Closing the Gap: Common Sense vs Common Practice

November 30, 2015 at 6:28 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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“Just because it’s common sense, doesn’t mean it’s common practice.” – Will Rogers

It can seem so much like common sense but challenging for ourselves or others to convert it into common practice. We can know what to do (even if we tell ourselves we don’t) but find every excuse in the book to not do it. The same reminder could keep showing up at the door many times within our learning and leadership journeys but we refuse to answer it differently. This theme of what we know (common sense) vs what we do (common practice) has come up a lot recently within our program days. So it’s had me digging a little deeper.

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” – Jim Rohn

We definitely aren’t 7.4 billion robots executing flawlessly preprogrammed instructions each and every day. We are 7.4 billion humans imperfectly trying our best to survive, connect, learn, grow and thrive within complex and challenging interactions and circumstances. Within the myriad of choices we make in this process we are creating our individual and shared realities. What this looks like, and how it sounds and feels while we are navigating potential, has a lot to do with the habits that we have carved out of the precious hours that make up our busy days.

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

Using our daily thoughts, words and actions to explore what’s possible can be scary. But not challenging our comfort zones, moving towards and embracing what’s possible is probably scarier. As the quote above suggests (applying its logic from a different context) the ‘long range risks of comfortable inaction’ is far greater than compassionately developing common practice within our lives. I love the phrasing that Robin Sharma uses when he talks about having ‘the video aligned with the audio’. When we are out of alignment this is where suffering shows itself in our journeys.

“If it’s never our fault, we can’t take responsibility for it. If we can’t take responsibility for it, we’ll always be its victim.” – Richard Bach

This years mantra for me personally and for Explore Discover Act has been ‘really listen and intentionally act’. The mantra itself hasn’t ‘fixed’ all the uncertainties, challenges or issues that we as individuals or businesses face, but it has indeed acted as an important practice throughout this year. It has brought greater clarity of values, purpose and potential. It has assisted in deepening connection to self, others and the world around us. It has allowed me and us to respond most effectively and consistently through empowerment and intentionality. Just to name a few. How do you strive to close the gap between common sense and common pratice in your journey each and every day?

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

 

The Power of Like!

November 23, 2015 at 7:08 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be ignited.” – Plutarch

It’s early last week. I’m lucky to have another great Year 5 cohort to facilitate our L.E.A.D. with Courage™: Stage 3 Leaders Program for. Such an interesting and diverse mix of learners sitting in front of me again. Throughout the day we experienced so much fun. We also experienced and navigated moments of conflict between learners. We experienced plenty of excitement. We also experienced and navigated individual and shared frustration. We experienced lots of successes. We also experienced and navigated numerous near misses. We experienced a real deepening of connection. We also experienced and navigated many challenges to connection. It was one learners comment at the end of the day though that has had me thinking about the power of like!

“Learning is not a spectator sport.” – D. Blocher

His hand shot up as soon as I asked the question. I definitely wanted to hear his thoughts but maybe three other students shared before it was his turn to speak. “What I enjoyed most about today was working with you because you like me, other teachers don’t like me”. We had already heard about a students favourite game, how another student enjoyed the challenging nature of the day, while someone else said working with people she doesn’t usually work with. But here we had a learner who had most enjoyed being in a space where he felt liked. Why was being ‘liked’ important? What did he mean by being ‘liked’? How do we communicate being ‘liked’ to each other?

“Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone…” – John F. Kennedy

I had sensed that this student faced certain challenges within the classroom environment as the teacher and I had spoken many times during the day. We had both commented about how impressed we were with his engagement, problem solving and contribution to the group as the experience progressed. He had had an aliveness about him during the challenges in particular, owning his opportunity to lead and make a difference for himself and others. His heart felt comment became a fantastic teachable moment for us all as we reflected on the day. It brought us back full circle to where we had started. How does the lens that we look out at the world impact our daily thoughts, words and actions, and what external factors are helping to shape the lens’ that we wear in different settings?

“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” – Albert Einstein

There were no explicit moments where he was told that he was liked. Instead he interpreted certain thoughts, words and actions that built and reinforced the belief in his own and others worth and potential. We strive at Explore Discover Act to embody our vision of ‘informed, connected and empowered individuals believing deeply in their own and others potential’, with our mission being the vehicle we use to get there, ‘providing experiences that promote exploring the possibilities, discovering potential and acting authentically’. We are so grateful for the opportunity to positively impact the learning and leadership journeys of the students with whom we work. We can’t wait to hear how this student applies his connections and learning to other environments that he finds challenging to achieve more empowering ripples of growth and development.

“I’m not a teacher but an awakener.” – Robert Frost

Such A Privilege

November 16, 2015 at 6:07 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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“Find a seed at the bottom of your heart and bring forth a flower.” – Shigenori Kameoka

Recently I have been sending out 2016 rebooking packs to our client schools (If you’re anything like me at the moment you are also pondering how quickly this year seems to have gone by). It’s always such a reflective time of year for me, and also a time of year that gratitude feels like it’s overflowing. In this process of communicating with our clients I have found the word privilege jumping into each email as I wrote. What a privilege it is to be welcomed into and become apart of communities that so highly value a shared journey of exploring the possibilities, discovering potential and acting authentically.

“The teacher is the one who gets the most out of the lessons, and the true teacher is the learner.” – Elbert Hubbard

Today I was welcomed into a new school community. On entering the school I was asked by some parents if they could help carrying the bags I had over my shoulder. I was greeted at the office by a friendly smile and helpful attitude. I was shown around the facilities and offered numerous cups of coffee, tea or water. I watched a school community gather to start the week, sharing rituals, values and beliefs. I was then warmly introduced to the group I would be working with. Then the fun begun. So many moments in a half an hour timeframe that reminded me of what a privilege it is to have a time and space carved out for you to engage, challenge and inspire whichever students I am working with on that day.

“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” – Joseph Campbell

Tomorrow I revisit a client school we’ve supported for the past 3 years. There will be new students to work with. Maybe new teachers in the staff room to chat with. Definitely new activities to try out. But staying the same most importantly are my thoughts, words and actions being grounded in how it’s such a privilege to be able to do what I do.

A Day In The Garden

November 2, 2015 at 6:29 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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“Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful,’ and sitting in the shade.” – Rudyard Kipling

Last week I had the pleasure of spending a day in the garden at one of our client schools. This school community garden is not just a small bed of lettuces and tomatoes, this garden is huge. Every fortnight a Year 3/4 class (Garden Ambassadors) spends the day mulching, pruning, planting, picking, weeding, composting, to name just a few of the tasks that they take on. It’s not just this impressive to do list though that was so inspiring on the day, it was also the why and how that had me walking away so energised.

“Ritual is important to us as human beings. It ties us to our traditions and our histories.” – Miller Williams

We began the day in a circle, a formation that I also love using when working with groups. This is the ritual that greets the garden ambassadors each fortnight. A pair of students volunteered to lead this beginning sequence, checking in with those who had taken on tasks before school had started so that all would be ready, and then inviting us all to check in as a group. As I listened to each member of the group share their name, their favourite fruit, their favourite job and how they felt about being in the garden today, I was reminded of the power and process of deepening connection to self, others and the world around us. I was also reminded of the importance of empowerment, a theme that would be visible right throughout the day. I could already start to feel the amount of planning, sweat, commitment and passion that this school community has invested in this valuable learning environment.

“A garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfil good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them.” – Liberty Hyde Bailey

Very early on in the day I got a clear idea as to the values driving each individuals and the groups thoughts, words and actions in this space. Personal responsibility and fair share were explicitly and implicitly fostered throughout the day. Naturally there were times during the day when students (and adults) needed to deal with disappointment, conflict, uncertainty and tiredness. Each time teachers (including other students) would check in, support if necessary and reaffirm these values and why they are important to the group. As we circled up again later in the day before a break we were greeted by a surprise visitor. A grandmother of a student had arrived to share some seeds from her own garden. This was an opportunity for the group to learn from her, and of course be offered by the teacher in charge the opportunity to sample some of the produce that had been grown and picked by the students earlier in the day.

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” – Greek Proverb

I loved hearing about the incredible history of this evolving garden while I was there on the day. I equally loved hearing about the vision and plans for where they are going. Neither of these things though would be possible without individuals being prepared to get their hands dirty. And as each individual has gotten their hands dirty over the many years, they have contributed to something truely special, and will be connected to this space and their learnings from it right throughout their lives. We shared lunch together from what was picked and prepared in the outdoor kitchen that adjoins the garden. We shared pieces of watermelon and orange juice that was squeezed during the day by a team of students together at the end of the day. What a privilege, thank you to such an inspiring school community and to the group of students and teachers that I shared the day with!

“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.” – Alfred Austin

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