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

 

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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!

Why?

September 4, 2017 at 8:38 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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On Wednesday, as I was facilitating, I was asked multiple whys? Why is a big part of leadership and so I’m always pleased to hear that word bouncing around. Quite a few of them though came from one particular conversation with a teacher who was experiencing one of our programs for the first time. I loved her curiosity. It’s not surprising though, I love all types of curiosity.

“Curiosity is the compass that leads us to our passions. Follow it and you won’t be disappointed. The future belongs to the curious.” – Skillshare

This teacher had so many questions for me. When had I started Explore Discover Act? Who were we working with? What had I done before Explore Discover Act? But the biggest part that was intriguing her was my passion for what I was doing, why, why, why, why? It opened up such a deep conversation about various aspects of my journey of potential, as well as where she is at the moment and where she sees that she’d like to journey towards. Passion is such an important word to me and I was so pleased she was noticing that through my thoughts, words and actions on that day.

“If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose.” – T.D. Jakes

The deeper I delved into the conversation though, more and more comments and feedback from over the past 5 years came flooding into my mind. We’re most interested in and committed to creating purposeful change and action beyond our program experiences. That’s why this feedback (below) from a Year 5 student at the beginning of this term came to the front of my mind as we spoke. I was inspired when I first read it, and remain feeling that same way every time I reflect on each of the participants authentic feedback that we receive. It’s such a privilege to support the development of leadership potential within our client schools.

‘The thing I enjoyed the most was the challenges, not just because they were fun, but because now I realise that leadership is something I can do everyday, even without a badge. I also really liked talking to other students about what they think, not what just I think. I then realised, leadership is not about the leader, it’s about the team.’ – Year 5 Participant in our  L.E.A.D. with Courage™: Stage 3 Leaders Program

 

Anybody Got Feedback?

August 7, 2017 at 3:19 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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During the past week I got to spend two days training 40 Year 6 students who are taking on the role of Ambassadors within their school community. It’s the start of a brand new program that I’m helping the school develop, and what an inspiring two days it turned out to be. I had worked with the whole Year 6 cohort at the beginning of the year (our L.E.A.D. with Courage™: Stage 3 Leaders Program), then reconnected with their 12 elected leaders a couple of weeks after for a day, but now I was back to support those courageous students who had put their hand up to be a part of this brand new school initiative.

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” – Bill Gates

There were so many highlights that came out of the experience but one particular aspect of the process really shone through as vitally important. Giving and receiving feedback are skills that need to be practiced. Being open to and filtering feedback are also skills that need to be practiced. Carving out time for and then using the constructive feedback we receive are again also skills that need to be practiced. This list could keep going on and on but as the quote above suggests, the reason for this type of practice is that feedback is vital if we are serious about wanting to improve in anything. And these students, and the client school, and us at Explore Discover Act, are definitely serious about continual growth and development.

“Feedback is a gift. Ideas are the currency of our next success. Let people see you value both feedback and ideas.” – Jim Trinka and Les Wallace

Many times throughout the two days the teachers and I were left in awe by the way these Ambassadors stepped out of their comfort zones and made real a piece/s of feedback that they, other individuals or the group as a whole received. They themselves were the catalyst for most of the valuable, compassionate and explicit feedback that was being shared, either through informal or formal opportunities within the program, or through our living walls that were being filled up with questions, ideas and connections. I can’t wait to hear all about the incredible contributions that these students will continue to make within their school community as Ambassadors, purposefully using their thoughts, words and actions to make a difference in their own and others journeys of potential.

“One of the things that I’ve learned is to be receptive of feedback.” – Ben Silbermann

I’d just like to leave you with the reflections of one the teachers who I had the pleasure of working with closely throughout this process, and over the past few years. Her commitment, and the schools, to providing the students with engaging, challenging and inovative learning opportunities continues to energise and inspire me. What a privilege it is to get to do what we get to do!

‘WOW!  What an amazing 2 days. I have walked away feeling energised and inspired, as I know the students have as well (their body language said it all). On behalf on Emma and myself, I’d like to acknowledge the wonderful work you did with our students, your professionalism and expertise to get the most out of them was wonderful to witness.

Over the 2 days I reflected on the students responses and engagement and felt proud that they were able to articulate all the passions they have for our school. It was satisfying to hear them talk, discuss and have a valued voice to share what they believe our school to be on such a deep level. It demonstrated that the aspects we have been putting into programs is truly making them confident young people.

Thank you so much again for an engaging 2 days.’ – Year 6 Teacher/Assistant Principal

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 Spark

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

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

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

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

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

“Action expresses priorities.” – Mohandas Gandhi

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

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

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

I’d Rather

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • That our daily thoughts, words and actions matter.
  • That our journey will involve both successes and challenges, remembering that, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts” – Winston Churchill.
  • We are all capable of making a difference in our own and others lives.
  • We are all in this together!

Getting Under The Surface

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

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

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

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

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

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

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