Tag Archive: Education

Finishing a race well!

Each of us make journeys that are life changing. Each of us find these journeys have a finishing point.These finishing points can be as important as the journey itself. Finishing well has so many ramifications. How we finish impacts our lessons from the journey… How we finish impacts how we begin the next journey…
What then are the keys to finishing well?

1. Honour those who have honored you.
2. Strengthen relationships with those about you.
3. Look for opportunity to leave your space in an outstanding way
4. Fill the space you are leaving with a clear and positive feel
5. Share your vision with those around you, leaving a voice of common achievement in the community.
6. Share your vision with those around you so they have a reconnected sense of self to their space, position and the system.
7. Focus your community to a sense hope within the space they are remaining in.

Any space, where humans co-exist, there are complex networks of relationships, important to you and the others in the shared space. It is an ecosystem  – like the image above. This pic is of my favourite walks in the mountains. When I am there I can feel life abounding. Every part of the environment sings in harmony…last time I was there, I just sat and listened to the soundscape – such a beautiful and rich tapestry of wonder! Every aspect of life you can see in the image has an important role to play. When a significant part of the system is removed/changed the balance and integrity of the system is in a crucial phase.  It is the same with human ‘eco systems’. It is important to reconnect people’s sense of place and hope as major shift happens. Much of this can be strategically done while you are existing but some of this re-establishing of healthy systems needs to be done after you have left… once the space has been grounded  and the healing has begun.

As horizon dwellers we should have a mind for others and systems in phases of change. Our mind should be one that  aims to bless and encourage and build a sense of hope. It needs to be strategic and well executed. For no matter how small you think you are you ARE part of that networked system and YOU will effect change as you leave the space.

It’s an honoured position to be in though and therefore one well worth your time, integrity and passion. Be the difference you want to see within the space of change. Be able to look back at the ‘eco system’ you have left and be able to celebrate its stability and growth. This will be beginnings of your next journey, empowered, resourced and with a vision of the next horizon ahead.

The National Geographic held its 2011 photo contest  and as usual (and expected) some outstanding images were captured. There are so many creative people in this world! Jealous much 🙂

There was one particular photo that caught my attention. It has a caption by the photographer Russell Watkins and it reads, “an unexpected side-effect of the 2010 flooding in parts of Sindh, Pakistan, was that millions of spiders climbed up into the trees to escape the rising flood waters; because of the scale of the flooding and the fact that the water took so long to recede, many trees became cocooned in spiders webs. People in the area had never seen this phenomenon before, but they also reported that there were less mosquitos than they would have expected, given the amount of standing water that was left. Not being bitten by mosquitoes was one small blessing for people that had lost everything in the floods. (© Russell Watkins)”

I was mesmerized by this image. There were a thousand responses all at once… horror, deep sadness, amazement, intrigue, respect, mystery, fear, wonderment, appreciation and the list goes on.  The thought that captured me for my blog was in the reflection after reading the caption by Russell Watkins. Out of the unexplainable came a blessing which simply no one expected.

The disruption of change, whether it be on a scale like the flood waters of 2010 or the birth of a couples first child or the adjustment of your bosses vision for the work place… may seem unexplainable to you…but  if you look for the possibility within that situational change you will be ready to grab hold of it as it emerges from the ‘receding waters’. However, YOU MUST BE READY!

The journey through change; the feelings, thoughts, emotions and physical ‘pain’ must become our teacher. If we do not engage with them we lose the opportunity to move. By not engaging with these elements we became stuck, sometimes so stuck we are unable to move ahead. At times we end up setting up camp around these lost experiences as we continue to disengage, hide from them. Some even end up building whole cities around these lost opportunities.

Horizon Dwellers watch, listen, engage, prepare to look to the learning opportunity. Horizon Dwellers swift through the change opportunity and grab hold of what they can from the teacher. Just like the spiders, in the image, they find the opportunity in the moment of change, in the disruption… with the result, unexpected blessing to those within their sphere of influence.

A Horizon Dweller looks through the seemingly disruptive moments of change, engages with it, grabs the truth and becomes changed as a result of it. The change-ology then; embraces the learning, influences the future and drives the adapted purpose.

Every disruption can lead you to a mountain top. At times, I take a while to find it, but I can honestly say that facing it head on, learning, engaging and influencing my purpose has not let me down yet… I have always found the mountain top.

I hope you do too as you face those moments! I would love to chat or hear about your journey…

I had an incredible experience about a month or so ago. I had lunch with one of my first classes ever. They are 17 and 18 now, back then they were 5 or 6. I listened to the stories they told about our time together 12 years ago. I sat proudly as they shared their visions and dreams for their futures.  With all the conversation though I was amazed at the fantastic adults they had become. I listened to the tales they remembered. I heard about the events that made them think, change and transform. What an archive to uncover!

Tonight I was inspired an incredible story teller, Jonathan Silin the author of Sex, Death and the Education of our Children. He shared stories from his life. He shared stories of his classroom experience. He inspired us to think about what we remember, why we remember and consequently what we archive as individuals and professionals

Archiving is an interesting journey both personally and within the settings of leadership and education. Personal archiving is so important as it helps us remember and do it in different ways.  It becomes transformational. It allows us to be who we are. Jonathan noted three ways of looking, or remembering, or archiving.

From the subjects perspective,

From the observers perspective

From the participants perspective.

This, he said, is very true of photography. So how does this tri- thought help us archive our experiecnes? Perhaps it is about understanding self, but maybe more importantly it’s an opportunity for us to reflect on our lives via a broader lens. This archiving opportunity is so important to recognize, value and respond to. It lends to us the chance to be transformed and be transformational for others.

In terms of leadership it drives us to consider our responses and reflect on our leadership  journey. This reflective journey creates space for us to flex our human dynamic which can lead to a diversified approach, enhanced vision, deeper understanding of our role, where we can influence positively and build powerful relationships.

In terms of education, this archiving process leads me down three divergent paths. One, what do I bring to the learning space. Two, what do I leave out of the learning space? Three, what archiving is going on within my classroom that I dont realise?

Relationship is one of the key elements to outstanding pedagogical spaces. This archiving process therefore becomes so important to the students and teachers in their unique roles and interactions.

Relationships define our spaces, our minds, our conversations. Without them there is only control, a dry and desolate place. However, on the other hand, deeply powerful relationships that encompass the role of the teacher as a real person, the student as a real person (not conditional on age) and  their interactions as non institutionalized then become transformational achieves that mark lives for future reference points for change management.

Horizon dwellers value transformational archiving to provide powerful opportunities for life giving moments; past, present and future. Moments that sing out loud of the greatness a relationship might have been or inspirational and dynamic a relationship might become.

You dont want to leave yourself at the classroom/office door. But rather invest in new ways, in new lives and with a transformational perspective. As we do we will have, impact and prepare to leave an archive that is one of intense value for life long use.

Observational Change

Look ever so carefully at this brilliant Nat Geo pic. It is amazing. Look very closely and see something totally different. Do you observe the change to the immediate? Amazing how the shadow is larger than the camel. The shadow distracts for the real thing… or does it? That which we first see can be very different after a good hard observation!

During a recent trip OS I had the opportunity to observe some amazing people at work. These people were so passionate about their focus and goals in life. I was inspired to reflect on my own focus and goals so much so that I was left in a place of uncertainty about where I was positioned in life.

The most powerful thing about being placed in this reflective space is that I had a chance to critically reflect on where I  originally adopted my focus and goals and was that still valid or was a change needed.

Too often I hear complaints about what needs to happen. I very rarely hear ‘this is how I am going to influence towards the vision’! So with this in mind I started to reflect on my own professional placement and practice.

Observing others in their professional practice is a great tool for igniting this journey. As I carefully observed the word, action and payoff of these leaders I realised that a sense of self was the most striking feature.

This sense of self was the determining factor in all these leaders ability to lead. Some found their sense of self firmly grounded in their skills, knowledge and abilities. While others found their sense of self in their role.Still others found their sense of self within and therefore not conditional to place, time or action.

It intrigued me, this last group! There were far less in this group than any other. They were purposefully driven by an innate sense of contribution. It was not swayed by people’s opinions or responses to their action. They were able to stand their ground confidently and purposefully, with dignity.

The dark side to this might be an overwhelming sense of ones own self-importance. But in these leaders this was not yet to be found.

So my reposition state found me unpacking my ontology, rediscovering what it is that I bring to my role. This is the element that will make the purposeful difference.  Holding on to temporal things is an offering that will soon be superseded. It must be confidence of what’s within that will be lasting.

Attitude not so much of aptitude!

Perception not so much of my perspective !

Confidence not so much of control!

Horizon dwellers know well the importance and uniqueness of this distinction. Holding on is vastly different from simply being!

What is your wake looking like?

Today I met with an outstanding leader, Peter King! He is a humble man with a vision and hope for all who he encounters. I was privileged to have a conversation with him about leadership.  He shared his story. It is inspiring!  He shared with me a couple of key thoughts  about leadership. I was very interested with the way it linked  with the concept of being a horizon dweller.

Peter used an image from when he was in the navy.  His captain would say to him while he was, on the bridge, steering the ship’ “If you want to know how you are going, look back and check out your wake!” If it was straight then Peter was on track. If it was all over the place then he had some work to do on correcting his path, he way ahead. Peter mentioned to me that leadership is similar to this idea. If we want to know how our leadership is going then we should look back and see what is behind.  This will help us correct our steering, but it will also help and encourage us to see where we have come from so we are empowered and enthusiastic for the next part of the journey.

Being a horizon dweller means that we must consider our position so that we can travel actively and strategically ahead. Being a horizon dweller means that the past is as important as the future. It does not mean that we get stuck in the past but rather fueled by its lessons and achievements.

I want to be an active part of my future. I do not want it to just happen to me. I know other horizon dwellers with this same desire. What is your desire? If you want your ship to be on course to great things then look back check your wake and actively make the right adjustments so that the future is powerful and effective.

PS I know the photo isnt a wake… but I didnt have a photo of a wake on hand. 🙂

Connections that matter

Relationships make amazing impacts upon our worlds. We often invest in relationships that we feel make a difference to us or our world.  It is often these connections that keep us on a steady keel as we navigate life.

Dr Martin Seligman in his latest book Flourish reflects profoundly on this concept of connections and how they change us.

Other People Matter

Near the Portuguese island of Madeira, there lies a small island shaped like an enormous cylinder. At the top is a several-acre plateau on which are grown the most prized grapes that go into Madeira wine. On this plateau lives only one large animal: an ox whose job is to plow the field. There is only one way up to the top, a winding and narrow path. How in the world does a new ox get up there when the old ox dies? A baby ox is carried on the back of a worker up the mountain, where it spends the next forty years plowing the field alone. If you are moved by this story, ask yourself why.

Very little that is positive is solitary. When was the last time you laughed uproariously? The last time you felt indescribable joy? The last time you sensed profound meaning and purpose? The last time you felt enormously proud of an accomplishment? Even without knowing the particulars of these high points of your life, I know their form: all of them took place around other people. When asked what, in two words or fewer, positive psychology is about, Christopher Peterson, one of its founders, replies, “Other people.” Other people is the best antidote to the downs of life and the single most reliable up.

Recent streams of argument about human evolution point to the importance of positive relationships in their own right and for their own sake. Studies of the big social brain, the hive emotions, and group selection persuade me that positive relationships—key to “the connected life”—are a basic element of well-being.

Well-Being Theory: PERMA

In the new well-being theory, human flourishing rests on five pillars, denoted by the handy mnemonic PERMA:
Positive Emotion

These elements, which we choose for their own sake in our efforts to flourish, are the rock-bottom fundamentals to human well-being. What is the good life? It is pleasant, engaged, meaningful, achieving, and connected.

This excerpt is edited from Chapter One of Martin Seligman, Flourish. To be published April 5, 2011. Simon and Schuster.

As I consider these five pillars and reflect my life through their lenses I see the incredible importance of having the right people around me. Their influence is vital to my well-being.

What connections do you have? Are they working towards establishing your sense of well-being?

Being a horizon dweller means that it is important to have the right connections. Right connections mean that the right support, wisdom, hope and faithfulness are influencing your world. Find these connections, fight to keep empowering connections. These connections are like precious stones or valuable heir looms – they are transformational, they run deeply and hold us firmly in the right place. They are connections that matter.

Are you a map or a compass ?

Compass or a Map? Where mght you end up?

There are so many choices out in our communities aren’t their? Some times we just want someone to give us the directions so we can get on with the job and not have to make another decision. These parts of our life journey are of fraught with stress and stain. At these times we want to be given a map or give out maps, with clear and detailed directions.  There are times when maps are useful and we get a task done. I put out the challenge though that there is a far more satisfying approach that leads to the possibilities of dwelling on the horizon.

The concept of being a compass is fascinating when linked with the concept of a life journey as a horizon dweller. A compass provides bearings and points of reference. Leadership that drawns on providing points of reference rather than clear, step by step, directions increases possibilities 100 fold. I can hear that voice in my head saying, but steps get the job done! It gets a measured job done that is correct. What about the unexplored possibilities of the job though? If leaders provide the correct bearings and points of reference, for example a powerful vision, then the possibilities of what might be finally delivered are endless.

In my work as an educational leader I see this possiblity presented to me every day. Do I give my teachers a map or a compass with a clear vision? The CEO at my work place is often a compass for me. He shares with me the vision and then gives me the compass to create the possibilities of my journey. Do I do this for my team? I am slowly getting there. Each day as I trust my team to be the best they can, the less I need them to be using the map. Not always easy. I know the big boss has grown in this too as I perosnally experience the freedom being a compass bearer brings.

One thing I have found being a compass bearer is that I am always looking up in stead of down. The compass leads me to naturally look to whats ahead, to look for the mountain tops. A map keeps my head down and gets me lost in the details of the present. As a Horizon Dweller I want my head to be up and my eyes, mind and passions being engaged with what lies ahead. I do not want to be bowed and burried.

What would you rather? Mountain top expereinces or lost in the daily grind. So challenge yourself – be a compass not a map!