Explore Discover Stop

February 29, 2016 at 7:03 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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“I never worry about action, but only inaction.” – Winston Churchill

I’m in the line at the bank. Cheque in hand. Ready to make a normal deposit. I look down briefly at the hand that holds the cheque and my card and notice something different. This cheque has been made out to ‘Explore Discover’, instead of ‘Explore Discover Act’. It’s just a simple oversight from one of our clients. Not a big deal. But it got me thinking.

“Most of our problems are because we act without thinking or we keep thinking without acting.” – Jeromy Shingongo

It’s more than just a name. It’s a process. When we work with the participants in our programs, or communicate with our clients, we are always talking about our commitment to meaningful action beyond the program day/s. In order to create the ripples of contribution, connection and change that we seek we (me, you and all of us) must purposefully use our daily thoughts, words and actions. In other words we need to keep courageously ACTing on our ever developing skills, knowledge and awareness, over and over and over and over again.

“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires… courage.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Life really is an incredible journey, full of adventures and opportunities to explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically. My hope is that we as individuals and groups keep compassionately reminding ourselves and others of the difference between the ripples created in our own and others lives by ‘Explore Discover Stop’ and ‘Explore Discover Act’.

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it, go out and get busy!” – Dale Carnegie

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Big Difference

February 22, 2016 at 6:25 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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Image found on Pinterest and credited to quozio.com

During the past few weeks I have found certain types of articles, videos, talks and conversations showing up in my feeds, searches and interactions. Have you ever found that, a particular theme or idea seems to keep following you everywhere? It’s been an inspiring dot to dot actually. There’s been plenty of examples of leaders (both young, old and everything in between) using their daily thoughts words and actions, as well as their time and effort to make a difference for themselves, others and the world around them in such creative and innovative ways.

“It’s all a question of story. We are in trouble just now because we do not have a good story. We are in between stories. The old story, the account of how we fit into it, is no longer effective. Yet we have not learned the new story.” – Thomas Berry

Sometimes stories like these ones get swamped by what can feel like an avalanche of ‘if it bleeds it leads’, ‘there’s nothing we can do’ and ‘it’s someone else’s fault’. What stories keep showing up for you in your feeds, searches and interactions, and how are they impacting the way that you and others within your spheres of influence view our world, our individual and shared potential and our possible contributions? I really am very privileged to work with Primary School students each day who constantly remind me of what’s possible when we lead, remembering that ‘leadership is action, not position’.

“The good news is that . . . humans are gifted by the potential for self-awareness and intelligent choice, and knowing our circumstance is an invitation to change.” – William Rees

I look forward to sharing some of these stories that have been inspiring me with you this week on our Facebook page. We’ll be having a look at how Manoj Bhargava is striving to provide clean and local energy solutions to people all around the world, how Melati and Isabel Wijsen have been working courageously on getting plastic bags banned in Bali, and how Boyan Slat’s Ocean Cleanup is progressing. These are just a handful of the ‘informed, connected and empowered individuals who are believing deeply in their own and others potential’ that I’ve noticed recently. As the picture at the beginning of this post says, they’re are being a voice!

“I believe it to be perfectly possible for an individual to adopt the way of life of the future. . . without having to wait for others to do so.” – Mohandas K. Gandhi

Going Far

February 8, 2016 at 5:11 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African Proverb

Inspired! Last week we facilitated our first L.E.A.D. with Courage™: Stage 3 Leaders Program days for the new 2016 school year. They were definitely five amazing groups to work with. Four of the days were existing clients but on Thursday we got to support a new group of schools who come together each year to empower their school leaders through a camp experience. As I entered the camp’s dining room on that morning I encountered 150 excited Year 6 leaders, 18 High School aged Junior Counsellors and a group of teachers and principals from the collection of schools. As the day progressed, working closely with all three of the groups that I’d encountered that morning, the African Proverb that I use at the start of this post kept jumping around my head. As I said first up, inspired!

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” – Henry Ford

Schools have so many competing priorities, pressures and demands on their time and energy. So to set aside 3 days (let alone the planning and preparation time an experience like this takes) to make this happen each year is a big deal. It’s why I use the word inspired! The passion, dedication and belief in the potential difference these leaders will make keeps these teachers and principals coming back, year, after year, after year. The Year 6 leaders engage in public speaking workshops, problem solving challenges, plan out projects they will take back and implement at their schools (all delivered by the teachers and principals in attendance), just to name a few of the things that make their way onto the camp schedule. What an incredible investment in these participants, setting these students up for success as they begin their Year 6 learning and leadership journeys.

“Collaboration allows teachers to capture each other’s fund of collective intelligence.” – Mike Schmoker

Collaboration is a great word and an even better idea. But to model, unpack, practice and celebrate it is so much more powerful that just expecting someone will understand how to do it within their own spheres of influence. I love this quote that I’ve used above. Mainly because that ‘fund of collective intelligence’ referred to (and not just IQ, rather the full spectrum of multiple intelligences) is vast, awe-inspiring and enlivening. Creating time and space for it to be ‘captured’ becomes challenging within one busy school environment, let alone amongst a network of some 40 schools. Again I refer back to the original African Proverb, when you decide that going far is important, then true collaboration like this ripples from the empowering thoughts, words and actions of those involved.

“It takes two flints to make a fire.” – Louisa May Alcott

It is a privilege to be able to facilitate our leadership program for all our client schools. We get to act as the second ‘flint’ in the quote above, engaging, challenging and inspiring the participants and teachers we work with through our program days and ongoing communication. Journeying with our clients towards the vision of ‘informed, connected and empowered individuals who believe deeply in their own and others potential’ sees us and them wanting to go far, together! At the end of the program day last Thursday I had the participants reflect on two questions individually. One boy came up to me afterwards and said that he wanted me to have his responses. Upon reading them, inspired again!

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

Reimagine

February 1, 2016 at 6:37 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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“Words are the most powerful forces in the Universe.” – Lailah Gifty Akita

The interviewer asked, ‘What book have you most gifted to others over the years?’ I’d been provided with plenty of food for thought up to this point in the long form exchange I’d been listening to but this question gave me an opportunity to connect a passage from a book I read many years ago, to a couple of recent conversations and a quote I’d stumbled across last week. Let me start by going back a little way, to a passage I shared as a reflection post in 2014 https://explorediscoveract.wordpress.com/2014/04/07/emptying-our-cups/. This passage is one that has acted as an anchor within my thoughts since first reading it in 2003. If we are to reimagine anything, room for ‘more to go in’ seems like a pretty good place to start. It reads;

He looked at me for a long moment. “Please don’t take this the wrong way. I really respect you, John. I always have. However, just like this cup, you seem to be full of your own ideas. And how can any more go in … until you first empty your cup?” – The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari (Robin Sharma)

Now, fast forwarding to a few weeks ago I am having breakfast with a friend during the holiday break. In discussing a multitude of things we paused on potential. Both working in education we were exchanging things that we were excited about as the new school year approached. Within this discussion we were also highlighting perceived challenges that were to be navigated as we embarked on another year’s journey. My friend used the word ‘reimagine’ at one point as we talked about the various systems, priorities and pressures that accompany working within this space. It was a word that resonated as important for me for many different reasons. We are provided with choices each and every day. It’s definitely true that energy flows where attention goes.

“If humans created it then it is the product of a choice that somebody made. And if it was chosen it can be changed.” – Oli Anderson

Just the other morning I was then talking with a teacher and a principal about opportunities and issues that we and others within the profession are experiencing. As we discussed research, curriculum, pedagogy, public reporting, student wholistic engagement and thriving, you could really sense the privilege and gratitude that each of us had for being involved in this process. A lot of our conversation came back to the ‘why’. Like any area of our personal and professional lives, a strong, well defined and communicated ‘why’ assists us to most effectively navigate all the distractions and busyness that can be synonymous with 21st Century life. In the absence of this (or within a mixture of conflicting ‘whys’) we are left to wade through a minefield of others agendas, goals and objectives. Coming back to our values and what’s most important is much easier when we have taken the time as individuals and groups to work on ‘why’.

“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 and greater strength for our nation.” – John F. Kennedy

Finally, the quote I read last week. I must confess here that I am a massive ‘West Wing’ fan (TV series that finished up a decade ago) and enjoy noticing from time to time script similarities and differences played out in the real life version happening in US politics. As the long drawn out Presidential election race happens all over their country, this time around I have been especially noticing the candidate offering ‘reimagining’ as his campaign platform. The quote below is the one that jumped out at me last week. It reminded me of the vulnerability and uncertainty that accompanies the choice to empower thoughts, words and actions around change.

“I’ve known Hillary Clinton since she was 19 years old, and have nothing but respect for her. In my view, she’s the most qualified candidate for president of the political system we now have. But Bernie Sanders is the most qualified candidate to create the political system we should have, because he’s leading a political movement for change.” – Robert Reich

I don’t believe reimagining has to be some massive endeavour to ‘change the world’. I do however believe that reimagining is about being open to ‘changing our own world’. Each time we walk into experiences with room for ‘more to go in’, we generate small and significant ripples that allow us and those we interact with the opportunity to deepen connection to self, others and the world around us. It is through this process that we create the ‘world’ that we live, work, play and hopefully thrive in. Coming back to the micro rather than the macro, and influence rather than control, and build rather than fix, is where our gift of reimagining lies.

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