Creating the space to learn

June 30, 2014 at 9:04 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Learning… Lifelong. Empowering. Challenging. Experiential. Inspiring. Vulnerable. These are just a few of the words that come to mind readily as I reflect this afternoon. But really what it all boils down to is that learning is an opportunity, then how we show up, engage, stretch and grow is up to us as individuals and groups. Creating a space that engenders openness, inclusivity and potential can be complex but is also incredibly powerful and impactful through the difference each individual can make as they deepen connection to self, others and the world around us within their learning and leadership journey.

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“Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Scanning my Facebook feed this past week I came across a linked article that grabbed my attention. It was titled, ‘Berlin House of One: The first church-mosque-synagogue?’. My first thought was the simplicity of the title of House of One, with the inclusivity and respect that oozes from those combination of words. “Under one roof: one synagogue, one mosque, one church. We want to use these rooms for our own traditions and prayers. And together we want to use the room in the middle for dialogue and discussion and also for people without faith. Secondly, my mind buzzed with the opportunities that are possible through creating a space like this and its application to the wider and diverse communities in which we live. Can they get on? “We can. That there are people within each group who can’t is our problem but you have to start somewhere and that’s what we are doing.”

Here’s a link to the article: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27872551

What words come to mind readily for you when you reflect on learning? What spaces in your families, schools, workplaces or community does this ‘House of One’ example remind you of? What opportunities exist to foster more spaces like this as individuals and groups within our global village? How do you show up, engage, stretch and grow within your own learning and leadership journey?

“We are not what we know but what we are willing to learn.” – Mary Catherine Bateson

Yeah, but…

June 23, 2014 at 8:41 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How often does something really resonate or connect with us deeply and then the mind throws up but …? The something could have been while sitting watching your child playing on the swings, or hearing an engaging talk at a conference or online, or how simplifying or decluttering provided more space, time and connection, or simply a moment of gratitude for an act of kindness by a stranger. Then moments after, does the ‘but’ creep in. This might work for others, it won’t for me! It is just the way it is, it will never change! There are no other options, just suck it up and get on with it! Everyone else is doing it, what would they think if I didn’t? I don’t have time, maybe when …

The idea, theme or experience that grabbed your attention reminds us of a bridge to an individual or collective truth, or an opportunity to authentically align to all the things we want more of in our lives. The ‘but’ is the minds attempt to fend off a perceived missing out on, losing or having to give up something, that we can’t look different or be caught out, or most importantly that as individuals we don’t have a choice or can’t make an impact. These ideas of comparison, winning and losing, and the game that must be played to get ahead or succeed are born out of scarcity and ‘accepted’, when not challenged, norms or criterion. These don’t reflect the true abundance that is present in our lives when our compasses are adjusted to lead our daily thoughts, words and actions this way.

This past week Drew Dudley’s newest TEDx Talk provided me with an opportunity to reflect on these themes discussed above. Drew’s talks are always engaging, challenging and inspiring, I love his use of personal stories that highlight and make real the topic being explored. I found so much of it resonated and connected deeply to my own individual and our collective truth, and reminded us of many of the thoughts, words and actions that get in the way. I found myself on multiple occasions proclaiming YEAH as I listened to the talk unfold. Instead of a ‘but’ creeping in afterwards though I found myself thinking or saying ‘AND’.

It was either an ‘and’ as a reminder to keep fostering certain thoughts, words and actions in my daily life, or an ‘and’ as the starter of further exploration and discovery in my personal or professional spheres of influence. Both of these types of ‘ands’ were leading me to authentic action, while compassionately understanding that past thoughts, words and actions do not dictate what’s possible in any given moment and that the journey involves consistently keeping the compass aligned to true abundance. As Drew so eloquently states, there may be certain limits to external measures of success or fulfilment, but there is definitely no limits to the amount of self worth, satisfaction and happiness available to us all.

I hope you enjoy watching the talk linked below and are able to reflect on what resonates most deeply for you. The human systems we have created over time, either personal like daily thoughts, words and actions or collective like the education system, work place or corporate culture, community roles and responsibilities serve or have served a purpose in our lives at different realities and stages of development. They are however constantly evolving and not set in stone. Our role as ‘informed, connected and empowered individuals’ is to evaluate how they are impacting our own and others lives, and then ‘be the change we wish to see in the world’ through our own spheres of influence. Each of us have choices and these choices provide us with opportunities to make a difference for self, others and the world around us through our daily thoughts, words and actions.

 

Reflection: Choose Connection and Contribution

June 16, 2014 at 7:03 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

As we reach the halfway point of the year I am reminded of the mantra we started this year with almost six months ago.

CHOOSE CONNECTION AND CONTRIBUTION

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This mantra has permeated throughout my personal and professional thoughts, words and actions this year. The process we used in its creation really clarified our core values and focused us in on what’s most important as we explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically. It has opened up new opportunities, pathways to some inspiring networks and different ways of looking at things. It has also been an anchor through the challenging times or brought me back to what difference each individual can make when the mind gets caught up in frustration, comparison or fear.

The quotes below I used as inspiration and reminders in the first post for 2014, here’s why:

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” – Nelson Mandela

Life is made up of choice after choice, impacting all the interactions and outcomes that we experience. Tapping into our core individual and shared beliefs, aspirations and truths, from a space of hope rather than fear, keeps us open to the opportunities that exist to make a difference in our own and others lives.

“100% of the shots you don’t take don’t go in.” – Wayne Gretzky

The importance of showing up, believing in our own and others potential and remembering that just like sports like the one that Wayne Gretzky played, TEAM = Together Everyone Achieves More.

“Man who say it cannot be done should not interrupt man doing it.” – Old Chinese Proverb

I love the Theodore Roosevelt ‘Man in the Arena’ quote that states, ‘It’s not the critic who counts’. This is something that we need to keep reminding ourselves and others of as we explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically.

“If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room.” – Dame Anita Roddick

I am constantly reminded by the inspiring individuals and groups with whom we work that there are no barriers to making a difference apart from the ones we create ourselves. There are only opportunities to courageously ‘be the change we wish to see in the world’ through empowered daily thoughts, words and actions.

“The reward of a thing well done is to have done it.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Each experience that we have provides opportunities to develop, practice and reflect on our skills, attitudes and behaviours, while deepening connection to self, others and the world around us. This process opens us up to experience genuine connection, opportunity, achievement, success, joy and love. It does not eliminate challenge or vulnerability from our lives, instead reminding us that we have choices in how we engage, grow and contribute through empowered daily thoughts, words and actions. Viewing our interdependent journey through this lens influences the fulfillment of our individual and shared potential. So with a smile on our face and compassionate awareness and appreciation of our own and others humanness we can consider;

“Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely” – Unknown

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Search Inside Yourself

June 9, 2014 at 7:36 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” – John Lennon

There is so much in this quote when you start to unpack it. What is happiness and its relationship to purpose and meaning in our lives. The role of significant individuals and groups in our ongoing growth and development. The challenges of staying true to our values, dreams and aspirations in our complex and interdependent journeys. How the language we use to communicate, with ourselves and others, can have very different meanings and also empowering or disempowering effects on our lives. These are just a few of the themes that come to mind readily as I reflect today.

“It’s good to have an end in mind but in the end what counts is how you travel.” ― Orna Ross

At the end of last week I attended the ‘Search Inside Yourself’ course in Sydney on leadership, effectiveness and wellbeing. The course, developed at Google and based on the latest in neuroscience research, is grounded in mindfulness practices, focusing on the five key domains of emotional intelligence: self awareness, self regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills (leadership). It was an inspiring two days with so many personal and professional connections to the content and practices that were explored.

“Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are just that – thoughts.” ― Allan Lokos

As humans it can be easy to get caught or trapped in our thoughts. Themes like those outlined at the start of this post highlight how we are bombarded with messages, expectations, agendas, plans and choices throughout our lives as we navigate the successes and challenges of being human. We can feel like we are always wading through soft sand and strong tidal rushing water, being dragged, pushed and struggling because of currents or conditions out of our control, or we can choose to cultivate authentic mindfulness practices that provide opportunities to bring an awareness and clarity to our experiences so we can respond rather than react within our journeys of potential.

“Meditation is the tongue of the soul and the language of our spirit.” – Jeremy Taylor

When discussing the practise of meditation at one stage of the course, the facilitators described it as, ‘Not cultivating a particular state, rather becoming aware of the present state’. This explanation really resonated because when I think of those thoughts and critical judgements that have limited engagement, action or taking advantage of opportunity in my own life at particular times, it was a preconceived idea that some particular external state or characteristic (feeling, look, title, etc.) was required for success, rather than honouring what is, through compassionate awareness and presence, and celebrating the fullness and richness of potential through deepening connection to self, others or the world around us.

“We spend precious hours fearing the inevitable. It would be wise to use that time adoring our families, cherishing our friends and living our lives.”― Maya Angelou

One of the practices we examined was journalling. I found one particular prompt that we used at the course very powerful. It was, ‘When I’m at my best, I am…’

How would you respond to this journalling prompt? What role does searching inside yourself play in your life? What awareness, space or clarity might this or other mindfulness practices bring for you?

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Rehumanising

June 2, 2014 at 9:08 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It was one innocent comment of mine, and the simple and compassionate rehumanising of that comment by a friend, that has had me thinking this past week. Language is being used constantly by ourselves and others each and every day. But how many times are we inadvertently or sadly intentionally dehumanising individuals or groups through our language choices?

The friend in this post works as a teacher at a school catering for children with autism. I am constantly inspired by his dedication to the holistic education of each and every one of the students in his care. Earlier in this particular day I had been talking to another teacher who works at a similar school. While telling my friend about this other teachers experiences I used the word autistic before child in one of my sentences. He gently reminded me that the child comes first, as in a child with autism.

This simple and compassionate rehumanisation really struck me as so important. Our vision is ‘informed, connected and empowered individuals believing deeply in their own and others potential’. Each of those individuals that we are referring to are humans. We all are. So for us to fully engage in our own journeys of potential and then support, challenge and inspire others on theirs as well, growing our awareness and appreciation of how the language we use is honouring each human we are referring to is an important process for us all.

“It is not our purpose to become each other; it is to recognize each other, to learn to see the other and honor him for what he is.”
– Hermann Hesse

I am reminded of many examples of where we (us as individuals, communities, governments, the media, etc.) dehumanise. Rather than exploring and celebrating the gifts and talents an individual or group can offer, we can limit potential or single out challenges they may experience. Regardless of ethnicity, socio economic status, educational levels achieved, sexuality, religious affiliation, medical conditions or any other aspect of an individual’s world, the human is what always comes first.

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