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?

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Means, not an End

October 22, 2018 at 2:30 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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A few leadership reminders from the weekend:

1. Keep Showing Up

On Saturday I had the opportunity to attend a Youth Forum on Racism. It was a great investment of time and energy, as I soaked up stories of lived experiences, new information and strategies to most effectively navigate this and other issues within our spheres of influence. But I almost didn’t get there.

We all experience busyness, potential distractions and choice. But showing up is our ongoing means for opening up pathways to practice, learning and growth. I’m so grateful I made the choice to go.

2. Listening as the heart of Leadership

Listening involves not only hearing what’s happening within or around us, but courageously staying open to and willing to be changed by what we hear. This requires presence, mindfully navigating the interactions we are a part of. We all have prejudices, conscious and unconscious. If we’re not present, they can go unchecked.

This is why just showing up isn’t enough. How we show up is so important too.

3.  Keep Surrounding Yourself with Difference

If we always surround ourselves with the same voices, we’ll always think the same way. The way we think impacts the way we then speak and act. Purposefully seeking opportunities to deepen connection with individuals and groups that reflect and celebrate difference is not just in others interests. It’s in our interest as well.

A difference makers means is connection. The more we’re able to notice, foster and value it, the more we’re able to support those around us as we and they navigate the inevitable ups and downs that life presents. We definitely can’t control what others do. But we can influence, using our thoughts, words and actions to be the change we wish to see.

 

 

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!

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 Happening After We’re Gone

September 3, 2018 at 6:04 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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We love what we do. And I think if a particular conversation the other week is anything to go by that oozes out into how we do it as well. An organising teacher and I were chatting during the first break when she shared an interaction she’d had with one of the participants during the morning session. One of her students had sidled up and whispered at one stage, ‘Have you noticed how many times he’s said the word love?’ The teacher whispered back, ‘You can tell he loves what he does can’t you?’

“If your presence doesn’t make an impact, your absence won’t make a difference.” – Trey Smith

How can you create lasting impact if you’re not there all the time though? This is something we’re very mindful of as we seek to most effectively support the development of leadership potential within our client schools. We definitely want to have an impact on each of the individuals and the group as a whole while we’re there, that’s a given (whether it’s a day, multi day or multi year connection – some client schools we see the students right throughout their school years, while some we see while they’re within a particular year group). But lasting impact, leading to participants more effectively acting as difference makers within their spheres of influence is what lights us up most. Relationships matter, and it’s why feedback like we received below always leaves us feeling so humbled. (Find more examples of what our clients are saying: https://www.explorediscoveract.com.au/testimonials)

‘Over the years, Cameron has developed a relationship with our student body based on respect, responsibility and having fun! He actively engages with staff members to develop programs based on our student’s needs and provides ongoing support and lesson opportunities throughout the school year through regular email correspondence.’

So lets fast forward to last Sunday. We’re in the process of sending out our next set of ongoing communication to our client schools. It’s all part of our commitment to connection to meaningful action beyond our program experiences. So many clients share with us what aspects of this communication they find most helpful. But it was two particular emails that came bouncing back to us that had us smiling all the way into the new week. The first had the extra surprise of something to watch. We loved the short video they’d created, and can’t wait to see the students next term to tell them in person as well. This particular client school we support through our L.E.A.D. with Courage: Stage 3 Leaders Program and Transitioning to Stage 3 Program each year.

‘Thank you for your newsletters – I look forward to them each term and always try to share at least one thing form them with the students. This newsletter featured the kindness boomerang and it reminded me of the wonderful work our Year 4 teacher has done with her students about kindness. The link is unlisted so you will have to click below to watch it – I just wanted to share some of the wonderful reactions that your work is having.’

The second email came a short time after from an Assistant Principal within one of our client schools. Both sets of students that she was talking to had participated in our 10 week L.E.A.D. with Me Program over the past two years. We love the transformational journey that this program takes the participants and ourselves on. And are again left feeling so humbled by the ripples still being felt by the participants as they continue their journeys of potential. I know they had the same impact on me as well. I often reflect on aspects of how I’m changed by their wisdom, courage and growth that they displayed as we learnt together.

‘I just thought I would let you know that I had to meet with a group of Year 5 and Year 6 students as part of the Cyclic Review. I asked them a few questions about the school and they spoke so highly of you. They said that you made a great impact of them. It’s interesting that the students who were the Year 5 representatives were the students that you worked with the previous year when they were in year 4 and they still recall what you did with them. It’s nice to know that your work is still being spoke about even when you leave.’

As the quote goes, ‘It takes two flints to make a fire’ (Louisa May Alcott). What a privilege it is to be able to establish, build and foster these types of relationships that start with exploring the possibilities, discovering potential and acting authentically, together. Thank you!

“If you want to achieve widespread impact and lasting value, be bold.” – Howard Schultz

Where Do We Start?

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

“To begin, begin.” – William Wordsworth

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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 Might Be Subtle, But It’s Important

August 12, 2018 at 7:32 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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It was such a quick turn after my question was asked. Like there couldn’t have been enough time for a thought to precede it. There definitely wasn’t any signs of overwhelm in his eyes though. Just a purposeful resolve that to make a decision like this there’d need to be consultation. It all happened so quickly. Then with their answer communicated we were ready to play.

“Let us be a little humble; let us think that the truth may not perhaps be entirely with us.” – Jawaharlal Nehru

The scene I describe above happened a few weeks ago. It’s been playing on my mind since because even though it might be subtle, it’s definitely important. It very well could of gone unnoticed though. But to the group, and me, it made a massive difference in the process of learning by doing, with reflection, that happened next. That’s the best part of using experiential learning as our vehicle of choice. We all assume the position of learner and teacher as we’re exploring the possibilities, discovering potential, and acting authentically together.

“Without a sense of fairness and justice, no leader can command and retain the respect of his followers.” – Napoleon Hill

So much of what I/we notice, lights me and participants up, and becomes teachable moments within a program experience fall into this category. It’s where leadership really comes to life. The subtle but really important purposeful practices that are being used to make a difference for self, others, and the world around us as individuals and groups. I am inspired constantly by the kind word, caring hand, creation of space, resilience to try again, courageous sharing, to name just a few, thoughts, words, and actions that leaders embody each and every day. Many can go unnoticed if we’re not paying attention. But all are so very important.

“It is when we are under pressure that our true colours come out.” – Jill Uchiyama

Maybe it all comes back to intention. What are we looking to achieve? Is it having or executing a power over others? Or is it empowering self and others within an ongoing process of making a difference? The quote that underpins our leadership development programs immediately comes to mind, ‘Leadership is action, not position’ – Donald H McGannon. The Year 5 boy I described above definitely embodied leadership within that moment. I’m so grateful we were able to notice and celebrate his contribution because even though it may have been subtle, it was definitely important.

“We are each gifted in a unique and important way. It is our privilege and our adventure to discover our own special light.” – Mary Dunbar

Massive Shout Out

July 30, 2018 at 8:10 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I had a different post planned and ready to go for this week. It’s ok, it can wait. I feel like this one that you’re reading now can’t though. I’m too inspired not to write it down and share it with you.

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” – William Arthur Ward

Today I was again reminded of the incredible passion, commitment, and authenticity that educators and school communities embody each and every day. So this post is a massive shout out to recognise and celebrate that. It was such a pleasure to support another great group of students at one of our client schools, but what made the day extra special was the conversations I was apart of with the teachers as well. I’m so lucky to have these conversations regularly. This massive shout out goes to all those positively impacting young people in their care.

“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” – Warren Buffett

There was their enthusiasm for kicking off their school leadership program with our L.E.A.D. with Courage experience today. There was reflections on what they had learnt from last year (our first year supporting them) and how that had guided their development of this year’s program to follow today as well. There was exciting future projects they’re working on to most effectively provide real leadership in action opportunities for the students. There are plans in place for teachers and the Principal to gain further learning/training so as to embed at a deeper level leadership development within their school community. The list just kept going and going.

“I am still learning.” – Michelangelo

Thank you, thank you, thank you! We’re constantly inspired by the challenging work involved in responding to and navigating the 21st Century learning environment. Like you, we believe strongly in the potential of each of the participants within your care. Education is such a complex and interdependent puzzle, with so many important pieces needing to come together to support the growth and development of individuals and groups. We love being a small piece of this puzzle for our clients. Educators and school communities, thank you for your work!

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