From languishing to thriving

By Mark Abbott, guest

Languishing — the void between depression and flourishing — has been named, in a now-viral New York Times article, the dominant emotion of 2021

I wish I’d had that term to describe the emotional tensions that slowly permeated my early professional life. As an engineer, I was good at my job and did quality work — and that was deeply satisfying. At the same time, I felt increasingly uneasy about whether that work made a difference in the world.

It’s a tension all too common in the field. We know firsthand technology’s potential to make the world a better place, but too often feel powerless as we witness its destructive effects.

That tension, that sense of unease, ultimately prompted me to leave corporate engineering in search of a way to align my values more directly with my work. Since that time, six years ago, I’ve talked to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of colleagues who feel similarly. They love their work — and they also need it to matter. They’re seeking a supportive community to collectively bend the arc of technology toward the benefit of all.

The Engineering Change Lab has become such a community.

At the ECL, we are exploring and shaping a new practice and culture for engineers and other tech professionals. We are creating a safe place to gather, brainstorm, reflect and support each other as we navigate competing priorities and identify opportunities for positive change within our day-to-day work.

We call this technological stewardship. It’s our commitment to strengthen resilience — personally, collectively, professionally and systemically. It’s our antidote to languishing.

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed both the depths of our socio-technological challenges and our capacity to address them creatively. The Engineering Change Lab will be working hard to seize and enhance that capacity — and that creativity — to move from languishing to thriving, from challenge to real, positive, change.

Learn more about the Engineering Change Lab’s work and what we’ve learned here.


Mark Abbott, P.Eng., MBA, is the Managing Director of the Engineering Change Lab, a former partner of the McConnell Foundation. ECL is as a catalyst for evolving the engineering community to reach its full potential as stewards of technology for the benefit of all. Previously, Mark served for several years as a member of the Executive Team at Engineers Without Borders, and before that spent fourteen years working for a consulting engineering firm. Join the conversation on technological stewardship! You can reach Mark at markabbott (at) 

Photo provided by the Engineering Change Lab.