What’s Unlocked

June 11, 2018 at 12:54 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I love my job! I know I’ve said it before but I need to say it again. Being able to share my passion for all things leadership, and then through experiential learning help participants to also grow and develop their capacity to lead, is such a privilege. I am constantly being reminded of this. In big ways, small ways, and every way in between. Especially when we’re so poetically reminded of why leadership’s the vehicle, like what happened last week when a particular Year 6 student shared with such depth what leadership actually is.

“Your vehicle of leadership is fueled by your willingness to learn. You can’t lead if you can’t learn!” – Israelmore Ayivor

The picture above is a tweet from one of the Assistant Principals who was in the room for the workshop I was facilitating. Kip’s (Year 6 participant) response really moved me and the group at the time of hearing it, but to then get home and see it had been shared more widely was such a joy. Opportunity is always there when we choose to view our interactions, challenges, complexities, etc. through a leadership lens. The key to unlocking what’s in front of us is then our awareness and purposeful use of our own and others developing skills, attitudes and behaviours as we courageously strive to make a difference.

“True leadership stems from individuality that is honestly and sometimes imperfectly expressed. Leaders should strive for authenticity over perfection.” – Sheryl Sandberg

We love this quote above. What’s unlocked when we own our capacity to lead, and surround ourselves with others who are also courageously choosing to navigate life in this way, is change. Really importantly, change starts with us though. I say often to groups that one of the greatest gifts I’ve experienced throughout my learning and leadership journey is the wisdom to know that the more of me I be, the greater opportunities I’m presented with to create ripples that positively impact my own and others lives. But this more of me I be isn’t a fixed, rigid or independent state. It feels to me more like evolving, unfolding, remembering, sharing, growing and developing.

“In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.” – Abraham Maslow

Are we willing to embrace and stay with vulnerability long enough so we can experience further cracking open to let our individual and shared light out? None of us have all the answers, wisdom, or tools, we absolutely need each other. If we’re interested in being change agents then interdependency is what a leader’s thoughts, words, and actions really unlock. This is why the group I was facilitating for last week also really inspired me. We had student leaders and teachers/assistant principals in the room from 5 different school communities, who together know they can bring about, support and inspire more change together, than they can apart.

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” – Warren Bennis

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Leadership Isn’t Political

June 4, 2018 at 6:11 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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At the end of our program experiences I love gauging how the participant’s thoughts, beliefs, and ideas around leadership have grown, changed, or been challenged. Sometimes that happens through direct questioning. Other times it’s through an individual or group reflection. And then there’s also when a participant just comes right up after we finish and shares a particular learning with me. However it occurs, it’s always inspiring to be reminded that leadership has a purpose, not an agenda.

“Remember that leadership is about influence and impact, not title and accolades.” – Robin Sharma

The other week a Year 5 boy summed it up perfectly. He said, ‘Before today I thought a leader was more important than and stood above others. Now I think a leader works with others to make a difference’. What great courage that took to share his growth experienced within the program day. Especially when you consider how dramatic the change in his thinking had been. It’s the most important part of any development opportunity though, can learning be made real by the participant and translated into transferable skills, attitudes and behaviours beyond the intensity of the experience?

“The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” – Ralph Nader

The title of this post is intentionally two fold. Firstly: So often our leadership lens can be adversely impacted by the notion that a ‘leader’ must be elected and then they join an exclusive club. We can see leadership as individuals being in competition with others to get the badge. Then that title bestows leadership on that person so they are now in control. And finally that its primary function is the narrow skill set of standing on stages giving speeches, as well as executing the ‘you’re either with us or against us’ divisiveness that’s evident in arenas such as Question Time. What a destructive narrative this provides. I’m not saying being elected disqualifies you from being a leader. I am saying though that being elected doesn’t guarantee you’re a leader.

“What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right.” – Albert Einstein

Secondly and really importantly though is what I wrote earlier: leadership has a purpose, not an agenda. How we view, challenge and navigate these powerful paradigms can have a significant impact on the ripples created by our daily thoughts, words and actions. It’s why we’re so passionate about the development of leadership potential. Within our spheres of influence we purposefully use experiential learning and ongoing communication to assist in the fostering of ‘informed, connected, and empowered individuals believing deeply in their own and others potential’. What a privilege it is to be able to engage, challenge and inspire 21st Century learners, who then continue to motivate us through the courageous difference they make as true leaders as they grow and develop.

“Vulnerability is not weakness. And that myth is profoundly dangerous.” – Brene Brown

A leader’s path is filled with vulnerability, questions and out of our comfort zone learning. This is why we need each other. To remind. To reassure. To recharge. To reimagine. To recommit. To reengage. And it’s also why as leaders our purpose, not an agenda, is always close at hand. Each of us really can ‘be the change we wish to see in the world’ as we explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically. Will we have the courage to consistently and compassionately do this though? Thank you for being on this ongoing journey with us. None of us can do it alone!

“Be a voice not an echo” – Albert Einstein

Hope

May 28, 2018 at 6:45 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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What do you wish others cared more about? It might be each other. Or the environment. Maybe it’s wellbeing. Or inequality. I ask this question within our program experiences to dig deeper into participant’s passions, interests and purpose. One girl’s response recently though really moved me and has taken me on an exploration over the last month as to what it truly is and how it positively impacts a leader’s journey of potential.

“When the world says give up, hope whispers try it one more time.” – Unknown

Hope. Her response was as simple and as complex as that. It’s like she didn’t need to think about the question, at 11 years of age she just knew deep down that more of it in our homes, communities and the world would make such an impact. I loved then chatting with her further after her initial sharing. That conversation reopened me up to hope’s role when navigating the inevitable successes and challenges that life throws at us.

“Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.” – Suzanne Collins

Hope and optimism can so often be lumped together as one and the same. Listening to a podcast a few weeks ago really reminded me of their differences. Dr. Brené Brown so eloquently described the ongoing 3 part process that hope is: 1. Goal – not what you can’t control, measureable, achievable (real goal), 2. Pathway – I know how to get there, then if I fail I have the capacity to Plan B it (tenacity, grit, work around), if that doesn’t work I’ve got another one, and 3. Agency – I believe in my ability to do this. This process is obviously very different to optimism, having a positive outlook on the future.

“Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.” – Robert H. Schuller

The quote that underpins our leadership development programs is, ‘Leadership is action, not position’ – Donald H. McGannon. Leadership therefore is a verb (the daily embodiment of purposeful skills, attitudes and behaviours that allow us to make a difference in our own and others lives), not a noun (a position, title or rank). So thinking about the 3 part process of hope above, coupled with this quote, it’s definitely a central tenet within a leaders journey. I’ve loved this past month, noticing, listening, learning and being inspired by hope. How does hope show up within your spheres of influence?

“It takes courage to choose hope over fear.” – Mark Zuckerberg

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

Humbled

April 2, 2018 at 7:00 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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We’ve just started preparing to update our website so it reflects fully how we’re currently supporting our clients. We’re just at the beginning of this process though, so no changes to the current website just yet. Over the last week or so we’ve reached out to some of our clients to see if they’d share a short testimonial with us that we can include on the updated website. We’ve been so humbled by each of their responses to those enquires and the connection we’ve been privileged to build with them over the past 6 years. Below is an example of what we’ll be so fortunate to share with those visiting our website when we go live with the updated version in the coming weeks.

Explore Discover Act has been a crucial part of our stage 3 program for over 5 years now. With the expert skills of Cameron and others, our students have benefited greatly from a program that can respond to our goals as a school from year to year. Clever, varied and engaging pedagogy leads our students to uncover their potential and re-frame their worlds in positive and growthful ways as leaders of their school and members of their communities. Students love the games, challenges and reflective tasks that are connected to their experiences and push them just that little bit more! Students that have many different personal challenges are supported to participate equally to their peers and many shine in ways we have never seen before. The program is well organised and the team professional and warm. Explore Discover Act is worth every penny!

– St Mark’s Primary School, Drummoyne

Thank you to all our valued clients who leave us feeling deeply humbled each and every day. It really is such a pleasure to be able to support the learning and leadership journeys of your students as we explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically, together! We look forward to being able to share our new website with you soon.

Leaders are Readers

March 26, 2018 at 6:47 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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This past week I found myself again immersed in a thought provoking book. The book in question had been a recommendation from a friend. As I sent multiple text messages throughout the week reflecting on what I was reading and thanking him for the loan, I then received an email from an Assistant Principal within one of our client schools. It read, ‘I wanted to say thanks for suggesting reading that book. I read it over the weekend and couldn’t put it down!’

“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” – Harry S. Truman

I love conversations that turn into book recommendations. They’re opportunities to be inspired, challenged and changed by the learning that lives within its pages. Not every book will grab you the way I and the Assistant Principal felt this past week. But each book we chose (or chooses us) has the potential to open us up to another way of being in the world. The funny thing is I haven’t actually read yet the book that I recommended to this Assistant Principal. I’d heard about it in a podcast and told him that, but I can’t wait to get to it over the coming weeks.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss

I’m a serial highlighter in the books that I read. Because last weeks book was a loaner though I reverted to taking notes as I read instead. I found myself busily writing as there were many things that jumped out at me within the pages of ‘Utopia for Realists’ (written by Rutger Bregman). There’s one particular quote though I’ve found myself coming back to each day as I reflect on this book. In sharing an example of a pilot program that was happening in London Rutger Bregman provided a quote from an Aid Worker involved, ‘It’s quite hard to change overnight the way you’ve always approached this problem. These pilots give us the opportunity to talk differently, think differently, describe the problem differently…’

“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” – Margaret Fuller

This might just be what books do for leaders as well. We are all navigating lenses that are clouded by our own experiences, biases, etc. When we are able to lose ourselves in another persons perspective, research or storytelling we get the opportunity to as I mentioned earlier be inspired, challenged and changed by the learning that lives within its pages. What are you reading at the moment? And what books would you recommend to others?

“The best leaders are the most dedicated learners. Read great books daily.” – Robin Sharma

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