August 1, 2017
I have written many a time about having an ‘extreme self-care’ support team. Hair stylist, energy healer, local bartender – you know, the folks who help you do what you do. I also have a personal trainer. I got a trainer years ago to help me stay healthy and help me keep my balance due to the fear of my MS taking it from me. I now workout with Jason and we do what I have named my ‘overhead bin’ workout. Get that bag into the overhead bin time and again by myself. Squats and presses, my friends. It works. And, I have gained more than strength through my workouts. I have learned about learning.
One day I was in a mood. (Not surprising.) And I was whiny. I was pressing something that was challenging, and Jason, who lifts weights for a living, said to me, “Keep going. I’m not gonna steal your gains.” In body building the spotter is there to help, if needed. If you take the weight away from the person pressing, you are ‘stealing his gains.’
A few weeks ago, I tried something new in terms of facilitation. It didn’t go well. It wasn’t ‘terrible terrible,’ but it wasn’t good. So I sent my colleagues a thank you note. I thanked them for not stealing my gains. The experience, however painful, made me stronger.
I always smile as I do my Saturday workout in Palo Alto because I go to the same gym as Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple. And guess what? He’s gotta do his own lat pulls. His own push ups. His own cardio. It’s on him no matter who he is. And he is there most Saturday mornings at 7am doing the work.
As we go into the school year, new teachers, new admin, and new students are going to feel challenged and stretched. They are going to try things, and it won’t always be pretty. We can be there for them, but don’t steal their gains. We can all be spotters, but getting stronger is a personal journey.
If you have any questions, comments or topic suggestions, please feel free to email me at email@example.com. I look forward to hearing from you!
A set of diverse readings for this month that connect with the disparate, and yet connected foci of my work.
Who Do We Choose to Be? Facing Reality, Claiming Leadership, Restoring Sanity. Wheatley writes, “This book is born of my desire to summon us to be leaders for this time as things fall apart, to reclaim leadership as a noble profession that creates possibility and humaneness in the midst of increasing fear and turmoil.”
The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis-and How to Rebuild A Culture of Self-Reliance by Ben Sasse is a book on my list for the generational savvy perspective Senator Sasse (R-NE) is trying to share. Amazon writes, “Many of the coming-of-age rituals that have defined the American experience since the Founding: learning the value of working with your hands, leaving home to start a family, becoming economically self-reliant―are being delayed or skipped altogether. The statistics are daunting: 30% of college students drop out after the first year, and only 4 in 10 graduate. One in three 18-to-34 year-olds live with their parents. From these disparate phenomena: Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse who as president of a Midwestern college observed the trials of this generation up close, sees an existential threat to the American way of life.”
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. “In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman (Sweet Valley High) of color (The Help) while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years (Girls, Django in Chains) and commenting on the state of feminism today (abortion, Chris Brown). The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.”
About Jennifer Abrams
Jennifer Abrams considers herself a "voice coach," helping others learn how to best use their voices – be it collaborating on a team, presenting in front of an audience, coaching a colleague and supervising an employee. Jennifer holds a Master's degree in Education from Stanford University and a Bachelor's degree in English from Tufts University. She lives in Palo Alto, California. Jennifer's publications include Having Hard Conversations, The Multigenerational Workplace: Communicating, Collaborating & Creating Community and Hard Conversations Unpacked – the Whos, the Whens and the What Ifs. She has also created a Corwin Press e-course by the same name.
Work with Jennifer
Praise for Jennifer
“Jennifer has so squarely hit the mark with our teacher-leaders that she is one of the few presenters that they are always requesting when professional development is the question. Here at the University of Chicago, this acclaim and recognition does not come easily! Jennifer has a way of presenting information that gets quickly to the heart of the matter. Her ability to read the true needs of the group, regardless of the original focus, has made her a favorite among the faculty here at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools.”