Window Wound Down

January 16, 2019 at 9:46 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Mini moments of connection, with strangers, are just so inspiring. I love their unexpectedness. And the important reminders/learning they open up. One that I experienced recently has still got me thinking. It was only made possible though because this stranger chose to have his window wound down.

“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you’ve gotta put up with the rain.” – Dolly Parton

I’d been down the beach and was now walking home. It’s only a short walk and not a very busy area to navigate. As I’m approaching a driveway there was a car with it’s indicator on getting ready to pull in. I naturally came to a stop, then a subtle difference jolted me out of the routine I had just initiated.

“No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings.” – William Blake

The stranger gestured to me to cross first. As I walked I said, ‘Thanks’.

The response, ‘Always pedestrians first, everything else second’.

I shoot back sincerely, ‘Thank you’.

That was met with, ‘Have a great day!’

“Jump, and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall.” – Ray Bradbury

It was such a simple interaction. Not unlike so many we’d have within a day. What made it feel different though was his sharing of the values that was driving his actions. We’re absolutely all in this together. And it’s not that our individual and shared values will always align completely. But it seems to be important that we have the courage to have our windows wound down as we interact with self, others and the world around us, and share what’s most important to us (both individually and as groups).

 

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Open to …

January 9, 2019 at 7:15 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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So we are sitting at dinner between Christmas and New Year. My friend, his 9 year old daughter and I. We’d been chatting about lots of things. Christmas. Their upcoming holiday. And lots more. Then my friend’s daughter expressed her strong belief around a particular external rule she’d be navigating over the break. And then something really cool happened.

“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. If you listen, you may learn something new.” – Dalai Lama

Her conviction was impressive. She’d thought out her reasoning. She had examples to back up her points. She spoke firmly and passionately, but also in a respectful way. Then she choose to listen. Both her father and I took on board what she’d confidently expressed. Affirming her thoughts as valid and important to her. Then shared some of our own beliefs around the topic.

“The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.” – Stephen R. Covey

She listened. Really listened. Agreeing that this external rule may actually be needed for some of the reasons that were being brought up. It didn’t mean that she had to give up why she’d wanted a change to be made. She was able to hold more than one thing to be true at the same time, while understanding that certain decisions are necessary to support, look after or help those who’d be using this shared space. It was a really inspiring conversation to be a part of.

“Most of us are so focused on what we are thinking that we miss most of what goes on in our conversations.” – John Stoker

How often do we close off to, rather than remain open to, different perspectives, ideas or choices? I’m sure, like all of us, this isn’t the same way my friend’s daughter chooses to listen every time a potential conflict comes up. But like all of us, when choosing to navigate listening in this way she experiences the deepening of connection, learning and growth that is opened up. As we courageously move beyond needing to be right, we can authentically embrace and celebrate the wholeness of what makes up the individual and collective truth.

“Anyone can talk,
but to listen is a gift,
we should all exchange”
J. Benson

2019 Mantra

January 2, 2019 at 3:27 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Happy New Year! We hope you and your family/friends have enjoyed the holiday period, and are excited about what 2019 will bring. For many, the start of the new year can be filled with promise, potential and possibility. Maintaining that mindset as we navigate inevitable ups and downs, busyness and challenges, is really where we bring to life all that we hope to create more of.

“New Year – a new chapter, new verse, or just the same old story ? Ultimately we write it. The choice is ours.” – Alex Morritt

For us, the beginning of the year is an opportunity to again get intentional. Each January we set a mantra that acts as a compass to journey with us throughout the next twelve months. Previous year’s mantras aren’t just discarded as redundant. Rather they’re now integrated into the deeper parts of how we show up, contribute and grow because of the purposeful practice they invited us into.

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

So that brings us to what will sit at North on our compass this year. We’re pumped for 2019, and love the importance that this year’s mantra will play throughout all that we’ll be a part of. Our mantra will be, ‘Consistently showing up as, and modelling being a learner’. We’re passionate about the development of leadership potential, and this aspect of it is something that we really want to be even more purposeful about as we traverse interactions with self, others and the world around us this year.

“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instil in us.” – Hal Borland

Just so we’re clear, being a learner isn’t about being passive, or waiting for others to take the lead. We’ve chosen this because its shadow side, being the knower, keeps us as individuals and groups locked out of the processes that support real growth, connection and change. The other day on social media we put up our wish for all for 2019. It read ‘That we as individuals and groups will courageously embody curiosity, compassion and humility within the ups and downs that we’ll have to navigate’. This combination is at the heart of showing up as and modelling being a learner. None of us are perfect, but each of us can be a part of contributing to and experiencing progress.

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” – John F. Kennedy

So here’s to celebrating the full spectrum of experiences that 2019 will offer. We wish you all the best as you too embark on ‘being the change you wish to see’ through purposefully using your thoughts, words and actions to make a difference. We love the process of bringing leadership to life. We’ll continue using our program experiences, as well as our various modes of communication like this Blog, as pathways to assist that. But most importantly we’ll remain a student of all things leadership, as we again choose to explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically. We hope you’re able to do the same!

1 Year = 365 Opportunities

A Box of Chocolates

October 29, 2018 at 4:19 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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There are lines in particular movies that are just iconic. They’re lodged so far into our brains that when triggered even the actresses/actors voice, tone or intonation comes flooding back. Forest Gump’s, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get’, definitely falls into that category. It’s also one that was triggered for me last Friday morning as I stood in front of a group of Year 5 students ready to start a program day.

I’m often asked how it is delivering the ‘same’ program many times within a week, term or year. Our L.E.A.D. with Courage: Stage 3 Leaders Program is our signature offering, therefore it is very popular within our client schools. I always respond that it never feels the ‘same’ though. There may be many similarities in relation to themes, activities or progressions throughout the experience, but it’s always facilitated for the participants who are in front of us on that day, not just being delivered in a certain way.

The group number changes daily, with us facilitating the program for cohorts of up to 150 students. The times we’ve been in front of a particular group of students changes daily, with us seeing some cohorts more than once in a year, over two years or right across their Primary School journey from Kindergarten to Year 6. The individual and group context, complexities and outcomes changes daily, with each participants potential being valued, supported and celebrated within our program experiences. I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

So back to last Friday morning. Two teachers are getting ready to quickly mark their class rolls before we kick off for the day. Then one of the teachers says to her students, ‘Should we do the Spanish?’ They enthusiastically nod their heads and I’m treated to her and their call and responses in a language I only wish I could speak. What topped it off was then being welcomed and said Good Morning to in Spanish, it was the first time that has ever happened. Life really is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get!

We’re always so humbled by the feedback received from the teachers and students involved in our program experiences. These two teachers mentioned above so kindly wrote at the end of the day, ‘Great enthusiasm for the topic shown by Cameron. Nice surprise elements to activities and wonderfully linked to intended outcomes’ and ‘Students involvement, enthusiasm and responses show the high level of this program’. But it’s us who want to say thanks also.

Thank you to all those who work to support each student’s holistic journey of potential, so they can foster a lens that is open to the magic of being a life long learner, showing resilience through the inevitable ups and downs that life presents, and striving to build connection and make a difference through their daily thoughts, words and actions. I’m not sure how to say that in Spanish though, sorry! I wonder what adventures tomorrow will hold?

Means, not an End

October 22, 2018 at 2:30 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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A few leadership reminders from the weekend:

1. Keep Showing Up

On Saturday I had the opportunity to attend a Youth Forum on Racism. It was a great investment of time and energy, as I soaked up stories of lived experiences, new information and strategies to most effectively navigate this and other issues within our spheres of influence. But I almost didn’t get there.

We all experience busyness, potential distractions and choice. But showing up is our ongoing means for opening up pathways to practice, learning and growth. I’m so grateful I made the choice to go.

2. Listening as the heart of Leadership

Listening involves not only hearing what’s happening within or around us, but courageously staying open to and willing to be changed by what we hear. This requires presence, mindfully navigating the interactions we are a part of. We all have prejudices, conscious and unconscious. If we’re not present, they can go unchecked.

This is why just showing up isn’t enough. How we show up is so important too.

3.  Keep Surrounding Yourself with Difference

If we always surround ourselves with the same voices, we’ll always think the same way. The way we think impacts the way we then speak and act. Purposefully seeking opportunities to deepen connection with individuals and groups that reflect and celebrate difference is not just in others interests. It’s in our interest as well.

A difference makers means is connection. The more we’re able to notice, foster and value it, the more we’re able to support those around us as we and they navigate the inevitable ups and downs that life presents. We definitely can’t control what others do. But we can influence, using our thoughts, words and actions to be the change we wish to see.

 

 

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!

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 Driving The Action?

September 23, 2018 at 7:47 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Are you participating in Steptember? Or do you follow already how many steps you take each day? There’s definitely a growing awareness around the benefits of 10,000. It seems to be becoming a valuable reminder of the importance of movement within busy and sometimes sedentary 21st Century lives. But when it comes to wellbeing initiatives within our spheres of influence, what’s driving the action?

“It’s not enough to be industrious; so are the ants. What are you industrious about?” — Henry David Thoreau, in a letter to H.G.O. Blake

What got me thinking about this recently was two workplace initiatives I was told about. Both were crafted with the seemingly same intention, but appeared to elicit very different feelings as each initiative went on. Leaders are always striving to notice and then act on opportunities to engage, challenge and inspire those around them. But sometimes a seemingly well intentioned driver doesn’t align with the intended ripples that were being sought out through the individual or group action that follows.

“Leadership is intentional influence.” – Michael McKinney

One example left me feeling so inspired. It also really inspired the person who was sharing the story with me. It comes from within an organisation that has leadership teams that are geographically dispersed. In an effort to encourage positive wellbeing and movement over the course of a month, an initiative was developed for these leaders that focussed around the theme of collective achievement. As each leader contributed their daily steps reading, it was then being collated into a group reading and celebrated through mapping how far around Australia they were walking.

“A community is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm.” – Henrik Johan Ibsen, An Enemy of the People, Billing, Act I

What we (I and the person telling me about the initiative) found most inspiring was what happened next. Not only were there health benefits being created as some leaders became more active, increased communication and connection was also being experienced. Certain leaders began sharing facts, stories and quotes within the group channels to encourage and build on what was starting to ripple. Leaders began learning more about each other as they chose to be vulnerable within their wellbeing journeys. And really importantly it brought the leaders closer together as success was linked to what they could achieve by working collectively.

“Cooperation is always more powerful than competition.” – Bob Proctor

Now let’s contrast this with the other example that was shared with me. Same idea, encourage positive wellbeing and movement over the course of a month, but very different ripples created. This organisation chose to break participants up into four teams, who would compete against each other to see which team achieved the most steps over that time. Each participant paid to join the challenge, with the winning team being given all the money collected as the prize. Team captains were responsible for chasing up and recording the team’s daily reading, with screenshots required as proof of steps taken each day so there was no cheating.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African Proverb

You can probably guess some of the things that happened next. As I was being told all about them my heart sank as to the potential missed opportunities for these participants. There was tension around who was grouped with who. There was judgement around who had or hadn’t pulled their weight for their team. There was a sense of resignation early in the initiative for some as they believed they were too far behind and couldn’t win. There was frustration created as participants were being chased for their entry fee well after it had all finished. Success seemed to be linked to being the winner, not a loser.

“Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” – Mattie Stepanek

What’s driving the action really matters. It’s how we engage, challenge and inspire those who we share our journeys with. If we want change, growth and development to be lasting, particular feelings need to accompany ongoing practices if they’re to be integrated after the initiative as well. No initiative is perfect, or will appeal in the same way to every member of a group participating. But as leaders we’re courageous enough to keep trying. So what do you want to get rippling within your spheres of influence? And what will you use to drive the action towards that goal?

“We’re all working together; that’s the secret.” – Sam Walton

BT

August 20, 2018 at 7:55 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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We love inspiration days. We schedule them often throughout the year as a reminder of inspirations importance within our individual and shared journeys of potential. They’re designed to be all around purposefully deepening connection. To self. Others. And the world around us. And of course, they’re about getting playful and having a lot of fun as well.

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar

Our August adventure was just over a week ago. We were met with beautiful winter sun. Incredible views. Awesome company. And really importantly, deep and meaningful conversations. I love being able to learn more about the people we share this journey with. And it was something that one person shared early on during the day that really got under my skin.

“We Are Better Together … We can’t lift heavy weight by ourselves or solve complex problems by ourselves, but together we are remarkable.” – Simon Sinek

We say often to participants that leadership is a shared endeavour, not a solo sport. It’s a theme we strive to embody each and every day, allowing it to guide our thoughts, words, and actions. So when I heard about this particular mantra that these two sisters identified long ago as being important to them and share, I was immediately moved. BT (Better Together) is just perfect. And the best part is it’s not just words to them, they live it as well.

“A single arrow is easily broken, but not 10 in a bundle.” – Japanese Proverb

It was incredible to listen to a series of stories that illustrated how BT has positively impacted their lives. Connection really is the glue that holds our humanness together, and here was an inspiring example of that playing out. We all navigate a multitude of successes and challenges over the years, and I was immediately filled with gratitude for all those who remember and practice, ‘We rise by lifting others’ – Robert Ingersoll. But the fits of laughter that came next, I wasn’t really prepared for that at all.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

As the two sisters creatively brainstormed one day how they could commemorate BT, they discovered a potential snag to one of their ideas. Matching BT tattoos were being thrown around as a goer, with the buttocks a possible location. ‘Oh no’, came the cry as an important remembering occurred, ‘that’s dad’s initials!’ Their shock long ago became our shared laughter today, and our latest inspiration day was off to a roaring start. Life definitely is ‘Better Together’.

“The power of one, if fearless and focused, is formidable, but the power of many working together is better.” – Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

 

 

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