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Building a Growth Mindset

Kurt Hahn was a German educator and a key figure in the development of experiential education.

In 1934 he founded the famous Gordonstoun school in Scotland. Additionally, he founded the Outward Bound movement and Duke of Edinburgh Award.

To this day his philosophies have far-reaching international influence that has stood the test of time.

Bridgeworks is strongly influenced by the philosophy held by Hahn:  building courageous and compassionate leaders.

Hahn believed that students could only really understand life by experiencing it in many exciting and challenging ways. By testing themselves, students would be able to develop their courage, generosity, imagination, principles and resolution.

Ultimately they would develop the skills and abilities to become the guardians and leaders of the future. Kurt Hahn’s philosophies also founded Outward Bound and The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

Bridgeworks programs are 50% delivered in the outdoors.

Challenging scenarios are smartly designed to challenge mindsets, encourage courageous conversations and build effective leaders and teams.

When did you or your team last do that?

Return email or call Wayne to find out more.

If You Want To Be Rich And Happy, Don’t Go To School

This was the title of a provocative book written by Robert Kiyosaki who authored another popular book called “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”.

My wife Susan recently shared a similar thought-provoking YouTube by Gautam Khetrapal “The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education”

Today, it seems more important than ever to rely less on your University degree and more on your self-learning, initiative and ‘can-do attitude’.

Your ability to grow and develop your EQ (Emotional Intelligence) seems to override your technical ability or IQ.

Leaders, like Darren and Trisca in the previous story, regularly challenge themselves and look in the leadership mirror. This is a significant part of growing your emotional intelligence and success in business and life. 

Leaders are:

  • Passionate about developing others
  • Clear about their vision and 
  • Communicate that vision in a way that excites and engages their people – They draw others towards that journey.

These are all traits that require a high degree of emotional intelligence, any other “Higher Degree” is not necessarily required!

Here is the powerful YouTube from by Gautam Khetrapal: 

“The only thing that interferes with my learning is my eduction”

Why wander around the desert for 4 days?

Somehow Darren McClenagan saw value for him in developing as a leader.

Back in 2001, I ran a ‘Desert Leadership’ program in Lake Mungo, outback NSW. At the time Darren McClenagan was a key figure about to merge 2 major call centres into one. Jobs would be lost and people’s careers changed forever.

Today he reflects on the times he had the courage to look in the leadership mirror. Many years later that courage, including the learning in the desert, helped him and his Noosa Heads RACV resort team win the 2017 QLD People’s Choice Award and Gold Award for self-contained accommodation at the 2017 QLD Tourism Awards.

Having the good fortune to be working with outstanding leaders for over 20 years, I see clear patterns emerging. Those leaders prepared to work on their emotional intelligence produce outstanding results and engaged workplaces. Darren made a habit of that over his years leading high performing teams.

Like Darren, Trisca was another young determined manager. Combined with feedback from Bridgeworks leadership journey many years ago, Trisca learned she was a quality manager but struggling as a leader. Like Darren, she was prepared to change. Change takes courage with a bit of humility thrown in.

Recently she was awarded The CEO Magazine  2017 Marketing Executive of the Year.

Recognising that culture trumps process, Trisca shared with The CEO Magazine that she leads her marketing division according to this mantra: ‘Be Brilliant, Engaged, Human’.

Trisca who has been a long-term fan of Bridgeworks is joining me on walking the Kokoda track in April 2018.


4 Leadership questions: The Australian Leadership Project

Last week I had the privilege of spending time with Victor Perton. Victor was Senior Adviser in the Australian G20 presidency supporting Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey’s leadership of the Finance Track of G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors.  

Victor has spent over 20 years in politics and rubbing shoulders with world leaders as commissioner to the Americas. He believes we undervalue Aussie leaders and the impact on building the Australian culture. The OECD statistics back up this view.

Thus he has a passion for building optimism in Australian leadership. As part of building this value of optimism, he is asking the following 4 questions:

  1. What are your favourite stories of contemporary Australian leaders (especially those you have worked with)?  
  2. What are the unique qualities of Australian leadership and leaders?  
  3. What do Australians want of their leaders? 
  4. Who have been the leaders in your life’s journey?  Who or what has inspired you?

If you would like to contribute to his research, follow the link below:

Australian Leadership Project

Why not explore your own leadership and do the survey for yourself? 

Measuring optimism in leaders has always been a priority at Bridgeworks – looking at whether people choose to follow you or not. Our Leadership Programs measure your ability to build trust with others – looking at your potential to BUILD (or BURN) your bridges.

Risk – It’s all relative

This is Alex Honnold standing on Thank God Ledge, Yosemite National Park in California. The photo* says it all! 

On June 3 Alex was the first person ever to climb free-solo the 3,000 foot vertical (just under a vertical kilometer) cliff of El Capitan in Yosemite. “Free-soloing” is climbing with no safety equipment.


In our eyes, Alex takes a great risk. In his own eyes, due to his passion for preparation and ability to remain calm in tough moments climbing, he turns his ‘fear’ into calm.

This is a valuable lesson in leadership. When all is about to fail in your world – do you embrace that moment and learn of new options to move forward? or do you lose grip and slip into the abyss?

Alex is not a madman. In fact, he wonders what all the fuss is about. For him driving a car is more dangerous.

“Alone on the Wall” is a fascinating read – check it out.

In Alex’s own words: “With free-soloing, obviously I know that I’m in danger, but feeling fearful while I’m up there is not helping me in any way”

* Photo courtesy of Jimmy Chin

Safety Culture & Leadership

Safety culture and leadership are a matter of life and death.

This was no more clearer when comparing global players Exxon Mobil and BP. Both had major drilling issues on specific sites, Blackbeard West well (Exxon Mobil) and Macondo, Gulf of Mexico (BP).

Workers at both sites had concerns.

Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson decided to halt drilling (at enormous financial loss $170 million). BP continued driven strongly by the market and sadly ended in disaster (11 lives and countless environmental/brand damage). CEO Tony Hayward admitted he had known nothing about the well and its increasing difficulties leading to the explosion.

Deep down the two companies had different cultures and very different leaders.

Does your culture engage its people? Are ideas and concerns left in the car park or openly discussed without fear into the workplace?

Several years ago Bridgeworks worked with a steel company. Safety audits were appalling for the division we were asked to work with. 12 months later that same division was ranked the best on site. In fact, when the site shop steward ordered a strike for poor communication with management, the site we worked with responded “We don’t have any issue with management. If we have a problem we tell them, they listen and then act”

The solution was in building trust between management and workers. Creating a safe environment where open and fruitful conversations can flow.

It’s not rocket science.

If building a safety culture is your priority, contact us so we can share our latest research and strategies.

Leaders Have Faith

Managers tend to make decisions on logic and facts, whereas leaders make decisions primarily on ‘heart and gut’ – “The data says we go this direction. My gut says we take another route”

Several years ago, I presented a workshop in Chicago. The keynote speaker was Gene Kranz, Mission Control Director for Apollo 13. This was the Apollo mission that went horribly wrong.

Whilst on track towards the moon, there was an explosion on the craft. Kranz asked all the engineers and scientists to quickly assess the situation and come back to him with a plan of action. Time was of the essence as the Astronauts lives were at risk as the craft hurtled towards the moon.

Their decision was to activate rocket boosters and reverse the craft’s course towards the moon. From their calculations, it was clear the astronauts were going to either run out of oxygen or die from carbon dioxide poisoning.

Against the tide of advice, Gene’s gut said NO. “We will allow the craft to continue on its course”


His decision based on gut, saved the lives of the men. Later evidence revealed the craft most likely would have exploded if Gene followed the logical advice of the scientists and engineers.

Leadership challenges the status quo, often taking enormous risks in the direction they want to take others. Logic is sometimes not the best or right course to take.

Have you made decisions based on gut? What were the outcomes?

Be cautious to over rely on logic, analysis and ‘the past experiences’ to dictate your future decisions.

Leaders can be mavericks, rebels – mostly wanting to make this world a better place.

Bridgeworks Leadership NOW program on Lady Elliot Island in Queensland has seen nearly 100 managers challenged around their ability to lead and influence others.

The Best Leaders Look in the Mirror

Experience has shown me that the best leaders are prepared to look in the mirror.

I recently spoke to a successful CEO who said “I need to preserve the energy I have. Unless I know that I am fully engaging the people around me, I’m making hard work for myself”

The higher up the organizational tree, more emphasis should be on ‘leading’ and less on ‘managing’.

Wouldn’t it be a shock if you discovered that your influence on others turned them to disengage and leave their ideas and innovation in the car park?

In Australia, the figures are staggering with around 60% of employees are disengaged* with their workplaces – they do what is asked of them in getting the job done, pick up their pay and go home.

Around 16% are actively disengaged in their workplaces. These are people who are actively a burden on your workplace.

This leaves around 24% who are actively engaged – proactive in working to improve workplaces, challenge the status quo and always looking at ways to improve productivity.

Such people are gold! Want to know how to lift engagement? Look in the mirror!

The good news is that engagement is dictated by the attitudes, actions and behaviours of workers next up line manager.

Have you provided opportunities for either yourself or your leaders to ‘look in the mirror’ to get high-quality feedback on how others see you or them?

This is an investment that potentially reaps a significant reward for your business.

If you are interested in finding out how effectively you engage others, let’s chat.


* Gallup Employee Engagement 2011-2012

Going Outward Bound – Building Leadership & Resilience

Hearing about suicides in young people scares the daylight out of me.

Some of you may know that Outward Bound is in my DNA, having worked in both Australia and the USA as a facilitator and program manager for 7 years.

For most people, especially for school children from protective families, the first few days were hell on earth for them.

  • “What do you mean I have to go to the loo in a hole?”
  • “Do you mean at some stage I have to cook for 20 others?”
  • “What! This sheet of plastic is what I am camping under for the next 10 days??”

The origins of Outward Bound go back to World War 2. Too many young, fit British sailors were perishing after the Germans bombed their ship. However the overweight, unfit, older sailors were surviving.

Dr Kurt Hahn, a noted educationalist of the time recognized that, unlike the older, experienced sailors, the young sailors needed to experience more tough life experiences.  

Hahn found that people who were put in challenging, adventurous outdoor situations gained confidence, redefined their own perceptions of their personal possibilities, demonstrated compassion, and developed a spirit of camaraderie with their peers.

Outward Bound was a naval term describing a ship heading out of the safe harbour into the unknowns of the ocean.

The results spoke for themselves with the young Outward Bound graduates having a greater rate of survival for the remainder of WW2.

I enjoy injecting a dash of ‘Outward Bound” into my programs as I see the long lasting benefit of challenging manager’s character, not just their ability to get the job done.

Hahn’s belief that character development was just as important as academic achievement is still very true to this day. 

Passion – the ultimate driver of success

What an honour it is to work with passionate leaders.

Les Twentyman OAM has worked on the streets looking after disadvantaged young people for over 40 years. He talks as if the hundreds of people and families he has helped, is his own family.

Les has never given up his fight. He continually finds ways to overcome blockers, whether this be politicians, kids expelled from school or dealing with drug dealers on the streets.

Many times his life has been threatened. He’s had petrol bombs thrown at him, knives pulled on him and plenty of abuse over the years.

But that does not stop Les. He recently launched a book on his experiences “The Mouth that Roared”. A great read, by a great man.

What is your passion working in business? Apart from making healthy profits, why do you want to lead and influence others?

Successful people are passionate people. A friend and author Charles Kovess wrote a book “Passionate People Produce”. Charles is on a winner declaring that passion engages people, ideas and potential.

Does this describe you? If not, find your passion and infect others with it!

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