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

The Difference

June 12, 2017 at 6:05 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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There’s a big difference between knowing and doing. We’d all have experienced that I’m sure. If you’re anything like me it’s when those feelings of discontent begin rippling and start draining energy, momentum or ability to contribute. For me, it’s where I find myself asking, am I leading here?

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

I know soft plastics represent a massive challenge to our environment, clogging up land fill or our oceans, taking decades to break down and having a devastating impact on marine life. But until this past week I wasn’t fully aware of all the options available in the something I can do. I was filled with energy as I implemented a new purposeful practice of recycling soft plastic through the REDcycle program. It reminded me that leadership is in embodiment, aligned with our values, understanding and potential. Making a difference through our daily thoughts, words and actions.

“The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.” – Ray Kroc

So this is where I’m at, will I now continue to implement this new purposeful practice? It will involve one small choice at a time. Plus, of course, forgetting from time to time. We’re all human, and that’s alright. But if we’re interested in leading (leadership is action, not position – Donald H. McGannon) then the difference between knowing and doing is important to us.

“Earn your leadership every day.” – Michael Jordan

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!

Merge Like A Zipper

May 29, 2017 at 7:31 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Image found on www.carolinacoastonline.com

A friend of mine recently got back from a quick trip to New Zealand. As he was sharing what the trip entailed one of his observations struck me as really important. While navigating unfamiliar terrain in his hire car he had predictably relied more heavily on the guideposts provided to support a driver’s journey. One particular sign had stood out for him. This was because of the positive influence it had and continued to have on his own and others choices whilst driving in that area.

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

The guidepost he saw was similar to the one pictured above. It’s an invitation to safely, mindfully and interdependently engage with self, others and the world around us whilst on the road. It got me thinking though about the guideposts that are present within my own journey of potential. The reflections that kept coming up fell within a busy few weeks of family celebrations. We’ve had milestone birthdays, other birthdays and of course Mother’s Day. These occasions provided plenty of opportunities for me to connect the dots.

“Love is how you earn your wings.” – Karen Goldman

As my siblings and I prepared slideshows of pictures, wrote poems to read and collated messages from family and friends into a framed artwork for our Dad’s milestone birthday I found myself filled with gratitude. The day after that celebration, with it being Mother’s Day, that feeling of gratitude continued. Many of the most important guideposts that have got me through the ups and downs that life inevitably presents have been born out of the example of these two inspiring individuals. Guideposts act as anchors that can continue to ground our thoughts, words and actions as we navigate all sorts of terrain. Thank you to all who have played a part in their development for me.

“The root of joy is gratefulness… It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” – David Steindl-Rast

In Partnership With

May 1, 2017 at 7:53 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Last Friday we woke up to the most beautiful blue skies. We set up for our Camp Adventure Day experience at the most beautiful sea side park location. And we welcomed the most beautiful Year 3 and 4 students into an action packed program that explored the role of resilience in our journeys of potential. What a great day it was! The photo above is of some of the participants from the red group challenging themselves and having so much fun on the rock climbing wall.

“Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.” – James Cash Penney

As the day progressed I started thinking about how being in partnership with multiple individuals and groups made the day even more special. The rock climbing wall is from a company who we are able to partner with if one of our client schools wants to add this to the experience. Council are always so accomodating with the use of public spaces that support the requirements and outcomes of a particular program day. And of course working in partnership with the client school and participants fosters the incredible relationships we enjoy with them.

“We cannot accomplish all that we need to do without working together.” – Bill Richardson

We are just so privileged to be able to explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically together with those who we are in partnership with. The feedback the accompanying teachers on the day left us with (below) highlights this interconnectedness best. Whether it’s school, home, local community or us as external providers, we all want the same thing. To see that the students have the opportunity to be engaged, challenged and inspired so that they can continue to grow, learn and make a difference.

“This always proves to be an excellent character building program. It is very well received and appreciated by parents. The local community find the program interesting and we get many positive comments on the day. Great job Cameron – we always love working with you and your team.” – Stage 2 Teacher

Adding The Cherry On Top

April 24, 2017 at 6:46 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I love lending out books. Whether it’s a book that has really moved me and just has to be shared with a family member or friend, or I receive a request from someone for a particular title or to surprise them with a variety of selections, there’s always books in motion. One that has been a constant boomerang since first reading it is Wonder by R.J. Palacio. I loved it, and of course then wanted to share it with as many people as possible (it has been a go to present over the past couple of years). When I got a series of texts from a friend last week I was again reminded of some really important themes that the book explores.

“Always try to be a little kinder than is necessary.” – J M Barrie

The first text said simply, ‘I finished Wonder’. I replied, ‘What did you think?’. What came back was, ‘Really good. Particularly liked the quote always try to be a little kinder than is necessary’. We went back and forth for a while exchanging comments on different characters, events and themes, I was so pleased that my friend had enjoyed and was moved by the book as well. Kindness isn’t some abstract thing for us as human beings. It’s the daily lubricant that helps foster ‘informed, connected and empowered individuals believing deeply in their own and others potential’ (our vision).

“When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.” – Dr Wayne W. Dyer

So fast forward two days from those texts and I receive a Facebook message from my friend. It contained the video linked at the beginning of this post. He had seen it online and it had reminded him of a real life example of the quote that had moved him most within Wonder. After watching it I shot him back a message. Within that conversation I loved his observation, ‘What’s necessary? Who knows, but if we all try to be kinder than we currently are, isn’t that a positive step forward in showing humanity that we’re bound together by something other than social media, fear, etc.’ Each day, we can be adding that cherry on top if we’re prepared to notice, connect and act on the opportunities that exist to with kindness make a difference in our own and others lives.

“We carry with us, as human beings, not just the capacity to be kind, but the very choice of kindness.” – R.J. Palacio, Wonder

As seen in the video, our attempts to embody kindness aren’t always met with enthusiasm, trust or belief. But I guess that really isn’t the point. As we interact with self, others and the world around us our choice of what that looks, sounds and feels like is up to us. We can’t control how that will be met, just our own responses along the way. Kindness is best served people to people, as seen in the video above. How much kindness will you choose is necessary? And then will you add the cherry on top?

“Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.” – R.J. Palacio, Wonder

L.E.A.D. with me

April 10, 2017 at 9:24 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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What would you say is a key to success when navigating a challenge as a group? There’d be many that would come to mind I assuming, especially when you consider all the different situations, complexities, who’s involved and circumstances that could be thrown in to spice up the types of problem solving required. Context definitely matters. But…

“Good leaders make people feel that they’re at the very heart of things, not at the periphery.” – Warren Bennis

A few weeks ago, when posed with a similar question, a Year 6 student responded in this way: “A key to success is giving space for others to lead”. It was at the beginning of the day and we’d just completed our first small groups challenge (approximately 8 students in each group). This girl shared this connection as she unpacked the journey her team had just been on: excitement, preparation, planning, experimentation, distraction, failure, experimentation again, near success, failure, disappointment, regrouping, refocussing, experimentation again, achieving success, celebrating, regrouping, refocussing, attempting the next level of the challenge, and so it goes on.

“The great leaders are like the best conductors – they reach beyond the notes to reach the magic in the players.” – Blaine Lee

So I wonder, what individual and collective thoughts, words and actions help us create space for others to L.E.A.D. with me?

“You do not lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

A Celebration Of…

April 3, 2017 at 8:47 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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As we near the end of first term I know there are a lot of students and teachers who are looking forward to a refreshing holiday break. What a term it’s been! It’s been a wet one (thinking of all those students and teachers who’ve been stuck inside a lot). It’s been a busy one (so many fantastic school communities to support). It’s been an interesting one (plenty of incredible individual and collective examples of exploring the possibilities, discovering potential and acting authentically). There’s always so much to celebrate!

“Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common. Celebrate it everyday.” – Anonymous

As I reflect back on the past ten weeks I am reminded of feedback I received last year from an accompanying teacher. The comment read, ‘thank you for celebrating their quirkiness’. It made us smile at the time but also remember that as we engage, challenge and inspire the groups we have the pleasure of supporting, we are also celebrating the uniqueness, wisdom and contributions of each individual. Thanks to all those courageous students who inspire us each and every day.

“Celebrate what you’ve accomplished, but raise the bar a little higher each time you succeed.” – Mia Hamm

I hope all students, staff and school communities are enjoying the opportunity to celebrate … , as they navigate the final few days of this term. Stay safe over the break and we look forward to all that second term will bring.

 

A Question To Reflect On

March 27, 2017 at 6:28 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The other week I was asked a particular question that’s had me thinking. It’s one of the joys of working with kids, there’s definitely plenty of curiosity bouncing around. I had worked with the whole Year 6 cohort two weeks before. Then on this particular day I was back supporting the Year 6 elected leaders who were preparing to implement a new Ambassador Program within their school community.

“Never lose a holy curiosity.” – Albert Einstein

During one conversation I was asked, why are you so passionate about other people’s learning? The list of things that I’ve been asked over the years is diverse, but this questions directness, and the context of what we were discussing at the time, made me stop. I immediately thanked him for the question. I was then flooded with memories of the gratitude I feel for the way my family, teachers and others have shown up for me within my learning and leadership journey. Then really importantly I was reminded of why.

“People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude.” – John C. Maxwell

Why our vision, fostering ‘informed, connected and empowered individuals believing deeply in their own and others potential’. Why our mission, ‘provide experiences and ongoing communication that promote exploring the possibilities, discovering potential and acting authentically’. Why influence, not control, as the way we lead and make a difference. And above all else, why I am so privileged to do what I do.

“Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence and inspiration.” – Robin S. Sharma

The context of what we were discussing was how this boy wanted to make other Year 6 students feel when he shares activities with them as the program is rolled out. He made a connection to how he had felt two weeks before, and then on this day as well. As founder and lead facilitator of Explore Discover Act, I am proud to offer programs and experiences that reflect our deep belief in the potential of each individual. I can’t wait to hear about the ripples created by these courageous leaders thoughts, words and actions as the year goes on.

“Human potential is the only limitless resource we have in this world.” – Carly Fiorina

I Chose This

March 20, 2017 at 6:07 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Recently I was listening to a podcast where the presenter used a very powerful phrase. As he chatted away with the guest about her philosophy for navigating life’s ups and downs, he shared a connection to a mantra he uses as something similar. He reflected on the importance of him remembering, ‘I chose this’. This anchor wakes him back up.

“As you start to walk out on the way, the way appears.” – Rumi

As I listened I was reminded of the science coming out of positive psychology. Roughly 50% of happiness is determined by genetics and 10% by life circumstances, but 40% depends on the choices we make (our daily activities). When our attention becomes mired within what we view as lacking, impossible or too challenging (genetics 50% + life’s circumstances 10%), we miss the opportunity to intentionally create where it matters most (the choices we make 40%).

“Ultimately, human intentionality is the most powerful evolutionary force on the planet.” – George B. Leonard

If we want positive change (either individual or collective) then we must embody it (be that change) through our thoughts, words and actions. Complaining, comparing, worrying, making excuses, blaming, ruminating, etc. might fill in time, but they aren’t going to get us where we truly want to go. There are definitely things in our lives that we don’t or wouldn’t want to choose for ourselves or others to navigate. But those things sit outside our spheres of influence. The phrase ‘I chose this’ seemed like a powerful way to bring attention back to intentionality when we feel it slipping away.

“Either you run the day or the day runs you.” – Jim Rohn

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