How often?

July 31, 2017 at 7:06 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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“Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them.” – Brené Brown

It’s Saturday afternoon as I’m writing this. I’ve just finished facilitating the July session of our year long Let’s L.E.A.D. Program with SCARF Youth here in the Illawarra (Strategic Community Assistance for Refugee Families). I’m feeling so inspired (again). But also reflective. So much of what came up within the session today, plus what a Year 5 girl said during one of our program days a week ago, keeps bouncing around my head.

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

As you know I’m passionate about leadership. I love learning more about it. I love talking about it. I love noticing it. But I guess what’s even more important than all that is how often do I embody it and make it real through my thoughts, words and actions? As the Year 5 girl remarked so wisely within our program day last week, if leadership was a form of transport I’d choose a boat, they’re popular but how often do we use them?

“The most powerful leadership tool you have is your own example.” – John Wooden

The challenge of leading inspires me (the purposeful use of my thoughts, words and actions to make a difference in my own and others lives). I love that the Year 5 girl’s comment, the work being undertaken by the participants involved in our year long Let’s L.E.A.D. group and my own reflections on those above are not mired in judgement, but rather are a part of the process of staying curious, compassionate and purposefully aligned (and continuing to realign) along the leadership journey. It’s definitely not about perfection. I’ll take progress and creating ripples over that each and every day.

“Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.” – Vince Lombardi

Stepping Into The Dojo

July 23, 2017 at 11:55 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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During the past week I tried a certain activity for the very first time. There was plenty of excitement. There was plenty of anticipation. There was plenty of nervousness as well. But as my friend and I finished the class, and have subsequently reflected on the experience, there were/are plenty of important reminders as well.

“You’ll never be bored when you try something new. There’s really no limit to what you can do!” – Dr. Seuss

Karate was the activity we tried. We had been thinking about it for a while now but had not created the space for giving it a go until last week. Life will always be full of responsibilities and what can feel like competing demands. It will also always be full of opportunities as well. Until we purposefully step into the dojo though (training area – whatever that may be for you) and try something new, we won’t be challenged, opened up by, learn from and then enjoy the ripples created through our individual and shared courage. Thinking about it, and doing it, are two very different things.

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” – Brian Tracy

The second powerful reminder related to the people who we share space with while we give things a go. My friend is such an inspiration, both through his own example and in the compassionate way he encourages, challenges and offers accountability within my journey of potential. On top of this aspect of support though was the incredible way we were welcomed into this new learning environment by the others within the class. From the Sensei, all the way through to the white belt beginners, there was an attitude of  ‘we’re with you’ embodied through thoughts, words and actions. One example that springs to mind was when we first entered the dojo, with I’m sure a look of unsurety on our faces. Two students casually walked past and said, ‘Don’t worry, we were in your exact position not too long ago’.

“Why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is.” – Mark Twain

I could go on and on about all the reminders that this experience provided my friend and I with but I think we all know deep down what’s out there waiting for us on the other side of our comfort zones. There will always be reasons or excuses that we can use to prove our decisions to stay ‘safely’ within. And also, not every dojo is the one for us to step into. But as the saying goes, ‘A comfort zone is a beautiful thing, but nothing ever grows there’. Have fun trying something new this week. It definitely doesn’t have to be an activity like karate, but what thoughts, words or actions are calling you?

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein

Mind the Gap

July 17, 2017 at 3:19 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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With school going back this week after the winter break we are excitedly getting ready to engage, challenge and inspire again. A break is always a good time to recharge the batteries, but it’s also a great time to see what comes up creatively as well. I had many inspiring interactions and conversations during the past two weeks, with one theme in particular coming up a lot as I now reflect. The theme had a lot to do with a certain phrase that I fondly remember hearing in the early 2000’s as I got on and off the tube while living and teaching in London.

“The greatest gap in the world is the gap between knowing and doing.” – John Maxwell

The message is iconic, and oh so politely delivered. ‘Mind the gap’ can be heard ringing out right across the tube network of stations as trains roll in and out. It’s also purposeful. Even though we as individuals and groups know that the train and platform don’t line up completely (if we’ve walked on or off a train before), if we’re not being mindful in the moment then a missed step can occur. We can’t ever eliminate risk. But if we are to take full advantage of the opportunities to be ripple makers in our own and others lives then not being ‘stuck between the train and the platform’ might make it easier for us to act.

“I am participating in the evolution of inspired action.” – Steve Maraboli

So as we at Explore Discover Act prepare to assist in the development of leadership potential within our client schools again this term, we will also again prepare to ‘Mind the Gap’. Our own. As well as empowering those we have the pleasure of supporting to do the same. The gap will always be there. The challenge then is in how we choose to navigate it (both as individual and groups). We’re just so grateful to be on this journey with all the inspiring students, teachers and school communities who courageously are choosing to explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically with us.

“Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.” – Thomas Jefferson

The Desire Line

July 8, 2017 at 8:58 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Image found on Pinterest and credited to wwwis.win.tue.nl

I’ve always been fascinated by them. How they look. How they’re created. Why they exist. But what I find even more fascinating than all that is what desire lines (like the one pictured above) might represent within our journeys of potential.

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I love thinking in metaphors (or pictures). This desire line one is a personal favourite. I think we would’ve all experienced the magnetic pull and push of ‘do I or don’t I’ before. It can be in the smallest decision we have to make on a particular day. All the way to some life changing choice/s that are in front of us.

“We must take time to define our own path. Too quickly we can find the world defining it for us.” – Unknown

There’ll always be opinions. Both our own and others on the decisions that we make. Navigating the magnetic pull and push of our choices becomes exponentially more challenging if we haven’t taken the time to deepen connection to self, others and the world around us. And if we get bogged down in judgement. What’s real and most important for me? What impact or ripples am I striving to create? How might the video and audio most effectively align here?

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” – Buddha

It can be fun to play with the repelling forces of magnets for a while but it won’t ever lead to connection until we finally let go of our need to control the outcome. The magnet knows. Like we probably do as well. Deep down at least. But how open to our desire line will we be in each moment when a decision involving this magnetic pull and push pops up?

“I feel like this: Whatever is in your path and in your heart, you need to do.” – J. Cole

Journeying Beside

June 26, 2017 at 8:00 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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As schools around NSW prepare to break up this week for the winter holidays I thought it’d be a good time to reflect on something I think regularly about. I love language. How it sounds. How it connects. What it means (or doesn’t mean). But I also love digging deeper into where it has come from.

“All assessment is a perpetual work in progress.” – Linda Suskie

‘Assess’ is definitely one of those words that is used a lot in educational settings. So as students take home their half yearly reports this week they will include results, observations and findings gathered through a wide range of assessments. Some will have fallen within the general category of formal assessments. While others would of been gathered informally. Putting these categories aside for a minute though, the origin of the word ‘assess’ can really assist us as we navigate its purpose and practical applications.

“Origin and Etymology of assess. Middle English, probably from Medieval Latin assessus, past participle of assidēre, from Latin, to sit beside.” – www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/assess

I absolutely love the phrase, ‘to sit beside’. It immediately fills me with pictures in my mind of the most powerful assessment tools that I’ve used myself or witnessed others using over the years. We are all learners. So we’d all know the feelings of when assessment is used to engage, empower and guide the most effective navigation of our individual and shared learning journeys. Unfortunately though, assessment can sometimes feel like a weapon being used to judge, separate and stifle. Reflecting on this original meaning regularly reminds me of the purposeful thoughts, words and actions that make the biggest difference in our own and others lives.

“For teachers, as for students, the most effective evaluation comes from someone who sits beside us and helps us grow.” – Carol Ann Tomlinson

Thank you to all those incredible teachers, students and school communities who have courageously chosen progress over perfection during this first half of the 2017 school year. Enjoy your upcoming holiday break, and we look forward to continuing to explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically with you as Term 3 kicks off in a few weeks time.

Embrace

June 19, 2017 at 7:24 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Last Friday night I had the pleasure of attending the opening night of an art show for ASPECT (Autism Spectrum Australia) here in the Illawarra. It was a night filled with great people, great art and great opportunities to support the amazing work being done in ASPECT’s educational settings. There were so many conversations, ideas and goings-on that had me inspired. But it was the speech by one of the featured artists that moved me most.

“Embrace what you were born with because it’s beautiful.” – Shay Mitchell

Cassandra Kavanagh is an incredibly passionate speaker. She’s also an incredibly talented artist. Her presence filled the room as she spoke from the heart about her own personal journey navigating life on the spectrum. It’s such a privilege when people let you in in this way. As we courageously and appropriately share parts of our lightness and darkness with others we can positively impact our own and others lives.

“When you stand and share your story in an empowering way, your story will heal you and your story will heal somebody else.” – Iyanla Vanzant

What I loved most during Cassandra’s speech was when she spoke about one of her wishes for our world. It involved that we don’t choose tolerate when it comes to difference. Instead we as individuals and groups choose embrace. I wholeheartedly agreed with Cassandra’s observations. The magic definitely happens within our homes, schools, workplaces and communities when our thoughts, words and action are wrapped up in genuine, caring and supportive embraces.

“We must not only tolerate others, but positively embrace them…” – Swami Vivekananda

The Difference

June 12, 2017 at 6:05 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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There’s a big difference between knowing and doing. We’d all have experienced that I’m sure. If you’re anything like me it’s when those feelings of discontent begin rippling and start draining energy, momentum or ability to contribute. For me, it’s where I find myself asking, am I leading here?

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

I know soft plastics represent a massive challenge to our environment, clogging up land fill or our oceans, taking decades to break down and having a devastating impact on marine life. But until this past week I wasn’t fully aware of all the options available in the something I can do. I was filled with energy as I implemented a new purposeful practice of recycling soft plastic through the REDcycle program. It reminded me that leadership is in embodiment, aligned with our values, understanding and potential. Making a difference through our daily thoughts, words and actions.

“The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.” – Ray Kroc

So this is where I’m at, will I now continue to implement this new purposeful practice? It will involve one small choice at a time. Plus, of course, forgetting from time to time. We’re all human, and that’s alright. But if we’re interested in leading (leadership is action, not position – Donald H. McGannon) then the difference between knowing and doing is important to us.

“Earn your leadership every day.” – Michael Jordan

It Really Does Take A Village

June 5, 2017 at 6:56 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Sometimes you get subtle reminders. Sometimes you get sledgehammer reminders. While other times they’re anywhere in between. A certain series of events recently provided me with such a powerful reminder of how it really does take a village. Not just to raise a child as the quote goes, but also to support us as individuals and groups as we navigate the ups and downs that life inevitably presents.

“Interdependence is and ought to be as much the ideal of man as self-sufficiency. Man is a social being.” – Mahatma Gandhi

A teaching friend’s face was definitely different when I saw her recently. Teachers, especially at this time of the year are balancing a very full plate, but there seemed to be something else going on for her as well. She indicated that she had something to ask me, and I could sense it was something outside of the work environment for her. I just didn’t know what it might be.

“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

‘Does Explore Discover Act offer programs to support young adults who ….’ was the first question asked. She went on to explain the challenges currently being faced within a friend of hers family. We chatted for a while about the various ways Explore Discover Act are currently supporting client schools and community groups, some back story on her friend and friend’s family, and the support they have used in the past. That conversation was such a reminder of the role we play in each others lives and also the privilege it is when we are let in for the light and the darkness that makes up the full spectrum of connection we experience as humans.

“No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” – John Donne

As we spoke I thought of another friend who has experience and expertise in this area. That night I contacted her and she happily asked me to pass on her details if they needed support. I also then thought of another service that I’ve seen before who do a great job supporting individuals and groups in this space. These resources could be used as part of the puzzle of support that this family might require at this present moment or in the future. None of us can be everything to everybody. But each of us can play our part as it really does take a village of support to navigate the ups and downs that life inevitably presents.

“Before you’ve finished your breakfast this morning, you’ll have relied on half the world.” – Martin Luther King

Something really inspiring I found during this process was when I checked back in to see how it was all going a few weeks after the initial conversation. My teacher friend told me a story of how she had been visiting a family member in hospital when she encountered a lady who she didn’t know but was obviously going through something similar. Armed with new information my teacher friend was able to compassionately pass on information about the service I’d steered her towards a few weeks earlier. She obviously didn’t have to reach out in this way but she could tell it might really make a difference if she did. Because it really does take a village!

Merge Like A Zipper

May 29, 2017 at 7:31 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Image found on www.carolinacoastonline.com

A friend of mine recently got back from a quick trip to New Zealand. As he was sharing what the trip entailed one of his observations struck me as really important. While navigating unfamiliar terrain in his hire car he had predictably relied more heavily on the guideposts provided to support a driver’s journey. One particular sign had stood out for him. This was because of the positive influence it had and continued to have on his own and others choices whilst driving in that area.

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” – Jane Goodall

The guidepost he saw was similar to the one pictured above. It’s an invitation to safely, mindfully and interdependently engage with self, others and the world around us whilst on the road. It got me thinking though about the guideposts that are present within my own journey of potential. The reflections that kept coming up fell within a busy few weeks of family celebrations. We’ve had milestone birthdays, other birthdays and of course Mother’s Day. These occasions provided plenty of opportunities for me to connect the dots.

“Love is how you earn your wings.” – Karen Goldman

As my siblings and I prepared slideshows of pictures, wrote poems to read and collated messages from family and friends into a framed artwork for our Dad’s milestone birthday I found myself filled with gratitude. The day after that celebration, with it being Mother’s Day, that feeling of gratitude continued. Many of the most important guideposts that have got me through the ups and downs that life inevitably presents have been born out of the example of these two inspiring individuals. Guideposts act as anchors that can continue to ground our thoughts, words and actions as we navigate all sorts of terrain. Thank you to all who have played a part in their development for me.

“The root of joy is gratefulness… It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” – David Steindl-Rast

Adding The Cherry On Top

April 24, 2017 at 6:46 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I love lending out books. Whether it’s a book that has really moved me and just has to be shared with a family member or friend, or I receive a request from someone for a particular title or to surprise them with a variety of selections, there’s always books in motion. One that has been a constant boomerang since first reading it is Wonder by R.J. Palacio. I loved it, and of course then wanted to share it with as many people as possible (it has been a go to present over the past couple of years). When I got a series of texts from a friend last week I was again reminded of some really important themes that the book explores.

“Always try to be a little kinder than is necessary.” – J M Barrie

The first text said simply, ‘I finished Wonder’. I replied, ‘What did you think?’. What came back was, ‘Really good. Particularly liked the quote always try to be a little kinder than is necessary’. We went back and forth for a while exchanging comments on different characters, events and themes, I was so pleased that my friend had enjoyed and was moved by the book as well. Kindness isn’t some abstract thing for us as human beings. It’s the daily lubricant that helps foster ‘informed, connected and empowered individuals believing deeply in their own and others potential’ (our vision).

“When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.” – Dr Wayne W. Dyer

So fast forward two days from those texts and I receive a Facebook message from my friend. It contained the video linked at the beginning of this post. He had seen it online and it had reminded him of a real life example of the quote that had moved him most within Wonder. After watching it I shot him back a message. Within that conversation I loved his observation, ‘What’s necessary? Who knows, but if we all try to be kinder than we currently are, isn’t that a positive step forward in showing humanity that we’re bound together by something other than social media, fear, etc.’ Each day, we can be adding that cherry on top if we’re prepared to notice, connect and act on the opportunities that exist to with kindness make a difference in our own and others lives.

“We carry with us, as human beings, not just the capacity to be kind, but the very choice of kindness.” – R.J. Palacio, Wonder

As seen in the video, our attempts to embody kindness aren’t always met with enthusiasm, trust or belief. But I guess that really isn’t the point. As we interact with self, others and the world around us our choice of what that looks, sounds and feels like is up to us. We can’t control how that will be met, just our own responses along the way. Kindness is best served people to people, as seen in the video above. How much kindness will you choose is necessary? And then will you add the cherry on top?

“Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.” – R.J. Palacio, Wonder

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