What is alive for you?
What has your attention these days?
The questions that make up the title of this newsletter, and so many more, were at play at a convening in Cincinnati where a group of us spent the weekend in conversation with Peter Block and Barbara McAfee. The topic was creating community in our schools, in our neighborhoods, in our lives. How can we be more connected and create together? What kind of conversations can we have that bring something new into the world? I know of PLCs, departments, schools and teams that know the power of this idea – the idea that when we come together we learn, and that our learning will be of deep meaning and value. And, there are so many who trudge to professional development sessions and team meeting time and school climate committees and cannot conceive of the time together being useful and energizing. We need to bring people together to have conversations that matter. With so much going on in schools (Common Core, RtI) and in health care (Affordable Care Act), we need to be in conversations that invent and invigorate.
A few learnings from Cincinnati...
- A perspective on different 'types' of statements. Complaints. Not interesting. Opinions. Somewhat interesting. Declarations and Refusals. VERY interesting. Why? Because in those two types of statements there is energy. There is a stand for something. There is power. They don't let those who speak them off the hook. Those are statements of commitment. I find the idea of 'declaring' – YES or NO - to be courageous and quite exciting. But one needs to know what one refuses and what one stands for. That's deep work. I practiced saying 'no' last week twice. It was terrifying and a rush. How exciting.
- There is a difference between 'facilitating' and 'convening.' With the word, 'facilitating,' the onus and responsibility of the work has a good chance of falling to the facilitator. Yet when someone 'convenes' a group, yes, it is true the convener got the group in the same room, but then the convener's act is complete - it is now up to the group to do the work. Some of us are waiting for the facilitator to manage the group, to set the agenda, to be 'in charge.' And, true, a 'not yet expert' group needs assistance. What is exciting is the awareness that the group is in charge of itself and cannot only become good at creating a 'product,' but also in getting more expert in its 'process.' The quality of the conversation is on us.
- Here are a few fabulous questions from the weekend. I am still percolating, marinating, metabolizing. Find me anytime – we can ponder the questions together.
- What crossroads are you at?
- What matters to you these days?
- What conversation will make you more alive?
- What room is worth being in?
- What conversation can we have that will bring something new into the world?
If you have any questions, comments or topic suggestions, please feel free to email me at Jennifer@jenniferabrams.com. I look forward to hearing from you!
1) In the upcoming months watch for me to tweet more @jenniferabrams. A Twitter feed will grace the new and improved home page this coming summer at www.jenniferabrams.com and I will comment about and seek out links for you to look at on the quest for finding your voice around what matters and being in the world in a more humane and growth producing way. In this spirit, one article from Harvard Business Review's blog that caught my attention was Peter Bregman's "What to Do If You Have Made Someone Angry."
2) Sometimes it isn't about our voice, it is about our ears. Check out the TED Playlist, "Listen Up" – 8 talks on the 'importance of listening and how to do it much better.' I aspire to 'curate' information like TED.
3) Barbara McAfee is a voice teacher/author/keynoter/songwriter extraordinaire. She "supports leaders from all sectors to unleash the full power and presence in their voices." About her book, Full Voice: Art and Practice of Vocal Presence: "Your voice says a lot about you. Based on the tone and expression of your voice alone, your listeners may make up their minds about you before they even process the meaning of your words. And if what you say is at odds with how you say it, they can miss your message altogether. As important as our voices are, few of us know how to use them to their full potential." I will be taking a lesson or two when I return to MN in July.
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 and Being Generationally Savvy
Olathe Summer Conference – Olathe USD
Having Hard Conversations
Metropolitan New York Council of University Clinic Directors in Communication Sciences and Disorders 9th Annual Conference on Supervision – Adelphi University
Garden City, NY
Having Hard Conversations
Magnolia School District Administrators' Retreat
Being Generationally Savvy: Learning and Leading Across the Generations
Center for Education and Professional Development Stanford Hospitals
Palo Alto, CA
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