Reaching Out before Acting Out

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

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

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

“Social support is everything.” – Jordan Knight

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

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

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Can you give me an example?

August 14, 2017 at 4:34 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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I love listening to the lived experience of leaders. It’s definitely an adventure when we purposefully use our daily thoughts, words and actions to make a difference in our own and others lives. It’s so inspiring to hear about all the ripples being created through a particular individuals and/or groups efforts. And of course hear about what passion, energy and courage lies beneath all of that.

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

The other week I got to spend a day facilitating at a new client school. What was really fun was that the Assistant Principal had organised for this years elected leaders (Year 6) to learn beside the whole Year 5 cohort (105 students) on the day. This opened up the privilege of chatting to the elected leaders about their experiences so far this year. What they shared at different times throughout the day summed up beautifully the full spectrum of our learning and leadership journeys.

“It’s not about perfect. It’s about effort. And when you bring that effort every single day, that’s where transformation happens. That’s how change occurs.” – Jillian Michaels

Many spoke about how at the beginning of the year leading things like assemblies was challenging, but as they did it more often and realised they could support each other it got easier. One girl spoke about how a challenge was other peoples expectations of them as they navigated the year, like if they made a mistake another student might remark, ‘Aren’t you meant to be a leader?’ Others shared how much of their time they had to commit to meeting, planning and preparing for various roles and responsibilities that they had, but overall they were glad they were doing it. But it was one boy’s story in particular that became a powerful connection on the day about how we can bring about change wherever we may find ourselves.

“I want to make a difference with people who want to make a difference, doing something that makes a difference.” – John C. Maxwell

This Year 6 boy is ranked highly in Australia in skateboarding and was so clearly passionate about it as he spoke. He started thinking at the beginning of the year that others might enjoy and get something out of the activity as well, so he took the time to research it further so he could take a proposal to the school. He was able to, through negotiation, have skateboarding added to the list of sports the school does, with the response being really positive so far from both students and teachers. It was a powerful reminder to himself, and others, that if you care about something deeply, and the ripples created by your efforts will make a difference in your own and others journeys of potential, then the daily thoughts, words and actions involved to bring about change are most definitely worth it.

“Leadership is no longer about your position. It’s now more about your passion for excellence and making a difference. You can lead without a title.” – Robin Sharma

This boy, just like the other elected leaders at the school, didn’t need a badge to be able to lead. The position may open up opportunities but it’s what we do that brings leadership to life (‘leadership is action, not position’ – Donald H McGannon). This is why I love being involved in the development of leadership potential within Primary School settings. It’s inspiring how many school communities are looking at how they can empower their student cohorts through exploring, practicing and celebrating the purposeful skills, attitudes and behaviours of being a leader. Below is the feedback we received from the Assistant Principal on that day. Thank you for the opportunity to help make leadership real at your school, we look forward to again supporting you soon.

“From the moment Cameron started the program our students were engaged. He shared a clear message about what it takes to be a leader and showed our students that they all have the potential to lead. Thanks for a fantastic day!”

 

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 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

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!

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