Jennifer Edwards – Facilitator | Creative | Consultant
Contributors: Yvonne Durant + Peter Brooks
“The human condition is unchanging in both life and work and so we are driven by the same needs, and often to the same ends, whether we are building a team, building a dance piece, or building a pitch deck or a company.”
The greatest influence on my path to creating my company and doing my work has been my arts practice and training. As a storyteller – who uses both text and movement as my media – I pay close attention to human dynamics. The human condition is unchanging in both life and work, and so we are driven by the same needs, and often to the same ends, whether we are building a team, building a dance piece, or building a pitch deck or a company.
I’ve found this is often what sets my work apart. I spend time listening deeply and emotionally to those I work with, and adjust process and approaches to meet their needs. I poll cohorts of students at the start of online classes and in-person trainings. I adjust content to meet them, so that their learning needs are met. I sharpened these skills on the stages of slam poetry venues – where I felt each shift of the audience; I felt where to pause, where to push an idea forward, when to repeat a line for effect and to give them – the audience – what they needed to feel my words. These skills of showing up – of being present – are what I bring into work situations and what I aim to surface in the projects and ventures I help people launch.
I may have picked some of this up from my parents. They were diametrically opposed in their views on religion, women’s rights, human and civil rights. Growing up with this tension helped me question everything while honoring both sides of an issue as I unpack what is going on. It taught me to listen and hold space for differing ideas, even when I have very strong opinions on an issue. Most days I would leave home as a kid, and take all of these ideas and issues with me as I entered dance class or a rehearsal studio. In this way, I not only thought about concepts of social injustice, politics, religion, and human relationships; I embodied them. I think this practice continues to serve me well in my work – both my artistic output and in strategic consulting and curricula development / teaching.
There is a lot of talk about balancing various aspects of life – including work. I find the more integrated I am as a human, the better all areas of my life are. I cannot, nor would it serve me, to leave parts of my personal life out of my work. My entire life experience influences my ability to understand what motivates my clients, and, in turn, their customers, funders, audiences, and clients. The more I integrate and honor my multifaceted self, the better I can do my work and vice versa.