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

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

 

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

Our Leadership Muscle

March 12, 2018 at 12:05 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Leadership is like a muscle, it has to be worked if we want to be able to build up, maintain and have access to its purposeful skills, attitudes and behaviours throughout our journeys of potential. This takes effort, practice and consistency though, just like regularly going to the gym to develop any of the muscles that are in our bodies. This is why I was left feeling so humbled and inspired by a particular reflection from a Year 6 participant last Thursday. What she shared at the end of her classes L.E.A.D. with Me Program session summed up so beautifully our hopes for all the students we have the privilege to support.

“People tend to believe that practice makes perfect. I however believe practice makes progress. There is no perfection but there is progress.” – Unknown

It was week 2 of 10 with the cohort’s three classes (each class completes a 90 minute session per week). She hadn’t been at the first session the week before so this was her first time participating within the various games, challenges and reflections that we use. From the beginning she’d shown a willingness to share her thoughts, but during the first half of the session she seemed to be very aware of the potential reactions of others as she spoke. She soon realised this was a safe space to dig deeper and was very open about the successes and challenges she and others were navigating. Our final reflection had just finished, I’m just about to pass the students back to their teacher, then her hand shot up one last time. “I feel like we’re going to be stronger at the end of this program”.

“I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy – I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.” – Art Williams

We know that leadership is a verb, not a noun. It’s why we use, ‘Leadership is action, not position’ (Donald H. McGannon) as the quote that underpins our leadership development programs. We’re in the leadership muscle building industry. We love hearing all about the different ways that participants go on to use their developing leadership potential to make a difference in their own and others lives. The Year 6 girls remark last Thursday reminded me of another L.E.A.D. with Me Program participant’s reflection at the end of the 10 weeks last year. When asked to describe in what ways she felt she’d most grown and developed throughout the L.E.A.D. with Me Program, she wrote; ‘Confident and I feel so much nicer now… Don’t exactly know why’. We know why, she put in effort, practice and consistency to build up her leadership muscles.

“Earn your leadership every day.” – Michael Jordan

Leadership is a journey, not a destination. It’s also not a competition to see who has the ‘biggest’ leadership muscles. It’s an invitation open to us all to own that our thoughts, words and actions matter, and when we purposefully use them we have the potential to make a difference for self, others and the world around us. But as the quote above explains, it’s an every day thing. We’re so fortunate to be walking this path alongside such inspiring students and their teachers. Participants who are open to, honest within and most importantly courageously take on practicing the skills, attitudes and behaviours that leaders have access to. What a journey it is!

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

Our Commitment

March 5, 2018 at 6:37 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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We’re called Explore Discover Act. Not Explore Discover Stop. So the commitment that comes along with this is to open up for our clients and the participants we work with meaningful connection to action beyond our program experiences. This is what excites and inspires us most. How individuals and groups use their learning and their developing leadership potential to make a difference in their own and others lives.

“Just as a pole vaulter uses a pole to catapult themselves over a horizontal bar, learning can propel an individual forward and upward.” – Emma Weber

Last week I had a conversation with a participant who completed our 10 week L.E.A.D. with Me Program last year in Year 4 that reminded me of this process. I was at the school again to work with their Year 6 students now over the coming 10 weeks. So many of the Year 5’s (the cohort I worked with last year) came running up to me at various times throughout the day to say hi and chat about what’s been happening since the last time I saw them. One particular boy’s comments really jumped out to me though.

“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.” – Dr. Denis Waitley

As we spoke I asked him who his new teacher was this year. Then on hearing his answer I enquired whether he had a lot of his friends from last years class in with him again this year. His response was so inspiring. He quickly said, ‘Remember what we kept saying last year about stepping out of your comfort zone and connecting with different people, well I’ve made so many new friends because I’m in with so many new people this year’. The practice he’d been developing was now a practice that is being used.

“Learning is not the product of teaching. Learning is the product of the activity of learners.” – John Holt

This is why experiential learning is our vehicle of choice as we deliver programs. We want to give the participants the opportunity to learn by doing, with reflection. It’s also why we provide ongoing communication to our clients. We want to give the participants the opportunity to continue building their leadership potential even after we’re gone. But most importantly though, it’s why we so passionately deliver the experiences that we have the privilege of facilitating. We want to give the participants the opportunity to be engaged, challenged and inspired as we and they explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically.

“Thought and learning are of small value unless translated into action.” – Wang Yangming

Thank you to all the leaders we have the pleasure of supporting who remind us daily what it means to courageously use your thoughts, words and actions to make a difference in our own and others lives!

An Attitude of Gratitude

February 19, 2018 at 6:16 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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The groups I get to facilitate for constantly amaze me. Inspire me. Challenge me. Remind me. Motivate me. Empower me. Teach me. And above all else leave me feeling so grateful that I get to do what I do. Today’s group was definitely no different.

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” ― G.K. Chesterton

As I set up this morning in the hall of the client school I was working with I was enthusiastically greeted by one of the Year 6 students. She told me she’d been looking forward to today through these first few weeks of term, then she paused, actually, she said, she’d been looking forward to this day since the last time I worked with her. We discussed what she’d loved from their Stage 3 Leadership Day at the beginning of 2017, and also what she’d loved from when I worked with her Academically Gifted class at another school setting mid way through last year. But what she said next was the most important part to me.

“It’s not happy people who are thankful. It’s thankful people who are happy!” – Unknown

‘This year I’m so excited to be a mentor, I get to help so many more people’. Her attitude of gratitude was continuing to open up opportunities for her to grow, develop and really importantly contribute. All three times that I’ve worked with her over the last year I’ve been so inspired by her embodiment of thankfulness. It was great to hear now how this student also plans to pay that thankfulness forwards to more and more people as she gets older. It’s hard to keep gratitude in when it so desperately wants to get out.

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude.” ― A.A. Milne

One of our closing activities today focused on how there is so much that we can’t control within our learning and leadership journeys. Certain challenging cards can be dealt, but what we do with them is then up to us. An attitude of gratitude seems like the perfect companion for each of us on this journey. It keeps things in perspective and grounds our thoughts, words and actions in what we’re so fortunate to have, rather than any perceived lacking that we believe in that moment is missing. What are you grateful for today?

Greener Grass

February 5, 2018 at 6:23 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Ever get grass envy? It’s the middle of summer, your grass in the front or back yard has yellowed and sounds a bit crunchy to walk on. Then suddenly you notice Joe Blow’s lawn on the other side of the road and it looks incredible. ‘The grass is always greener on the other side,’ you guess. But then you remember, Joe spends a lot of time watering to keep it looking that way.

“The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. It’s greener where you water it.”

The quote above is one that I reflect on regularly. We all can get distracted with what our minds tell us might, could or should be, but how long do we choose to stay in these sets of thoughts? One of my favourite quotes that compliments this idea is, ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’. It reminds me that gratitude, happiness and contentment live in the acceptance of what is, not in what my mind is ruminating on might, could or should be.

“When you realise there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” – Lao Tzu

A leader sees, embraces and celebrates enough. From this place they purposefully use their daily thoughts, words and actions to make a difference in their own and others lives. They’re not perfect, that’s definitely for sure. But when they feel their energy being drained or pulled away from where they can actually ‘be the change’, they choose to remember that, ‘The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. It’s greener where you water it’. Then they water it!

“The mind is malleable, our life can be greatly transformed by even a minimal change in how we manage our thoughts and perceive and interpret the world. Happiness is a skill. It requires effort and time.” – Matthieu Ricard

I love being inspired daily by the groups I have the pleasure of supporting. I’m consistently reminded of the multitude of ways we can choose to explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically as leaders. It’s a privilege to be journeying beside others who also view leadership as a verb, not a noun. It’s a doing word, and with practice we see progress. What do you purposefully choose to water each and every day?

“The real winners in life are the people who look at every situation with an expectation that they can make it work ot make it better.” – Barbara Pletcher

 

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.

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