On My Edge

January 4, 2021

While writing my next book I have been circling and circling like a dog who readies her bed. Do you know why dogs circle? Check out this link at Live Science.com. The circles help the dog push down the grass, creating a space in which to safely sleep amongst predators. There is a metaphor in this explanation for sure!

But is there a way to make one safe as one writes a book? Is writing a book ever a ‘safe’ thing to do? No! Am I too ‘over my skis’ with this book? Maybe. Am I writing something that is just one size too big for me? You bet.

And, at this time in the USA, COVID has taken over 300,000 lives and too many are struggling economically. We are still (!) experiencing protests against the results of our presidential election, continuing to come to grips with white privilege and power, and inhumane acts continue to happen daily (and have since this country was founded. If you haven’t read Caste run to buy it). And as I am writing this newsletter, many of us continue to be in lock down. So it is in this context that my work is emerging, we are all living in a world that is one size too big for us and we must stretch at our learning edges to do better.

Michael Fullan in his book, Nuance: Why Some Leaders Succeed and Others Fail speaks of leaders who have a “curiosity about what is possible, openness to other people, sensitivity to context and loyalty to a better future. They are courageously and relentlessly committed to changing the system for the betterment of humanity.” I am striving to be this type of leader with my new book. Relentlessly committed to changing the system for the betterment of humanity.

So I quiet down the comparative and limiting inner talk and step up. I listen to the words of those who lived this ‘change work’ out loud. I hear the voice of Elie Wiesel who said, “When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy…sensitivities become irrelevant.” I hear the voice of Audre Lorde who said, “Your silence will not protect you.” I hear the voice of Martha Graham who said, “It is your business…to keep the channel open.”

So I write with humility and a beginner’s mind. I write with the inspiration of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel who said, “What we need more than anything else is not textbooks but text people.” Yes, I am writing a text (!) and I am living out loud my hope for us all to become more developed. To stretch our learning edges.

I look forward to introducing you to more words in the shape of a book in the next month or so. If you have any questions, or comments or you wish to pre-purchase my upcoming book, please feel free to email me at Jennifer@jenniferabrams.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Cool Resources

Two resources that work on communication in the same sphere as my work mentioned above…

At Essential Partners, we believe that every community has the power to improve the way it approaches differences of values, views, and identities. For more than three decades, EP has helped civic groups, faith communities, colleges, and workplaces foster resilience, cohesion, understanding, and trust.

Everyday Democracy supports organizing across the country by bringing diverse groups of people together, helping them structure and facilitate community dialogue on pressing issues, and training them to use a racial equity lens to understand longstanding problems and possible solutions.

About Jennifer Abrams

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 latest book is Swimming in the Deep End: Four Foundational Skills for Leading Successful School Initiatives. Her previous 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.

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Praise for Jennifer

Passion for the Work

“I hope you are well. I approached you right after your morning session on hard conversations to thank you for the amazing workshop. I shared that I am tough to impress. Equally, important, I never smile. Nonetheless, your approach elicited a genuine excitement and passion for the work.”

John Wilson, Curriculum Director
Atlanta Jewish Academy, Atlanta, GA