I Chose This

March 20, 2017 at 6:07 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Recently I was listening to a podcast where the presenter used a very powerful phrase. As he chatted away with the guest about her philosophy for navigating life’s ups and downs, he shared a connection to a mantra he uses as something similar. He reflected on the importance of him remembering, ‘I chose this’. This anchor wakes him back up.

“As you start to walk out on the way, the way appears.” – Rumi

As I listened I was reminded of the science coming out of positive psychology. Roughly 50% of happiness is determined by genetics and 10% by life circumstances, but 40% depends on the choices we make (our daily activities). When our attention becomes mired within what we view as lacking, impossible or too challenging (genetics 50% + life’s circumstances 10%), we miss the opportunity to intentionally create where it matters most (the choices we make 40%).

“Ultimately, human intentionality is the most powerful evolutionary force on the planet.” – George B. Leonard

If we want positive change (either individual or collective) then we must embody it (be that change) through our thoughts, words and actions. Complaining, comparing, worrying, making excuses, blaming, ruminating, etc. might fill in time, but they aren’t going to get us where we truly want to go. There are definitely things in our lives that we don’t or wouldn’t want to choose for ourselves or others to navigate. But those things sit outside our spheres of influence. The phrase ‘I chose this’ seemed like a powerful way to bring attention back to intentionality when we feel it slipping away.

“Either you run the day or the day runs you.” – Jim Rohn

The Heart of Leadership

March 13, 2017 at 6:30 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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“Compassion is a verb.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

I absolutely loved this video above when I watched it last week. It made me stop. It made me think. It made me feel. And then most importantly it moved me into action. All week since I first watched it I’ve been hyper aware of the role of compassion in leadership. I think it lies right at it’s heart.

“True compassion means not only feeling another’s pain but also being moved to help relieve it.” – Daniel Goleman

We’re all navigating complex and challenging journeys of potential. Some of that complexity and those challenges are visible for all to see. Some of that complexity and those challenges are shared with only those closest. While some of that complexity and those challenges are kept within. No one in our global village gets a free ride. So how we grow our awareness around, foster and practice compassion towards self, and then let it ripple out to those within our spheres of influence is so important.

“The best leaders blend courage with compassion.” – Robin Sharma

Leadership is purposeful. And that purpose comes to life when we use our thoughts, words and actions to make a difference in our own and others lives. It’s vulnerable to put yourself out there like that though. To notice. To care. And then have the courage to act from that heart space. It’s in the ongoing micro moments, day after day, week after week, month after month, that we’re able to embody the quote, ‘leadership is action, not position’. That’s where the magic happens.

“Compassion is the ultimate expression of your highest self.” – Russell Simmons

What connects with your highest self when you watch this short video? How do you want others to feel after you’ve interacted with them? What daily thoughts, words and actions might require courage if we are to lead but create the types of ripples that help ourselves and others to ‘be the change’? What do you believe is at the heart of leadership?

“Compassion doesn’t weaken leadership, it makes it stronger.” – Rudy Giuliani

Purposeful over Positional

March 6, 2017 at 5:08 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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“The most powerful leadership tool you have is your own personal example.” – John Wooden

Last Saturday we kicked off our year long ‘Let’s Lead’ program with SCARF Youth here in the Illawarra (Strategic Community Assistance for Refugee Families). We have 16 participants (16 – 28 yrs old) registered, who’ll be coming together on the last Saturday of each month. Between these sessions we’ll then be communicating online as we explore, reflect on and then practice the purposeful skills, attitudes and behaviours of choosing to lead. I think the biggest motivator for us all is to continue growing and developing our ability to be difference makers in our own and others lives. It’s an individual and collective journey of potential that we’re courageously taking together.

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

It is so inspiring to work with a group of participants who are willing to commit their valuable time, energy and contributions within a year long program like this one. I’ve shared the proverb above before (it’s one of my favourites) but it absolutely epitomises what this group is all about. As we pulled apart what leadership is within the first session of the year I was reminded of the importance of experiential learning within our leadership journeys. Using our own experiences and wisdom, along with the working definitions of leadership from others within our global village, we were able to make real the daily thoughts, words and actions that a leader embodies.

“Be purposeful. Be patient, and be active.” – John Assaraf

I can’t even imagine what ripples we will create individually and together as the year goes on. This is a really exciting part of leadership, when individuals and groups choose to navigate purposefully over positionally. We don’t need any special titles or circumstances to make a difference. We just need to keep coming back to an attitude of I Can, a belief in You Can, while inspiring We Can, as we journey together. It is such a privilege to be involved in the development of leadership potential. It’s a process. One that I’m grateful to be purposefully navigating.

“Leadership is influence.” – John C. Maxwell

The Spark

February 20, 2017 at 6:16 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Not only was this past week full of amazing participants, but it was also full of amazing conversations. We are so very grateful for the depth of connection we’ve been privileged to foster within our client schools as we are welcomed so warmly into each unique learning environment. I love the conversations that I have with the Principals, Assistant Principals and teachers who I interact with during a program day. These conversations open up the pathways to most effectively journey together towards the vision of ‘informed, connected and empowered individuals believing deeply in their own and others potential’.

“To embark on the journey towards your goals and dreams requires bravery. To remain on that path requires courage. The bridge that merges the two is commitment.” – Dr. Steve Maraboli

One of the conversations this week that left me feeling so inspired was with an Assistant Principal within one of our client schools. Throughout the day we had the opportunity to discuss many things. One is how I will be assisting the school to empower a group of Year 6 leaders to build their own learning experiences that they will then deliver for the rest of the cohort within a new Ambassadors Program. Another involved the potential of facilitating a Professional Learning experience this year for their staff at the school, as well as another day for all the staff involved in the network of schools their connected to who come together once a year. But the most inspiring part came when she explained an innovative program they developed last year and the ripples they are now experiencing from it.

“If you want something you have never had, you must be willing to do something you have never done.” – Thomas Jeffersom

After noticing on their school camp that other schools who do bikes head off around the bushtrack at the Centre, compared to their own group staying in a controlled setting, this Assistant Principal enquired why. They use this camp every year and had just thought that this was the way the activity was always run. In the subsequent conversation the camp staff explained that due to the amount of students within the cohort who required scooters, because of their lack of experience on bikes, this bushtrack extension of the activity wasn’t possible within their program. Rather than just accept that this was the way it always has to be, or get angry and look to blame someone or something, this Assistant Principal used this spark to turn a challenge into an opportunity.

“Action expresses priorities.” – Mohandas Gandhi

A teacher from the school put his hand up at the beginning of last year and went to Victoria to become qualified in bike education. The school dedicated some financial resources to purchase two bikes to pilot a program at their school. Then because of its success they bought a fleet of bikes and rolled out the program in a much larger way. Because of the enthusiasm and interest it caused within the school community it was then expanded to include parents learning to ride after school hours. A ripple created from this resulted in students receiving bikes for birthdays/Christmas/etc. and families choosing to use leisure time riding within the local community. And incredibly, just 12 months on from that conversation with camp staff, a whole cohort of kids experienced the bushtrack extension whilst at camp at the end of 2016! Wow, what an incredible example of exploring the possibilities, discovering potential and acting authentically.

“People become really quite remarkable when they start thinking that they can do things. When they believe in themselves they have the first secret of success.” – Norman Vincent Peale

We all encounter ‘the spark’ on a regular basis within our journeys of potential. What we choose to do next though is completely up to us.

What Happens Next…

February 13, 2017 at 5:32 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I often express our belief that leadership is a shared endeavour, not a solo sport, to the participants we support. As the lens is widened to the difference we can make, instead of just focussing in on the position might take, a diversity of opportunities to engage, challenge and inspire are opened up (both for us individually and collectively). Our learning and leadership environments play a big part in our growth and development as well. This is why environments like the one I walked into on Thursday excite me so much. It has a lot to do with the quote below.

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

At the beginning of each year a large group of schools in a particular area of Sydney send their school leaders away for 3 days. Amazingly dedicated teachers organise a diverse and meaningful program at the camp that empowers and strives to set up for success the Year 6 students for the year ahead. They’re interested in action, what happens next, but most importantly they’re interested in also creating support networks around these leaders so that they can confidently stretch, grow and contribute within their home school environments. I love having the opportunity to facilitate two half day sessions amongst the incredible schedule they’ve created.

“The role of leaders is not to get other people to follow them but to empower others to lead.” – Bill George

The sessions were such a pleasure. Watching, listening to and sharing amongst these student leaders had my inspiration meter peaking. But what happened next tipped me over the edge. It was the final circle of the day. 80 students invited to finish the session as it should be, in their hands. How they did this, what it looked, sounded and felt like, and what was shared was up to them. I stepped out and was privileged, along with the teachers present in the room, to be apart of something special.

“The task of leadership is not to put passion into people, but to inspire and elicit it, for the passion is already there.” – Ty Howard

Moderation, if required, was a shared responsibility. Inclusiveness and contribution were celebrated. When one girl stumbled sharing a quote she thought was important, the next to share compassionately related her reflection to without mistakes we can’t ever get to success. It was dynamic. It was authentic. And most importantly it reminded us all of what’s possible when we hold space for, foster and then embody the vision of ‘informed, connected and empowered individuals believing deeply in their own and others potential’. What happens next is absolutely in their hands. I can’t wait to hear about the ripples that are created as each student explores the possibilities, discovers potential and acts authentically each and every day.

A not The

February 6, 2017 at 7:08 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Sometimes you’re gifted with a participants phrasing during a reflection that will resonate so deeply. Phrasing that will never leave you after that moment because of its transferable wisdom. It’s the biggest privilege as a facilitator when someone languages something with such succinct beauty. Last Thursday provided for one of these occasions. I am extremely grateful that this participant had the courage to share what she was processing throughout the experience.

“Leadership is based on inspiration, not domination; on cooperation, not intimidation.” – William Arthur Wood

This girl responded within the reflection that she’d be taking away a desire to become a leader not the leader. It may seem like a subtle difference but to us it is such an important one. Imagine a global village where we as individuals and groups owned our ability to make a difference in our own and others lives each and every day. Imagine a global village where we as individuals and groups embodied leadership as inclusive, collaborative and inspiring. Imagine a global village where we as individuals and groups sought to influence and build, rather than control and fix. We imagine this every day; and have the privilege of working with incredible students who imagine this as well.

I’d Rather

January 30, 2017 at 5:35 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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A really interesting conversation I had last week got me thinking about a few important things. Curiosity definitely has me listening closely at the moment to the thoughts, words and actions that get us moving forwards, as I strive to embody this year’s mantra of bridging ideas into action. The sentence within this conversation that really grabbed me started with two simple words. As I wrote last week I love when we as individuals and groups are able to get under the surface, and what this young man was describing was definitely an invitation into what was bubbling underneath for him. I’d rather…

“If you never try, you’ll never know what you are capable of.” – John Barrow

The young man (about 20 years old) was talking about how he has really been trying to intentionally get into his stretch zone over the past few years. Navigating social anxiety has been his ongoing struggle, with him highlighting during our conversation recent examples of when it has reared its head. Hearing him talk so openly about how he’s initiated opportunities to purposefully challenge himself over the past few years (things like joining a drama group) were truly inspiring. But what was most inspiring was how a few days earlier he had put himself out there within a facilitation role and why this sentence starting with I’d rather had such importance.

“Try and fail, but don’t fail to try.” – Stephen Kaggwa

He hadn’t gained the specific internal qualification he had been attempting that few days ago within his university holiday work environment. This work environment was also one of the initiated opportunities to purposefully challenge himself as many aspects of being around so many people involved a lot of stretching for him (and sometimes teetering on panic zone). Confidently he explained how he’d rather have tried and failed on that particular day, than never tried at all. The self awareness and learnings he was describing became the conversation we then had. Was it really a ‘fail’?

“Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.” – Arianna Huffington

He now knows what he has to work on in order to try for this internal qualification again. He now has a contact (permanent staff member) who can support him as he develops the necessary knowledge and skills to try again. He now has a new level of confidence developed through having the courage to engage fully and honestly within this process. He now has another opportunity to again remember why his ‘I’d rather’ is so important. These are just a few of the things he described. He doesn’t want to be defined or ruled by one part of who he is, one event that has happened or one version of what’s possible. What he wants reminded me of why our name is so important to us, and the clients we engage with, Explore (the possibilities), Discover (potential) and Act (authentically).

“I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it.” – Vincent Van Gogh

So this is our hope: that all the students who have today (or over the coming days) walked back into classrooms for another school year, and the teachers who bring with them such a diversity of skills, knowledge and experiences, as well as the families and/or carers who will to the best of their ability provide support, love and encouragement, that all of them and us all will remember as we navigate all that this year will bring;

  • That our daily thoughts, words and actions matter.
  • 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.
  • We are all capable of making a difference in our own and others lives.
  • We are all in this together!

Getting Under The Surface

January 23, 2017 at 11:00 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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One thing I just love is when I have the opportunity to support groups of educators. Last week again provided for one of those opportunities. This group of camp leaders were inspiring for so many reasons. But one of the biggest reasons is that they allowed themselves, and ourselves, to go there (individually and collectively). And the ripples created were incredible.

“Maybe you are searching among the branches, for what only appears in the roots.” – Rumi

One of the things I love most about outdoor education is the deep levels of connection that it opens up for and to self, others and the world around us. But, there’s a big but (there always is when we are talking about connection). Are we as individuals and groups willing to show up fully, remain open and then hold that space for each other (with all the vulnerability that involves) so that we can get under the surface? It’s where the magic happens. But it’s also where we can sometimes be fearful to let ourselves go.

“Look within. Within is the fountain of good, and it will ever bubble up, if thou wilt ever dig.” – Marcus Aurelius

What a privilege it is to be able to open up pathways for this type of stretching, so that growth and development can follow. Hearing the camp leaders talk about the impact the support they received had on them (individually and collectively) reminded me why getting under the surface is so important. I can’t wait to hear how these individuals make real and embody the learning they’ve taken away. And most importantly, hear about how the kids who they support in the future will be positively impacted through their continued empowered thoughts, words and actions.

“Opportunities to find deeper powers within come when life seems most challenging.” – Joseph Campbell

Remembering

January 16, 2017 at 10:57 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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I’m a huge believer in wisdom. Individual. Collective. And everything in between. This deep belief shows up within my journey of potential in an assortment of ways. A particular question though I ask of participants at some stage within a program day reminds me consistently of wisdoms depth, breadth and potential to empower. I’m always left feeling so privileged, inspired and grateful as students courageously open up and share what’s real for them.

“Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.” – Chinese Proverb

If you’ve ever worked with groups you’d know the full spectrum of engagement, energy and contributions you get from different types of questioning within a reflection. Lets face it though, if you’ve ever interacted with other human beings you know this feeling as well (ever experienced a child’s response of ‘nothing’ to the common question ‘what did you do today?’). It’s an element of the experiential learning process that I’m passionately curious about. I love being a facilitator; having the opportunity to be apart of experiences that foster exploring the possibilities, discovering potential and acting authentically.

“It’s not what is poured into a student that counts but what is planted.” – Linda Conway

So the question; it’s definitely intentionally worded. Participants are asked what they remembered? Not what they did. Or learnt. Or saw. But what they remembered. I’ll usually offer a short pause so the students can connect to what’s being asked. The intentionality is a pathway for each individual to really tap into their own wisdom. What begins rising comes from a deep place, carrying with it a real sense of knowing. Then without fail the vast majority of those in attendance express they’d like to share with the whole group.

“Wisdom is the daughter of experience.” – Leonardo da Vinci

It’s not that this is the only reflection we use that elicits an enthusiastic, profound or perceptive response. But I’d say it’s definitely one that I’ll use when I want to really celebrate the wisdom that lies within us all. Sometimes we get caught in our heads and second guess, worry about or dismiss the wisdom that is resonating within from an experience. And what’s even more disheartening is that we can as a result miss opportunities to make a difference in our own and others lives. So finding ways to remember, and then act from this heart space, seems like an important tool for us to practice if we are to bridge ideas into action.

“Learning is not a spectator sport: So lets PLAY!”

Reframing

January 9, 2017 at 4:18 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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How often do you get caught believing that there’s only one way, solution, possibility, truth, etc.? Maybe it’s only for a split second and then we catch ourselves. Maybe it’s for as long as a particular interaction is happening and then we catch ourselves. Maybe it’s for an extended period of time and then something finally clicks and we catch ourselves. That old adage of ‘nothing changes until you do’ definitely rings true for me as I reflect on our ability to reframe within our journeys of potential.

“Our key to transforming anything lies in our ability to reframe it.” – Marianne Williamson

A certain conversation the other day got me thinking about reframing within a leadership context. My friend was describing a recent adventure that had taken him out of his comfort zone in the Christmas period. As he described the navigation of new terrain he got to the part that had my curiosity peaking. It had to do with who (his friend or he) would take on the most challenging lead climb within the trip they were on and the way the two of them always decided choices like this.

“Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.” – Wayne W. Dyer

I love scissors, paper, rock, and so was very excited to hear that this playful method of deliberating was their way of deciding important decisions like this one. Even though my friend is a highly experienced and accomplished climber there’s always going to be times when his courage, skill and determination are tested. This trip was proving to be one of those times. When I heard he won (not sure if it was best of 1 or 3) I blurted out, so did you make your mate go first? I assumed now having the choice he may take the breather and climb second on this most challenging pitch. His response and the subsequent conversation had me so inspired. “The winner always takes it on”.

“If a problem can’t be solved within the frame it was conceived, the solution lies in reframing the problem.” – Brian McGreevy

It’s a mindset thing. Leadership isn’t about using some perceived or real power to deflect, shirk or redistribute responsibility. Instead leadership is brought to life in being prepared, willing and ready to use your empowered thoughts, words and actions to make a difference for self and others (even while we’re stretching within the struggle). Importantly, this type of self awareness can also assist us to be honest with ourselves and others in the process. It doesn’t mean that we won’t feel fear, doubt or uncertainty as we courageously lead. It just means that we’re willing to work through these feelings when they arise, without letting them define us, knowing why our thoughts, words and actions are important and that there’s support around us if we need it.

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” – Marcus Aurelius

If we are to bridge ideas into action then reframing seems to be an important tool. But like anything, reframing by itself won’t actually bring about change, growth, learning or transformation. The windows it opens needs to be followed by courageous action. It’s why the quote that underpins our L.E.A.D. with Courage™ philosophy remains, ‘Leadership Is an Action Not Position’ (Donald H. McGannon) as we explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically, TOGETHER.

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