Cooperative Advantage

January 29, 2018 at 4:05 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Every year we choose a mantra that acts as our rudder as we navigate the next 12 months. It’s a practice we’ve been using now for about 4 years and it has truly been such a gift. What it’s done is really focus us in on a theme, idea or phrase that’s been jumping around in our head for a while, giving us then an opportunity to get playful with it over a longer period of time. Through this intentionality we’ve had pathways opened up throughout all the busyness that life throws at you to dig deeper into its why, and then make connections to our own and others journeys of potential. This has assisted us immensely as we’ve continued to learn, contribute and grow.

“One’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

So much of what we explore within our program experiences relates to how leaders purposefully choose cooperation over competition. Cooperation is vital if we are to make a difference in our own and others lives through our daily thoughts, words and actions. Leaders embrace interdependence within their learning and leadership journeys. They’re willing to compassionately move beyond competing because there’s a bigger why that lies within each interaction, experience or endeavour.

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

But how often do we hear this idea of cooperative advantage being discussed in mainstream arenas? We’re not sure, but we do know the phrase competitive advantage gets thrown around a lot. We want to get playful with this over the the coming 12 months because our lived experience continues to show us that when we unpack, foster and leverage cooperative advantage as leaders we as individuals and groups thrive. I can think of many examples of this within all sectors of our local and global communities.

“I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.” – Mother Teresa

We can’t wait, here’s to another 12 months of exploring the possibilities, discovering potential and acting authentically. Our program experiences for 2018 kick off on Wednesday, we’re so lucky to support such inspiring client schools as we strive together to foster ‘informed, connected and empowered individuals believing deeply in their own and others potential’. Our second year of our partnership with SCARF (Strategic Community Assistance for Refugee Families) to facilitate a year long leadership program for young adults from refugee backgrounds kicks off in a couple of weeks, we can’t wait to see what the participants do with their learning this year. Also, we have plenty of great learning experiences booked in to the schedule for ourselves as well, with some incredible leaders in their fields.

“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” – Halford E. Luccock

A huge thank you to all that we will have contact with, be inspired by and journey beside in 2018.

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Windows to Wisdom

January 22, 2018 at 4:17 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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“Take a leap of faith and begin this wondrous new year by believing.” – Sarah Ban Breathnach

Happy new year to all (I realise we’re a little late but we’ve been enjoying a bit longer break than usual from blogging to start the new year). Our hope is that 2018 once again opens opportunities for you and all of those within your spheres of influence to learn, grow and contribute. We definitely can’t predict or control everything that we as individuals or groups will have to navigate as we journey through the next 12 months. But we can keep reminding ourselves that each of our experiences can be windows to wisdom as we explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically within them.

“Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.” – Socrates

 

One Step At A Time

December 4, 2017 at 6:08 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

On Saturday we celebrated the finish of our year long Let’s L.E.A.D. Program with SCARF (Strategic Community Assistance for Refugee Families) at Hangdog Climbing Gym. As we planned for this peak experience we thought about what connections and metaphors we were looking to bring out within the group as we reflected on our individual and shared journeys. It’s been a big year, with so much learning and growth that we’ve all experienced and contributed to. But as we excitedly think of where to from here, we’ve all definitely got plenty more stretching, developing and challenges to face and navigate as we choose to embody leadership each and every day.

“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.” – Vincent Van Gogh

When you look up to the top of a climbing wall it can seem so far away. Even at various times when you’re climbing, and maybe feeling stuck in a more complex section, it can still feel so far away. I know from my own experience on Saturday even when we’re close to the top, depending on what rocks are available to you, there can be thoughts of not being able to make it. We all found that we had to keep reminding ourselves and each other that it only ever happens one step at a time. Having that vision of what you’re working towards is great, but what really counts is having the courage to make that next move.

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, then starting on the first one.” – Mark Twain

Leaders are learners. Leaders are difference makers. Leaders embrace challenge. Leaders are appropriate risk takers. Leaders are prepared to fail. But leaders are also very human. So sometimes leaders won’t embody these qualities as they become overwhelmed by the enormity of what’s in front of them. Deep breaths, the support of others and purposeful thoughts, words and actions will always open up pathways to that courageous next move. Even if it means at times stepping back, regrouping and then trying again. Just like we experienced on Saturday as we stepped up to more challenging climbs.

“The key to realizing a dream is to focus not on success but significance – and then even the small steps and little victories along your path will take on greater meaning.” – Oprah Winfrey

Planting Seeds

November 13, 2017 at 3:57 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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It’s spring time here in Australia and the gardens are blooming. I love this season, warmer weather, being back in the ocean and of course the incredibly beautiful flowers, plants and trees that are in full bloom. It’s had me thinking though about the journey through the various seasons to get to this point. Seeds need to have been planted and tendered to if we want to reap the benefits when it’s finally time for them to blossom.

“Leadership’s not a title. It’s a behaviour. Live it.” – Robin Sharma

I love how we’re able to plant seeds right throughout our program experiences and within our ongoing communication with our client schools. There’s nothing like the feeling of creating fertile soil as participants open up to the key messages and themes that are explored within the day. You can see it in their eyes, body language and engagement, when something resonates deeply there’s a physical response. One such example in the last few weeks or so has reminded me why we’re so passionate about the development of leadership potential in Primary Schools. What a privilege being on this journey is.

“Leadership is about the decisions you make, and the actions you take each day. The world is waiting. Leadership is a choice – and it starts with you.” – Alyse Nelson

It was the end of a great day with 113 Year 5 students. I’d been so impressed with their engagement, depth of thinking and contributions right throughout the program. As the students began moving back to their classes at the end of the day a few came up to me to shake my hand and say thanks. I was incredibly grateful for all their reflections but it was the final boy who had hung around who really humbled me with his heartfelt remarks. He said, ‘I just want to say thank you because before you came I thought leadership wasn’t for me, now I want to put my hand up and lead’.

“Recognise that every interaction you have is an opportunity to make positive impact on others.” – Shep Hyken

Wow, I could tell this had taken a lot of courage for him to come up to me like this and share his reflection. I was so humbled and thanked him for that, as well as his efforts throughout the day and the difference he’ll be apart of making as a leader. How often do we get trapped into thinking that something isn’t for us because of a perceived lacking (a particular skill, attitude or behaviour), rather than owning that a leader uses their daily thoughts, words and actions in purposeful ways to create ripples (e.g. not just standing on a stage giving a speech at assembly because you’re wearing a leaders badge). When we embrace and make real anything it comes to life, and the energy that’s created throughout that process will inevitably be felt by others.

“When I found my why, I found my way. When I found my way, I found my wings.”

We don’t need to be elected to be a leader. Leadership isn’t a badge or position. As the John C. Maxwell quote suggests, ‘It is about one life influencing another’. I really am so privileged to be surrounded by so many inspiring leaders each and every day.

Making The Most Of What Is

November 5, 2017 at 11:51 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wisdom comes in all shapes and sizes. It can be expressed in so many different ways, by so many different people. Sometimes in its articulation it can resonate oh so deeply. But I still find lived wisdom, expressed through embodiment, to be the most powerful teacher of all.

“Instead of lamenting your fate, create your world.” – Hazrat Inayat Khan

The other day during a program experience, all of us in the room again were apart of this type of really important remembering. This is why we choose experiential learning as our vehicle of facilitation. Learning by doing, with reflection, opens ourselves and the participants up to the deepening of connection to self, others and the world around us as we remember together. The example I’m referring to on this occasion related to how various individuals and their groups within a particular challenge embraced and made the most of what is, rather than lamenting and getting stuck in fighting what if. It became a powerful reminder for us all.

“The man who wastes today lamenting yesterday will waste tomorrow lamenting today.” — Philip M. Raskin

We’re all very human as we navigate our way through the full spectrum of emotions each and every day. Life’s challenges, big, small and everything in between, are an invitation to lead (use our thoughts, words and actions to make a difference for self and others). It’s definitely not about perfection, instead about connection, contribution and progress. So when certain designs that had been made by particular groups began to crumble during the activity there was an invitation awaiting those participants. It’s not that they didn’t feel disappointed, frustrated or envious, they just chose around these emotions with wisdom, finding creative, playful and empowered ways to stay involved and making a difference. This is what the other groups were doing as well, its just that it was more visible in their cases.

“It is not the joy that makes us grateful. It is the gratitude that makes us joyful.” – David Steindl – Rost

With wisdom we remember that we’re all able to chose exploring the possibilities, discovering potential and acting authentically. With wisdom we remember that our daily thoughts, words and actions matter. With wisdom we remember 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. With wisdom we remember that we are all capable of making a difference in our own and others’ lives. And really importantly, with wisdom we remember we are all in this together!

“The secret of being happy is accepting where you are in life and making the most out of every day.” – Anonymous

Thank you to all those around me each and every day who remind me to embrace and make the most of what is, instead of lamenting and getting stuck in fighting what if.

It’s Not About Arriving

October 30, 2017 at 7:14 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I can’t believe that we are almost at the end of our year long leadership program for young adults within SCARF here in the Illawarra (Strategic Community Assistance for Refugee Families). What a ride it’s been, and such a privilege to spend time with incredibly inspiring difference makers each month. We’ve had the opportunity to pull apart what leadership is, and then over the months develop transferable skills, attitudes and behaviours that will assist us all along our journeys. Saturday’s session was definitely no different, but with an added bonus thrown in.

“Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flow charts. It is about one life influencing another.” John C. Maxwell

We were delighted when we heard that Manal Younus (http://www.manalyounuspoetry.com) would be in Wollongong and joining us within our Let’s L.E.A.D. session on Saturday. She was a special guest for SCARF’s major fundraiser over the weekend (Art for Refugees) and graciously made time to join in on our learning and also share her gifts and talents as well. I love spoken word poetry, and Manal is so talented in it. Our whole group was transfixed as she shared a few of her pieces of work at the end of the session and then created a discussion that supported the learning and leadership journeys that we’re all on.

“Spoken word poetry is the art of performance poetry. I tell people it involves creating poetry that doesn’t just want to sit on paper, that something about it demands it be heard out loud or witnessed in person.” – Sarah Kay

One line in particular from the first poem Manal shared really resonated deeply with me. I couldn’t, and still can’t, get it out of my head. It comes from the poem linked in the YouTube clip above from her first ever National Poetry Slam entry a few years ago. The line is ‘… and prefer to be in planes that are taking off than ones that are just landing’. It couldn’t have come at a better time as I’m thinking about this idea of ‘the end’ of this year long leadership program. Leadership, and this process, is definitely not about arriving.

“Real leadership is less about seeking applause and rewards and more about doing the best work you’ve ever done and having an impact you’ve never imagined.” – Robin Sharma

Each moment is a new opportunity to take off. Each moment is a new opportunity to learn. And most importantly, each moment is a new opportunity to contribute. We’re not reaching ‘the end’ of our year long leadership program because that’s not what leadership is about. I can’t wait to continue being a support to, and being supported by, these incredible difference makers. As leaders do!

A Piece of the Puzzle

October 23, 2017 at 4:46 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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It’s such a privilege to be a piece of the puzzle within so many educational journeys. As I’ve written before, we understand the amazing commitment schools and educators have for the welfare and educational opportunities offered to their students as they progress through their school years. Education is a complex and interdependent journey, with many important pieces of a puzzle supporting students, staff and school communities to achieve the best outcomes for each individual. It’s so humbling to be reminded of the positive impact we are apart of creating as we explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically, together.

“An extremely important and beneficial program for all students in Year 5, 6 and beyond. Our Year 5 students were fully engaged in every session and couldn’t wait for the next Friday! Cameron is an enthusiastic, positive, approachable and kids relatable presenter. The success of this program is attributed to him and his interactions with our Year 5 students! Thank you Cameron.” – Year 5 Teacher at one of our client schools

The feedback above came from one of our client schools at the end of last term. We were so humbled by the beautiful words that the organising teacher left us with on that final Friday. The 80 Year 5 students we got to work with were incredible. I can’t wait to hear about the ripples they create as leaders of their school community next year. More importantly though, I can’t wait to hear about the ripples they create as positive difference makers each and every day as leaders (not needing to wait for a badge or to be the eldest in the school to be called a leader).

“I haven’t had this class for quite a while, the changes are just incredible.” – Comment from a Casual Teacher who was present within a program experience last week

Our new L.E.A.D. with Me Program is providing us with the opportunity to have ongoing contact with a cohort over a longer period of time. Each class completes sequential weekly sessions of 90 minutes in length over the course of a term. The comment from the Casual Teacher above came last week as we worked with the Year 4 group for the 8th of 10 sessions. The growth and development within the 3 classes has been fantastic, and it’s so humbling to not only have this noticed and reported back by their classroom teachers, but also by others within the school community.

“Absolutely fantastic and worthwhile day…. This will give all teachers at our school leadership techniques to inform their students. Thank you!” – Year 5 Teacher at one of our client schools

Something that we love about our program experiences is that learning is not just for students. We are constantly learning from the wisdom and contributions of the participants, but also the teachers are constantly learning as well. What we’re most passionate about is meaningful connection to action beyond the program day. And for that to happen we know that the teachers play a really important role. It’s so humbling to receive feedback like the one above from a new client school last week who’ll have teachers within the school creating new leadership ripples after those who were apart of the experience share with other teachers as well.

“One of the Year 5 parents I was speaking to was wondering whether you offered any small group outside of school programs?” – Email question from a Principal last week after beginning an ongoing L.E.A.D. with Me Program

We love hearing from school communities about how much students share with home about their experiences. It’s great to know that the participants want to pass on information about what they loved, what they learnt and what happens now. We were also really humbled by the email enquiry above we received last week looking at ways we can further support the learning and leadership journeys of students within our programs. It’s an exciting development that we’re looking into as we journey towards our vision of ‘informed, connected and empowered individuals believing deeply in their own and others potential’. Thank you to all those we have the privilege of sharing this journey with.

Don’t Forget Your Opal Card

October 16, 2017 at 7:40 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I never grow tired of listening to the responses of the participants within our programs. Each individuals articulation is an opportunity to add layers to my own understanding, growth and perspectives. One such response recently has really gotten under my skin and stayed with me over the past month. I find it keeps popping up as a reminder of the choice I have in front of me in any given situation.

“Leadership is action, not position.” – Donald H. McGannon

To lead or not to lead, that is the question. In any given moment that choice is available to us. A Year 5 girl summed it up beautifully the month or so ago when she said, to her leadership is like an Opal Card (transport payment card), available to use if she chooses on whichever mode of public transport she finds herself on. Bingo, I loved that she was recognising that regardless of where she finds herself she’d have access to purposeful skills, attitudes and behaviours that would assist her to most effectively navigate the challenge.

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John Maxwell

Maybe it will be as an encourager. Maybe it will be as an idea sharer. Maybe it will be as a courageous voice. Maybe it will be an engaged team member. The list goes on and on and on. The thing is, leadership isn’t just one particular thing. But rather the use of our thoughts, words and actions, in any given moment, to make a difference in our own and/or others lives. As the first quote says, ‘leadership is action, not position’.

“The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born-that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.” – Warren Bennis

Just like an Opal Card leadership is open to all of us. Just like an Opal Card it’s important that we recharge regularly. Just like an Opal Card we may forget to use it from time to time. Just like an Opal Card if we lose it or it stops working then we can ask for support. What connection could you make?

“A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.” – Douglas MacArthur

Me Too

October 8, 2017 at 9:39 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Recently during a program experience, as a Year 4 girl was sharing a reflection, suddenly five other kids hands started shaking in the air (thumb and pinky up, other three fingers down). At first I was a little distracted as I tried to listen into her learning, curiosity was kicking in. I just couldn’t work out what was happening. And then I got it.

“When one teaches, two learn.” – Robert Heinlein

These kids weren’t trying to get my attention because they wanted to speak. It was the complete opposite. They were enthusiastically indicating that this peer’s reflection was resonating so deeply with them as they were listening. I immediately loved this empowering ‘me too’ signal within their learning journeys. I’m a full body learner as well.

“Learning is a social process that occurs through interpersonal interaction within a cooperative context. Individuals, working together, construct shared understandings and knowledge.” – David Johnson, Roger Johnson and Karl Smith

So as school goes back this week for the final term of the school year I hope that each student, classroom and school community remain open to and excited by exploring the possibilities, discovering potential and acting authentically as they navigate the inevitable successes and challenges that learning presents. We can’t wait to again share our program experiences and ongoing communication with our client schools over the coming months. We’re definitely all in this together!

“The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice.” – Brian Herbert

Reaching Out before Acting Out

September 11, 2017 at 9:27 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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This Thursday is R U OK? Day. I love how purposeful this national day of action is. Within our individual and shared journeys of potential we all experience ups and downs, successes and challenges, opportunities and problems. As I’ve written before though, as we navigate all this complexity connection really is the glue that holds our humanness together.

“We don’t build trust when we offer help. We build trust when we ask for it.” – Simon Sinek

I consider myself very fortunate to be consistently reminded of the power of love, friendship and support. Whether it’s a kind word, encouraging text, check in conversation, or belly laugh catch up,  I’m always left grateful for those people in our lives who choose to be there in so many important ways. But asking for and/or offering love, friendship and support requires courage. But that courage to reach out really does pay dividends and can prevent us acting out in any number of ways.

“Social support is everything.” – Jordan Knight

So, what we do next, individually and collectively, is up to us. It always is. How will you check in, with self and others, this Thursday on R U OK? day? And then how can we keep making this a practice?

“Storms make trees take deeper roots.” – Dolly Parton

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