Adductors and Abductors

March 27, 2016 at 11:18 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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“The human body and mind are tremendous forces that are continually amazing scientists and society. Therefore, we have no choice but to keep an open mind as to what the human being can achieve.” – Evelyn Glennie

The knee bone connected to the thigh bone. The thigh bone connected to the (everybody join in) hip bone. Dem bones, dem bones… We would all recall various ways over the years we tried to learn or were taught about the various workings of the human body. When I was PE teaching in a Primary School, many years ago, I used to love having the students learn about the muscles in the body as we physically prepared for the activities we would participate in during that lesson. There are many things in our lives, like our incredible bodies and minds, that we use constantly but may not (at various times, stages of growth and development or ever) fully understand, comprehend or appreciate.

“Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed – else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

Some of the things that I have seen and been apart of this week had me thinking about our adductor and abductor muscles. Adductor muscles are ‘a muscle whose contraction moves a limb or other part of the body towards the midline of the body or towards another part’. Abductor muscles do the opposite. This weeks reminders came as I witnessed thoughts, words and actions (my own and others) that deepened connection to self, others and/or the world around each individual or group, and thoughts, words and actions that did the opposite. This metaphor of adding to or taking away from came flooding in to my mind. Most of the time these connections had to do with joining in.

“You’re frustrated because you keep waiting for the blooming of flowers of which you have yet to sow the seeds.” – Steve Maraboli

At times as a facilitator you are given specific information about a particular student/s who may need extra support or understanding within the learning environment. That happened this week with one particular girl. She was enthusiastic and engaged within the first part of the activity session, and then half way through something changed. My observation was that not much had happened in her interactions with those around her at the time but her body language and attitude towards joining in completely altered. She removed herself from the group and appeared to have decided that nothing would change her mind. Then, 5 minutes later, with us as a group having transitioned into a new activity that brought a different energy into the space, she was back joining in, enthusiastic and engaged. She remembered, rather than being told to or forced to, that joining in opens up pathways to fun, contribution and growth.

“Drop by drop – a whole lake becomes.” – Bulgarian Proverb

Another example came as I was eating lunch in a staff room this week. A teacher and Assistant Principal were discussing strategies that were being trialled and reviewed to support a relatively new student’s behavioural and emotional needs; and the associated ripples being felt within the school community. As they discussed these issues others were coming into the space. What happened next was that a collaborative conversation broke out. We all shared small pieces of thinking that weren’t aimed to fix or judge a problem but rather open pathways to most effectively navigate the challenges and empower all those involved. What I loved most was when in the conversation the initial teacher involved commented that ‘she hadn’t thought about it in that way before’ as we spoke. We all remembered, rather than being told to or forced to, that joining in opens up pathways to fun, contribution and growth.

“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.” – H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Finally, a conversation I had with a recently ‘retired’ gentleman. We were discussing many things but then it narrowed in around his involvement as a volunteer with a local not for profit. He commented that he wished he had of started this earlier in his life because of the fulfilment and connection volunteering had provided him with. He was so enthusiastic and engaged as he shared how he had been ‘successful’ through his working life, as well as raising a family, but deepening connection to self, others and the community around him had not been made a real priority until now. He remembered, rather than being told to or forced to, that joining in opens up pathways to fun, contribution and growth.

“The key to life is not accumulation, it is about contribution.” – Stephen Covey

What daily thoughts, words and actions add to your ability to deepen connection to self, others and the world around you, and which do the opposite?


The Blame Game

March 21, 2016 at 6:54 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


“Blame is simply the discharging of discomfort and pain.” – Brené Brown

One topic that comes up a lot within our program days is judgement. As students engage in our challenges, games and experiences, the blame game inevitably rears its head at various times. Whether it is directed at oneself or another, judgement is well and truly a reaction that we all wrestle with. It’s why we use experiential learning as our vehicle of choice. As individuals and groups we must practice bringing awareness around, rumbling with and courageously choosing responses that allow us to lean into discomfort, uncertainty and frustration, while remaining empowered and able to make a difference for self, others and the world around us. Accountability, not the blame game, is what we strive to embody and foster.

“Be curious, not judgemental.” – Walt Whitman

The ball fell off, TOM HAD HIS SIDE TOO HIGH!  My idea is the best, EVERYBODY LISTEN! It didn’t work, IT’S HER FAULT? Whatever the scenario might be, power is transferred quickly into a created story or version of events. The judgement of ourselves/another/the situation/etc. might serve to instantly assign blame and ‘discharge discomfort or pain’, but it definitely doesn’t allow us to deepen connection to self, others and/or the world around us, or open up pathways to stretching, growth and change. For us and the participants we keep coming back to the purpose of why we choose to L.E.A.D. If we want to make a difference in our own and others lives then compassionately noticing when we or others slip into judgement, and thus being able to choose differently, redirects power and frees us from being weighed down by the blame game (like the image at the start of this post).

“Accountability breeds response-ability.” – Stephen Covey

Accountability is an opportunity to accept that our daily thoughts, words and actions matter. Accountability is an opportunity to appreciate that our journey will involve both successes and challenges, remembering that, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts” – Winston Churchill. Accountability is an opportunity to own that we are all capable of making a difference in our own and others lives. Accountability is an opportunity to recognise that we are all in this together! Accountability is an opportunity to lean into discomfort and challenge a story or version of events. Accountability is an opportunity to courageously have complex and challenging conversations with ourselves and others. Accountability is an opportunity to set appropriate boundaries and establish what ‘success’, ‘purpose’ and ‘contribution’ looks, sounds and feels like. Accountability is an opportunity to keep coming back to aligning our daily thoughts, words and actions to our individual and/or shared values. Again, and again, and again.

“Personal accountability requires mindfulness, acceptance, honesty and courage.” – Shelby Martin

Composer or Note in the Song

March 7, 2016 at 6:08 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


“You can’t play a symphony alone, it takes an orchestra to play it.” – Navjot Singh Sidhu

A few years ago I heard a poetic phrasing that resonated deeply with me. It was while I was listening to a new audio book whilst driving to a program day. The audio book was by the poet Mark Nepo, he said, ‘… and happily, more than a composer of music I find that I am just a note in the song, and happier for it’. So often over the years I have been reminded of this phrasing within my own personal and professional experiences, as well as through my interactions with others in my spheres of influence.

“Life doesn’t make any sense without interdependence. We need each other, and the sooner we learn that, the better for us all.” – Erik Erikson

As individuals and groups we can metaphorically arm wrestle our way through life, resulting in us being left feeling tired, combative and like there are winners and losers (so let’s be on the winning side or don’t even engage if the odds are stacked against us). Independence, future proofing, fear, control and blame can seem like they’re driving the agenda, pushing an individual or group into the backseat, whilst pangs of discontent are numbed through external accomplishments, perceived victories and toys. Moments of presence, wisdom and deep connection can act as opportunities to mindfully reflect, process and transform daily thoughts, words and actions, but are they listened to often enough?

“Connection is the glue that holds our humanness together.” – Explore Discover Act

Last Wednesday night I had the pleasure of listening to American researcher/storyteller Brené Brown speak live at the beautiful State Theatre in Sydney. Again I was inspired by her authenticity, humour, stories and most importantly her research about how wholehearted men and women show up within and navigate their individual and shared journeys of potential. She reiterated in her talk her beliefs that, amongst other things, “Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness” and that “Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we’re all in this together”. Our individual note is important and unique, but most significantly is here for and makes sense when brought out in the full beauty of the collective song that is being played.

“We don’t accomplish anything in this world alone…and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one’s life and all the weavings of individual threads from one to another that creates something.” – Justice Sandra Day O’Connor

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