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 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

 

 

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

It’s What I Wish

August 6, 2018 at 7:51 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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As we sat on the train after a big day, heading home from the first Impact Day within our year long Let’s Lead program, one of the participants said something that really moved me. ‘That’s what I wish for all, that you’re tired at the end of each day from doing activities you love’. Her poetic and genuine phrasing drifted around me for a moment before it really found a home. It seemed such a simple wish on the surface, but as we reflected more on the experience we’d just been on and the program we were apart of its importance began to really sink in.

“My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness. Continue to allow humour to lighten the burden of your tender heart.” – Maya Angelou

12 of us from the group had met excitedly at Wollongong Train Station at 8:25am on Saturday morning. All of us were on time and eager to see what the adventure would involve. This Let’s Lead group is a partnership we have with SCARF (Strategic Community Assistance for Refugee Families) here in the Illawarra. Now in its second year we work with young adults from a refugee background to develop leadership potential, as we journey together as difference makers in our own and others lives. And what a journey it’s been. This year we’ve also been able to add two Impact Days to the program through the kind support of The Outdoor Education Group. Saturday’s one was first stop Kiama Station.

“Sometimes we become so focused on the finish line that we fail to find joy in the journey.” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf.

We navigated and walked the coast track from Kiama to Minnamurra. On paths. On sand. And on rock platforms. We shared stories, ideas, and conversations. As individuals. As small groups. And as a whole group. We played, laughed, and connected. Because having fun and deepening connection is so important to all that we do. We experienced challenges but reached the Minnamurra River and then changed speeds by paddling as pairs in canoes. Learning to steer. Learning to stop. And learning to trust ourselves and others. The list could just keep going on and on and on for what happened during the day. But we were all left feeling so filled with gratitude as we reflected in our final circle.

“This is a wonderful day, I have never seen this one before.” – Maya Angelou

The day was perfect. Not because everything was perfect. Or that we are perfect. Or that everything went to plan. But because each of us chose to show up fully, stretch our comfort zones, and make the best out of whatever unfolded. We each played our part and contributed to the whole. Remembering that, ‘Success isn’t final, failure isn’t fatal, it’s the courage to continue that counts’ – Winston Churchill. It’s such a joy to be surrounded by such inspiring leaders like these. So, if you were sitting there tired on that train at the end of a big day, what would you have said was your wish for all?

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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