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“To commit is to give something of oneself that has meaning”.

Co-founder of the Fondacio Training Institute in Europe (IFFEurope), François Prouteau holds a doctorate in education sciences. Passionate about human formation, he accompanies young people in search of commitment. From alliance to contract, from fear to involvement, how to get involved? Maintenance.

What does “commit” mean to you?

FP : First of all, it means getting involved in life and in one’s life. Getting involved in life means in the world as it is today with its issues, its challenges, its opportunities, its crises.

It also means getting involved with others, wanting to answer with them the questions we ask ourselves about the meaning of the activities we carry out and, more broadly, the questions we ask ourselves about the meaning of life.
As for getting involved in one’s life, it means “giving oneself”.

…that is to say ?

Giving something of oneself that makes sense, mobilizing something of oneself (one’s skills, one’s desires).
Getting involved in this way is positive, even if you can get involved in causes that are not always good: it is not necessarily because you get involved that you do something in the service good.

So, what are the conditions of a good commitment?

PF: You shouldn’t be alone thinking: “I’m the best, I’m going to save the world!”. Otherwise, passion leads to a form of pride.

It is better to privilege the collective, the group and, what we could call, “being with”. It is then a question of being very attentive to the people with whom we engage . We must ask ourselves the question: “Do we share the same vision of things?”.

In any commitment, you have to leave space for dialogue to be clear about the values that mobilize and the vision you have of things. Dialogue also allows us to get to know each other, to meet the other for free and therefore to know with whom we are engaging.

So you seem to associate commitment and giving?

PF: Absolutely ! I would even say that there is a notion of alliance in the commitment. We also find this notion of alliance at the different stages that punctuate life: when we get involved with someone to live our life with him, when we enter into a relationship to welcome a child, when we engages professionally with an organization, company or teams.

There is therefore in the commitment a relationship which takes the form of an alliance which quite often takes the form of a contract dimension. Finally, the commitment is played out in the articulation of the contract and the alliance (and, conversely, of the alliance and the contract): this alliance / contract relationship is, in my eyes, at the heart of the notion of commitment.

“There are things that we know but the flavor – the taste – of the commitment is made precisely of something that is beyond, that we don’t know. It is the salt of commitment. »

Is there not, at the source of all commitment, a mystery?

PF : Yes, because I think that commitment always has something to do with relationships, creation and trust. With these three dimensions (relation-creation-trust), we arrive at the spiritual register and at a deep perspective which is always in an invisible, in a desire and an expectation which is not known in advance.

This requires a form of disappropriation that is mysterious. There are things that we understand but others that we don’t. When one engages with others, there are things that one knows, but the flavor – the taste – of the engagement is made precisely of something which is beyond, which one does not know, and which is the salt of commitment.

How to apprehend this mystery without being disconcerted?

In this component of the mystery, I would like to emphasize two things. First, the surprise: when you commit, there is a letting go – you give up, you lose something of yourself – and then you discover that the fruit of the commitment is is also to discover oneself, to find oneself again.

What would you say to someone who is in a black hole, who remains stuck in relation to any commitment, whether professional, romantic or otherwise?

The first thing I would do is ask him, “Are you ready for something new in your life?” Or do you prefer to remain in a form of installation or reproduction of what happens to you on a daily basis even if you seem dissatisfied with it? “. The acceptance of change is therefore the first condition for becoming able to commit. It is therefore important to detect in oneself the small points of desires, motivation, glimmers that emerge.

Then you have to talk about it with someone you trust (a friend, relative, relative or someone more outside like a guidance counselor, a psychologist). The dialogue with this person must be enlightening and make it possible to perceive and deepen the motives for this change.

It is then necessary to know how to let go so that the novelty can occur and lead to a decision which triggers the commitment of a new experience.


To commit oneself, one must therefore be of good will, that is to say, have an open will. Do you also have to be a man or a woman of desire?

Absolutely ! It takes this openness to oneself and to others so that the sparks of life, the sparks of the future, the sparks of hope or hope can be triggered, awakened. These sparks can appear in professional life as well as in friendship, love, family, etc. But beware, they can also appear in the associative, sporting or artistic sphere.

These spaces of engagement can be, indeed, the place of a new creativity and an innovation capable of feeding and nourishing what in us is not always invested. For example in sport or in an artistic activity, one can awaken to life, to novelty, to involvement with others and therefore, to commitment.

Someone who goes around in circles must therefore pay close attention to the diversity of places in which an engagement is possible. Where a strong commitment does not seem possible (professional or marital commitment) for a thousand reasons, and the situation seems blocked, well, by stepping aside, we can find places of creativity and innovation elsewhere. Moreover, as a guide or orientation coach, I often put these “steps aside” in the dialogue with those I receive.


​Finally, small commitments can prepare for big ones…


Exactly ! This is the virtue of small steps. The story of the hummingbird told by Pierre Rabhi is very telling in this respect. While the jungle is on fire, the hummingbird goes back and forth with water in its beak to extinguish the flames, the other animals ask it: “What are you doing? and the hummingbird responds, “I’m doing my part to put out the fire.”

Doing one’s part in the commitment means taking those small steps that we mentioned a moment ago: (small) initiatives which seem insignificant compared to the extent of the problems to be solved in the world, but which are the to which everyone can contribute and which can stimulate others.


Is there a crisis of commitment in our time, in your opinion? If yes, how to analyze it?

If I am to believe the students of the great French schools (Polytechnique, HEC, ENS, Agro, etc.), I see some who are getting involved. Recently, for example, some of them got involved in the Student Manifesto for an ecological awakening to jointly question large companies in their capacities to respond to the ecological and environmental crisis. They pledged to give up working for those of them who were not clear about their own environmental commitments.

We therefore have, in fact, in this situation, the example of students who take risks and who are strongly committed, whereas previous generations of students would perhaps never have made such choices.

All this to tell you that the components of today’s commitment must be gauged in relation to our context. Today, some areas mobilize more commitment than others.


Beyond the current challenge, what hope can we have?

There is no fatality to have! There is freedom, opportunities and a future always open even if it is tenuous, even if it hangs by a thread. This thread is that of the relationship between people (the “living together”) and the spiritual relationship (religion) which mean that there will always be something to live, to do.

As such, commitment is always a possibility of openness, hope and the future.”

Interview by Joseph Vallançon
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