Engage, Challenge and Inspire

February 23, 2015 at 6:34 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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“An amazing day. Highly engaging for students and teachers. We had reports back from parents how their children went home and told them about what they had learnt – true engagement, Thank you.” – Assistant Principal/Year 6 Teacher, feedback from our L.E.A.D. with Courage™: Stage 3 Leaders Program

We love what we do. We really do. The chance to engage, challenge and inspire Primary School students within their learning and leadership journeys is so much fun. Our program is experiential and hands on, learning by doing with reflection, providing each individual with the opportunity to experiment, process and make real the skills, attitude, behaviours and purpose of leadership. We always smile when we hear back from our clients about how their students enthusiastically share what they’ve done and learnt during the program with their families, like in the feedback above.

“The children were highly engaged throughout the entire day. The high level of energy and active participation was a true indication of how effective the program is. Thank you Cameron. We look forward to following up with you soon.” – Year 6 Teacher, feedback from our L.E.A.D. with Courage™: Stage 3 Leaders Program

Something that inspired us recently was a text message we received from a parent of one of the participants in our program. The mother just wanted to pass on her thanks for the day we facilitated as getting anything out of her son in regards to school is virtually impossible. This parent went on to say that her son couldn’t stop talking about what he had done during the day and how inspired he was. This text made us smile and reminded us why we love fostering experiences that allow each student to explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically.

“Cameron’s approach and manner with our students is supportive, caring and professional. He nurtures the students into leadership roles throughout the day. He is very approachable and wonderful to work with.” – Assistant Principal/Year 6 Teacher, feedback from our L.E.A.D. with Courage™: Stage 3 Leaders Program

Thank you to all of the school communities who we have the privilege of supporting. These examples of the feedback we have received over the last couple of weeks keeps us engaged, challenged and inspired in our journey of engaging, challenging and inspiring each individual and group with whom we work. What makes us smile the most though is then hearing from the Stage 3 students throughout the year about the difference they are making within their spheres of influence. The EDA Action Squad provides the students a chance to continue communicating with us and inspiring others within our network of schools.

“The activities and content were extremely relevant and delivered with a high level of understanding of the needs of the group. Cameron was superb and very engaging! We have been very happy with the program and look forward to getting you back next year.” – Year 6 Teacher, feedback from our L.E.A.D. with Courage™: Stage 3 Leaders Program

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Help Needed: Apply Within

February 16, 2015 at 3:15 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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“If you light a lamp for somebody, it will also brighten your path.” – Buddha

Many people who I speak to about our L.E.A.D. with Courage™ Program ask why we choose to work with Stage 3 students (Year 5 and 6 in Primary School). There are so many reasons why this program was designed with this age group in mind but one students response on Friday afternoon really reminded me why we engage with, challenge, inspire and feel inspired by this particular stage level. Education is a complex and interdependent journey, with many important pieces of a puzzle supporting students, staff and school communities to achieve the best outcomes for each individual. It is a privilege to support and enrich the learning and leadership journey of Stage 3 students through our L.E.A.D. with Courage™ Program.

“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” – John Dewey

The afternoon session of the program day provides the participants with the chance to examine a L.E.A.D.er’s behaviours and actions. We use a variety of games, challenges and experiences, with reflections, to highlight and explore this important part of making leadership real each and every day. Each individual and group that we work with is different, resulting in us always being curious to see what connections will be made by the participants on that day. This one particular response on Friday afternoon that I referred to above struck me as being so very important for us as individuals to ‘be the change we wish to see in the world’.

“That game reminded me that it doesn’t matter who you help.” – Year 6 student on Friday afternoon

The other responses before and after this one above were no lesser or better than the one that I have shared. This one though really struck a chord within me and also rippled throughout the group. How often can we get caught up in overthinking ‘helping’, the who, what, where, when, why and how, rather than just connecting to and actioning our capacity to be of help, as was explored by the response from this Year 6 student. Our ability to transition from the head to the heart is a complex and vulnerable journey but if we are truly going to ‘be the change’ and make a difference in our own and others lives it is the journey that opens doors to authentic connection, growth and contribution.

“The human heart feels things the eyes cannot see, and knows what the mind cannot understand.” – Robert Valett

Can you think of a time/s when your capacity to be of help was impacted by overthinking the who, what, where, when, why and how? How does this change how we engage, respond and connect when we do help (ourselves or others) from the head instead of the heart? Why is it important to be of help within our spheres of influence and communities? What are the challenges and opportunities that L.E.A.D.ing and helping from the heart will present within our journeys of potential?

“I don’t want to live in the kind of world where we don’t look out for each other. Not just the people that are close to us, but anybody who needs a helping hand. I cant change the way anybody else thinks, or what they choose to do, but I can do my bit.” – Charles de Lint

We’re All Doing It

February 9, 2015 at 7:33 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” – Carl Rogers

We are all human, oh so very human. We can be kind, compassionate, open minded, loving, honest and the list goes on and on. But we can also be judgemental, discriminatory, closed minded, mean or dishonest at different times. Our journey sees us navigating thoughts, words and actions, whether consciously or unconsciously, grounded in love and fear. How we grow our individual and collective awareness of how these choices impact our own and each others potential is a major determiner to the difference we are able to make in our own and others lives as is explored in the TED Talk and quote above.

“Life is strong and fragile. It’s a paradox… It’s both things, like quantum physics: It’s a particle and a wave at the same time. It all exists all together.” – Joan Jett

We would all have said something at some stage or heard others say something that justifies or clarifies why we or someone else ‘isn’t’ a certain way (e.g. judgemental). This may have been after a particular thought, word or action offended, disappointed, hurt or angered an individual or group. We have that thought that one mistake shouldn’t define us or the person we are protecting, but do we also apply this specific appreciation of the wholeness of the human journey to everyone we interact with? We are all living paradoxes, that is what makes us human.

“How wonderful that we have met with a paradox.  Now we have some hope of making progress.” – Niels Bohr

The attached thought provoking TED talk could be applied to many areas of the human journey, not just the specific example that Verna explores. There are many, varied and complex biases, inclinations and stereotypes that we develop within our journeys, impacting how we are able to engage, interact, contribute, grow, support and be supported throughout the many successes and challenges that we will encounter. As much as we would like to eliminate certain vulnerabilities, reactions and disempowering ways of being from our lives, these will always be interwoven into our days.

“Actions are always more complex and nuanced than they seem. We have to be willing to wrestle with paradox in pursuing understanding.” – Harold Evans

So why is being completely comfortable with the paradoxes we navigate in our lives so challenging? Where do biases, inclinations and stereotypes show up in your journey of potential? What is it that we as individuals and groups fear most about admitting to some of the paradoxes that we experience? How could becoming more comfortable with the paradoxes that are in our lives empower us and others in our journey of ‘being the change we wish to see in the world’?

“Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we’re all in this together.” – Brené Brown

We are definitely all in this together, as described in the quote above. As I shared in last week’s post, we all experience the need to be independent and interdependent (personal identity vs social identity), or as Brené Brown speaks about in her work we are brave and afraid in the exact same moments, or we could be alone but not lonely, or any other experience that we all would have felt before. This final quote below I feel sums it all up so eloquently, rather than seeking perfection, it really is all about connection.

“… this thing is not about perfection, it’s about connection.” – Verna Myers from the linked TED Talk above

‘I am, you are, we are’

February 2, 2015 at 7:04 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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“It is our species’ reliance on communities that explains why we’ve evolved to be so good at cooperating with each other. We are also, for quite different evolutionary reasons, self-interested and competitive. That may well be our deepest quandary: we are individuals with an independent sense of personal identity and we are members of groups, with a strong sense of social identity fed by our desire to connect and to belong.” – Hugh Mackay, ‘The Art of Belonging: It’s not where you live, it’s how you live’

Everyone (I’m generalising I know but those who get a day off work definitely do) loves a public holiday, so I’m guessing there were quite a few smiling faces here in Australia last week. Plenty of families and friends gathered for BBQ’s and picnics, community events were happening all over the country, and some used the significance of the date to attend citizenship ceremonies to officially welcome others or be welcomed themselves to this ‘Great Southern Land’. And so it is with a deep respect and appreciation of the depth, breadth and significance of the Indigenous history of this land we now call Australia, and all the people, journeys and contributions that make this multicultural nation feel like home for me, that I share this post about belonging reflecting after Australia Day 2015.

“That’s why the answer to the eternal question Who am I? must be weighed against the answer to an even deeper question: Who are we? … we are writing each other’s stories, as much as we are writing our own.” – Hugh Mackay, ‘The Art of Belonging: It’s not where you live, it’s how you live’

Hugh Mackay’s book, ‘The Art of Belonging: It’s not where you live, it’s how you live’, provides a fictional town setting that mirrors the fullness of life and associated complexities that we face in our own real life communities. I have used some of the quotes from the book today as a reflection on this theme of connection and belonging. The quote above really resonated when considering the mixture of emotions that individuals and groups may have been feeling last week on Australia Day, or as we navigate our unfolding journeys of potential on any given day of the year. In order for us to strongly identify with and be grateful for the belonging that exists in our lives, helping us to grow, develop and contribute, we need to be open to, aware of and engage with the experience of deepening connection to self, others and the world around us.

“None of us are born a blank slate; we have too much genetic inheritance to claim such a thing. But the story that gradually unfolds on that slate is mostly written by others, not by us. We are the authors of each other’s stories through the influence we have on each other, and the way we respond to each other. Each of our stories is unique, but the subtext is universal – it is about finding the answer to just one question: Where do I belong?” – Hugh Mackay, ‘The Art of Belonging: It’s not where you live, it’s how you live’

So as I rode into the Continental Pools on Australia Day morning, saying hello to a woman I went to University with as she ran past while I rode, chatted to my good friend who I swim with when I arrived and also the group of swimmers who are at the pool just before opening time every day, walked to the coffee shop we go to after a swim past all the volunteers setting up the aquathon that would be taking place that day, being asked how we were and if we wanted the regular by the waitress at the coffee shop and finally watching the early stages of the first aquathon races from our vantage point, I was reminded of the interdependent, diverse and interesting fabric of our communities.

“But ‘home’ is a far richer and more complex concept than the house or street you live in. In the end, it’s more about the people than the place; more about belonging than acquiring; more about engaging than cocooning.” – Hugh Mackay, ‘The Art of Belonging: It’s not where you live, it’s how you live’

I’ve been fortunate throughout my life to call multiple locations, in different parts of the world, for various lengths of time, ‘home’. Each place provided me with a multitude of opportunities, with the biggest opportunity in each location being that I had the chance to engage with, be inspired by and learn from the people who shared that particular time and space. The way that I felt ‘welcomed’ in each space was a testament to the thoughts, words and actions of the individuals and groups that I encountered. This connect first mentality is something that I strive to embody each and every day and foster within our Explore Discover Act programs. So I share the verse below as my wish for this Australia Day, for all of us as Australians, then letting it ripple out into our amazing global village.

“We are one, but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come
We share a dream and sing with one voice:
I am, you are, we are Australian!”

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