Practices Make P(erfect)rogression

September 28, 2015 at 4:25 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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“New information won’t transform our thinking, much less our lives, if it simply lands at our feet. For experiences and information to be integrated into our lives as true awareness, they have to be received with open hands, inquisitive minds, and wondering hearts.” – Brené Brown, ‘Rising Strong’ pg. 53

I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who hasn’t heard the saying, ‘practice makes perfect’. Having played a lot of sport throughout my life it was definitely one of those favourite maxims that coaches would throw out there often. As I’ve got older though, and dug deeper into my passion of our journeys of potential, growth and development, I have definitely found myself wanting to play with this common phrase a bit. As the title of this post suggests, I like to put an ‘s’ on the end of practice, and slide in ‘progression’ for ‘perfect’.

“Choosing to be curious is choosing to be vulnerable because it requires us to surrender to uncertainty.” – Brené Brown, ‘Rising Strong’ pg. 52

Being on holidays this past week has meant that I’ve been able to throw myself back into some books on my nightstand. On top of that pile was ‘Rising Strong’, the latest work from American researcher/storyteller Brené Brown. Her body of work, including her previous books ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’ and ‘Daring Greatly’, has really opened up, grown awareness around and supported a conversation that we have to have about the limiting and courageous ways that we are navigating our individual and shared journeys of potential. So many people (including myself), both personally and professionally, have been positively influenced through her ability to engage her audiences, language compassionately some challenging themes, and empower through stories of lived wisdom and values aligning practices.

“As we’ve discovered, we’re wired for story and in the absence of data we will rely on confabulations and conspiracies.” – Brené Brown, ‘Rising Strong’ pg. 262

While working with groups in our L.E.A.D. with Courage™: Stage 3 Leaders Program and I’m Choosing Kind™: Stage 2 Connection and Mindfulness Program I get to hear, witness and open up discussions around the stories that influence particular daily thoughts, words and actions. The experiential learning process is not only playing out for the participants though, but myself as the facilitator and the teachers who are present are also being impacted by the choices, connections and real world applications of the students engaging with the experience (plus how this ripples out into the participants spheres of influence). Rather than judgements of not being ‘ready’ yet stopping us from ‘being the change we wish to see in the world’ (as Brené talks about in her work as ‘not __________ enough’ e.g. good, smart. popular, etc.), we offer an opportunity for participants to explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically within our program days and ongoing communication. I am consistently telling groups that I work with how inspiring it is to be able to look into the future each day as I am again and again moved by the thoughts, words and actions of members of each cohort.

“There is so much wisdom in our bodies. We just need to learn how to listen and trust what we’re hearing.” – Brené Brown, ‘Rising Strong’ pg. 65

So in our 21st Century global village, with busyness, technology and unrealistic pressures and expectations shouting loudest in many corners of the developed world, are we prepared to take the time to listen and trust the wisdom that lies in our bodies? What practices have you developed in your journey of potential or are fostering that allow you to stay aligned to your values within your daily thoughts, words and actions? How are you compassionately meeting the inevitable successes and challenges that allow you to continue ‘Rising Strong’ (as the front cover of Brené’s book explains, ‘If we are brave enough, often enough, we will fall. This book is about getting back up.’)? What communities are you apart of or are fostering that remind you of your true worth and support you through the ups and downs of the journey?

“We don’t have to do it all alone. We were never meant to.” – Brené Brown, ‘Rising Strong’ pg. 177

If you haven’t seen Brené’s work before I strongly recommend that you watch one of her very popular TED Talks, grab one of her books and start reading or explore her work further online. If you have been enjoying her work over the years and are currently reading ‘Rising Strong’, I hope you are loving (and being challenged by) as much as I am the journey of reckoning and rumbling, while discovering and experimenting with new practices such as the SFD.

It’s a bird… Yep, it really is a bird!

September 21, 2015 at 4:39 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.” – Winston Churchill

Our lives are full of potential distractions, whether we like it or not. Some of these distractions can seem or are real and urgent, while some can be very welcomed surprises. Other distractions can form part of limiting recurring patterns of behaviour, while others are unavoidable and are mindfully factored into our days. Within our programs we regularly discuss their breadth and depth with participants because as the quote above suggests, if we are to purposefully choose a journey of exploring the possibilities, discovering potential and acting authentically (so as to make a difference in our own and others lives), we will have to effectively navigate many and varied distractions on the way.

“Be deeply interested in what you are doing, and ignore vagrant ideas.” – Grenville Kleiser

Two weeks ago, while working with a Year 5 group, an unsuspecting bird played an important role in one of our debrief sessions. We had just completed an activity that had the participants working in groups to connect the wholeness (purposeful thoughts, words and actions) of their learning and leadership journey. Inspiring thoughts, ideas and connections were coming out when we had our, ‘It’s a bird… Yep, it really is a bird’ moment. Through the one opened door of the hall came a soon to be very confused bird, with it quickly realising that this is not where it really wanted to be. Myself, 85 students and 3 teachers could do nothing but turn our attention to the plight of our new friend.

“One way to boost our will power and focus is to manage our distractions instead of letting them manage us.” – Daniel Goleman

Amongst inevitable oohs and aahs, one teacher moved calmly over to the controls for the roller door that may have given the bird the best chance of getting out. Just before the teacher got there the bird who had been madly circling the hall made a skilled exit out the door it had come in some 30 seconds ago. What better way to dig a little deeper into this theme of distractions with the group than a real life experience that we had just all been through together. It could of been a message over the school PA system, or the Principal coming in to ask for a few of the students, or a coughing fit by one of the participants, inevitably distractions are ever present in our lives, some just get a better reaction from a big group than others.

“The difficulties of life should not distract you from the pursuit of your goals. Graciously pursue your goals.” – Lailah Gifty Akita

 As a group we reflected on some themes like;

  • how the distractions presence was acknowledged and how this particular distraction would be very challenging for us as individuals and a group to ignore,
  • being aware of options we had to navigate the distraction and each of our responsibilities in those options,
  • understanding that we all respond differently to distractions and how the choices available to us as individuals and groups in these processes can be developed through awareness and practice over time,
  • how the distraction was not as important as the experience we were involved in so focusing back in to what we were doing was important after the bird had left the hall,
  • how being kind to ourselves and others when distractions do pull us away from where our focus was can positively impact our ability to get back on track.

This is just some of what we discussed. I am always so grateful to the experiential learning process as there are so many teachable moments to explore as we learn by doing, with reflection. What distractions play the biggest role in your journey of potential? What daily practices are most helpful for you as you navigate the inevitable distractions present each and every day?

Reconnecting

September 7, 2015 at 7:51 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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“The best way to lead people into the future is to connect with them deeply in the present.” – James Kouzes

A little while ago I was apart of a workshop where another facilitator conducted a deceptively simple activity with the group. He used no props, it took very little time, and there was no movement around the room required. But it brought out for the group some very important questions and ideas. Has there been a narrowing of our field, awareness and breadth of vision and perspective over time? What factors may be playing a role in this narrowing (for us as individuals and communities)? How could this potential narrowing impact our ability to be fully present for and deepen connection to self, others and the world around us as we strive to lead and make a difference within complex interactions each and every day?

“Don’t gain the world and lose your soul; wisdom is better than silver or gold.” – Bob Marley

I have written before about coming back to connect first, rather than what could be described as accumulate first thinking (especially within the developed world). Over the years we have been witness to incredible development, after incredible development, after incredible development. As new technologies, opportunities, processes and accessibility are integrated into our homes, workplaces and communities, we must learn to most effectively navigate these, rather than these navigating us, as we make room for them within a new balance. If particular aspects of these areas aren’t serving us, are distracting us, or aren’t supporting our individual and shared values, then we must have the courage to reconnect to what’s most important.

“People achieve more as a result of working with others than against them.” -Dr. Allan Fromme

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