Three C’s – Complexity, Connection, Compassion

March 31, 2014 at 5:00 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

We all have had moments when we feel courageous. We have also all have had moments when we feel fearful. We have all had moments when our thoughts, words or actions are completely aligned with our values. We have also all had moments when our thoughts, words or actions do not reflect the values that are most important to us. Of course this is only a tiny fraction of the human emotions that we all experience. It’s just a snapshot of the complexity within the varied interactions, experiences and journeys that we all navigate.

The moments that make up our journeys of potential are full of choices, whether we view them as choices or not. They provide opportunities to foster deepening connection to self, others and the world around us, which can produce so many positive ripples in our own and others lives. So with the first C this week representing complexity, and the second C representing connection as the glue that holds our humanness together, the third C is a reminder of the power of compassion.

There are many examples of ‘What Would You Do?’ videos on the internet. They are created for many and varied reasons but this one really resonated with me for this weeks post. We would have all been in situations where we have noticed the suffering of another person or group. By noticing their suffering we can become affected by it, resulting in us having concern for the individual or group involved. But whether or not we are then motivated to do something about this concern and respond to the observed suffering is the difference between being sympathetic or empathetic to the situation and practising compassion.

“Frequently people think compassion and love are merely sentimental. No! They are very demanding. If you are going to be compassionate, be prepared for action.”
– Archbishop Desmond Tutu

The various responses seen in the video demonstrate a variety of ways that we as humans respond to situations each and every day. From feeling awkward or aware of injustice but not feeling like it’s our place to act, to embodying compassion and through our words or actions being able to relieve the suffering of another, to everything in between, we could all identify times when we reacted like different people in the barber shop from the video. We all have different personalities, are either male or female, feel more or less comfortable in various situations, could be young to older, but regardless of any differences that exist the compassionate response is open to us all.

“Fear grows out of the things we think; it lives in our minds. Compassion grows out of the things we are, and lives in our hearts.”
– Barbara Garrison

Just like any other area of our lives we can learn from our past experiences and make a different choice in the present moment as our journeys continue. I don’t believe it is our job to create ongoing or more suffering for ourselves and others through judging or comparing inaction in a particular situation. Instead we can empower ourselves and others through practising kindness, awareness and understanding, then inspire each other with compassion and feeling the powerful ripples that flow out from these actions in our families, schools, workplaces and communities.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
– Plato

Compassion is definitely a journey that involves vulnerability and complexity. But it is also definitely a journey that sees us helping to create the communities and global village that we dream of living in. We don’t need to be a particular age, gender or move to a certain location to be able to practise it, we can all ‘be the change’ right where we are! Imagine what’s possible if we all were able to work towards fostering connection like the last woman in the video, honouring the complexity in the given situation or environment, embracing each other through connection, taking responsibility for our own daily thoughts, words and actions, and then moving forward together.

“Stay where you are. Find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering, and the lonely right there where you are — in your own homes and in your own families, in your workplaces and in your schools. You can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have the eyes to see. Everywhere, wherever you go, you find people who are unwanted, unloved, uncared for, just rejected by society — completely forgotten, completely left alone.”
– Mother Teresa


The Great Perhaps

March 24, 2014 at 5:02 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“I go to seek a Great Perhaps.” – François Rabelais

It’s possible, no it’s not, but what if it happens, it’s never going to happen, change can be brought about, it won’t matter anyway… Whether this type of dialogue is internal or shared with others, in a private setting or in the public sphere, we all experience times when individuals or groups are open to or closed off from the Great Perhaps. Life’s possibilities involve so much vulnerability, complexity, mystery, unknowns and leaps of faith. We can assert certain beliefs or particular outcomes through dialogues like the one above to justify what action or inaction was chosen in a given situation. These ascertains, whether they are anywhere between hopeful or apathetic, can foster greater engagement and empowerment or can drain energy and connection to purpose.

“LIFE is a gift, I accept it. Life is an adventure, I dare it. Life is a mystery, I’m unfolding it. Life is a puzzle, I’m solving it. Life is a game, I play it. Life can be a struggle, I’m facing it. Life is beauty, I praise it. Life is an opportunity, I took it. Life is my mission, I’m fulfilling it!” – Unknown

Words are often flung around at individuals or groups journeying towards or believing in a Great Perhaps. Idealist, dreamer, optimist, and the list could go on. These words can represent many things, from encouragement, admiration and inspiration, to jealousy, fear and discomfort. An example would be if you watch something on YouTube, or read something online, there are many and varied comments that follow. Some will embrace the Great Perhaps that was explored while others will vehemently tear it apart. Ultimately though, each individual must choose what contribution in life is important to them, and how they will engage throughout their journey of potential.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

So with passion, supportive networks and a clarity of values we can walk purposefully into the arena to make a difference for self, others and the world around us. Our Great Perhaps revolves around having the courage to explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically as we live our vision of, ‘Informed, connected and empowered individuals believing deeply in their own and others potential’. Through our L.E.A.D. with Courage™ Program we have the privilege of watching participants challenge themselves as they Explore, Discover and most importantly ACT, then hear about the difference that those individuals and groups are making within their spheres of influence. The ripple effect of individuals ‘being the change’ inspires us each and every day.

What’s your Great Perhaps? And most importantly, how are your daily thoughts, words and actions journeying you towards it and inspiring others as well?

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adam


March 17, 2014 at 7:34 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“How could you have a soccer team if all were goalkeepers? How would it be an orchestra if all were French horns?” – Desmond Tutu

This week sees us leading up to Harmony Day on Friday 21st March here in Australia. As humans we have at our core a sense of connection and belonging being vitally important within our individual and shared journeys of potential. Whether it be in our families, schools, workplaces, communities, nations or the greater global village, we have that inner desire and need to experience, foster and celebrate belonging and deepening connection to self, others and the world around us.

Many events, activities and interactions will be staged this week to promote, foster and celebrate this theme of harmony. I love the metaphor that Desmond Tutu speaks of in the opening quote of this post. What lens we view the diversity that exists in our ‘world’ opens us up or closes down opportunities as individuals and groups to experience what we truly are, connected rather than separate.

 “I grew up in an era where an orchestra was like a treasure chest.” – James Levine

We are not always going to get it right as we interact with self, others and the world around us. But coming back to our core human desire and needs reminds us to courageously show up with respect, openness, awareness and appreciation. We have all experienced feeling the full spectrum of connection and belonging, as well as the despair of disconnection, isolation and rejection. Our daily thoughts, words and actions provide us with opportunities to embrace diversity and make a positive difference to the harmony experienced within our spheres of influence.

“The role of an orchestra in the 21st century isn’t just playing, it’s about developing future audiences and performers.” – Leonard Slatkin

I found the quote above when I was looking for inspiration for this weeks post. It reminded me of our greater purpose, not just the role described of the 21st Century orchestra. Connect first, like I wrote about last week, reminds us that our past, present and importantly future is built on interdependence. This process honours each individual’s potential, contribution, gifts and talents. We can all take responsibility for what we think, say and do, as we strive to make a difference in our own and others lives.

Here is an orchestra performing ‘Together We Are One’ to finish this weeks post. I hope this week provides you with opportunities to experience, foster and celebrate belonging and connection within your own spheres of influence and communities.

Connect First!

March 10, 2014 at 3:52 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


One of the things that I loved teaching when I was in the classroom was figurative language. “Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom” (Marcel Proust). The people being spoken about in the quote above of course are not literally gardeners but the use of this metaphor paints a vivid picture in our mind and deepens connection through attaching feelings, characteristics and traits that can be easily identified with. Once the students were able to understand the process of saying one thing is another they had great fun creating and using this powerful tool in their writing.

Writing in the classroom is not the only time we are creating stories though. We are living and communicating the stories of our individual and shared lives all the time. Your favourite sporting identity’s performance on the weekend may be spoken of in ‘Godlike’ terms, your job or to do list may fluctuate anywhere between ‘smooth sailing’ and ‘drowning’, or your child may be your ‘little angel’ as they sleep peacefully or a ‘little monster’ when they won’t sleep for the third night in a row. We are constantly attaching metaphors to the experiences, people and circumstances of our lives as a way of processing and communicating the complexities, vulnerability, successes and challenges that we navigate.

Why is this important? Many of the metaphors we tell ourselves and others in our unfolding journeys relate to or focus our attention on the external, things we can’t control, inauthentic ways to be validated or feel worthy, or as a means to justify certain thoughts, words and actions that we know don’t feel quite right. In the Western World I feel many of the influential overriding metaphors relate to accumulate first, connect second. As we or others through individual or shared goals/ marketing/ media/ politics/ etc. attempt to make the uncertain nature of life certain, individually and collectively we disempower rather than empower. This thinking promotes the idea that in order for us to win or succeed there needs to be a loser as there is never enough, instead of exploring the possibilities and potential that exists for win – win outcomes and true authentic abundance.

I think back to my time living and working overseas in my early to mid twenties. There were many powerful experiences from my time away in the UK/Europe, America and East Africa but this theme of connect first really impacted me when I was working at camp in the States and while in Uganda 10 years ago. Throughout the year in East Africa in particular I experienced and was apart of what I describe as this connect first thoughts, words and actions. It challenged me to process and reflect on all the metaphors and messages we in the Western World receive and make sense of throughout our lives.

I am not saying that individually or collectively anywhere in the world there aren’t elements of all ways of interacting with self, others and the world around us, rather expressing the feeling or overriding messages that influenced me in these particular locations. I’m also not saying that we shouldn’t aspire to work towards certain personal, family/relationship, professional, financial, health or other goals, rather appreciate that the deepening of connection to self, others and the world around us on these journeys is what gives us purpose and meaning, not the external validation that we have accumulated them.

We as individuals ultimately choose for ourselves what we will think, say and do but we must also grow our awareness and appreciation of influences in our lives. I stumbled on this quote below the other week and it has made me think of metaphors and messages that play a role in creating the world we have today and the global village we aspire to become:

“If you want to change the world, you have to change the metaphor.” – Joseph Campbell

  • Cooperation (win – win opportunities) instead of competition (win – lose / lose – win)
  • Connection (deepening to self, others and the world around us) instead of comparison (never enough or not worthy)
  • Opportunities (explore the possibilities, discover potential, act authentically) instead of problems (too hard = no action and complain)
  • Embracing uncertainty, complexity and vulnerability (showing up and engaging, supporting each other, being open to not having all the answers and remembering “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts” – Winston Churchill) instead of fear and craving certainty (stereotyping, harsh judgements of self, others and the world around us and inaction)
  • Authentic success (deep connection to self, others and the world around us, being passionate while sharing our gifts and talents, making a difference in our own and others lives) instead of external success (accumulate external titles, possessions and privileges to feel worthy or enough)
  • Compassion and accepting our thoughts, words and actions matter (personal and shared responsibility) instead of the ends justifies the means (excusing accountability for self or our family/ community/ country/ etc. because of what we see as context but creating metaphors for ‘others’ through judgement of character)
  • Personal and Shared Leadership (‘leadership is action, not position’ and our ability to ‘be the change’) instead of privilege, power, gender, personal characteristics, etc determining access to leadership roles and opportunities (we are all capable of making a difference in our own and others lives)
  • Celebrating, honouring and connecting to the full breadth and depth of an individuals or our collective potential.

These are just a few of the themes we explore through our L.E.A.D. with Courage™ Program. It aims to provide time, space and experiences for the participants to engage and process what’s real for them and meaningfully connect their learning to action beyond the program. Consider what metaphors or overriding messages are at play in your own life or within our greater global village. How can growing our awareness and appreciation of these assist in our daily choices and help us make a difference as we deepen connection to self, others and the world around us?

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