The Intersection

October 15, 2018 at 12:51 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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School’s back. Fourth term starts today and we’re excited to again share in the learning and leadership journeys of the students and teachers who we’ll work with. So much happens over the next couple of months within a school. Lots more learning of course. Bringing together student’s growth and development through reporting. Celebration of all that’s transpired this year. And planning for ‘where to next’. That’s why we’re hoping both students and teachers enjoyed a refreshing break over the past two weeks before enthusiastically jumping back into the adventures that lie ahead.

During the holidays one of my not so guilty pleasures is catching up on reading. I’ve always got books on the go, but a break usually provides a few more opportunities to sit and read for that little bit longer. Last week, on a rainy day, I got lost in a new book that I bought that morning. My first Mitch Albom book was ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ close to 20 years ago. But it’s a certain line from ‘The Next Person You Meet In Heaven’ (that I read last week) that has me remembering why we’re so passionate about developing leadership potential within our client schools.

So often leadership is viewed as a position. It carries thoughts of waiting or not being ready, change being someone else’s responsibility, and needing to be elected or given a platform by others if we want to help. That’s a pretty disempowering list and doesn’t reflect the Leader’s Lens that we’re privileged to help shape through our program experiences and ongoing communication with our clients. The Leader’s Lens is all about the development of purposeful skills, attitudes and behaviours that are open to us all. This enables us as individuals and groups to consistently notice and act on opportunities to be difference makers.

So back to the line from the book I was reading, and why it resonated so deeply. It read, ‘That the end of loneliness is when someone needs you’. Ten words only, but I found them to be such a powerful reminder. This intersection is navigated by us all, over and over again, each and every day. It’s when we’re experiencing a particular emotion or feeling, so what will we do next? The lens we view whatever is happening through really does make a difference. Then the choice/s we make have the potential to open pathways, or leave us lost and assigning blame because there’s nothing we can do.

Thank you to all those we have the pleasure of practicing leading with. Leaders aren’t defined by being in control, not making mistakes or being perfect. Together we’re able to courageously and authentically embrace the gifts, opportunities and challenges that leadership presents. We’ll remember, forget at times, and then remember again, that ‘leadership is action, not position’ – Donald H. McGannon. So when we notice an intersection in front of us we’ll be able to choose thoughts, words and actions that allow us to deepen connection to, and make a difference for, self, others and the world around us. It’s time to get back to work!

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It’s In The Eyes

October 8, 2018 at 5:50 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Holidays, got to love them! A chance to refresh, recharge and recalibrate. We kind of can’t believe there’s only one more term to go in this current school year. But we’re really looking forward to again walking shoulder to shoulder with our client schools after the break. Bring on all the adventures, learning and growth that those ten weeks will hold.

As I sit here reflecting on the last ten weeks it’s a teacher’s comment on one of our last program days that bubbles up first. You know how passionate we are about developing leadership potential, and we love when participants and teachers feel that too. Sharing a message we believe so deeply in has us feeling lit up as we facilitate. And it’s a privilege to watch the students embrace this state as well.

So, we’re more than half way through the aforementioned program day. It’s our second year working with this client school. It’s proving to be another great group of Year 5 students to work with. These leaders are locked in. We are as well.

Then one of the teachers sidles up. She says, ‘You must have the most incredible job satisfaction’. I’m filled with gratitude as we talk. We really do love what we do. We really do love having the opportunity to share our passion with others. And we really do love being a part of the growth and development of all those we are privileged to work with. Leadership is a shared endeavour, and we get to take this journey with such inspiring individuals and groups.

So why the name of this post. So often when we talk to teachers during program days they refer to the look in their students eyes. They’re lit up, and the teachers will comment on how inspired as educators they feel because of that. We’re all about engaging, challenging and inspiring participants. What a joy it is to have others notice how lucky we are as well.

 

A B C’s

October 1, 2018 at 1:45 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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(Image from – https://littletruthsstudio.com/collections/art-prints/products/abcs-of-life-art-print-1)

I love opening messages from friends sharing something they’ve seen and think I should as well. Whether it’s a video, quote or image, it always feels like a surprise gift as it’s opened. My friends know me well, and I’m always so grateful for the opportunity to learn and be inspired by what’s been shared. The image above came into my inbox just over a week ago, and its had me thinking ever since.

Learning your A B C’s is a universal adventure (or their equivalent within another language). It’s challenging. It takes time. We make many mistakes. We start early within our journeys of potential. And we need lots of help to be able to learn them and use them effectively. But the reward of our interdependent hard work and effort is that we then have access to a language that we can share and collectively communicate with.

So what about these life A B C’s pictured above? Do we as individuals, families and communities intentionally spend enough time crafting road maps that reflect authentic values, priorities and practices? How does the process of developing, embodying and celebrating life A B C’s show up within your spheres of influence? Does individually and collectively identifying what’s most important allow us to more mindfully navigate the successes and challenges we encounter? These are some of the questions that we think about regularly as we support the development of leadership potential within our client schools.

So what would your version of this life A B C’s look like? There’s always going to be potential noise, distraction and shininess that drags our purposeful focus off course. So having a compass that brings us consistently and compassionately back to what we can control, rather than getting lost, disheartened and absorbed in what we can’t, seems like a very worthwhile endeavour to engage in. Thanks for the courageous ways you choose to make a difference in your own and others lives each and every day. Your courage to explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically is contagious.

 

What’s Driving The Action?

September 23, 2018 at 7:47 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Are you participating in Steptember? Or do you follow already how many steps you take each day? There’s definitely a growing awareness around the benefits of 10,000. It seems to be becoming a valuable reminder of the importance of movement within busy and sometimes sedentary 21st Century lives. But when it comes to wellbeing initiatives within our spheres of influence, what’s driving the action?

“It’s not enough to be industrious; so are the ants. What are you industrious about?” — Henry David Thoreau, in a letter to H.G.O. Blake

What got me thinking about this recently was two workplace initiatives I was told about. Both were crafted with the seemingly same intention, but appeared to elicit very different feelings as each initiative went on. Leaders are always striving to notice and then act on opportunities to engage, challenge and inspire those around them. But sometimes a seemingly well intentioned driver doesn’t align with the intended ripples that were being sought out through the individual or group action that follows.

“Leadership is intentional influence.” – Michael McKinney

One example left me feeling so inspired. It also really inspired the person who was sharing the story with me. It comes from within an organisation that has leadership teams that are geographically dispersed. In an effort to encourage positive wellbeing and movement over the course of a month, an initiative was developed for these leaders that focussed around the theme of collective achievement. As each leader contributed their daily steps reading, it was then being collated into a group reading and celebrated through mapping how far around Australia they were walking.

“A community is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm.” – Henrik Johan Ibsen, An Enemy of the People, Billing, Act I

What we (I and the person telling me about the initiative) found most inspiring was what happened next. Not only were there health benefits being created as some leaders became more active, increased communication and connection was also being experienced. Certain leaders began sharing facts, stories and quotes within the group channels to encourage and build on what was starting to ripple. Leaders began learning more about each other as they chose to be vulnerable within their wellbeing journeys. And really importantly it brought the leaders closer together as success was linked to what they could achieve by working collectively.

“Cooperation is always more powerful than competition.” – Bob Proctor

Now let’s contrast this with the other example that was shared with me. Same idea, encourage positive wellbeing and movement over the course of a month, but very different ripples created. This organisation chose to break participants up into four teams, who would compete against each other to see which team achieved the most steps over that time. Each participant paid to join the challenge, with the winning team being given all the money collected as the prize. Team captains were responsible for chasing up and recording the team’s daily reading, with screenshots required as proof of steps taken each day so there was no cheating.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African Proverb

You can probably guess some of the things that happened next. As I was being told all about them my heart sank as to the potential missed opportunities for these participants. There was tension around who was grouped with who. There was judgement around who had or hadn’t pulled their weight for their team. There was a sense of resignation early in the initiative for some as they believed they were too far behind and couldn’t win. There was frustration created as participants were being chased for their entry fee well after it had all finished. Success seemed to be linked to being the winner, not a loser.

“Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” – Mattie Stepanek

What’s driving the action really matters. It’s how we engage, challenge and inspire those who we share our journeys with. If we want change, growth and development to be lasting, particular feelings need to accompany ongoing practices if they’re to be integrated after the initiative as well. No initiative is perfect, or will appeal in the same way to every member of a group participating. But as leaders we’re courageous enough to keep trying. So what do you want to get rippling within your spheres of influence? And what will you use to drive the action towards that goal?

“We’re all working together; that’s the secret.” – Sam Walton

The Field We Love Playing On

May 13, 2018 at 11:56 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” – Rumi

The quote above has stayed closely with me ever since I first heard it many years ago. It’s a theme that I strive to personally embody (imperfectly) and professionally foster (again imperfectly) each and every day. Our individual and shared journeys of potential can at times feel littered by judgement and competition (a combination of our own and others). Whether that judgement and competition is real, perceived or feels embedded and immovable, it’s presence can have a significant impact on our ability to lead and make a difference in our own and others lives.

“Cooperation is the thorough conviction that nobody can get there unless everybody gets there.” – Virginia Burden

Cooperative advantage for us is how we change the game. Unpacking, fostering and leveraging it within our own and others lives opens up pathways to purposefully reconnect with the field we love playing on. Interconnectedness is our innate way of being as humans. It’s also how we most effectively bring leadership to life. This past week I got to witness another inspiring example of what’s possible when we consistently reflect on, practice and celebrate cooperative advantage within our spheres of influence.

“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” – Harry S Truman

The Year 6 students were completing their 9th L.E.A.D. with Me weekly session. The three classes have only got one more program day this week that will conclude this part of the program. The reason I say this part of the program is we are always committed to connection to meaningful action beyond all our program experiences, whether it’s through ongoing communication, reflection opportunities or the continued practice of the student’s developing skills, attitudes and behaviours. That’s why last week’s session was all about how do we bridge the gap, between where we are and where we can be.

“The real challenge is for each of us to determine where we feel we can make the most impact.” – Jay Samit

In a particular challenge two groups became one. They weren’t told to. They didn’t need to ask permission to. And they certainly weren’t looking for recognition from others for doing so. They just noticed, and then acted on, that the combination of people, resources and time would be so much more effective this way than trying to go it alone. It was powerful to watch. Especially because in the now bigger group no one needed to be in control. There were invitational questions, each group member was heard, everyone bought in, everyone played a role, and really importantly everyone celebrated the journey up to and post completion. It was cooperative advantage in action.

“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilisation work.” – Vince Lombardi

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.

Anybody Got Feedback?

August 7, 2017 at 3:19 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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During the past week I got to spend two days training 40 Year 6 students who are taking on the role of Ambassadors within their school community. It’s the start of a brand new program that I’m helping the school develop, and what an inspiring two days it turned out to be. I had worked with the whole Year 6 cohort at the beginning of the year (our L.E.A.D. with Courage™: Stage 3 Leaders Program), then reconnected with their 12 elected leaders a couple of weeks after for a day, but now I was back to support those courageous students who had put their hand up to be a part of this brand new school initiative.

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” – Bill Gates

There were so many highlights that came out of the experience but one particular aspect of the process really shone through as vitally important. Giving and receiving feedback are skills that need to be practiced. Being open to and filtering feedback are also skills that need to be practiced. Carving out time for and then using the constructive feedback we receive are again also skills that need to be practiced. This list could keep going on and on but as the quote above suggests, the reason for this type of practice is that feedback is vital if we are serious about wanting to improve in anything. And these students, and the client school, and us at Explore Discover Act, are definitely serious about continual growth and development.

“Feedback is a gift. Ideas are the currency of our next success. Let people see you value both feedback and ideas.” – Jim Trinka and Les Wallace

Many times throughout the two days the teachers and I were left in awe by the way these Ambassadors stepped out of their comfort zones and made real a piece/s of feedback that they, other individuals or the group as a whole received. They themselves were the catalyst for most of the valuable, compassionate and explicit feedback that was being shared, either through informal or formal opportunities within the program, or through our living walls that were being filled up with questions, ideas and connections. I can’t wait to hear all about the incredible contributions that these students will continue to make within their school community as Ambassadors, purposefully using their thoughts, words and actions to make a difference in their own and others journeys of potential.

“One of the things that I’ve learned is to be receptive of feedback.” – Ben Silbermann

I’d just like to leave you with the reflections of one the teachers who I had the pleasure of working with closely throughout this process, and over the past few years. Her commitment, and the schools, to providing the students with engaging, challenging and inovative learning opportunities continues to energise and inspire me. What a privilege it is to get to do what we get to do!

‘WOW!  What an amazing 2 days. I have walked away feeling energised and inspired, as I know the students have as well (their body language said it all). On behalf on Emma and myself, I’d like to acknowledge the wonderful work you did with our students, your professionalism and expertise to get the most out of them was wonderful to witness.

Over the 2 days I reflected on the students responses and engagement and felt proud that they were able to articulate all the passions they have for our school. It was satisfying to hear them talk, discuss and have a valued voice to share what they believe our school to be on such a deep level. It demonstrated that the aspects we have been putting into programs is truly making them confident young people.

Thank you so much again for an engaging 2 days.’ – Year 6 Teacher/Assistant Principal

How often?

July 31, 2017 at 7:06 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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“Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them.” – Brené Brown

It’s Saturday afternoon as I’m writing this. I’ve just finished facilitating the July session of our year long Let’s L.E.A.D. Program with SCARF Youth here in the Illawarra (Strategic Community Assistance for Refugee Families). I’m feeling so inspired (again). But also reflective. So much of what came up within the session today, plus what a Year 5 girl said during one of our program days a week ago, keeps bouncing around my head.

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

As you know I’m passionate about leadership. I love learning more about it. I love talking about it. I love noticing it. But I guess what’s even more important than all that is how often do I embody it and make it real through my thoughts, words and actions? As the Year 5 girl remarked so wisely within our program day last week, if leadership was a form of transport I’d choose a boat, they’re popular but how often do we use them?

“The most powerful leadership tool you have is your own example.” – John Wooden

The challenge of leading inspires me (the purposeful use of my thoughts, words and actions to make a difference in my own and others lives). I love that the Year 5 girl’s comment, the work being undertaken by the participants involved in our year long Let’s L.E.A.D. group and my own reflections on those above are not mired in judgement, but rather are a part of the process of staying curious, compassionate and purposefully aligned (and continuing to realign) along the leadership journey. It’s definitely not about perfection. I’ll take progress and creating ripples over that each and every day.

“Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.” – Vince Lombardi

The Spark

February 20, 2017 at 6:16 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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shutterstock_135091277

Not only was this past week full of amazing participants, but it was also full of amazing conversations. We are so very grateful for the depth of connection we’ve been privileged to foster within our client schools as we are welcomed so warmly into each unique learning environment. I love the conversations that I have with the Principals, Assistant Principals and teachers who I interact with during a program day. These conversations open up the pathways to most effectively journey together towards the vision of ‘informed, connected and empowered individuals believing deeply in their own and others potential’.

“To embark on the journey towards your goals and dreams requires bravery. To remain on that path requires courage. The bridge that merges the two is commitment.” – Dr. Steve Maraboli

One of the conversations this week that left me feeling so inspired was with an Assistant Principal within one of our client schools. Throughout the day we had the opportunity to discuss many things. One is how I will be assisting the school to empower a group of Year 6 leaders to build their own learning experiences that they will then deliver for the rest of the cohort within a new Ambassadors Program. Another involved the potential of facilitating a Professional Learning experience this year for their staff at the school, as well as another day for all the staff involved in the network of schools their connected to who come together once a year. But the most inspiring part came when she explained an innovative program they developed last year and the ripples they are now experiencing from it.

“If you want something you have never had, you must be willing to do something you have never done.” – Thomas Jeffersom

After noticing on their school camp that other schools who do bikes head off around the bushtrack at the Centre, compared to their own group staying in a controlled setting, this Assistant Principal enquired why. They use this camp every year and had just thought that this was the way the activity was always run. In the subsequent conversation the camp staff explained that due to the amount of students within the cohort who required scooters, because of their lack of experience on bikes, this bushtrack extension of the activity wasn’t possible within their program. Rather than just accept that this was the way it always has to be, or get angry and look to blame someone or something, this Assistant Principal used this spark to turn a challenge into an opportunity.

“Action expresses priorities.” – Mohandas Gandhi

A teacher from the school put his hand up at the beginning of last year and went to Victoria to become qualified in bike education. The school dedicated some financial resources to purchase two bikes to pilot a program at their school. Then because of its success they bought a fleet of bikes and rolled out the program in a much larger way. Because of the enthusiasm and interest it caused within the school community it was then expanded to include parents learning to ride after school hours. A ripple created from this resulted in students receiving bikes for birthdays/Christmas/etc. and families choosing to use leisure time riding within the local community. And incredibly, just 12 months on from that conversation with camp staff, a whole cohort of kids experienced the bushtrack extension whilst at camp at the end of 2016! Wow, what an incredible example of exploring the possibilities, discovering potential and acting authentically.

“People become really quite remarkable when they start thinking that they can do things. When they believe in themselves they have the first secret of success.” – Norman Vincent Peale

We all encounter ‘the spark’ on a regular basis within our journeys of potential. What we choose to do next though is completely up to us.

Bridging: Ideas into Action

January 1, 2017 at 10:22 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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ACT

I wonder what 2017 will bring? There are certain things that are already booked into the calendar or are being planned, but obviously there is also so much open possibility as well. Within this open possibility there can be a focus on resolutions relating to outcomes. We’ve all done it, I’m going to ___________ (fill in the blank – lose 10kg, get a new job, etc.). And then in a few weeks time as we navigate choices, complexity and challenges the resolution seems to slip away. What we’re planning again this year is a mantra to guide our thoughts, words and actions focussed on process.

“An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.” – Buddha

Our plan: being passionately curious about how we as individuals and groups bridge ideas into action. Why: we believe so strongly in potential and in the difference that we are all able to make in our own and others lives. We also know (as described in the image above) that it is action that changes things. The bridge between knowing and doing though can be a challenging one. So, to be most effective in creating purposeful and powerful ripples ourselves and also serving the communities whom we support so they can do the same, making learning a priority is a must.

“Action expresses priorities.” – Mahatma Gandhi

How: to start with by asking questions (and plenty of them). We’ve already started on Twitter (@ExploreDiscAct) our Question of the Day to keep us focussed on this vital element of embodying this year’s mantra. We’ve also started organising conversations with inspiring individuals and groups who are being the change they wish to see in the world. Curiosity will lead the way. We can’t wait to see what we learn through engaging with and listening to all those we have the chance to interact with this year. Then finally we’re going to continue to share. Through our program experiences, ongoing communication with clients and of course through our various social media platforms like this Blog.

“Our real problem, then, is not our strength today; it is rather the vital necessity of action today to ensure our strength tomorrow.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

We love being involved in the development of leadership potential within our spheres of influence. Our vision remains, ‘informed, connected and empowered individuals believing deeply in their own and others potential’. Our programs are delivered predominantly in Primary Schools so we can assist in fostering purposeful skills, attitudes and behaviours in 21st Century learners. Having the courage to make a difference is a practice. One that we’re committed to fostering within participants from an early age. But most importantly, one that we’re committed to fostering within ourselves first. It’s in the process, not the outcome, that we have the opportunity of being the change.

“Nothing changes if nothing changes.” – Multiple attributions

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