Planting Seeds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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It’s Not About Arriving

October 30, 2017 at 7:14 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I can’t believe that we are almost at the end of our year long leadership program for young adults within SCARF here in the Illawarra (Strategic Community Assistance for Refugee Families). What a ride it’s been, and such a privilege to spend time with incredibly inspiring difference makers each month. We’ve had the opportunity to pull apart what leadership is, and then over the months develop transferable skills, attitudes and behaviours that will assist us all along our journeys. Saturday’s session was definitely no different, but with an added bonus thrown in.

“Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flow charts. It is about one life influencing another.” John C. Maxwell

We were delighted when we heard that Manal Younus (http://www.manalyounuspoetry.com) would be in Wollongong and joining us within our Let’s L.E.A.D. session on Saturday. She was a special guest for SCARF’s major fundraiser over the weekend (Art for Refugees) and graciously made time to join in on our learning and also share her gifts and talents as well. I love spoken word poetry, and Manal is so talented in it. Our whole group was transfixed as she shared a few of her pieces of work at the end of the session and then created a discussion that supported the learning and leadership journeys that we’re all on.

“Spoken word poetry is the art of performance poetry. I tell people it involves creating poetry that doesn’t just want to sit on paper, that something about it demands it be heard out loud or witnessed in person.” – Sarah Kay

One line in particular from the first poem Manal shared really resonated deeply with me. I couldn’t, and still can’t, get it out of my head. It comes from the poem linked in the YouTube clip above from her first ever National Poetry Slam entry a few years ago. The line is ‘… and prefer to be in planes that are taking off than ones that are just landing’. It couldn’t have come at a better time as I’m thinking about this idea of ‘the end’ of this year long leadership program. Leadership, and this process, is definitely not about arriving.

“Real leadership is less about seeking applause and rewards and more about doing the best work you’ve ever done and having an impact you’ve never imagined.” – Robin Sharma

Each moment is a new opportunity to take off. Each moment is a new opportunity to learn. And most importantly, each moment is a new opportunity to contribute. We’re not reaching ‘the end’ of our year long leadership program because that’s not what leadership is about. I can’t wait to continue being a support to, and being supported by, these incredible difference makers. As leaders do!

A Piece of the Puzzle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Journeying Beside

June 26, 2017 at 8:00 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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As schools around NSW prepare to break up this week for the winter holidays I thought it’d be a good time to reflect on something I think regularly about. I love language. How it sounds. How it connects. What it means (or doesn’t mean). But I also love digging deeper into where it has come from.

“All assessment is a perpetual work in progress.” – Linda Suskie

‘Assess’ is definitely one of those words that is used a lot in educational settings. So as students take home their half yearly reports this week they will include results, observations and findings gathered through a wide range of assessments. Some will have fallen within the general category of formal assessments. While others would of been gathered informally. Putting these categories aside for a minute though, the origin of the word ‘assess’ can really assist us as we navigate its purpose and practical applications.

“Origin and Etymology of assess. Middle English, probably from Medieval Latin assessus, past participle of assidēre, from Latin, to sit beside.” – www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/assess

I absolutely love the phrase, ‘to sit beside’. It immediately fills me with pictures in my mind of the most powerful assessment tools that I’ve used myself or witnessed others using over the years. We are all learners. So we’d all know the feelings of when assessment is used to engage, empower and guide the most effective navigation of our individual and shared learning journeys. Unfortunately though, assessment can sometimes feel like a weapon being used to judge, separate and stifle. Reflecting on this original meaning regularly reminds me of the purposeful thoughts, words and actions that make the biggest difference in our own and others lives.

“For teachers, as for students, the most effective evaluation comes from someone who sits beside us and helps us grow.” – Carol Ann Tomlinson

Thank you to all those incredible teachers, students and school communities who have courageously chosen progress over perfection during this first half of the 2017 school year. Enjoy your upcoming holiday break, and we look forward to continuing to explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically with you as Term 3 kicks off in a few weeks time.

Purposeful over Positional

March 6, 2017 at 5:08 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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“The most powerful leadership tool you have is your own personal example.” – John Wooden

Last Saturday we kicked off our year long ‘Let’s Lead’ program with SCARF Youth here in the Illawarra (Strategic Community Assistance for Refugee Families). We have 16 participants (16 – 28 yrs old) registered, who’ll be coming together on the last Saturday of each month. Between these sessions we’ll then be communicating online as we explore, reflect on and then practice the purposeful skills, attitudes and behaviours of choosing to lead. I think the biggest motivator for us all is to continue growing and developing our ability to be difference makers in our own and others lives. It’s an individual and collective journey of potential that we’re courageously taking together.

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

It is so inspiring to work with a group of participants who are willing to commit their valuable time, energy and contributions within a year long program like this one. I’ve shared the proverb above before (it’s one of my favourites) but it absolutely epitomises what this group is all about. As we pulled apart what leadership is within the first session of the year I was reminded of the importance of experiential learning within our leadership journeys. Using our own experiences and wisdom, along with the working definitions of leadership from others within our global village, we were able to make real the daily thoughts, words and actions that a leader embodies.

“Be purposeful. Be patient, and be active.” – John Assaraf

I can’t even imagine what ripples we will create individually and together as the year goes on. This is a really exciting part of leadership, when individuals and groups choose to navigate purposefully over positionally. We don’t need any special titles or circumstances to make a difference. We just need to keep coming back to an attitude of I Can, a belief in You Can, while inspiring We Can, as we journey together. It is such a privilege to be involved in the development of leadership potential. It’s a process. One that I’m grateful to be purposefully navigating.

“Leadership is influence.” – John C. Maxwell

For Colour, Transperancy

November 21, 2016 at 8:26 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The students we get to support are incredible. I am constantly being inspired by, learning from and growing because of their authentic engagement and contributions in our program days. Listening to participant responses, connections and reflections is one of the true pleasures of being a facilitator. Last week was no different as a Year 5 student, thinking outside the box, shared with the group such an important aspect of ‘being the change you wish to see in the world’.

“Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway.” – Mother Teresa

In creating similes and metaphors for leadership he chose as a colour transparency. I’ve heard so many colours used before in this activity, even combinations of colours like a rainbow, but never before this word. It cut right through. I think that’s the point. Transparency, honesty and authenticity brings out the realness that our families, schools, workplaces and communities are hungry for as we navigate the opportunities, successes and challenges within our 21st Century global village.

“Leadership is not a position. It consists of action with transparency and to set high example of integrity, honesty and to strive for welfare for all.” – Dr. Anil Kr Sinha

The sentiments expressed in the quote above are an inspiration for us as we support the development of leadership potential within our client schools and beyond. We believe ‘leadership is the purposeful practice of using our thoughts, words and actions to make a difference in our own and others lives’. This doesn’t need a badge. Or a particular title. Or any special ceremonial clothing. All it needs is individuals owning, practicing and remembering that our daily thoughts, words and actions matter, that we are all capable of making a difference in our own and others lives and that we’re all in this together.

“Transparency is the first step towards accountability.” – Unknown

As we get caught up in blame we forget and disown our own and each others humanness. So having the courage to mindfully and compassionately step into accountability through transparency just ‘makes more sense’. We as individuals and groups won’t ever nail it 100% of the time. But hopefully we can make it a practice to keep realigning the compass as we veer off course. Just like the inspiring leader will who shared this aspiration with the group last week.

“And transparency makes more sense.” – Envy Parade (The Love Before)

Our Generation

May 18, 2015 at 8:38 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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These past few weeks I have been showing and discussing the video above with some of the Stage 3 students who I have worked with. It has been so inspiring to hear these groups thinking, processing and expressing their thoughts and ideas about this powerful spoken word poem. Many themes and questions were raised by the individuals but there was a commonality within most of their responses. That commonality was in their language, an acceptance of individual and collective responsibility.

“Let us walk softly on the Earth with all living beings great and small.” – Cherokee Proverb

One student shot her hand up excitedly in the middle of our discussion. She wanted to share her connection to another poem that she had done a project on. She spoke with such passion as she explained how a 14 year old boy had written a poem that really inspired her and made her think about the choices that we will individually and collectively make to create the world that not only will we inhabit, but also leaving it for the generations to come. I have included below the poem that she spoke about to the group, written by Derek Nichols.

Here’s the transcript of the poem:

Our generation will be known for nothing.
Never will anybody say,
We were the peak of mankind.
That is wrong, the truth is
Our generation was a failure.
Thinking that
We actually succeeded
Is a waste. And we know
Living only for money and power
Is the way to go.
Being loving, respectful, and kind
Is a dumb thing to do.
Forgetting about that time,
Will not be easy, but we will try.
Changing our world for the better
Is something we never did.
Giving up
Was how we handled our problems.
Working hard
Was a joke.
We knew that
People thought we couldn’t come back
That might be true,
Unless we turn things around

(Read from bottom to top now – listed below)

Unless we turn things around
That might be true,
People thought we couldn’t come back
We knew that
Was a joke.
Working hard
Was how we handled our problems.
Giving up
Is something we never did.
Changing our world for the better
Will not be easy, but we will try.
Forgetting about that time,
Is a dumb thing to do.
Being loving, respectful, and kind
Is the way to go.
Living only for money and power
Is a waste. And we know
We actually succeeded
Thinking that
Our generation was a failure.
That is wrong, the truth is
We were the peak of mankind.
Never will anybody say,
Our generation will be known for nothing.

Both pieces shared here (the video and poem) offer within them contrasting versions of the future that we are creating. How can our generation explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically, while deepening connection to self, others and the world around us?

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