faith, spiritual but not religious—for deepening our engagement with our true selves, one another and the communities in which we live and work. Helps us realize what we most value and identify where we find passion and purpose.

Diane M. Millis, PhD
Foreword by Rob Lehman

5 x 7¼, 176 pp | 978-1-59473-584-4

Click below to purchase


  • Amazon
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Indie Bound


  • kindle
  • nook
  • itunes

Large Print edition available from

What are the qualities you need to live fully and lead authentically in our age?

“Is it possible for our institutions of work to become, in the words of American political analyst Yuval Levin, ‘soul-forming institutions’? If so, what does leadership become? In this book, Dr. Millis clears a path and points the way for those willing to set out on this journey. The personal stories she asks us to ponder and put into practice transform abstract ideas such as ‘deep engagement’ into living realities. Leadership becomes a personal quest and calling.’”

—from the Foreword

Leadership consultant and coach Diane M. Millis offers a tool kit for leaders of all kinds and all levels of spiritual involvement—people of faith, people of no faith, spiritual but not religious—for deepening our engagement with our true selves, one another and the communities in which we live and work. Millis provides guiding precepts from many wisdom traditions to help us realize what we most value and identify where we find passion and purpose. As a result, we will be better able to inspire others in all that we do.

Intriguing and challenging, this thought-provoking resource is ideal for use in personal reflection as well as for small group discussion, as a way to invite others to tap into their own leadership potential.

“Deeply engaging! It gets to the heart of engagement by seeing it as an inside-out, holistic dynamic of engaging oneself, others and the community to contribute on-purpose and in-service.”

Kevin Cashman, senior partner, Korn Ferry; best-selling author, Leadership from the Inside Out and The Pause Principle

“A magnificent soul-searching resource…. A true treasure for both individuals and small groups that I will make great use of.”

The Rt. Rev. Brian N. Prior, bishop, Episcopal Church in Minnesota

“Wise [and] luminous, Millis trains [our] ear to listen and [our] heart to be still…. Plant the wisdom of this book into your daily engagements and harvest the bounty.”

Dr. Marty Stortz, Bernhard M. Christensen Professor of Religion and Vocation, Augsburg College, Minneapolis, Minnesota

“Whether read alone or in groups (I’d recommend groups!), this book is a marvelous guide to all who seek to venture into the self-renewing spiritual depths awaiting us.”

John Wimmer, program director, Religion, Lilly Endowment, Inc.

“A fine book with a brilliant ... structure that provides us with a rhythm of application that we can carry with us long after the reading is done.”

Robert R. Stains, Jr., senior vice president for training, Public Conversations Project

“Gentle, invitational and useful …. The simple, profound practices could be transformational. An important guide for almost anyone!”

Judy Brown, leadership educator, poet; author, A Leader’s Guide to Reflective Practice and The Art and Spirit of Leadership

“This beautiful gem of a book sparkles with clarity, gently inviting the reader to open-heartedly engage self, other and community. A must-read for anyone wanting to listen and/or lead authentically and effectively.”

Margaret Benefiel, author, Soul at Work and The Soul of a Leader



What made you feel called to write Deepening Engagement?
The calling to write this book emerged in response to two expressed needs I heard from the readers of my first book, Conversation—The Sacred Art: Practicing Presence in an Age of Distraction. As I offered workshops and presentations on the sacred art of conversation, I met leaders who were seeking frameworks for engaging others in dialogue about passion, purpose and meaning. These topics can be difficult to talk about in any setting—especially workplace settings. Deepening Engagement features twenty-four catalysts for getting the conversation started (for example, heed the whispers, keep it fresh, mine the meaning) and introduces language and images that draw upon the rich, profound wisdom to be found in spiritual traditions without including explicit God language.

Some of the readers of my first book told me that they were deliberately reading only a few pages at a time so Conversation—The Sacred Art could offer them a resource for daily reflection. Therefore, I intentionally designed this book to be used in that manner, as a tool kit for both personal reflection and community building. Each chapter invites readers to pause, ponder and practice honing their attention in on the relationships and experiences in their daily lives that are most imbued with meaning.

There are so many books on listening and leadership. What is the contribution you hope to make with Deepening Engagement?
I invite readers to broaden their understanding of what it means to lead and to listen. Regardless of whether or not we occupy a formal leadership position, each of us can lead a life committed to listening to the sound of what is most genuine within us, between us and among us. I introduce readers to principles and practices for doing so. This book encourages us to go beyond active listening to learning how to listen within. The more we attune our inner ears to hear our deepest truths, the more equipped we are as leaders to invite those in our communities to do the same.

What do you hope will happen as a result of people reading this book?
To engage or not to engage, that is the question. In the midst of the horrific things happening in our world and the increasing polarization in our society, is it possible to deepen our engagement? If so, where do we begin? In this book, I invite readers to embark upon three pathways for deepening engagement—engaging one’s true self, engaging one another and cultivating engaging communities. My hope is that more and more of us will develop or strengthen our capacity to listen within to what is most genuine and most meaningful in our lives. I also hope that we will grow in our capacity to lead and deeply engage others—especially those whose background and life experiences are different from our own—in conversations about what is most genuine for them. Perhaps the ultimate sign of the success of this book will be that more and more of us will have the courage to initiate conversations, within the communities where we live and work, about what most genuinely matters to us. With that, we can collectively cultivate the courage to act on what matters to us most.


Download a printable version

  1. Who are the persons in your life that exemplify deep engagement? Select one of them and describe what you have learned from her or him about leading a deeply engaged life.
  2. The guiding imagery for this book imagines attuning our outer and inner ears to the sound of the genuine in our lives. Have you cultivated a discipline for listening to the sound of the genuine in yourself? If so, what do you do? If not, what practices would you like to cultivate and when will you begin?
  3. Howard Thurman acknowledges that we all encounter people whom we perceive to be disingenuous (see p. xx). Nevertheless, he encourages us to try to behold and call forth what is most genuine in others—all others! Recall a person whom you initially perceived to be disingenuous who later revealed their genuineness to you. Who was it? What happened? What did you learn from the experience?
  4. Of the twenty-four precepts featured in the book, which ones do you find the easiest to practice in your daily life? Which ones do you find the most challenging?
  5. Which precept in the book did you find most intriguing? What were the reasons for your interest?
  6. The author features many stories from her lived experience, and that of others, to invite you to reflect upon times in your own life that were purposeful, meaningful or joyful. Through the course of your reading, what experiences came to mind that you hadn’t thought about in some time? What qualities or characteristics are they inviting you to nurture?
  7. Think of a moment when you experienced being deeply engaged. What happened and who was involved? What element or lesson from this experience would you like to bring to more of your everyday encounters?
  8. What is the single most important insight you received from reading and discussing this book with others? Why is it so important to you?
  9. Each chapter in this book invites you to pause, ponder and practice a principle of engagement in your daily life. Now that you have finished reading the book, how might you continue to pause, ponder and practice engaging with the sound of the genuine as you lead and work with others?