Window Wound Down

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

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

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

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

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

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

I shoot back sincerely, ‘Thank you’.

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

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

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

 

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2019 Mantra

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 Year = 365 Opportunities

A Box of Chocolates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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.

 

Where Do We Start?

August 27, 2018 at 12:47 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Ever get caught in the feeling of enormity of something and not know how to begin? Ever put your, ‘It’ll never work’ hat on and talk yourself out of beginning in the first place? Ever feel like there’s never enough time so why bother beginning something new anyway? Whatever the case is at any given time, ‘Where do we start?’ can be a common hand brake on getting moving, rather than a playful trigger inviting purposeful action.

“To begin, begin.” – William Wordsworth

We’re not saying every idea, thought bubble or endeavour is worth investing our time, energy or resources in. We are saying though that there are those intuitive pangs or signals in our everyday that remind us as individuals and groups of our core values, difference making capacity or wellbeing metrics. This is where I’m reminded of a powerful phrase that danced through my ears last week as I walked early one morning. ‘Mindful states, build mindful traits’, was read by Dr. Dan Seigel as he shared his audiobook ‘Mindsight’ through my headphones.

“Good seasons start with good beginnings.” – Sparky Anderson

Rather than letting the totality of an outcome stop us from starting, we can build momentum and change through small courageous, consistent and playful beginnings. This is something we can all struggle with but it’s incredible what’s possible when we purposefully use our daily thoughts, words and actions rather than being left with a pattern of ‘what if’s’. This is especially true when we tap into interconnectedness. We’re not on this journey alone, so anything that helps us make a difference for self, others and the world around us can be supported and inspired by, as well as building positive accountability around the opportunities that exists.

“If you are the kind of person who is waiting for the ‘right’ thing to happen, you might wait for a long time. It’s like waiting for all the traffic lights to be green for five miles before starting the trip.” – Robert Kiyosaki

So what ‘Where do we start?’ questions are bouncing around within our journeys of potential at the moment? Who could we invite to walk this journey with us? How could we reframe the enormity of the ‘trait’, to the embodiment of the ‘state’? So many questions come to mind as we reflect on this important aspect of our lives. Importantly though, now comes the fun part (our favourite reframe), after noticing, acting. It’s why we chose the name Explore Discover Act. So let’s get moving!

“The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps – we must step up the stairs.” – Vance Havner

 

 

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?

Hope

May 28, 2018 at 6:45 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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What do you wish others cared more about? It might be each other. Or the environment. Maybe it’s wellbeing. Or inequality. I ask this question within our program experiences to dig deeper into participant’s passions, interests and purpose. One girl’s response recently though really moved me and has taken me on an exploration over the last month as to what it truly is and how it positively impacts a leader’s journey of potential.

“When the world says give up, hope whispers try it one more time.” – Unknown

Hope. Her response was as simple and as complex as that. It’s like she didn’t need to think about the question, at 11 years of age she just knew deep down that more of it in our homes, communities and the world would make such an impact. I loved then chatting with her further after her initial sharing. That conversation reopened me up to hope’s role when navigating the inevitable successes and challenges that life throws at us.

“Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.” – Suzanne Collins

Hope and optimism can so often be lumped together as one and the same. Listening to a podcast a few weeks ago really reminded me of their differences. Dr. Brené Brown so eloquently described the ongoing 3 part process that hope is: 1. Goal – not what you can’t control, measureable, achievable (real goal), 2. Pathway – I know how to get there, then if I fail I have the capacity to Plan B it (tenacity, grit, work around), if that doesn’t work I’ve got another one, and 3. Agency – I believe in my ability to do this. This process is obviously very different to optimism, having a positive outlook on the future.

“Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.” – Robert H. Schuller

The quote that underpins our leadership development programs is, ‘Leadership is action, not position’ – Donald H. McGannon. Leadership therefore is a verb (the daily embodiment of purposeful skills, attitudes and behaviours that allow us to make a difference in our own and others lives), not a noun (a position, title or rank). So thinking about the 3 part process of hope above, coupled with this quote, it’s definitely a central tenet within a leaders journey. I’ve loved this past month, noticing, listening, learning and being inspired by hope. How does hope show up within your spheres of influence?

“It takes courage to choose hope over fear.” – Mark Zuckerberg

 

 

 

 

 

 

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