Does It Have To Be This Way?

December 20, 2015 at 10:47 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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“The limits of the possible can only be defined by going beyond them into the impossible.” – Arthur C. Clarke

Our last program of fourth term has been delivered. Schools around the country have broken up for the summer. What a year 2015 has been! The holidays are now upon us all in some direct (a bit of relaxation and breathing space for you, your family, etc. – plus a little bit of ‘what am I going to do with the kids’ I’m sure) or indirect way (you want everyone to stop talking about holidays because you’re still at work). For this post though I wanted to reflect on a question that gets posed a lot by myself and the participants in our programs. Does it have to be this way?

“When nothing is sure, everything is possible.” – Margaret Drabble

We all dance between certainty and uncertainty all the time. Each of us have different environments, interactions and situations that we feel more able and less able to navigate the discomfort that uncertainty can bring. Throw other people into this mix and we are all walking in and out of what could be perfect storms each and every day. As leaders, our ability to stay mindful (present and aware) and empowered (responsible for thoughts, words and actions, and out of blame) during the challenges we face is a big factor in our individual and shared effectiveness as we explore the possibilities. If we want to make a difference in our own and others lives then developing deeper understanding and practices in this area is very important.

“I am neither an optimist nor pessimist, but a possibilist.” – Max Lerner

I’ve observed so many possibilists this year within our programs. It doesn’t mean that those participants didn’t encounter frustration, conflict, disappointment, confusion, hesitation and failure throughout the journey. It just meant that they found ways to navigate through all the complexity that presents itself when we have the courage to try. There is never only one way to do anything. There is also never just one store bought version of success. The leaders that we have the privilege to support experienced, reflected on and processed the importance of exploring the possibilities, as they wanted to continue discovering potential (their own, others, etc.) and acting authentically .

“The possibilities are numerous once we decide to act and not react.” – George Bernard Shaw

So this holiday period and/or as 2016 begins where will you be courageously and compassionately asking yourself and others, does it have to be this way? What practices allow you to stay or come back to being mindful (present and aware) and empowered (responsible for thoughts, words and actions, and out of blame) during the challenges that are faced within the holiday period and/or as 2016 begins? Does the word possibilist resonate within your journey of potential?

“The shell must break before the bird can fly.” – Alfred Tennyson

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you, your family and friends. Wherever, however and with whoever you celebrate with over the coming weeks may you be reminded of what’s most important and connects us all.

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The Same Stretch of Sand

December 14, 2015 at 2:48 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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“We have stories to tell, stories that provide wisdom about the journey of life. What more have we to give one another than our ‘truth’ about our human adventure as honestly and as openly as we know how?” – Rabbi Saul Rubin

I love this time of year. The warmth. The light. The freshness still in the water temperature. And importantly starting most mornings walking the same stretch of sand that I have walked many times before. This practice doesn’t fill me with feelings of tedium or boredom through repetition, rather opening up pathways to gratitude, presence, possibility and connection each and every day. I find this same stretch of sand expansive, ever changing and beautiful.

“If you are facing in the right direction, all you need to do is keep on walking.” – Buddhist Saying

Some mornings I find my feet supported firmly by wet, hard sand. While other mornings that sinking feeling takes over as I wade through the softness beneath me. On days that I fight with or resent the conditions that are underfoot I lose sight of the expansive, ever changing and beautiful nature, reminders and opportunities that are presented to me in each step. When I am open to and playful within the conditions that are to be navigated that day I find those feelings of gratitude, presence, possibility and connection magnified by all my senses.

“Happiness is like a butterfly.
The more you chase it, the more it eludes you.
But if you turn your attention to other things,
It comes and sits softly on your shoulder.”
– Henry David Thoreau

The soft hum of the ocean. The lapping of water around my feet as I walk. The rays of light peering through a clouded sky. The skill and agility of early morning surfers. The patterns created across the sand. The genuine good morning exchange with a passerby. The unbridled bounding of an excited dog chasing a ball. The crisp blue of a clear sky. The interesting shell or stone found along the shores edge. The meditative stance of the morning fisherman. The quick run to evade an unexpected wave. The dark ominous clouds of an approaching storm. These all have the power to bring me back through my senses when my mind races off, judging, worrying, competing or comparing.

“To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and the true success is to labour.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

I could say similar things, just in different ways, about the writing of these blog posts. I could say similar things, just in different ways, about many areas of my personal and professional life. Wherever we find ourselves on our journey of potential the opportunity to explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically is available to us when we are open to and playful within whichever conditions are being navigated. This is where we experience moments filled with gratitude, presence, possibility and connection. This is where, as we are brought back to the now, we are reminded that we have choices in how we engage, grow and contribute through empowered daily thoughts, words and actions.

“The journey is the reward.” – Taoist Saying

 

Shared Endeavour not Individual Pursuit

December 7, 2015 at 4:26 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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“Everything, including all people, exists only through relationships with other people or things.
Nothing exists in isolation or absolute independence.
No person, or thing can arise of, for, or by its own accord.
Everything is interdependent.”
– Taro Gold

As we move through our program days the role of interdependence in our learning and leadership journeys becomes abundantly clear to all. The participants begin reflecting on, processing and highlighting its importance usually from the very first game. Unless we are isolated on a deserted island from birth and somehow miraculously survive, (go with me here) our journeys of potential will be shaped, impacted, challenged and supported by others who are inside and outside of our spheres of influence each and every day. This is whether we like it or not!

“The interdependency of humankind, the relevance of relationship… is ancient, ancient wisdom.”
– Rebecca Adamson

Over the past few weeks I have found myself using the phrase ‘leadership is a shared endeavour not an individual pursuit’ at various times within the program day. It just seemed to fit the experiences, reflections and sharing that were taking place at the time. When we accept that ‘leadership is action not position’ (this quote underpins our L.E.A.D. with Courage™: Stage 3 Leaders Program philosophy), we see that a deepening of connection to self, others and the world around us (thus being in relationship with all these three areas) is vital if we are to make a difference in our own and others lives.

“[People] may be said to resemble not the bricks of which a house is built, but the pieces of a picture puzzle, each differing in shape, but matching the rest, and thus bringing out the picture.”
– Felix Adler

It is common for our student feedback forms to come back to us saying that the thing a participant enjoyed most was working with others they don’t usually work with. It is also common for participants to comment that the thing they would change about the experience was their own decisions to not work with a greater variety of other students during the day. This inspires us immensely as we strive towards our vision of ‘informed, connected and empowered individuals believing deeply in their own and others potential’. If we as individuals and groups continue to develop purposeful skills, attitude and behaviours (like shared vulnerability, really listening, effectively responding to conflict, etc.) that assist us as we navigate connection building and deepening we will experience and seek more ripples, opportunities and results that were before unimaginable.

“Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning, and under every deep a lower deep opens.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

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