The Intersection

October 15, 2018 at 12:51 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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School’s back. Fourth term starts today and we’re excited to again share in the learning and leadership journeys of the students and teachers who we’ll work with. So much happens over the next couple of months within a school. Lots more learning of course. Bringing together student’s growth and development through reporting. Celebration of all that’s transpired this year. And planning for ‘where to next’. That’s why we’re hoping both students and teachers enjoyed a refreshing break over the past two weeks before enthusiastically jumping back into the adventures that lie ahead.

During the holidays one of my not so guilty pleasures is catching up on reading. I’ve always got books on the go, but a break usually provides a few more opportunities to sit and read for that little bit longer. Last week, on a rainy day, I got lost in a new book that I bought that morning. My first Mitch Albom book was ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ close to 20 years ago. But it’s a certain line from ‘The Next Person You Meet In Heaven’ (that I read last week) that has me remembering why we’re so passionate about developing leadership potential within our client schools.

So often leadership is viewed as a position. It carries thoughts of waiting or not being ready, change being someone else’s responsibility, and needing to be elected or given a platform by others if we want to help. That’s a pretty disempowering list and doesn’t reflect the Leader’s Lens that we’re privileged to help shape through our program experiences and ongoing communication with our clients. The Leader’s Lens is all about the development of purposeful skills, attitudes and behaviours that are open to us all. This enables us as individuals and groups to consistently notice and act on opportunities to be difference makers.

So back to the line from the book I was reading, and why it resonated so deeply. It read, ‘That the end of loneliness is when someone needs you’. Ten words only, but I found them to be such a powerful reminder. This intersection is navigated by us all, over and over again, each and every day. It’s when we’re experiencing a particular emotion or feeling, so what will we do next? The lens we view whatever is happening through really does make a difference. Then the choice/s we make have the potential to open pathways, or leave us lost and assigning blame because there’s nothing we can do.

Thank you to all those we have the pleasure of practicing leading with. Leaders aren’t defined by being in control, not making mistakes or being perfect. Together we’re able to courageously and authentically embrace the gifts, opportunities and challenges that leadership presents. We’ll remember, forget at times, and then remember again, that ‘leadership is action, not position’ – Donald H. McGannon. So when we notice an intersection in front of us we’ll be able to choose thoughts, words and actions that allow us to deepen connection to, and make a difference for, self, others and the world around us. It’s time to get back to work!

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It’s In The Eyes

October 8, 2018 at 5:50 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Holidays, got to love them! A chance to refresh, recharge and recalibrate. We kind of can’t believe there’s only one more term to go in this current school year. But we’re really looking forward to again walking shoulder to shoulder with our client schools after the break. Bring on all the adventures, learning and growth that those ten weeks will hold.

As I sit here reflecting on the last ten weeks it’s a teacher’s comment on one of our last program days that bubbles up first. You know how passionate we are about developing leadership potential, and we love when participants and teachers feel that too. Sharing a message we believe so deeply in has us feeling lit up as we facilitate. And it’s a privilege to watch the students embrace this state as well.

So, we’re more than half way through the aforementioned program day. It’s our second year working with this client school. It’s proving to be another great group of Year 5 students to work with. These leaders are locked in. We are as well.

Then one of the teachers sidles up. She says, ‘You must have the most incredible job satisfaction’. I’m filled with gratitude as we talk. We really do love what we do. We really do love having the opportunity to share our passion with others. And we really do love being a part of the growth and development of all those we are privileged to work with. Leadership is a shared endeavour, and we get to take this journey with such inspiring individuals and groups.

So why the name of this post. So often when we talk to teachers during program days they refer to the look in their students eyes. They’re lit up, and the teachers will comment on how inspired as educators they feel because of that. We’re all about engaging, challenging and inspiring participants. What a joy it is to have others notice how lucky we are as well.

 

A B C’s

October 1, 2018 at 1:45 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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(Image from – https://littletruthsstudio.com/collections/art-prints/products/abcs-of-life-art-print-1)

I love opening messages from friends sharing something they’ve seen and think I should as well. Whether it’s a video, quote or image, it always feels like a surprise gift as it’s opened. My friends know me well, and I’m always so grateful for the opportunity to learn and be inspired by what’s been shared. The image above came into my inbox just over a week ago, and its had me thinking ever since.

Learning your A B C’s is a universal adventure (or their equivalent within another language). It’s challenging. It takes time. We make many mistakes. We start early within our journeys of potential. And we need lots of help to be able to learn them and use them effectively. But the reward of our interdependent hard work and effort is that we then have access to a language that we can share and collectively communicate with.

So what about these life A B C’s pictured above? Do we as individuals, families and communities intentionally spend enough time crafting road maps that reflect authentic values, priorities and practices? How does the process of developing, embodying and celebrating life A B C’s show up within your spheres of influence? Does individually and collectively identifying what’s most important allow us to more mindfully navigate the successes and challenges we encounter? These are some of the questions that we think about regularly as we support the development of leadership potential within our client schools.

So what would your version of this life A B C’s look like? There’s always going to be potential noise, distraction and shininess that drags our purposeful focus off course. So having a compass that brings us consistently and compassionately back to what we can control, rather than getting lost, disheartened and absorbed in what we can’t, seems like a very worthwhile endeavour to engage in. Thanks for the courageous ways you choose to make a difference in your own and others lives each and every day. Your courage to explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically is contagious.

 

What’s Happening After We’re Gone

September 3, 2018 at 6:04 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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We love what we do. And I think if a particular conversation the other week is anything to go by that oozes out into how we do it as well. An organising teacher and I were chatting during the first break when she shared an interaction she’d had with one of the participants during the morning session. One of her students had sidled up and whispered at one stage, ‘Have you noticed how many times he’s said the word love?’ The teacher whispered back, ‘You can tell he loves what he does can’t you?’

“If your presence doesn’t make an impact, your absence won’t make a difference.” – Trey Smith

How can you create lasting impact if you’re not there all the time though? This is something we’re very mindful of as we seek to most effectively support the development of leadership potential within our client schools. We definitely want to have an impact on each of the individuals and the group as a whole while we’re there, that’s a given (whether it’s a day, multi day or multi year connection – some client schools we see the students right throughout their school years, while some we see while they’re within a particular year group). But lasting impact, leading to participants more effectively acting as difference makers within their spheres of influence is what lights us up most. Relationships matter, and it’s why feedback like we received below always leaves us feeling so humbled. (Find more examples of what our clients are saying: https://www.explorediscoveract.com.au/testimonials)

‘Over the years, Cameron has developed a relationship with our student body based on respect, responsibility and having fun! He actively engages with staff members to develop programs based on our student’s needs and provides ongoing support and lesson opportunities throughout the school year through regular email correspondence.’

So lets fast forward to last Sunday. We’re in the process of sending out our next set of ongoing communication to our client schools. It’s all part of our commitment to connection to meaningful action beyond our program experiences. So many clients share with us what aspects of this communication they find most helpful. But it was two particular emails that came bouncing back to us that had us smiling all the way into the new week. The first had the extra surprise of something to watch. We loved the short video they’d created, and can’t wait to see the students next term to tell them in person as well. This particular client school we support through our L.E.A.D. with Courage: Stage 3 Leaders Program and Transitioning to Stage 3 Program each year.

‘Thank you for your newsletters – I look forward to them each term and always try to share at least one thing form them with the students. This newsletter featured the kindness boomerang and it reminded me of the wonderful work our Year 4 teacher has done with her students about kindness. The link is unlisted so you will have to click below to watch it – I just wanted to share some of the wonderful reactions that your work is having.’

The second email came a short time after from an Assistant Principal within one of our client schools. Both sets of students that she was talking to had participated in our 10 week L.E.A.D. with Me Program over the past two years. We love the transformational journey that this program takes the participants and ourselves on. And are again left feeling so humbled by the ripples still being felt by the participants as they continue their journeys of potential. I know they had the same impact on me as well. I often reflect on aspects of how I’m changed by their wisdom, courage and growth that they displayed as we learnt together.

‘I just thought I would let you know that I had to meet with a group of Year 5 and Year 6 students as part of the Cyclic Review. I asked them a few questions about the school and they spoke so highly of you. They said that you made a great impact of them. It’s interesting that the students who were the Year 5 representatives were the students that you worked with the previous year when they were in year 4 and they still recall what you did with them. It’s nice to know that your work is still being spoke about even when you leave.’

As the quote goes, ‘It takes two flints to make a fire’ (Louisa May Alcott). What a privilege it is to be able to establish, build and foster these types of relationships that start with exploring the possibilities, discovering potential and acting authentically, together. Thank you!

“If you want to achieve widespread impact and lasting value, be bold.” – Howard Schultz

Where Do We Start?

August 27, 2018 at 12:47 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Ever get caught in the feeling of enormity of something and not know how to begin? Ever put your, ‘It’ll never work’ hat on and talk yourself out of beginning in the first place? Ever feel like there’s never enough time so why bother beginning something new anyway? Whatever the case is at any given time, ‘Where do we start?’ can be a common hand brake on getting moving, rather than a playful trigger inviting purposeful action.

“To begin, begin.” – William Wordsworth

We’re not saying every idea, thought bubble or endeavour is worth investing our time, energy or resources in. We are saying though that there are those intuitive pangs or signals in our everyday that remind us as individuals and groups of our core values, difference making capacity or wellbeing metrics. This is where I’m reminded of a powerful phrase that danced through my ears last week as I walked early one morning. ‘Mindful states, build mindful traits’, was read by Dr. Dan Seigel as he shared his audiobook ‘Mindsight’ through my headphones.

“Good seasons start with good beginnings.” – Sparky Anderson

Rather than letting the totality of an outcome stop us from starting, we can build momentum and change through small courageous, consistent and playful beginnings. This is something we can all struggle with but it’s incredible what’s possible when we purposefully use our daily thoughts, words and actions rather than being left with a pattern of ‘what if’s’. This is especially true when we tap into interconnectedness. We’re not on this journey alone, so anything that helps us make a difference for self, others and the world around us can be supported and inspired by, as well as building positive accountability around the opportunities that exists.

“If you are the kind of person who is waiting for the ‘right’ thing to happen, you might wait for a long time. It’s like waiting for all the traffic lights to be green for five miles before starting the trip.” – Robert Kiyosaki

So what ‘Where do we start?’ questions are bouncing around within our journeys of potential at the moment? Who could we invite to walk this journey with us? How could we reframe the enormity of the ‘trait’, to the embodiment of the ‘state’? So many questions come to mind as we reflect on this important aspect of our lives. Importantly though, now comes the fun part (our favourite reframe), after noticing, acting. It’s why we chose the name Explore Discover Act. So let’s get moving!

“The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps – we must step up the stairs.” – Vance Havner

 

 

It Might Be Subtle, But It’s Important

August 12, 2018 at 7:32 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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It was such a quick turn after my question was asked. Like there couldn’t have been enough time for a thought to precede it. There definitely wasn’t any signs of overwhelm in his eyes though. Just a purposeful resolve that to make a decision like this there’d need to be consultation. It all happened so quickly. Then with their answer communicated we were ready to play.

“Let us be a little humble; let us think that the truth may not perhaps be entirely with us.” – Jawaharlal Nehru

The scene I describe above happened a few weeks ago. It’s been playing on my mind since because even though it might be subtle, it’s definitely important. It very well could of gone unnoticed though. But to the group, and me, it made a massive difference in the process of learning by doing, with reflection, that happened next. That’s the best part of using experiential learning as our vehicle of choice. We all assume the position of learner and teacher as we’re exploring the possibilities, discovering potential, and acting authentically together.

“Without a sense of fairness and justice, no leader can command and retain the respect of his followers.” – Napoleon Hill

So much of what I/we notice, lights me and participants up, and becomes teachable moments within a program experience fall into this category. It’s where leadership really comes to life. The subtle but really important purposeful practices that are being used to make a difference for self, others, and the world around us as individuals and groups. I am inspired constantly by the kind word, caring hand, creation of space, resilience to try again, courageous sharing, to name just a few, thoughts, words, and actions that leaders embody each and every day. Many can go unnoticed if we’re not paying attention. But all are so very important.

“It is when we are under pressure that our true colours come out.” – Jill Uchiyama

Maybe it all comes back to intention. What are we looking to achieve? Is it having or executing a power over others? Or is it empowering self and others within an ongoing process of making a difference? The quote that underpins our leadership development programs immediately comes to mind, ‘Leadership is action, not position’ – Donald H McGannon. The Year 5 boy I described above definitely embodied leadership within that moment. I’m so grateful we were able to notice and celebrate his contribution because even though it may have been subtle, it was definitely important.

“We are each gifted in a unique and important way. It is our privilege and our adventure to discover our own special light.” – Mary Dunbar

Massive Shout Out

July 30, 2018 at 8:10 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I had a different post planned and ready to go for this week. It’s ok, it can wait. I feel like this one that you’re reading now can’t though. I’m too inspired not to write it down and share it with you.

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” – William Arthur Ward

Today I was again reminded of the incredible passion, commitment, and authenticity that educators and school communities embody each and every day. So this post is a massive shout out to recognise and celebrate that. It was such a pleasure to support another great group of students at one of our client schools, but what made the day extra special was the conversations I was apart of with the teachers as well. I’m so lucky to have these conversations regularly. This massive shout out goes to all those positively impacting young people in their care.

“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” – Warren Buffett

There was their enthusiasm for kicking off their school leadership program with our L.E.A.D. with Courage experience today. There was reflections on what they had learnt from last year (our first year supporting them) and how that had guided their development of this year’s program to follow today as well. There was exciting future projects they’re working on to most effectively provide real leadership in action opportunities for the students. There are plans in place for teachers and the Principal to gain further learning/training so as to embed at a deeper level leadership development within their school community. The list just kept going and going.

“I am still learning.” – Michelangelo

Thank you, thank you, thank you! We’re constantly inspired by the challenging work involved in responding to and navigating the 21st Century learning environment. Like you, we believe strongly in the potential of each of the participants within your care. Education is such a complex and interdependent puzzle, with so many important pieces needing to come together to support the growth and development of individuals and groups. We love being a small piece of this puzzle for our clients. Educators and school communities, thank you for your work!

The Really Important I in Team

July 9, 2018 at 7:06 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Words matter. They help shape our thinking, and if we’re not mindful can really have an adverse effect on our individual and shared ongoing thoughts, words, and actions. It’s always interesting though when we try and simplify complex themes through catchy sets of words. We all do it. Catchphrases get repeated and carry certain messages, albeit interpreted slightly differently by us all.

“Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It’s about one life influencing another.” – John C. Maxwell

One that comes up a lot within our spheres of influence is, ‘there’s no I in team’. It’s usually when a participant is trying to articulate the intangibles whilst working together with others. We get it, it’s hard to sometimes pin point exactly what purposeful skills, attitudes and behaviours are being used as a group of individuals transform into a team in front of your eyes. But what about the really important I in team that allows all this to happen?

“True leaders bring out your personal best. They ignite your human potential.” – John Paul Warren

The I we’re referring to is not the egoic I. The I we’re referring to, the really important I in team, is influence. The egoic I is driven by control: What’s in it for me? How do I get others to do what I want? I know best. With influence as the compass a leader emerges knowing that their thoughts, words and actions matter as it’s the way they make a difference for self, others and the world around them. They also know and embody that others thoughts, words and actions matter also.

“The test of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there.” – James Buchanan

We love watching this come to life as participants take on challenges within a program day. We also love fostering language around what’s happening so that participants can more effectively process, own, and maximise their contributions within their spheres of influence. Developing leadership potential has a lot to do with the quote above this paragraph. We’re so fortunate to be in the position of engaging, challenging, and inspiring participants who are, can, and will ‘be the change they wish to see in the world’.

“The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” – Ken Blanchard

Think of someone within your spheres of influence who embodies this really important I in team: Influence. What is it about the way they think, speak, or act that opens up opportunities for them to positively impact those their surrounded by and help transform groups of individuals into teams? What could we learn from them as we too make a difference for self, others, and the world around us as leaders? What’s one thing we could do more often that would open up more opportunities to choose influence over control within our interactions? Thanks for being on this journey with us!

“You don’t lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

The Process

June 18, 2018 at 4:00 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Learning, growth, and development are definitely a process. It takes time. It takes effort. It takes a lot of courage and vulnerability. And that’s for all involved. We’re just so incredibly grateful to be entrusted with being a part of this process within our client schools. Especially when you consider how transformational the process can be.

“Don’t judge. Teach. It’s a learning process.” – Carol S. Dweck

Over this past week we’ve had the privilege of reading through reflections from a Year 6 cohort we recently spent 10 weeks supporting through our L.E.A.D. with Me Program. It’s an amazing journey to go on, with each of the 3 classes taking part in an hour and a half session each week, as well as receiving a reflection opportunity that can be completed in class before the next session. Our mantra for this year as you know is Cooperative Advantage. It fitted perfectly with the brief we received from the client as we prepared for the program, and we’re so excited it has enthusiastically become an anchor for them as well at their school (as seen in the feedback we received below).

‘Cooperative advantage was something that stuck with the children and has been woven into other areas of our program. The YouTube clips each week were powerful for the students to visualise the week’s theme and to break it open. The discussion my class had during these reflections was so rich!!’ – Year 6 Teacher

What aspects of the learning, growth, and development process inspire us most? Firstly, it has to be the authentic application of the participant’s transferable skills, attitudes, and behaviours into other areas of their learning and leadership journeys. We’re not just interested in what happens while we’re there. We’re passionate about what ripples are being created when we’re not there as well. It’s such a humbling experience when we receive feedback like we have below that shares more of the cohort’s inspiring journey with us as well.

‘Their attitude to tasks/situations that they may have previously found difficult. I see many students stepping outside their comfort zone and more willing to give things a go. They have been supportive of one another and are not afraid to recognise one another’s achievements. The students have learnt to appreciate what makes each of their classmates unique and can verbalise their gratitude for this to them. We have been doing the ripple jar with great success – they love it!’ – Year 6 Teacher

Secondly, it has to be the deepening of connection participants experience and what that opens up for them (and us as well). Connection is the glue that holds our humanness together, allowing us to take more appropriate risks and contribute most effectively within those spheres of influence. Pathways to learning, growth, and development become clearer when connection is present. So we loved receiving comments like these below from participants to describe how this important element showed up for them during, and now after, the program experiences.

‘I made new friends during the L.E.A.D. program because I got to know my classmates better.’ – Year 6 Student

‘A leader isn’t someone who goes up onto a stage and orders people, a leader is someone who is responsible enough to not leave others behind, and to help other people succeed.’ – Year 6 Student

‘One was “We rise by lifting others” and the other was that a leader is not on a megaphone screaming orders, they are helping and interacting with the task.’ – Year 6 Student

Finally, it has to be the fulfilment of what we’re most passionate about, the development of leadership potential. Leaders have the courage to see things differently, and that opens up opportunities to think, speak and act in ways that engage, challenge, and inspire. Embracing and making cooperative advantage real is all about moving beyond seeing just the one dimensional, us vs them, winning or losing, not easy = not trying, etc. The way we interact with self, others, and the world around us is able to really come to life. We lead, owning that our thoughts, words, and actions matter, with making a difference being the ultimate why. Below is some more participant reflections that reminded us of this part of the process.

‘Leadership isn’t about the role, it’s about the goal.’ – Year 6 Student

‘I also learnt how hard it actually is to be a leader and how to deal with that struggle.’ – Year 6 Student

‘I have learnt that leading isn’t controlling, it’s contributing. I now always try my best to contribute and listen to what others have to say.’ – Year 6 Student

Thanks you to all the client schools, teachers, and students who welcome us into the process of learning, growth, and development. We love sharing this journey with you!

What’s Unlocked

June 11, 2018 at 12:54 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I love my job! I know I’ve said it before but I need to say it again. Being able to share my passion for all things leadership, and then through experiential learning help participants to also grow and develop their capacity to lead, is such a privilege. I am constantly being reminded of this. In big ways, small ways, and every way in between. Especially when we’re so poetically reminded of why leadership’s the vehicle, like what happened last week when a particular Year 6 student shared with such depth what leadership actually is.

“Your vehicle of leadership is fueled by your willingness to learn. You can’t lead if you can’t learn!” – Israelmore Ayivor

The picture above is a tweet from one of the Assistant Principals who was in the room for the workshop I was facilitating. Kip’s (Year 6 participant) response really moved me and the group at the time of hearing it, but to then get home and see it had been shared more widely was such a joy. Opportunity is always there when we choose to view our interactions, challenges, complexities, etc. through a leadership lens. The key to unlocking what’s in front of us is then our awareness and purposeful use of our own and others developing skills, attitudes and behaviours as we courageously strive to make a difference.

“True leadership stems from individuality that is honestly and sometimes imperfectly expressed. Leaders should strive for authenticity over perfection.” – Sheryl Sandberg

We love this quote above. What’s unlocked when we own our capacity to lead, and surround ourselves with others who are also courageously choosing to navigate life in this way, is change. Really importantly, change starts with us though. I say often to groups that one of the greatest gifts I’ve experienced throughout my learning and leadership journey is the wisdom to know that the more of me I be, the greater opportunities I’m presented with to create ripples that positively impact my own and others lives. But this more of me I be isn’t a fixed, rigid or independent state. It feels to me more like evolving, unfolding, remembering, sharing, growing and developing.

“In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.” – Abraham Maslow

Are we willing to embrace and stay with vulnerability long enough so we can experience further cracking open to let our individual and shared light out? None of us have all the answers, wisdom, or tools, we absolutely need each other. If we’re interested in being change agents then interdependency is what a leader’s thoughts, words, and actions really unlock. This is why the group I was facilitating for last week also really inspired me. We had student leaders and teachers/assistant principals in the room from 5 different school communities, who together know they can bring about, support and inspire more change together, than they can apart.

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” – Warren Bennis

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