Empower Yourself

December 1, 2023

My word for 2024 is Empower. “To make (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life.”

Three immediate memories come to mind when I think of the word “Empower.”

  1. Being on a date with someone on a weeknight when he said, “Would you like a glass of champagne?” and my immediate thought being, “We can’t drink that tonight. It’s a weeknight.” I shared that thought out loud and he said, “One should drink champagne whatever day of the week one wants.” It has become a mantra in my life.
  2. A Zoom meeting with a group of instructional coaches. When I asserted that they had the responsibility to speak up around what matters for students and if need be, have a ‘hard’ conversation in a humane and growth producing way, many were silent until one spoke up. “Given I am just a coach, I don’t feel it’s my place. I don’t feel comfortable being anything other than supportive with questions and a hard conversation isn’t part of my work.”
  3. A director of teaching and learning requesting some of my Stretching Your Learning Edges books for a book study at her school and upon reading in my email reply that I would be happy to do a Q and A Office Hour for them in appreciation for working with the book, responded “It never occurred to me that was a possibility!”

“I am just a ———-”
“It never occurred to me that….”
“We can’t do this because…..”

Limitation language. Not very empowered in its mindset.

I think we have a bunch more capacity, permission, agency, ability, control, self-authorship, and whatever other empowering word you want to place in this sentence than we initially think. I speak with leaders every day who want colleagues who take initiative and have faith in their ability to make things happen. If you see something that’s wrong, fix it. If you believe that something needs to be formalized, write it into being. If you believe that it’d be great if something was invented or brought into the world, create it.

Not everyone feels they are in situations which allow them to make change because ‘the culture here’ is to be told how things will be. I’m always sad when I hear this as it just snuffs out all sense of ownership in possibility and growth.

Not everyone wants to be empowered. It presumes someone wants responsibility and not all want to be ‘on the hook’ for what could be a bad outcome. How much fear I see around taking a risk or putting something out into the world.

Not everyone loves anything that has ‘power’ attached to it as they are not power ‘hungry.’ Power is bad. I so wish others knew that I am not talking about power over someone else but instead having power to do things – to make a change and to take an action. Empowering yourself to level up. To stretch at your edges. Power to make a difference.

My work – in all its forms (books, videos, coaching, workshops, keynotes) is foundationally undergirded with the intention (and hopeful impact) of helping others feel empowered – have a sense of control – a control of both your inner and outer voices – and if you need my voice in your head telling you you have what it takes – to have the conversation, to make the change, to write the handbook, to speak up and out – then I am here for it.

Here’s to being empowered to drink a glass of champagne on a Monday night or any night of the week and to so much more in 2024. Cheers!

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions please feel free to email me at jennifer@jenniferabrams.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Cool Resources

Right From the Start: The Essential Guide to Implementing School Initiatives by James Marshall. “Finally, clear guidance on how to design programs that last How many initiatives start with great fanfare only to end up accumulating dust on a shelf? Right From the Start tackles this challenge head on by offering a reliable, evidence-based implementation process. With upbeat clarity, this book examines the meaning of initiative, provides an intuitively sequenced structure and eagerly shares a vast array of tools.”

Maturing Leadership: How Adult Development Impacts Leadership edited by Jonathan Reams. “We’ve known for years now that demands on leaders are only increasing. Yet we have lacked widely understood, empirically grounded and rigorous ways to support the development of adequate maturity of heart, complexity of mind and skillful practice for leaders to meet these demands. In Maturing Leadership, Jonathan Reams brings together a cast of expert contributors to introduce this work to a wider audience. While this approach has previously been on the margins of mainstream leadership development research, Reams brings it to the centre, moving beyond the clichéd characterizations of ‘inner work’ to bring a finer granularity, precision and rigor to the subjective workings of leaders.”

Where Should We Begin? A Game of Stories by Esther Perel. “Stories are the building blocks of relationships and Esther Perel designed this game to bring out the storyteller in you. This is more than just a question deck, let the Prompt Cards guide you and the Story Cards inspire you to share the stories you rarely tell.”