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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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?

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.

 

BT

August 20, 2018 at 7:55 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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We love inspiration days. We schedule them often throughout the year as a reminder of inspirations importance within our individual and shared journeys of potential. They’re designed to be all around purposefully deepening connection. To self. Others. And the world around us. And of course, they’re about getting playful and having a lot of fun as well.

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar

Our August adventure was just over a week ago. We were met with beautiful winter sun. Incredible views. Awesome company. And really importantly, deep and meaningful conversations. I love being able to learn more about the people we share this journey with. And it was something that one person shared early on during the day that really got under my skin.

“We Are Better Together … We can’t lift heavy weight by ourselves or solve complex problems by ourselves, but together we are remarkable.” – Simon Sinek

We say often to participants that leadership is a shared endeavour, not a solo sport. It’s a theme we strive to embody each and every day, allowing it to guide our thoughts, words, and actions. So when I heard about this particular mantra that these two sisters identified long ago as being important to them and share, I was immediately moved. BT (Better Together) is just perfect. And the best part is it’s not just words to them, they live it as well.

“A single arrow is easily broken, but not 10 in a bundle.” – Japanese Proverb

It was incredible to listen to a series of stories that illustrated how BT has positively impacted their lives. Connection really is the glue that holds our humanness together, and here was an inspiring example of that playing out. We all navigate a multitude of successes and challenges over the years, and I was immediately filled with gratitude for all those who remember and practice, ‘We rise by lifting others’ – Robert Ingersoll. But the fits of laughter that came next, I wasn’t really prepared for that at all.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

As the two sisters creatively brainstormed one day how they could commemorate BT, they discovered a potential snag to one of their ideas. Matching BT tattoos were being thrown around as a goer, with the buttocks a possible location. ‘Oh no’, came the cry as an important remembering occurred, ‘that’s dad’s initials!’ Their shock long ago became our shared laughter today, and our latest inspiration day was off to a roaring start. Life definitely is ‘Better Together’.

“The power of one, if fearless and focused, is formidable, but the power of many working together is better.” – Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

 

 

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?

Taking On The Challenge

May 7, 2018 at 5:20 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Just over a week ago I got the opportunity to have a quick trip up to one of my happy places. The Blue Mountains have always felt like a second home, I’ve been so fortunate right throughout my life to spend time there with family and friends. Nowadays trips also include amazing adventures with some great people who live up there (like I’ve written about in the past, climbing, abseiling and canyoning). The week before provided another great example of challenging myself, while also getting playful with a particular challenge that I set for my friend.

“Don’t limit your challenges; challenge your limits.” – Jerry Dunn

I’m the least experienced climber out of the four of us (if you don’t take into account their 8 month old baby who came with us the other week – see photo below). So for me the challenge we’re navigating can feel amplified on these adventure days. But I’m always inspired by what I’m actually capable of doing with the support of friends who first of all have incredible expertise. Then secondly, who believe so much in my potential (even when at certain times I may be doubting it). And then really importantly, see success through a lens of courageously stretching comfort zones, putting in effort and celebrating growth. It’s such a privilege to spend time with people like that.

“Challenges are what makes life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” – Joshua J. Marine

So now to the picture above, this is where the playful challenge comes in for my friend. The 25m climb we were doing was new to me, but was one my friend had done many times before. You may notice he’s only got one shoe on, sorry Marty. What you may not be able to see is the blindfold he’s also wearing. As I belayed I was in awe of the way he was open to the challenge, navigated safely the ups and downs that he encountered along the way, and then reflected on what this new experience had taught him once he returned back down to the ground. A challenge is always an opportunity, if we choose to embrace it in that way.

“Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new center of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a new way to stand.” – Oprah Winfrey

These adventure days always remind me of the importance of challenge within our journeys of potential. They also always remind of how important continuing to be a participant is when you’re a facilitator. If I’m hoping to foster choosing courage over comfort within our programs, then I have to also be reflecting on, practicing and celebrating those skills, attitudes and behaviours within my own life as well. I can’t wait for the next opportunity to explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically with my friends again in the Blue Mountains. I wonder what challenge I’ll have to be open to then.

“We don’t grow when things are easy; we grow when we face challenges.” – Joyce Meyer

Which Question?

April 29, 2018 at 11:49 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I love asking questions. The potential responses they open up, the responses themselves and the subsequent questions inspired by those responses give me such a buzz. I tell this to participants all the time, I’m a full bodied learner. On many occasions the buzz created within me by questions and responses becomes visible so others can see it as well. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

“I never learn anything talking. I only learn things when I ask questions.” – Lou Holtz

About a month ago a friend and I spent the weekend on the Royal Coast Walk, camping overnight at the picturesque North Era. It was all up about 30km walking over the two days, so there was plenty of time for questions and responses. We had great conversations around a number of areas but it was one particular question I asked my friend that’s had me asking a lot of other people the same question since. ‘What is the most important or valuable question that you ask yourself or others each day?’

“We live in worlds our questions create.” – David Cooperrider

I loved his response. It was a work related one for him, with its perceived simplicity getting me hooked straight away. My friend shared the potential gateway his question opens up to so many positive, connection filled and empowering thoughts, words and actions for their students that can follow because of it. Within lives an invitation to get playful, curious and engage with self, others and the world around them. I love the power of questions.

“Questions are the engines of intellect – the cerebral machines that convert energy to motion, and curiosity into controlled inquiry.” – David Hackett Fischer

It’s been so much fun asking many people this question over the past month. There’s been such a variety of responses, and a million subsequent questions arising from those responses. There have been some similarities of course, but mainly it’s opened up for me a greater understanding of what uniquely makes each individual tick. It’s such a privilege to listen. So what would your response be? There’s no right or wrong, just an opportunity to reflect on what role questions play within your individual and shared journey of potential.

“If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask… for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.” – Albert Einstein

 

How Important is the Spirit of the Game?

April 23, 2018 at 5:32 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Listening to someone share their passion can be such a joy. Time can almost stand still in those moments as you get swept up in the depth of connection that person has to their particular interest. And when it’s also resonating with those around the person sharing, well that’s where great conversations, engagement and learning really live. One particular example of this from last week still has me buzzing.

“When you’re surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.” – Howard Schultz

The passion was Ultimate Frisbee. The person sharing was one inspiring 18 year old girl. As she spoke more and more questions began flying around from the group as we pulled apart and got playful with what had each of our curiosities piquing. One central theme had hooked me though. The deep respect for and intentional processes created to support embodying the Spirit of the Game. Whether it be before the game, within the game or after the game. To be honest, from what I was hearing it felt like it rippled right throughout a players life.

“Your opponent is your partner, not your enemy. Honor him and the game by giving him the respect of your best effort. Together, push each other to play the game as well as you can play it so that when it’s over, no matter who wins, both of you can be proud of the excellence your competition created.” – Matt Weiss, Shady Side Academy Boys Division II

No umpires or referees. Advisors strategically placed around the field who can be called on for their perspective if it’s required. The ability to in an empowering way make known when you feel possession has been impacted in a way that’s outside of the rules. Then the ability to in an empowering way challenge that call that’s been made against you. Processes that support the constructive and effective resolution to these calls or challenges. The list could go on and on. But then I heard about Spirit Captains and Spirit Time Outs and the game transformed. It reminded me of what true leadership looks, sounds and feels like.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

How often in sport, work, learning or our home environments do we feel ours or others thoughts, words or actions shift or slip away but we haven’t established the processes to purposefully pause, connect and realign to what’s most important? How often do we separate, isolate and exclude ourselves or others as we navigate the inevitable challenges, conflicts and misunderstandings that have to be navigated? How often do we feel that we’d love to be able to live up to our individual and shared code (values that guide our purposeful thoughts, words and actions that allow us to make a difference in our own and others lives) but winning has got to take precedent as that’s what success is? So many thoughts came to mind as I listened and asked questions last week, and subsequently have pondered it since.

“The real goal of what we’re doing is to have a positive impact on the world.” – Ed Catmull

I loved that there were Spirit Captains. Leaders who not only can make a difference within their own team when it comes to embodying the Spirit of the Game, but also when interacting with the other team’s Spirit Captain when a Spirit Time Out is called. I loved that when a Spirit Time Out is called both teams circle up in the middle of the field when the conversation is being had. Not one team on each side of the circle, instead all players intentionally intermixed to represent what they know to be true. I loved the emphasis on the Spirit of the Game. They’ve worked out their why, and it’s definitely bigger than winning and losing. Nothing is perfect, that’s for sure, but there was plenty to love from what I was listening to last week.

“Leaders have three fundamental responsibilities: They craft a vision, they build alignment, and they champion execution.” – The Work of Leaders

 

In Partnership With

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Spark

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

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