May 31, 2019
In a keynote at a conference on exponential learning, I saw a video by Harvard Innovation Lab about the evolution of the desk. If you want to see how the technology has changed how you work in the last decade or so, watch this short video. In a few short years, technology has helped us to do so much more efficiently. We communicate via Skype around the world. 24/7. Instantaneous.
Yet there is something to be said for ‘going off the grid.’ Before I headed to Bangkok, one of the busiest cities in Asia, I took a few days out in Luang Prabang, Laos and slooowed down. A major downshift. It helped that it was 98 degrees out and moving too fast wasn’t doable for this ol’bod. I spent time under fans, next to them, facing them, praising them. I spent time drinking mango shakes, pineapple shakes, lot of liquids. I spent time being and not doing. It was cooler literally and spiritually.
I looked up ‘speed’ in an attempt to find details on what doing too much too fast does to the brain and instead of getting information about the world moving at warp speed I found info about drug addiction. Not what I meant to look up.
I looked up ‘moving too fast’ and the first Google links were to knowing if you were moving into a new relationship too quickly. Again, not what I was looking for.
In the end, I just went without the research. I know in my gut that quiet inside me and around me is restorative. Listening to roosters and crickets in the early morning and hearing nothing else is magic. Waiting for monks to come down the street to give alms. No verbal communication. Just silence. Giving and receiving. Healing.
I lived out The Dodo.com videos in real time. I watched elephants eat bananas. I fed and washed water buffalo. One was named Ferdinand. Yes, Ferdinand like the character from the book we read in primary school. He was just as kind and quiet too.
On the last day of my trip I walked up Mt. Phousi. I met Toan and Hoa from Hanoi. They invited me to sit with them, in the middle, on a bench and to eat peanuts for breakfast. They had ridden a motor bike over to Laos for a few days and were enjoying the view. We talked about being freelancers. We ate peanuts. What else should one do at 6am? Nothing. It was exactly as it should be. A view. A connection. World peace. One peanut at a time.
The whole experience reminded me of the Simon and Garfunkel lyrics from the “59th Street Bridge Song”.
“Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last
Just kicking down the cobblestones
Looking for fun and feeling groovy
Ba da-da da-da da-da, feeling groovy”
What does this have to do with ‘voice lessons’? Everything. Sometimes it’s about slowing down to listen to what your inner voice is saying. That – and eating peanuts with strangers. Here’s to slowing down and feeling groovy.
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!
Still on my bookshelf or in article form in my ‘to be read’ folder…
Contagious Culture: Show Up, Set the Tone, and Intentionally Create an Organization that Thrives Amazon writes, “Award-winning organizational advisor Anese Cavanaugh reveals the secrets of IEP―Intentional Energetic Presence―for transforming your workplace and your life. The key to any company’s success lies in its culture. This game-changing guide shows you how to shape and revitalize this culture―by setting the tone, engaging the team, and creating a dynamic working environment that encourages growth, productivity, and innovation. It all starts with you…”
The Unwritten Rules of Managing Up: Project Management Techniques from the Trenches by Dana Brownlee. Amazon writes, “The Unwritten Rules of Managing Up provides refreshingly practical and candid insight into the best practices and techniques that project managers have successfully used for decades to manage a wide variety of senior-level stakeholders — ranging from perfectly competent and pleasant to downright dysfunctional and inept.”
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 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.
Work with Jennifer
Praise for Jennifer
“Our school’s work with Jennifer Abrams has sown the seeds of stronger communication skills among the adults in the building. This has only served to strengthen the integrity of communication between staff and students as well. We’ve added her language to our expectations: honest, humane, and growth-producing conversations occur regularly.”