I want to let you in on a little secret...
I am a softie.
Whaat? The woman who wrote Having Hard Conversations is a softie?
Yup. Getting emotional at kindergarten assemblies? Yes. Tearing up at off tune middle
school orchestra concerts? You bet. Shedding a tear watching kids who are swallowed
by anxiety eating their pencils while taking tests, jumpy seniors bumping each other in
line at graduations, girls giggling with each other at lunch on the quad? Absolutely.
And, sometimes all this softness gets expressed differently than expected.
I am a big heart all rolled up in a bunch of bluster. A dramatic bundle of caring.
I found out last week that all that "Sarah Bernhardt-edness" is my superpower.
Last Thursday, I spent time with Bobbi Emel (www.bobbiemel.com), a therapist/
workshop facilitator here in the Bay Area. She led a group of us through a Core Gifts
workshop. A core gift is a "'secret power' at the core of your being. Your gift gives
you energy and directs your focus. When you identify your secret power, you can
employ it on purpose."
What I came out of the workshop with was this affirming insight...
My gift is to give a sh-t and do so boldly.
I care BIG.
I want others to see the meaningful in the mundane; to know how precious their
students are and their patients are and their clients are and respond with right action.
Not mediocrity or ambivalence. Not with insensitivity or disinterest. With care.
To recognize this as a gift was honestly a surprise as my so-called gift has gotten me
into "trouble" a lot. I have been hushed, shushed, tisked, censored and ignored. I have
been shut down, dismissed, had eyebrows raised up against me and been told my words
were 'not ready for takeoff.'
AND, I realize that at times the metaphorical 'decibel level' of my care might have
not been the right sound for the moment. Yet underneath the 'noise' that was too
loud for some is a striving for conscientiousness and craftsmanship, a desire for high
consciousness of action and word, a plea for justice, and a bold articulation of how
things can and could be. And those ways of being with students and with patients, and
with all people, is worth caring big about.
You might not see my core gift written on a business card (yet), but the statement does
capture my essence with passion and clarity. A big softie with a provocateur's bravado.
A big heart with a nudger's disposition. A substantive diva. One fiercely compassionate
Just to give you a taste of some of the other gifts discovered by others at the session...
Capacity for creating safe environments no matter where I go
Bringing logic and rational thinking to whatever situation I am in
Stirring the pot and keeping folks on their toes
Watching out for the underdog
Helping people to overcome
Bringing a sense of harmony to tense situations
Wouldn't it be great for all students to know what gifts they bring? Before going into
a new grade or new school? Before graduating and leaving home? Wouldn't it be
awesome for people in transitions in their lives to know what they will bring forward
with them no matter what comes next?
Here's to discovering gifts within and living in appreciation of each other's abilities,
capacities and talents. What's your core gift? Find out. We need it.
"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." – Howard Thurman
As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me at [email protected]. I look forward to hearing from you!
Keeping with the idea of caring 'big', here is a video (if you haven't seen Brene Brown,
take a minute – 4 million folks have), a book idea (check out The Fire Starter Sessions
by La Porte) and a website (The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and
Education at Stanford – great videos).
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!
Having Hard Conversations
Having Hard Conversations and More
Nebraska Special Education Teacher Conference
Nebraska Department of Education
Identity Safety for All Students
Active Participation Strategies to Engage All Learners
How Generational Savvy Can Enhance Your Learning and Leadership Teams
Having Hard Conversations to That Result in Improved Support for Teaching and Learning
June Academy at the ESC
Coaching for a Just Culture
Having Hard Conversations for a Just Culture
Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula
For additional upcoming events, please visit my Web site.
Until next time,
Feel free to forward this newsletter to friends and colleague. You may reprint this newsletter in whole or quote with attribution to Jennifer Abrams and a link to www.jenniferabrams.com