Different Angle

April 9, 2018 at 5:39 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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It was a beautiful Saturday morning a few weeks ago. My friend and I had been for a swim, had breakfast and were walking back down to where I’d parked. Love starting the weekend this way, but then in an instant my mind began to wander. From my angle there was suddenly a potential challenge to be navigated that had consumed my thoughts.

“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.” – Eckhart Tolle

‘How would I get out?’ ‘Will I be able to get to where I’m going next on time?’ ‘How will I find one of the drivers to move their car?’ From distance my angle had the car in front and behind of mine so close that I’d never be able to get out. This train of thought meant I couldn’t be fully present within the conversation I was still having with my friend. Or prepare effectively to respond if there was an actual challenge to navigate. What happened next was a great reminder.

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” – Marcus Aurelius

There was room. I was able to get out without too many turns. If I’d only chosen to view this situation from a different angle it would of provided access to a completely different train of thoughts that I’d been able to finish the fantastic morning off with. Rather than get curious about, challenge and be open to viewing what I thought was from a different angle, I fell hook, line and sinker for the one perspective that I’d decided was the truth. A great reminder indeed.

“Look at situations from all angles, and you will become more open.” – Dalai Lama

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Humbled

April 2, 2018 at 7:00 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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We’ve just started preparing to update our website so it reflects fully how we’re currently supporting our clients. We’re just at the beginning of this process though, so no changes to the current website just yet. Over the last week or so we’ve reached out to some of our clients to see if they’d share a short testimonial with us that we can include on the updated website. We’ve been so humbled by each of their responses to those enquires and the connection we’ve been privileged to build with them over the past 6 years. Below is an example of what we’ll be so fortunate to share with those visiting our website when we go live with the updated version in the coming weeks.

Explore Discover Act has been a crucial part of our stage 3 program for over 5 years now. With the expert skills of Cameron and others, our students have benefited greatly from a program that can respond to our goals as a school from year to year. Clever, varied and engaging pedagogy leads our students to uncover their potential and re-frame their worlds in positive and growthful ways as leaders of their school and members of their communities. Students love the games, challenges and reflective tasks that are connected to their experiences and push them just that little bit more! Students that have many different personal challenges are supported to participate equally to their peers and many shine in ways we have never seen before. The program is well organised and the team professional and warm. Explore Discover Act is worth every penny!

– St Mark’s Primary School, Drummoyne

Thank you to all our valued clients who leave us feeling deeply humbled each and every day. It really is such a pleasure to be able to support the learning and leadership journeys of your students as we explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically, together! We look forward to being able to share our new website with you soon.

Leaders are Readers

March 26, 2018 at 6:47 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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This past week I found myself again immersed in a thought provoking book. The book in question had been a recommendation from a friend. As I sent multiple text messages throughout the week reflecting on what I was reading and thanking him for the loan, I then received an email from an Assistant Principal within one of our client schools. It read, ‘I wanted to say thanks for suggesting reading that book. I read it over the weekend and couldn’t put it down!’

“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” – Harry S. Truman

I love conversations that turn into book recommendations. They’re opportunities to be inspired, challenged and changed by the learning that lives within its pages. Not every book will grab you the way I and the Assistant Principal felt this past week. But each book we chose (or chooses us) has the potential to open us up to another way of being in the world. The funny thing is I haven’t actually read yet the book that I recommended to this Assistant Principal. I’d heard about it in a podcast and told him that, but I can’t wait to get to it over the coming weeks.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss

I’m a serial highlighter in the books that I read. Because last weeks book was a loaner though I reverted to taking notes as I read instead. I found myself busily writing as there were many things that jumped out at me within the pages of ‘Utopia for Realists’ (written by Rutger Bregman). There’s one particular quote though I’ve found myself coming back to each day as I reflect on this book. In sharing an example of a pilot program that was happening in London Rutger Bregman provided a quote from an Aid Worker involved, ‘It’s quite hard to change overnight the way you’ve always approached this problem. These pilots give us the opportunity to talk differently, think differently, describe the problem differently…’

“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” – Margaret Fuller

This might just be what books do for leaders as well. We are all navigating lenses that are clouded by our own experiences, biases, etc. When we are able to lose ourselves in another persons perspective, research or storytelling we get the opportunity to as I mentioned earlier be inspired, challenged and changed by the learning that lives within its pages. What are you reading at the moment? And what books would you recommend to others?

“The best leaders are the most dedicated learners. Read great books daily.” – Robin Sharma

The Most Challenging Part

March 19, 2018 at 4:37 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I love and am constantly inspired by the honesty of the participants within our program experiences. They’re always reminding us why courage is so important within our individual and shared journeys of potential. As the quote below so eloquently shares, if we are to practice the purposeful skills, attitudes and behaviours of leadership (honesty, kindness, love, acceptance, compassion, etc.), then courage will definitely play a pivotal role. This is especially true if we’re interested in really bringing leadership to life, embodying it within our daily thoughts, words and actions.

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.” – Maya Angelou

Honesty involves the yin and the yang though. How often can we get caught up in only wanting to explore the positive side of something? This is why we purposefully embrace, get playful with and practice a variety of ways we can navigate the challenges that leadership presents within the experiences we facilitate. We want to be honest about the full spectrum of what’s involved in making a difference. Without taking appropriate risks and then learning from the successes and failures that will inevitably happen we’re not going to be able to most effectively be the change we wish to see.

“If you want to make everybody happy, don’t be a leader. Sell ice cream.” – Steve Jobs

It’s also why a particular question we pose and the responses we get during a program day always open up such interesting discussions (What is the most challenging part of leadership?). The other week a Year 6 boy’s answer to this really showed his depth of understanding and the courage associated with purposefully choosing to lead. He came up to me during the reflection and said, ‘Can I tell you what I wrote for that one?’, pointing at the piece of butchers paper where the question was written. With wisdom he then shared, ‘That some of the decisions that we’ll have to make as leaders won’t make everyone happy’. Absolutely I thought as I processed what he’d said, before we opened up a conversation around his thoughts.

“Leadership is a choice, not a position.” – Stephen Covey

As leaders we’re all about creating ripples. Some of the choices we’ll make though will challenge, confront, take out of their comfort zone, etc. others within our spheres of influence. As leaders we’re mindful of not intentionally using our thoughts, words and actions to negatively impact these people. Instead we’re prepared to stay aligned for long enough to navigate our own and others feelings of uncomfortableness and vulnerability because we’ve taken the time to work out what’s most important (individual and shared values). It’s not easy, but it’s how we really bring about change.

“Not the cry, but the flight of a wild duck, leads the flock to fly and follow.” – Chinese Proverb

A Year 6 girls honest response last week really got to me as well. She said, ‘But how will we know it’s the right way?’ It was another one of those deep breath moments, the juiciness and depth that I love when facilitating. It’s only through courageous practice that we’ll work that out though. We’re all very human and will doubt, second guess and question right throughout our lives. But as leaders we’ll also have the courage to consistently practice what’s most important (individual and shared values), knowing that our thoughts, words and actions matter, as we respond within the challenges that we’ll navigate. It’s definitely a journey, not a destination.

“… What I can do is offer myself, wholehearted and present, to walk with the people I love through the fear and the mess. That’s all any of us can do. That’s what we’re here for.” – Shauna Niequist

Our Leadership Muscle

March 12, 2018 at 12:05 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Leadership is like a muscle, it has to be worked if we want to be able to build up, maintain and have access to its purposeful skills, attitudes and behaviours throughout our journeys of potential. This takes effort, practice and consistency though, just like regularly going to the gym to develop any of the muscles that are in our bodies. This is why I was left feeling so humbled and inspired by a particular reflection from a Year 6 participant last Thursday. What she shared at the end of her classes L.E.A.D. with Me Program session summed up so beautifully our hopes for all the students we have the privilege to support.

“People tend to believe that practice makes perfect. I however believe practice makes progress. There is no perfection but there is progress.” – Unknown

It was week 2 of 10 with the cohort’s three classes (each class completes a 90 minute session per week). She hadn’t been at the first session the week before so this was her first time participating within the various games, challenges and reflections that we use. From the beginning she’d shown a willingness to share her thoughts, but during the first half of the session she seemed to be very aware of the potential reactions of others as she spoke. She soon realised this was a safe space to dig deeper and was very open about the successes and challenges she and others were navigating. Our final reflection had just finished, I’m just about to pass the students back to their teacher, then her hand shot up one last time. “I feel like we’re going to be stronger at the end of this program”.

“I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy – I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.” – Art Williams

We know that leadership is a verb, not a noun. It’s why we use, ‘Leadership is action, not position’ (Donald H. McGannon) as the quote that underpins our leadership development programs. We’re in the leadership muscle building industry. We love hearing all about the different ways that participants go on to use their developing leadership potential to make a difference in their own and others lives. The Year 6 girls remark last Thursday reminded me of another L.E.A.D. with Me Program participant’s reflection at the end of the 10 weeks last year. When asked to describe in what ways she felt she’d most grown and developed throughout the L.E.A.D. with Me Program, she wrote; ‘Confident and I feel so much nicer now… Don’t exactly know why’. We know why, she put in effort, practice and consistency to build up her leadership muscles.

“Earn your leadership every day.” – Michael Jordan

Leadership is a journey, not a destination. It’s also not a competition to see who has the ‘biggest’ leadership muscles. It’s an invitation open to us all to own that our thoughts, words and actions matter, and when we purposefully use them we have the potential to make a difference for self, others and the world around us. But as the quote above explains, it’s an every day thing. We’re so fortunate to be walking this path alongside such inspiring students and their teachers. Participants who are open to, honest within and most importantly courageously take on practicing the skills, attitudes and behaviours that leaders have access to. What a journey it is!

“Leadership is a choice, not a position.” – Stephen Covey

Our Commitment

March 5, 2018 at 6:37 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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We’re called Explore Discover Act. Not Explore Discover Stop. So the commitment that comes along with this is to open up for our clients and the participants we work with meaningful connection to action beyond our program experiences. This is what excites and inspires us most. How individuals and groups use their learning and their developing leadership potential to make a difference in their own and others lives.

“Just as a pole vaulter uses a pole to catapult themselves over a horizontal bar, learning can propel an individual forward and upward.” – Emma Weber

Last week I had a conversation with a participant who completed our 10 week L.E.A.D. with Me Program last year in Year 4 that reminded me of this process. I was at the school again to work with their Year 6 students now over the coming 10 weeks. So many of the Year 5’s (the cohort I worked with last year) came running up to me at various times throughout the day to say hi and chat about what’s been happening since the last time I saw them. One particular boy’s comments really jumped out to me though.

“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.” – Dr. Denis Waitley

As we spoke I asked him who his new teacher was this year. Then on hearing his answer I enquired whether he had a lot of his friends from last years class in with him again this year. His response was so inspiring. He quickly said, ‘Remember what we kept saying last year about stepping out of your comfort zone and connecting with different people, well I’ve made so many new friends because I’m in with so many new people this year’. The practice he’d been developing was now a practice that is being used.

“Learning is not the product of teaching. Learning is the product of the activity of learners.” – John Holt

This is why experiential learning is our vehicle of choice as we deliver programs. We want to give the participants the opportunity to learn by doing, with reflection. It’s also why we provide ongoing communication to our clients. We want to give the participants the opportunity to continue building their leadership potential even after we’re gone. But most importantly though, it’s why we so passionately deliver the experiences that we have the privilege of facilitating. We want to give the participants the opportunity to be engaged, challenged and inspired as we and they explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically.

“Thought and learning are of small value unless translated into action.” – Wang Yangming

Thank you to all the leaders we have the pleasure of supporting who remind us daily what it means to courageously use your thoughts, words and actions to make a difference in our own and others lives!

Probortunity

February 26, 2018 at 6:11 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I love learning new things. Especially when it’s as simple as a word, phrase or quote that has the potential to act as an anchor for myself or others as we navigate our learning and leadership journeys. This past week I was gifted a good one. A Stage 3 teacher enthusiastically chose to share it during one of our reflections around embracing challenge.

“Every problem has a gift for you in its hands.” – Richard Bach

‘We use a particular word for what you’re describing in our classrooms’, he responded, ‘probortunity’. He, like the students in the group, were making connections from their experience to the various learning environments that they’ll continue navigating beyond the program. I loved the words reframing application straight away. What’s the probortunity? Shifts my focus instantly.

“In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.” – Albert Einstein

As the saying explains, ‘where attention goes, energy flows’. We’d all have experienced becoming fixated on the things we can’t control. That quicksand feeling, sinking deeper and deeper into the perceived problem that’s in front of us. But what’s the opportunity that lies within the situation, interaction, etc.? Now that opening up to possibility has a different feeling completely!

“Problems can become opportunities when the right people come together.” – Robert Redford

One new word definitely doesn’t fix everything, that’s for sure. But luckily we as leaders are more interested in building anyway. So this new word could become part of a practice, like the students and teachers have done at our client school last week. A helpful way of navigating the inevitable ups and downs that we all encounter each and every day. Because our thoughts, words and actions do matter!

“Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

An Attitude of Gratitude

February 19, 2018 at 6:16 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 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?

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

 

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