Standing Shoulder to Shoulder

August 24, 2015 at 6:40 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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“Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.” – John C. Maxwell

Perplexity washed over her whole body as she stood to make her teams next move. Others had paused briefly with uncertainty before their moves but perceived complexity had definitely just ramped up as the activity progressed. Connections, possibilities, rules, previous problem solving experience, considerations, choices, observations, individual and team responsibilities, and expectations were all unfolding in real time for all to see. These are the moments that I love as a facilitator. What would happen next?

“The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” – Ralph Nader

Courageously, compassionately and humbly a team mate entered the playing space on their own judgement. Standing shoulder to shoulder, with an arm around her back, she gently offered guidance (without using words) through pointing out an option that her friend may of been unable to see in that moment. Her actions were not intimidatory, disempowering or unwarranted. An appropriate amount of time had been left for her teammate to work through the challenge by herself. The pre explained activity group expectations were being worked within. The final choice was still left to the participant responsible for making it. And an extremely powerful teachable moment was experienced by us all.

“Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It is precisely that simple and it is also that difficult.” – Warren Bennis

This scene that I have described happened just under two weeks ago within a L.E.A.D. with Courage™: Stage 3 Leaders Program day. It is a privilege to witness scenes like this one, each occasion sees each participant make real the actions, roles and purpose of leadership. We believe and strive to embody through our program experiences that, ‘Leadership is a purposeful journey that utilises a combination of developing skills, attitude and behaviours, and is courageously practiced daily by individuals and groups through their thoughts, words and actions’. It is definitely each individuals and groups authentic ownership, processing and application of their ability to make a difference in their own and others lives that is most important to us.

“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.” – Harvey S. Firestone

The Courage to Ask ‘What If’?

August 10, 2015 at 7:34 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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“At first, I see pictures of a story in my mind. Then creating the story comes from asking questions of myself. I guess you might call it the ‘what if – what then’ approach to writing and illustration.” – Chris Van Allsburg

Last week I was talking with an Assistant Principal about particular students who are experiencing challenges within their school environment. The students lack of engagement and empowerment within various aspects of the social, emotional and learning processes at school is of concern, along with how certain behaviours of theirs are impacting others within that space. As we spoke I was reminded of the quote above. Not because of the specific context that the quote relates to, instead because of the unfolding process that it describes. How many of our limiting thoughts, words and actions that impact our unfolding individual and shared journeys of potential are a result of not taking the time to or having effective skills to ask questions of ourselves (through a growing awareness) as we create the stories that make up our lives?

“You cannot change what you refuse to confront.” – Author unknown

Our thoughts, words and actions (whether positive, neutral or limiting), consciously or unconsciously, are fulfilling our needs at that given time. Many ‘pictures of a story’ bounce around our heads as we navigate complex interactions with self, others and the world around us each and every day. When those ‘stories’ (fear based thoughts, connections and learnt patterns) that we have created are left unchecked in any challenging interaction, we can witness unskilled behaviours. We all have created habits over time based on our ever developing values, beliefs and attitudes. These habits will remain in place until they are found to be wanting, or a new ‘what if’ is imagined, developed and practiced.

“What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.” – Gretchen Rubin

As the Assistant Principal and I spoke last week I was again inspired by each schools commitment to believe in and support the journey of potential of every student in their care. This journey is definitely not an easy one, with so much time, effort and personal vulnerability of staff members going into offering targeted programs and curriculum to best assist all those who walk through their doors. It is a privilege to support our clients through the various student programs that we offer, but also through consultations such as this example. Presenting a variety of pathways to engage, challenge and inspire a diversity of students within their learning and leadership journeys keeps us motivated as we strive to embody exploring the possibilities, discovering potential and acting authentically.

“Someone else doesn’t have to be wrong for you to be right.” – Author unknown

So now the fun part begins, actioning the consultation and planning that has taken place. Experiential learning, learning by doing with reflection, and plenty of time to practice what is being developed has got underway. Props have been purchased, new games and challenges trialled and dedicated spaces created to make real the conceptual framework that the Assistant Principal will use in this program. A new ‘what if’, growing awareness and journey to engagement and empowerment has begun.

“If you don’t like something, change it.  If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” – Mary Engelbreit

Young Voices

August 3, 2015 at 3:51 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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“This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease.” – Robert Kennedy

A couple of weeks ago I came across the video above that had gone viral on social media. It seemed to be resonating with many, from different parts of the world, on a multitude of levels; as evidenced by the various comments and news articles online that I read. For me though as I watched, I was reminded of the value and importance of creating spaces for and listening to young voices.

“Rather than standing or speaking for children, we need to stand with children speaking for themselves. We don’t need a political movement for children… [we need to] build environments and policies for our collective future.” – Sandra Meucci

I consider myself very fortunate to be able to work alongside and support the learning, leadership and social/emotional development of young people through our School based programs. Just the other day a Year 6 girl during our L.E.A.D. with Courage™: Stage 3 Leaders Program was telling me and the group of her favourite Galileo quote — ‘You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within himself’. The activity that we were doing at the time was bringing up connections for the participants about the wisdom that lies within us all. It was inspiring to see another cohort of children own their ability to ‘be the change’ within their journeys of potential, while still appreciating the interdependence that supports theirs and all of our growth, development, connection and joy.

“Children, after all, are not just adults-in-the-making. They are people whose current needs and rights and experiences must be taken seriously.” – Alfie Kohn

I remember many years back, as I worked in an Outdoor Education Centre, someone from within the organisation asking me, ‘didn’t I grow tired of facilitating a combination of the same activities each week for different clients’. I was quite puzzled by the question as I went on to describe my love of the facilitation process, where I get to use many vehicles (activities, teachable moments, fun, stories, debriefs, etc.) to open myself and each participant up to engage with, be challenged and inspired by, and ultimately make connection to meaningful thoughts, words and actions that will help us individually and as a group effectively navigate the road ahead. This process is an open, holistic and dynamic one, requiring us all to release our sometimes limiting predetermined labels, roles, ways of being, relationships or control, and meet each moment through a lens of curiosity, wonder, honesty, opportunity and compassion. This can indeed be challenging, but so worth it when you get to be apart of the authentic and empowering experiences that can be shared.

“There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long- range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.” – John F. Kennedy

What resonates for you while watching the linked video above? Where in your own journey of potential do you have thoughts about waiting for, comparing or judging someone else for not bringing about change, whilst maybe missing out on the chance to ‘be the change’ through your own thoughts, words and actions? How can we most effectively foster, encourage and support informed, connected and empowered young voices in our communities?

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