A Little Hand

May 21, 2018 at 7:10 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Learning doesn’t happen in our comfort zone. It only happens when we courageously stretch. I share this reflection with participants all the time, therefore I know it’s important I also live it as well. So when my friend issued me a challenge the other week I had a choice to make. Stay comfortably where I was in an observer position. Or on this occasion, literally jump in!

“You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” – Brian Tracy

We were at a trampoline venue with my friend’s 3 children (7 years old, 5 and 3). It had been so much fun over the last hour and a half jumping, watching and laughing, then came my friends challenge. It was to jump off the trampoline the kids were now using and into the big foam pit. Not the biggest challenge in the world I know, but by that stage of the session I’d moved comfortably into watching mode. ‘Challenge accepted’ I said!

“We rise by lifting others.” – Robert Ingersoll

The three kids cheered me on as I moved onto the trampoline. Bounce, bounce, bounce and then splat is what happened next (luckily those pieces of foam are actually quite comfortable to land on). I’d never been in one of these big foam pits before and I was suddenly realising they are not the easiest things to get out of. Not being able to walk on the bottom meant I was floundering across to the side trying not to sink down too far as I pushed on. When I got to edge the next challenge suddenly appeared.

“Helping one person might not change the world, but it could change the world for one person.” – Unknown

The kids had made getting out after their go look so easy. I definitely did not. So as I momentarily struggled I was met with one of the most powerful gestures we can provide another as humans, a little hand. In this case it literally was a little hand, my friend’s 3 year old was closest to me and he so genuinely and cutely reached down to help pull me out. On seeing this, his 7 year old brother came running across to try and take over as he thought he’d be better able to assist. I thanked them both for offering, then scrambled my way out.

“A person’s most useful asset is not a head full of knowledge, but a heart full of love, an ear ready to listen and a hand willing to help others.” – Unknown

Those simple small gestures had such an impact on me. We all experience struggle, challenge and discomfort throughout our lives, and a little hand at those times really does go such a long way. Whether it’s family, friends, colleagues or a complete stranger, we can make such a difference through our thoughts, words and/or actions. No matter how old we are! A 3 year old reminded me of that.

“Helping others, without expecting anything in return is what true self-worth is all about.” – Gavin Bird

 

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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

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

 

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.

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

Stepping Into The Dojo

July 23, 2017 at 11:55 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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During the past week I tried a certain activity for the very first time. There was plenty of excitement. There was plenty of anticipation. There was plenty of nervousness as well. But as my friend and I finished the class, and have subsequently reflected on the experience, there were/are plenty of important reminders as well.

“You’ll never be bored when you try something new. There’s really no limit to what you can do!” – Dr. Seuss

Karate was the activity we tried. We had been thinking about it for a while now but had not created the space for giving it a go until last week. Life will always be full of responsibilities and what can feel like competing demands. It will also always be full of opportunities as well. Until we purposefully step into the dojo though (training area – whatever that may be for you) and try something new, we won’t be challenged, opened up by, learn from and then enjoy the ripples created through our individual and shared courage. Thinking about it, and doing it, are two very different things.

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” – Brian Tracy

The second powerful reminder related to the people who we share space with while we give things a go. My friend is such an inspiration, both through his own example and in the compassionate way he encourages, challenges and offers accountability within my journey of potential. On top of this aspect of support though was the incredible way we were welcomed into this new learning environment by the others within the class. From the Sensei, all the way through to the white belt beginners, there was an attitude of  ‘we’re with you’ embodied through thoughts, words and actions. One example that springs to mind was when we first entered the dojo, with I’m sure a look of unsurety on our faces. Two students casually walked past and said, ‘Don’t worry, we were in your exact position not too long ago’.

“Why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is.” – Mark Twain

I could go on and on about all the reminders that this experience provided my friend and I with but I think we all know deep down what’s out there waiting for us on the other side of our comfort zones. There will always be reasons or excuses that we can use to prove our decisions to stay ‘safely’ within. And also, not every dojo is the one for us to step into. But as the saying goes, ‘A comfort zone is a beautiful thing, but nothing ever grows there’. Have fun trying something new this week. It definitely doesn’t have to be an activity like karate, but what thoughts, words or actions are calling you?

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein

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

Reframing

January 9, 2017 at 4:18 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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How often do you get caught believing that there’s only one way, solution, possibility, truth, etc.? Maybe it’s only for a split second and then we catch ourselves. Maybe it’s for as long as a particular interaction is happening and then we catch ourselves. Maybe it’s for an extended period of time and then something finally clicks and we catch ourselves. That old adage of ‘nothing changes until you do’ definitely rings true for me as I reflect on our ability to reframe within our journeys of potential.

“Our key to transforming anything lies in our ability to reframe it.” – Marianne Williamson

A certain conversation the other day got me thinking about reframing within a leadership context. My friend was describing a recent adventure that had taken him out of his comfort zone in the Christmas period. As he described the navigation of new terrain he got to the part that had my curiosity peaking. It had to do with who (his friend or he) would take on the most challenging lead climb within the trip they were on and the way the two of them always decided choices like this.

“Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.” – Wayne W. Dyer

I love scissors, paper, rock, and so was very excited to hear that this playful method of deliberating was their way of deciding important decisions like this one. Even though my friend is a highly experienced and accomplished climber there’s always going to be times when his courage, skill and determination are tested. This trip was proving to be one of those times. When I heard he won (not sure if it was best of 1 or 3) I blurted out, so did you make your mate go first? I assumed now having the choice he may take the breather and climb second on this most challenging pitch. His response and the subsequent conversation had me so inspired. “The winner always takes it on”.

“If a problem can’t be solved within the frame it was conceived, the solution lies in reframing the problem.” – Brian McGreevy

It’s a mindset thing. Leadership isn’t about using some perceived or real power to deflect, shirk or redistribute responsibility. Instead leadership is brought to life in being prepared, willing and ready to use your empowered thoughts, words and actions to make a difference for self and others (even while we’re stretching within the struggle). Importantly, this type of self awareness can also assist us to be honest with ourselves and others in the process. It doesn’t mean that we won’t feel fear, doubt or uncertainty as we courageously lead. It just means that we’re willing to work through these feelings when they arise, without letting them define us, knowing why our thoughts, words and actions are important and that there’s support around us if we need it.

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” – Marcus Aurelius

If we are to bridge ideas into action then reframing seems to be an important tool. But like anything, reframing by itself won’t actually bring about change, growth, learning or transformation. The windows it opens needs to be followed by courageous action. It’s why the quote that underpins our L.E.A.D. with Courage™ philosophy remains, ‘Leadership Is an Action Not Position’ (Donald H. McGannon) as we explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically, TOGETHER.

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