An Attitude of Gratitude

February 19, 2018 at 6:16 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The groups I get to facilitate for constantly amaze me. Inspire me. Challenge me. Remind me. Motivate me. Empower me. Teach me. And above all else leave me feeling so grateful that I get to do what I do. Today’s group was definitely no different.

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” ― G.K. Chesterton

As I set up this morning in the hall of the client school I was working with I was enthusiastically greeted by one of the Year 6 students. She told me she’d been looking forward to today through these first few weeks of term, then she paused, actually, she said, she’d been looking forward to this day since the last time I worked with her. We discussed what she’d loved from their Stage 3 Leadership Day at the beginning of 2017, and also what she’d loved from when I worked with her Academically Gifted class at another school setting mid way through last year. But what she said next was the most important part to me.

“It’s not happy people who are thankful. It’s thankful people who are happy!” – Unknown

‘This year I’m so excited to be a mentor, I get to help so many more people’. Her attitude of gratitude was continuing to open up opportunities for her to grow, develop and really importantly contribute. All three times that I’ve worked with her over the last year I’ve been so inspired by her embodiment of thankfulness. It was great to hear now how this student also plans to pay that thankfulness forwards to more and more people as she gets older. It’s hard to keep gratitude in when it so desperately wants to get out.

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude.” ― A.A. Milne

One of our closing activities today focused on how there is so much that we can’t control within our learning and leadership journeys. Certain challenging cards can be dealt, but what we do with them is then up to us. An attitude of gratitude seems like the perfect companion for each of us on this journey. It keeps things in perspective and grounds our thoughts, words and actions in what we’re so fortunate to have, rather than any perceived lacking that we believe in that moment is missing. What are you grateful for today?

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Bring in the Kick

February 12, 2018 at 7:30 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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A friend of mine always laughs how little I use my legs when I swim. I guess at times I just get too comfortable and forget to bring in the kick. But lately I’ve tried to bring intentionality back to this important aspect of swimming. And it’s really making a difference to how I feel in the water and the forward momentum I’m able to create.

“Leadership is not a noun. It’s a verb. It’s active. It’s movement.” – John Maxwell

As we enter the third week back delivering our programs in schools this theme of bringing in the kick keeps jumping around my mind. As the quote above suggests, leadership is a verb (doing word), not a person, place or thing (noun). The students we have the privilege to support remind me daily that making a difference (for self, others and the world around us) takes effort. So bringing in the kick seems important so we can propel ourselves forwards effectively and not just go through the motions each and every day.

“Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.” – Winston Churchill

We (our clients and us) are a community who believe:

  • In exploring the possibilities, discovering potential and acting authentically.
  • 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!

We’re loving being back for 2018 to again support the development of leadership potential. What a privilege it is to be inspired daily to bring in the kick by the incredible leaders we get to share our time and space with (young, old and everything in between). Dive in, lets courageously make 2018 the best year that it can be as we use our thoughts, words and actions to make a difference in our own and others lives.

Greener Grass

February 5, 2018 at 6:23 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Ever get grass envy? It’s the middle of summer, your grass in the front or back yard has yellowed and sounds a bit crunchy to walk on. Then suddenly you notice Joe Blow’s lawn on the other side of the road and it looks incredible. ‘The grass is always greener on the other side,’ you guess. But then you remember, Joe spends a lot of time watering to keep it looking that way.

“The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. It’s greener where you water it.”

The quote above is one that I reflect on regularly. We all can get distracted with what our minds tell us might, could or should be, but how long do we choose to stay in these sets of thoughts? One of my favourite quotes that compliments this idea is, ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’. It reminds me that gratitude, happiness and contentment live in the acceptance of what is, not in what my mind is ruminating on might, could or should be.

“When you realise there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” – Lao Tzu

A leader sees, embraces and celebrates enough. From this place they purposefully use their daily thoughts, words and actions to make a difference in their own and others lives. They’re not perfect, that’s definitely for sure. But when they feel their energy being drained or pulled away from where they can actually ‘be the change’, they choose to remember that, ‘The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. It’s greener where you water it’. Then they water it!

“The mind is malleable, our life can be greatly transformed by even a minimal change in how we manage our thoughts and perceive and interpret the world. Happiness is a skill. It requires effort and time.” – Matthieu Ricard

I love being inspired daily by the groups I have the pleasure of supporting. I’m consistently reminded of the multitude of ways we can choose to explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically as leaders. It’s a privilege to be journeying beside others who also view leadership as a verb, not a noun. It’s a doing word, and with practice we see progress. What do you purposefully choose to water each and every day?

“The real winners in life are the people who look at every situation with an expectation that they can make it work ot make it better.” – Barbara Pletcher

 

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

 

Planting Seeds

November 13, 2017 at 3:57 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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It’s spring time here in Australia and the gardens are blooming. I love this season, warmer weather, being back in the ocean and of course the incredibly beautiful flowers, plants and trees that are in full bloom. It’s had me thinking though about the journey through the various seasons to get to this point. Seeds need to have been planted and tendered to if we want to reap the benefits when it’s finally time for them to blossom.

“Leadership’s not a title. It’s a behaviour. Live it.” – Robin Sharma

I love how we’re able to plant seeds right throughout our program experiences and within our ongoing communication with our client schools. There’s nothing like the feeling of creating fertile soil as participants open up to the key messages and themes that are explored within the day. You can see it in their eyes, body language and engagement, when something resonates deeply there’s a physical response. One such example in the last few weeks or so has reminded me why we’re so passionate about the development of leadership potential in Primary Schools. What a privilege being on this journey is.

“Leadership is about the decisions you make, and the actions you take each day. The world is waiting. Leadership is a choice – and it starts with you.” – Alyse Nelson

It was the end of a great day with 113 Year 5 students. I’d been so impressed with their engagement, depth of thinking and contributions right throughout the program. As the students began moving back to their classes at the end of the day a few came up to me to shake my hand and say thanks. I was incredibly grateful for all their reflections but it was the final boy who had hung around who really humbled me with his heartfelt remarks. He said, ‘I just want to say thank you because before you came I thought leadership wasn’t for me, now I want to put my hand up and lead’.

“Recognise that every interaction you have is an opportunity to make positive impact on others.” – Shep Hyken

Wow, I could tell this had taken a lot of courage for him to come up to me like this and share his reflection. I was so humbled and thanked him for that, as well as his efforts throughout the day and the difference he’ll be apart of making as a leader. How often do we get trapped into thinking that something isn’t for us because of a perceived lacking (a particular skill, attitude or behaviour), rather than owning that a leader uses their daily thoughts, words and actions in purposeful ways to create ripples (e.g. not just standing on a stage giving a speech at assembly because you’re wearing a leaders badge). When we embrace and make real anything it comes to life, and the energy that’s created throughout that process will inevitably be felt by others.

“When I found my why, I found my way. When I found my way, I found my wings.”

We don’t need to be elected to be a leader. Leadership isn’t a badge or position. As the John C. Maxwell quote suggests, ‘It is about one life influencing another’. I really am so privileged to be surrounded by so many inspiring leaders each and every day.

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!

A Piece of the Puzzle

October 23, 2017 at 4:46 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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It’s such a privilege to be a piece of the puzzle within so many educational journeys. As I’ve written before, we understand the amazing commitment schools and educators have for the welfare and educational opportunities offered to their students as they progress through their school years. Education is a complex and interdependent journey, with many important pieces of a puzzle supporting students, staff and school communities to achieve the best outcomes for each individual. It’s so humbling to be reminded of the positive impact we are apart of creating as we explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically, together.

“An extremely important and beneficial program for all students in Year 5, 6 and beyond. Our Year 5 students were fully engaged in every session and couldn’t wait for the next Friday! Cameron is an enthusiastic, positive, approachable and kids relatable presenter. The success of this program is attributed to him and his interactions with our Year 5 students! Thank you Cameron.” – Year 5 Teacher at one of our client schools

The feedback above came from one of our client schools at the end of last term. We were so humbled by the beautiful words that the organising teacher left us with on that final Friday. The 80 Year 5 students we got to work with were incredible. I can’t wait to hear about the ripples they create as leaders of their school community next year. More importantly though, I can’t wait to hear about the ripples they create as positive difference makers each and every day as leaders (not needing to wait for a badge or to be the eldest in the school to be called a leader).

“I haven’t had this class for quite a while, the changes are just incredible.” – Comment from a Casual Teacher who was present within a program experience last week

Our new L.E.A.D. with Me Program is providing us with the opportunity to have ongoing contact with a cohort over a longer period of time. Each class completes sequential weekly sessions of 90 minutes in length over the course of a term. The comment from the Casual Teacher above came last week as we worked with the Year 4 group for the 8th of 10 sessions. The growth and development within the 3 classes has been fantastic, and it’s so humbling to not only have this noticed and reported back by their classroom teachers, but also by others within the school community.

“Absolutely fantastic and worthwhile day…. This will give all teachers at our school leadership techniques to inform their students. Thank you!” – Year 5 Teacher at one of our client schools

Something that we love about our program experiences is that learning is not just for students. We are constantly learning from the wisdom and contributions of the participants, but also the teachers are constantly learning as well. What we’re most passionate about is meaningful connection to action beyond the program day. And for that to happen we know that the teachers play a really important role. It’s so humbling to receive feedback like the one above from a new client school last week who’ll have teachers within the school creating new leadership ripples after those who were apart of the experience share with other teachers as well.

“One of the Year 5 parents I was speaking to was wondering whether you offered any small group outside of school programs?” – Email question from a Principal last week after beginning an ongoing L.E.A.D. with Me Program

We love hearing from school communities about how much students share with home about their experiences. It’s great to know that the participants want to pass on information about what they loved, what they learnt and what happens now. We were also really humbled by the email enquiry above we received last week looking at ways we can further support the learning and leadership journeys of students within our programs. It’s an exciting development that we’re looking into as we journey towards our vision of ‘informed, connected and empowered individuals believing deeply in their own and others potential’. Thank you to all those we have the privilege of sharing this journey with.

Don’t Forget Your Opal Card

October 16, 2017 at 7:40 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I never grow tired of listening to the responses of the participants within our programs. Each individuals articulation is an opportunity to add layers to my own understanding, growth and perspectives. One such response recently has really gotten under my skin and stayed with me over the past month. I find it keeps popping up as a reminder of the choice I have in front of me in any given situation.

“Leadership is action, not position.” – Donald H. McGannon

To lead or not to lead, that is the question. In any given moment that choice is available to us. A Year 5 girl summed it up beautifully the month or so ago when she said, to her leadership is like an Opal Card (transport payment card), available to use if she chooses on whichever mode of public transport she finds herself on. Bingo, I loved that she was recognising that regardless of where she finds herself she’d have access to purposeful skills, attitudes and behaviours that would assist her to most effectively navigate the challenge.

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John Maxwell

Maybe it will be as an encourager. Maybe it will be as an idea sharer. Maybe it will be as a courageous voice. Maybe it will be an engaged team member. The list goes on and on and on. The thing is, leadership isn’t just one particular thing. But rather the use of our thoughts, words and actions, in any given moment, to make a difference in our own and/or others lives. As the first quote says, ‘leadership is action, not position’.

“The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born-that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.” – Warren Bennis

Just like an Opal Card leadership is open to all of us. Just like an Opal Card it’s important that we recharge regularly. Just like an Opal Card we may forget to use it from time to time. Just like an Opal Card if we lose it or it stops working then we can ask for support. What connection could you make?

“A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.” – Douglas MacArthur

Me Too

October 8, 2017 at 9:39 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Recently during a program experience, as a Year 4 girl was sharing a reflection, suddenly five other kids hands started shaking in the air (thumb and pinky up, other three fingers down). At first I was a little distracted as I tried to listen into her learning, curiosity was kicking in. I just couldn’t work out what was happening. And then I got it.

“When one teaches, two learn.” – Robert Heinlein

These kids weren’t trying to get my attention because they wanted to speak. It was the complete opposite. They were enthusiastically indicating that this peer’s reflection was resonating so deeply with them as they were listening. I immediately loved this empowering ‘me too’ signal within their learning journeys. I’m a full body learner as well.

“Learning is a social process that occurs through interpersonal interaction within a cooperative context. Individuals, working together, construct shared understandings and knowledge.” – David Johnson, Roger Johnson and Karl Smith

So as school goes back this week for the final term of the school year I hope that each student, classroom and school community remain open to and excited by exploring the possibilities, discovering potential and acting authentically as they navigate the inevitable successes and challenges that learning presents. We can’t wait to again share our program experiences and ongoing communication with our client schools over the coming months. We’re definitely all in this together!

“The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice.” – Brian Herbert

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

 

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