Byron's Babbles

“Deer In The Headlights”

Posted in Coaching, Education, Leadership, Learning Organization, Strategic Planning by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on November 20, 2014

IMG_0561.JPG I have been to several great conferences lately and I realized something about some of the so called “experts” that present at the conferences. Now I have to be careful here because I was a speaker at all of these conference. But, I realized that in some cases the person doing the presenting has not had the experience of being the “deer in the headlights.” Usually this term is associated with being a bad thing, but I have come to realize that it really is a great thing. To really become an expert or great at leading in a certain area or circumstance you really have had to be the “deer in the headlights.”

Having successfully served as a principal for a takeover/turnaround school that broke the failing school cycle and came off the “F” list; I can say I truly was that “deer in the headlights.” I still remember that first day of the students coming in, the looks on their faces and saying, “what have I got myself into?” Then a week later after our first round of NWEA testing and seeing that only 19% of our students were on grade level, I was not only the “deer in the headlights,” but the deer smashed in the front grill of your car. Then we began to navigate and I fell in love with our students, as did the whole staff, and we turned the school around. That experience is truly at the top of my list for my career.

My experience under fire really honed me as an educational leader. I learned so many things that I could have never learned had I been in an “A” school. There were so many issues to navigate: students not on grade level, behavioral issues, staffing issues, students’ personal and family issues, operations issues, facility issues, extracurricular issues, teacher coaching, and many, many more. Don’t think for a minute that I believe myself to be an expert leader in all of those areas, but let me tell you I did have to lead the charge on all of these areas and I did learn and grow from it.

IMG_0562-0.JPGSo, my point in this post to my blog is to not be afraid to be the “deer in the headlights.” Don’t be afraid to take on projects or career changes where you will be that “deer in the headlights.” I seem to have moments like that every day, but I am better and growing from it each and every day. I can think of many leaders who have become very status quo about their own professional growth and development. Really, those individuals are like old farm equipment sitting in the fence row rusting. Don’t let yourself become rusty.

I have been reading Water the Bamboo: Unleashing the Potential of Teams and Individuals by Greg Bell. I am so excited to be speaking at the same conference (NWEA Fusion East) this weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina. I can’t wait to have him autograph my book. In his book he suggests developing a personal mission statement. I did. It is: In my professional life, my vision is to always be the “deer in the headlights.” As Bell says, “To accomplish a great vision you will need laser-like focus.” Just imagine the learning I will be doing!

3 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Are You An Inukshuk? | Byron's Babbles said, on January 10, 2015 at 8:22 pm

    […] I actually blogged about this in a post entitled “Deer In The Highlights.” Click here to read that […]


  2. Praying for Chicks! | Byron's Babbles said, on February 15, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    […] God responds to our prayers with this thought: “I just don’t get it.” God has been the “Deer In The Headlights!” Remember a very important part of the New Testament story – God came to earth as a […]


  3. Walk The Walk | Byron's Babbles said, on February 20, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    […] not need anymore of these people! I say we need more of people who are willing to be the “Deer in the Headlights” and blogged about it here. The world needs more of my hero, Thomas Edison. He was visionary […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: