Jennifer Abrams -Consultancy that informs, inspires, and empowers VOICE
March 2012

Clarifying Your Impact

Happy March.  As I write this, I am celebrating my 45th birthday. Middle age is here. And it is all good!  It has encouraged me to think 'big.' This newsletter is about the importance of knowing, no matter your age, what you are 'about.' I have been thinking about, attending sessions on, and doing more visioning work in the past few months, helping programs and schools answer some crucial questions. What is your narrative? What do you stand for? What legacy do you want to leave?  My colleague, Michael Zeldin, speaks to it as looking at the forest, not just the trees.  As a former, lopsided 'tree person,' this advice has pushed me to balance myself with the capacity to go both macro and micro. Having both lenses and an ability and flexibility to look through them clearly has helped me become more grounded and more powerful in my day-to-day work. Here are a few thoughts about setting an intention and leaving an impact.

Necessary Trouble
In my Having Hard Conversations session we talk about how to speak to the impact others can have on us, both good and bad. When you witness adults not being their best selves, what do you say?  For me, I need to know what matters to me and that I can trust myself, if need be, to have the words to speak up.  If something is educationally or professionally unsound, physically unsafe or emotionally damaging, I must find my voice.  It is, as Congressman John Lewis has spoken to, the 'necessary trouble' I need to get into.  There are times when we step on thin ice when we speak up, but we need to determine what is the 'necessary trouble' we are willing to stand up to and speak to it.  

Wordle It
Following some changes in leadership, Barron Park Elementary School in Palo Alto was spending a day getting "two feet in the present."  We got to know each other in new ways, witnessed publicly the private celebrations of the first semester, and got reacquainted with our deeper Work - our work with a capital "W." This beautiful group of men and women ended the day with rough drafts of vision statements affirming what Barron Park was about and we crafted our statements into a Wordle.  How fun to graphically design an artistic representation of what you are and strive to be! Inspirational.

Celebrate Impact
With Boomers now two years into their generation retiring and leaving their workplaces, I work with professionals in all fields to think about succession planning and ask Boomers specifically, "What legacy do you want to leave?"  What do you want your impact to be?  23 years into my career, I 'friended' a former student, Brian Micek, now working in strategic communications for the Democratic Caucus of the CA State Senate, who kindly wrote to me about how my teaching impacted him during his time in high school.  "You played a critical role in teaching me (maybe 'forcing me-kicking and screaming' is a more apt summation) to write about how things make me feel. It's been a core skill for my entire career and it helps me provide a voice, where and when I can, to people who don't always have one in government." Does that align with what I wished for my students?  You bet.  Does that continue to be what I wish for as a 'voice coach' of adults?  You bet. What do you wish your impact to be? 

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me at I look forward to hearing from you!

Cool Resources

Here are some books on my Kindle that speak to having an impact. A big thanks to Terry Morganti-Fisher, a coach and writer herself, for many of these book suggestions.

Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create A Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit – Parker Palmer

Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally, Really Grow Up - James Hollis

Finding Your Way in A Wild New World: Reclaim Your True Nature to Create the Life You Want – Martha Beck

Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion – Gregory Boyle

Upcoming Events

Each month I will share with you information about a few of my upcoming trainings.
If I am going to be in your area, contact me so we can say hello, hopefully in person!

March 14 & 21
Having Hard Conversations-A Spring Review
Los Angeles Unified School District, District 5
Los Angeles, CA

March 15
Having Hard Conversations
Fontana Unified School District
Fontana, Canada

March 22
Having Hard Conversations
Whittier City School District
Whittier, CA

March 24
Having Hard Conversations
ASCD Annual Conference
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

March 30 & 31
Having Hard Conversations
Near East South Asia Council of Overseas Schools
Spring Educators Conference
Athens, Greece

For additional upcoming events, please visit my Web site.

Until next time,


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© 2012 Jennifer Abrams | Email Jennifer | 4290 Wilkie Way #L, Palo Alto, CA 94306 |  (650) 858-0699