Hope

May 28, 2018 at 6:45 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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What do you wish others cared more about? It might be each other. Or the environment. Maybe it’s wellbeing. Or inequality. I ask this question within our program experiences to dig deeper into participant’s passions, interests and purpose. One girl’s response recently though really moved me and has taken me on an exploration over the last month as to what it truly is and how it positively impacts a leader’s journey of potential.

“When the world says give up, hope whispers try it one more time.” – Unknown

Hope. Her response was as simple and as complex as that. It’s like she didn’t need to think about the question, at 11 years of age she just knew deep down that more of it in our homes, communities and the world would make such an impact. I loved then chatting with her further after her initial sharing. That conversation reopened me up to hope’s role when navigating the inevitable successes and challenges that life throws at us.

“Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.” – Suzanne Collins

Hope and optimism can so often be lumped together as one and the same. Listening to a podcast a few weeks ago really reminded me of their differences. Dr. Brené Brown so eloquently described the ongoing 3 part process that hope is: 1. Goal – not what you can’t control, measureable, achievable (real goal), 2. Pathway – I know how to get there, then if I fail I have the capacity to Plan B it (tenacity, grit, work around), if that doesn’t work I’ve got another one, and 3. Agency – I believe in my ability to do this. This process is obviously very different to optimism, having a positive outlook on the future.

“Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.” – Robert H. Schuller

The quote that underpins our leadership development programs is, ‘Leadership is action, not position’ – Donald H. McGannon. Leadership therefore is a verb (the daily embodiment of purposeful skills, attitudes and behaviours that allow us to make a difference in our own and others lives), not a noun (a position, title or rank). So thinking about the 3 part process of hope above, coupled with this quote, it’s definitely a central tenet within a leaders journey. I’ve loved this past month, noticing, listening, learning and being inspired by hope. How does hope show up within your spheres of influence?

“It takes courage to choose hope over fear.” – Mark Zuckerberg

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Little Hand

May 21, 2018 at 7:10 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Learning doesn’t happen in our comfort zone. It only happens when we courageously stretch. I share this reflection with participants all the time, therefore I know it’s important I also live it as well. So when my friend issued me a challenge the other week I had a choice to make. Stay comfortably where I was in an observer position. Or on this occasion, literally jump in!

“You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” – Brian Tracy

We were at a trampoline venue with my friend’s 3 children (7 years old, 5 and 3). It had been so much fun over the last hour and a half jumping, watching and laughing, then came my friends challenge. It was to jump off the trampoline the kids were now using and into the big foam pit. Not the biggest challenge in the world I know, but by that stage of the session I’d moved comfortably into watching mode. ‘Challenge accepted’ I said!

“We rise by lifting others.” – Robert Ingersoll

The three kids cheered me on as I moved onto the trampoline. Bounce, bounce, bounce and then splat is what happened next (luckily those pieces of foam are actually quite comfortable to land on). I’d never been in one of these big foam pits before and I was suddenly realising they are not the easiest things to get out of. Not being able to walk on the bottom meant I was floundering across to the side trying not to sink down too far as I pushed on. When I got to edge the next challenge suddenly appeared.

“Helping one person might not change the world, but it could change the world for one person.” – Unknown

The kids had made getting out after their go look so easy. I definitely did not. So as I momentarily struggled I was met with one of the most powerful gestures we can provide another as humans, a little hand. In this case it literally was a little hand, my friend’s 3 year old was closest to me and he so genuinely and cutely reached down to help pull me out. On seeing this, his 7 year old brother came running across to try and take over as he thought he’d be better able to assist. I thanked them both for offering, then scrambled my way out.

“A person’s most useful asset is not a head full of knowledge, but a heart full of love, an ear ready to listen and a hand willing to help others.” – Unknown

Those simple small gestures had such an impact on me. We all experience struggle, challenge and discomfort throughout our lives, and a little hand at those times really does go such a long way. Whether it’s family, friends, colleagues or a complete stranger, we can make such a difference through our thoughts, words and/or actions. No matter how old we are! A 3 year old reminded me of that.

“Helping others, without expecting anything in return is what true self-worth is all about.” – Gavin Bird

 

The Field We Love Playing On

May 13, 2018 at 11:56 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” – Rumi

The quote above has stayed closely with me ever since I first heard it many years ago. It’s a theme that I strive to personally embody (imperfectly) and professionally foster (again imperfectly) each and every day. Our individual and shared journeys of potential can at times feel littered by judgement and competition (a combination of our own and others). Whether that judgement and competition is real, perceived or feels embedded and immovable, it’s presence can have a significant impact on our ability to lead and make a difference in our own and others lives.

“Cooperation is the thorough conviction that nobody can get there unless everybody gets there.” – Virginia Burden

Cooperative advantage for us is how we change the game. Unpacking, fostering and leveraging it within our own and others lives opens up pathways to purposefully reconnect with the field we love playing on. Interconnectedness is our innate way of being as humans. It’s also how we most effectively bring leadership to life. This past week I got to witness another inspiring example of what’s possible when we consistently reflect on, practice and celebrate cooperative advantage within our spheres of influence.

“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” – Harry S Truman

The Year 6 students were completing their 9th L.E.A.D. with Me weekly session. The three classes have only got one more program day this week that will conclude this part of the program. The reason I say this part of the program is we are always committed to connection to meaningful action beyond all our program experiences, whether it’s through ongoing communication, reflection opportunities or the continued practice of the student’s developing skills, attitudes and behaviours. That’s why last week’s session was all about how do we bridge the gap, between where we are and where we can be.

“The real challenge is for each of us to determine where we feel we can make the most impact.” – Jay Samit

In a particular challenge two groups became one. They weren’t told to. They didn’t need to ask permission to. And they certainly weren’t looking for recognition from others for doing so. They just noticed, and then acted on, that the combination of people, resources and time would be so much more effective this way than trying to go it alone. It was powerful to watch. Especially because in the now bigger group no one needed to be in control. There were invitational questions, each group member was heard, everyone bought in, everyone played a role, and really importantly everyone celebrated the journey up to and post completion. It was cooperative advantage in action.

“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilisation work.” – Vince Lombardi

Taking On The Challenge

May 7, 2018 at 5:20 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Just over a week ago I got the opportunity to have a quick trip up to one of my happy places. The Blue Mountains have always felt like a second home, I’ve been so fortunate right throughout my life to spend time there with family and friends. Nowadays trips also include amazing adventures with some great people who live up there (like I’ve written about in the past, climbing, abseiling and canyoning). The week before provided another great example of challenging myself, while also getting playful with a particular challenge that I set for my friend.

“Don’t limit your challenges; challenge your limits.” – Jerry Dunn

I’m the least experienced climber out of the four of us (if you don’t take into account their 8 month old baby who came with us the other week – see photo below). So for me the challenge we’re navigating can feel amplified on these adventure days. But I’m always inspired by what I’m actually capable of doing with the support of friends who first of all have incredible expertise. Then secondly, who believe so much in my potential (even when at certain times I may be doubting it). And then really importantly, see success through a lens of courageously stretching comfort zones, putting in effort and celebrating growth. It’s such a privilege to spend time with people like that.

“Challenges are what makes life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” – Joshua J. Marine

So now to the picture above, this is where the playful challenge comes in for my friend. The 25m climb we were doing was new to me, but was one my friend had done many times before. You may notice he’s only got one shoe on, sorry Marty. What you may not be able to see is the blindfold he’s also wearing. As I belayed I was in awe of the way he was open to the challenge, navigated safely the ups and downs that he encountered along the way, and then reflected on what this new experience had taught him once he returned back down to the ground. A challenge is always an opportunity, if we choose to embrace it in that way.

“Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new center of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a new way to stand.” – Oprah Winfrey

These adventure days always remind me of the importance of challenge within our journeys of potential. They also always remind of how important continuing to be a participant is when you’re a facilitator. If I’m hoping to foster choosing courage over comfort within our programs, then I have to also be reflecting on, practicing and celebrating those skills, attitudes and behaviours within my own life as well. I can’t wait for the next opportunity to explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically with my friends again in the Blue Mountains. I wonder what challenge I’ll have to be open to then.

“We don’t grow when things are easy; we grow when we face challenges.” – Joyce Meyer

Which Question?

April 29, 2018 at 11:49 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I love asking questions. The potential responses they open up, the responses themselves and the subsequent questions inspired by those responses give me such a buzz. I tell this to participants all the time, I’m a full bodied learner. On many occasions the buzz created within me by questions and responses becomes visible so others can see it as well. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

“I never learn anything talking. I only learn things when I ask questions.” – Lou Holtz

About a month ago a friend and I spent the weekend on the Royal Coast Walk, camping overnight at the picturesque North Era. It was all up about 30km walking over the two days, so there was plenty of time for questions and responses. We had great conversations around a number of areas but it was one particular question I asked my friend that’s had me asking a lot of other people the same question since. ‘What is the most important or valuable question that you ask yourself or others each day?’

“We live in worlds our questions create.” – David Cooperrider

I loved his response. It was a work related one for him, with its perceived simplicity getting me hooked straight away. My friend shared the potential gateway his question opens up to so many positive, connection filled and empowering thoughts, words and actions for their students that can follow because of it. Within lives an invitation to get playful, curious and engage with self, others and the world around them. I love the power of questions.

“Questions are the engines of intellect – the cerebral machines that convert energy to motion, and curiosity into controlled inquiry.” – David Hackett Fischer

It’s been so much fun asking many people this question over the past month. There’s been such a variety of responses, and a million subsequent questions arising from those responses. There have been some similarities of course, but mainly it’s opened up for me a greater understanding of what uniquely makes each individual tick. It’s such a privilege to listen. So what would your response be? There’s no right or wrong, just an opportunity to reflect on what role questions play within your individual and shared journey of potential.

“If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask… for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.” – Albert Einstein

 

How Important is the Spirit of the Game?

April 23, 2018 at 5:32 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Listening to someone share their passion can be such a joy. Time can almost stand still in those moments as you get swept up in the depth of connection that person has to their particular interest. And when it’s also resonating with those around the person sharing, well that’s where great conversations, engagement and learning really live. One particular example of this from last week still has me buzzing.

“When you’re surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.” – Howard Schultz

The passion was Ultimate Frisbee. The person sharing was one inspiring 18 year old girl. As she spoke more and more questions began flying around from the group as we pulled apart and got playful with what had each of our curiosities piquing. One central theme had hooked me though. The deep respect for and intentional processes created to support embodying the Spirit of the Game. Whether it be before the game, within the game or after the game. To be honest, from what I was hearing it felt like it rippled right throughout a players life.

“Your opponent is your partner, not your enemy. Honor him and the game by giving him the respect of your best effort. Together, push each other to play the game as well as you can play it so that when it’s over, no matter who wins, both of you can be proud of the excellence your competition created.” – Matt Weiss, Shady Side Academy Boys Division II

No umpires or referees. Advisors strategically placed around the field who can be called on for their perspective if it’s required. The ability to in an empowering way make known when you feel possession has been impacted in a way that’s outside of the rules. Then the ability to in an empowering way challenge that call that’s been made against you. Processes that support the constructive and effective resolution to these calls or challenges. The list could go on and on. But then I heard about Spirit Captains and Spirit Time Outs and the game transformed. It reminded me of what true leadership looks, sounds and feels like.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

How often in sport, work, learning or our home environments do we feel ours or others thoughts, words or actions shift or slip away but we haven’t established the processes to purposefully pause, connect and realign to what’s most important? How often do we separate, isolate and exclude ourselves or others as we navigate the inevitable challenges, conflicts and misunderstandings that have to be navigated? How often do we feel that we’d love to be able to live up to our individual and shared code (values that guide our purposeful thoughts, words and actions that allow us to make a difference in our own and others lives) but winning has got to take precedent as that’s what success is? So many thoughts came to mind as I listened and asked questions last week, and subsequently have pondered it since.

“The real goal of what we’re doing is to have a positive impact on the world.” – Ed Catmull

I loved that there were Spirit Captains. Leaders who not only can make a difference within their own team when it comes to embodying the Spirit of the Game, but also when interacting with the other team’s Spirit Captain when a Spirit Time Out is called. I loved that when a Spirit Time Out is called both teams circle up in the middle of the field when the conversation is being had. Not one team on each side of the circle, instead all players intentionally intermixed to represent what they know to be true. I loved the emphasis on the Spirit of the Game. They’ve worked out their why, and it’s definitely bigger than winning and losing. Nothing is perfect, that’s for sure, but there was plenty to love from what I was listening to last week.

“Leaders have three fundamental responsibilities: They craft a vision, they build alignment, and they champion execution.” – The Work of Leaders

 

Different Angle

April 9, 2018 at 5:39 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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It was a beautiful Saturday morning a few weeks ago. My friend and I had been for a swim, had breakfast and were walking back down to where I’d parked. Love starting the weekend this way, but then in an instant my mind began to wander. From my angle there was suddenly a potential challenge to be navigated that had consumed my thoughts.

“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.” – Eckhart Tolle

‘How would I get out?’ ‘Will I be able to get to where I’m going next on time?’ ‘How will I find one of the drivers to move their car?’ From distance my angle had the car in front and behind of mine so close that I’d never be able to get out. This train of thought meant I couldn’t be fully present within the conversation I was still having with my friend. Or prepare effectively to respond if there was an actual challenge to navigate. What happened next was a great reminder.

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” – Marcus Aurelius

There was room. I was able to get out without too many turns. If I’d only chosen to view this situation from a different angle it would of provided access to a completely different train of thoughts that I’d been able to finish the fantastic morning off with. Rather than get curious about, challenge and be open to viewing what I thought was from a different angle, I fell hook, line and sinker for the one perspective that I’d decided was the truth. A great reminder indeed.

“Look at situations from all angles, and you will become more open.” – Dalai Lama

Humbled

April 2, 2018 at 7:00 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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We’ve just started preparing to update our website so it reflects fully how we’re currently supporting our clients. We’re just at the beginning of this process though, so no changes to the current website just yet. Over the last week or so we’ve reached out to some of our clients to see if they’d share a short testimonial with us that we can include on the updated website. We’ve been so humbled by each of their responses to those enquires and the connection we’ve been privileged to build with them over the past 6 years. Below is an example of what we’ll be so fortunate to share with those visiting our website when we go live with the updated version in the coming weeks.

Explore Discover Act has been a crucial part of our stage 3 program for over 5 years now. With the expert skills of Cameron and others, our students have benefited greatly from a program that can respond to our goals as a school from year to year. Clever, varied and engaging pedagogy leads our students to uncover their potential and re-frame their worlds in positive and growthful ways as leaders of their school and members of their communities. Students love the games, challenges and reflective tasks that are connected to their experiences and push them just that little bit more! Students that have many different personal challenges are supported to participate equally to their peers and many shine in ways we have never seen before. The program is well organised and the team professional and warm. Explore Discover Act is worth every penny!

– St Mark’s Primary School, Drummoyne

Thank you to all our valued clients who leave us feeling deeply humbled each and every day. It really is such a pleasure to be able to support the learning and leadership journeys of your students as we explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically, together! We look forward to being able to share our new website with you soon.

Leaders are Readers

March 26, 2018 at 6:47 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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This past week I found myself again immersed in a thought provoking book. The book in question had been a recommendation from a friend. As I sent multiple text messages throughout the week reflecting on what I was reading and thanking him for the loan, I then received an email from an Assistant Principal within one of our client schools. It read, ‘I wanted to say thanks for suggesting reading that book. I read it over the weekend and couldn’t put it down!’

“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” – Harry S. Truman

I love conversations that turn into book recommendations. They’re opportunities to be inspired, challenged and changed by the learning that lives within its pages. Not every book will grab you the way I and the Assistant Principal felt this past week. But each book we chose (or chooses us) has the potential to open us up to another way of being in the world. The funny thing is I haven’t actually read yet the book that I recommended to this Assistant Principal. I’d heard about it in a podcast and told him that, but I can’t wait to get to it over the coming weeks.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss

I’m a serial highlighter in the books that I read. Because last weeks book was a loaner though I reverted to taking notes as I read instead. I found myself busily writing as there were many things that jumped out at me within the pages of ‘Utopia for Realists’ (written by Rutger Bregman). There’s one particular quote though I’ve found myself coming back to each day as I reflect on this book. In sharing an example of a pilot program that was happening in London Rutger Bregman provided a quote from an Aid Worker involved, ‘It’s quite hard to change overnight the way you’ve always approached this problem. These pilots give us the opportunity to talk differently, think differently, describe the problem differently…’

“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” – Margaret Fuller

This might just be what books do for leaders as well. We are all navigating lenses that are clouded by our own experiences, biases, etc. When we are able to lose ourselves in another persons perspective, research or storytelling we get the opportunity to as I mentioned earlier be inspired, challenged and changed by the learning that lives within its pages. What are you reading at the moment? And what books would you recommend to others?

“The best leaders are the most dedicated learners. Read great books daily.” – Robin Sharma

The Most Challenging Part

March 19, 2018 at 4:37 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I love and am constantly inspired by the honesty of the participants within our program experiences. They’re always reminding us why courage is so important within our individual and shared journeys of potential. As the quote below so eloquently shares, if we are to practice the purposeful skills, attitudes and behaviours of leadership (honesty, kindness, love, acceptance, compassion, etc.), then courage will definitely play a pivotal role. This is especially true if we’re interested in really bringing leadership to life, embodying it within our daily thoughts, words and actions.

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.” – Maya Angelou

Honesty involves the yin and the yang though. How often can we get caught up in only wanting to explore the positive side of something? This is why we purposefully embrace, get playful with and practice a variety of ways we can navigate the challenges that leadership presents within the experiences we facilitate. We want to be honest about the full spectrum of what’s involved in making a difference. Without taking appropriate risks and then learning from the successes and failures that will inevitably happen we’re not going to be able to most effectively be the change we wish to see.

“If you want to make everybody happy, don’t be a leader. Sell ice cream.” – Steve Jobs

It’s also why a particular question we pose and the responses we get during a program day always open up such interesting discussions (What is the most challenging part of leadership?). The other week a Year 6 boy’s answer to this really showed his depth of understanding and the courage associated with purposefully choosing to lead. He came up to me during the reflection and said, ‘Can I tell you what I wrote for that one?’, pointing at the piece of butchers paper where the question was written. With wisdom he then shared, ‘That some of the decisions that we’ll have to make as leaders won’t make everyone happy’. Absolutely I thought as I processed what he’d said, before we opened up a conversation around his thoughts.

“Leadership is a choice, not a position.” – Stephen Covey

As leaders we’re all about creating ripples. Some of the choices we’ll make though will challenge, confront, take out of their comfort zone, etc. others within our spheres of influence. As leaders we’re mindful of not intentionally using our thoughts, words and actions to negatively impact these people. Instead we’re prepared to stay aligned for long enough to navigate our own and others feelings of uncomfortableness and vulnerability because we’ve taken the time to work out what’s most important (individual and shared values). It’s not easy, but it’s how we really bring about change.

“Not the cry, but the flight of a wild duck, leads the flock to fly and follow.” – Chinese Proverb

A Year 6 girls honest response last week really got to me as well. She said, ‘But how will we know it’s the right way?’ It was another one of those deep breath moments, the juiciness and depth that I love when facilitating. It’s only through courageous practice that we’ll work that out though. We’re all very human and will doubt, second guess and question right throughout our lives. But as leaders we’ll also have the courage to consistently practice what’s most important (individual and shared values), knowing that our thoughts, words and actions matter, as we respond within the challenges that we’ll navigate. It’s definitely a journey, not a destination.

“… What I can do is offer myself, wholehearted and present, to walk with the people I love through the fear and the mess. That’s all any of us can do. That’s what we’re here for.” – Shauna Niequist

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