Byron's Babbles

Leadership is Responsibility

thThis week’s entry in A Year With Peter Drucker (Maciariello, 2014) deals with integrity in leadership. By posing the question “What do leaders stand for?” (p 369), Maciariello (2014) posits that leadership inspires trust and commits leaders to viewing the world as it is and not as they wish it to be. This is why core values are so important. I believe that the organization needs strong core value and then individual team members must be selected that have core values that match and compliment the organization’s. What a leader stands for is much more important than specific personality traits.

“By the way, the [great] CEOs I have known – and I have know quite a few – did not see themselves as supermen. They built a team. They were team leaders. ~ Peter Drucker

Effective leaders go to work on the priorities of the organization rather than those tasks they thought were going to dominate their tenure. In my world as a school leader it has been very important to have core values about what is best for students. I have had the opportunity to see the school’s and teachers’ core values develop organically in this this past year. Education is not unlike many industries in that it is so complex and ever changing. In fact, it is probably more complex and fluid. Leaders therefore must be continuous learners and surround themselves with experts in areas necessary to solve present and emerging problems. IMG_0690

“Values, like nutrients that sustain an organism, also sustain an organization.” ~ Joseph A. Maciariello

Maciariello (2014) uses two of our great Presidents to drive home his points in this entry. Both Abraham Lincoln and Harry Truman are lauded for the strong individuals they surrounded themselves with. I would add that it was the set of strong, well developed core values that gave both of these great men the ability to do such a great job of selecting their cabinets and generals. By understanding their own core values and truly living them, Lincoln and Truman were both able to navigate the selection of individuals whose own core values were the same. When we study the history of the times of these great men we find that even in personnel struggles, those Lincoln and Truman struggled with had like core values. These men had to lead in extraordinary times and certainly were not doing the normal day to day tasks of most Presidents – at least at that time.

“It is also the business with these values, the business that believes it exists to contribute rather than just to take, that will weather adversity. In good times, values may look like an ornament. They may be treated –  and frequently are  – as something we can indulge in as a “nice little extra.” It is in times of adversity, in times that try a man’s soul, that values are a necessity. For if the right values are absent at such times there is no incentive for human beings to walk the extra mile, to make the extra commitment, to do the hard work of rethinking strategy, of trying new things, of rebuilding.” ~ Peter Drucker

This quote by Peter Drucker (Maciariello, 2014, p372) really sums up why I am so blessed to have been a leader of a high school and now a school corporation in turnaround mode. I have truly experienced why core values are so important. As Drucker said, core values become ornaments in good times, but a necessity in adversity. I have learned why it is important to not let core values only be words on a page. All decisions, in good times and bad, must match a leader’s personal core values and the core values of the organization.

At the end of the lesson Maciariello (2014) poses the question of “What are the espoused values in your organization?” (p 373) The word espoused means what do we say we intend to do. I like that Maciariello used this word because what we say and what we do are many times two different things. If the core values are just espoused then they are just ornaments, probably posted on a plaque somewhere – fair weather values. So, my question to you is; Are your and your organization’s core values just espoused, or are they real guides that are used everyday to make the important strategic decisions of your organization?


Maciariello, J. A. (2014). A year with Peter Drucker: 52 weeks of coaching for leadership effectiveness. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.


Who’s In My Way? ME!

Lesson #9 was another great one in The Disciplined Leader by John M. Manning. If you have not gotten this book yet, you need to. If you get it you can follow allong with with the weekly posts about Manning’s (2015) lessons by our Hoosier Academies’ Focused Leader Academy participants.  On Twitter we use the hashtag: #HoosierFLA. Amazingly, this week’s lesson went write along with a discussion topic from our last session. We called it “Leaders Framing Themselves as Victims.” Manning (2015) positions it as leaders needing  to “Get Out of Your Way.” 

“You are the master of your attitudes and the driver behind your habits.” ~ John M. Manning 

This leadership topic really underscores the need for a new kind of leader in this century: the authentic leader. Our future leaders were very critical of leaders who always make everything be the fault of someone else or the reason she is ineffective. I believe this is another form of getting in your own way. It’s easy to fall in the trap of making ourselves out to be the victim. However, those we serve see right through it. Nevertheless, the victim stance is a powerful one. Some leaders fall into this trap because of how we are wired to view victims. The victim is always morally right, neither responsible nor accountable, and forever entitled to sympathy. Read that last sentence again. Do you want those you serve to believe that’s how you believe about yourself? I hope not!

One thing that really speaks to me, as a leader, is the idea of taking 100% responsibility for my own life. It is too easy to quickly assign blame and pull out all the excuses as to why something did or did not happen. Again, those we serve pick up on this immediately. Here’s what I’ve learned – We relinquish all power when we go there. Not owning up to our actions—this takes away our part in doing anything different. We simply remain stuck while we continue to complain and feel miserable in our status quo of negativity. But we first must take charge of ourselves and decide we are capable of doing, being, and acting differently. Assigning blame and making excuses keeps us victimized. We don’t have to do anything different because it’s not about us; it’s about someone or something else. We’re simply the recipient. We have to decide it’s up to us and not pass along our power to the blame and excuse game. 

I also believe that becoming authentic is another key to getting out of your own way. Authentic leaders frame their stories in ways that allow them to see themselves not as passive observers but as individuals who learn from their own experiences and the reality she is in. Leaders who are authentic also work hard at developing self-awareness through persistent and often courageous self-exploration. Great leaders, as Manning (2015) points out, take responsibility in the area of personal growth. This is one of the most important leadership lessons – professional & personal growth must be just that, personal. We must own it ourselves. To get out of our own way, we must take responsibity for ourselves. It’s the first step to being authentic and disciplined. I have blogged about this before when I was teaching in a post titled, “Autonomy – Professional Growth Must Be Personal. Click here to read it. 

“If you don’t know what your barriers are, it’s impossible to figure out how to tear them down. So carve out the time to reflect on what’s blocking your potential. If you struggle figuring it out, get feedback from others you trust.” ~ John M. Manning

Manning discussed the need to get rid of the barriers that prevent us from getting out of our own way. I would pose this question to you in closing, as a way for you to begin to take responsibility for your own leadership journey: What are your top internal barriers to making changes? In other words, the behaviors that get in your way, such as losing focus, victimizing yourself, rationalizing, overreacting to criticism, and others.


Manning, J. (2015). The disciplined leader: 52 concise, powerful lessons. Oakland, CA: Barrett – Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Finding The Extraordinary You


“While understanding what makes you unique can give you a leadership edge, realizing what’s extraordinary about you is even better—those unique traits that are particularly special to you. Consistently work to emphasize, develop, or leverage these abilities and you’ll eventually carve out a clearer, greater leadership advantage.” ~ John M. Manning

This week’s lesson in The Disciplined Leader (Manning, 2015) reminded me so much of the work of Sally Hogshead’s work in How The World Sees You. She, like Manning, taught us that what makes us unique also gives us an edge. There is something extraordinary about each and every one of us. Hogshead argues we need to be more of who we are. This means using the archetypes that give us the biggest advantage. Manning (2015) posited if you want to change and grow, you need to believe this about yourself.

“Edge starts with self.” ~ Gene Simmons, KISS, in an interview with Jay Leno

Manning (2015) provided some great ways for us to develop our “edge.” Here are a few:

  • Examine what you love to do – Greater understanding will give you the ability to align future activities to your passions, resulting in even more satisfaction.
  • Determine your best skills – what skills you have that do make you effective and different. Your best skills are whatever you’ve learned to do really well in life.
  • Know your true gifts.

Interestingly, we had a discussion about leadership mantras this past week during a Hoosier Academies Focused Leader Academy session. I asked the group if they were going to imitate me to someone else what would you do or say. They overwhelmingly and imidiately said three things: everything is great attitude, when asked how I’m doing I always say, “I couldn’t be any better” or “If I was any better…” and always saying “Make it so” to ideas. Of course, they were able to poke fun with some of my mannerisms, too. But, what we found was this was a pretty accurate way of identifying different leaders’ edge. A big part of my edge is my enthusiasm and positivity. I am attaching a graphic we did during this session.

Graphic Facilitation by Mike Fleisch


Manning (2015) reminded us we must stay true to the “real you.” My challenge to you in this post is to identify your edge and then develop your skills by using your gifts and passions. What would those on your team say is your leadership mantra? 


Manning, J. (2015). The disciplined leader: 52 concise, powerful lessons. Oakland, CA: Barrett – Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Existential Needs

Posted in Uncategorized by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on November 22, 2015


How do we make ourselves useful to others? How do we make ourselves useful to ourselves? These were both questions that Peter Drucker believed were important us to think about. He also believed organizations needed to think about this for both the people working for the organization and those it serves. We share immensely in the products of prosperity, including better health care and longer life experiences (Maciariello, 2014). These lead us to a whole new range of conditions and choices, especially the opportunity to move from success to significance. IMG_0640

Drucker (2014) argued that the products of prosperity do not create fulfillment, and this becomes very apparent as we achieve prosperity. Drucker recognized that the term “existential” was not only difficult to define, but more difficult to comprehend. The term existential, as used by Drucker, meant the universal need for inspiration, effectiveness, and hope. This definition, I believe, is consistent with that of Kaufmann (1968), who believed “Existentialism”, therefore, may be defined as the philosophical theory which holds that a further set of categories, governed by the norm of authenticity, is necessary to grasp human existence. Please let me be clear, this is not a post about existentialism, but I like Kaufmann’s view of authenticity. We talk about authenticity in leadership all the time. If we go back to Drucker’s view of the need for inspiration, effectiveness, and hope does that not sum up how to be authentic? We need to recognize our own existential needs for inspiration, effectiveness, and hope. Additionally, as we strive for significance, we must strive to provide the existential needs for those we serve and the greater community.

“Here I am in the twilight years of my life still wondering what it’s all about… I can tell you this: Fame and Fortune is for the birds.” ~ Lee Iacooca

While the needs are important to fulfill throughout our lives, they are especially important to fulfill as we try to make the transition from success to significance. Drucker (2014) believed that an important existential need of personhood is to integrate the two dimensions of existence – life in the present and life in the spirit. Organizations need to offer opportunities for meaningful service in the community while also providing a greater sense of purpose for the volunteer. We, as authentic leaders, have the responsibility to bring inspiration, effectiveness, and hope to those we serve and to society. We also must help those we serve do the same thing. Our world’s survival and happiness depend on it!


Kaufmann, W., 1968. Existentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre, Cleveland: Meridian Books.

Maciariello, J. A. (2014). A year with Peter Drucker: 52 weeks of coaching for leadership effectiveness. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.

Stewardship of Affluence & Influence

Posted in Uncategorized by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on November 21, 2015


In an ideal world, social science research would provide a strong basis for advocacy and social
policy. However, sometimes advocates misunderstand or even ignore scientific research in pursuit of their policy goals, perhaps especially when research pertains to controversial questions of social inequality. This past week’s lesson in A Year With Peter Drucker dealt with using affluence and influence to become passionate advocates of change and important initiatives. In other words we must be good stewards of affluence and influence.   
Drucker (Maciariello, 2014) believed we must be passionate advocates for innovative projects. These projects could be within our organizations or for social change. Drucker (2014) believed in using pilots. Neither studies nor market research nor computer modeling are a substitute for the test of reality. Everything improved or new needs, therefore, first to be tested on a small scale, that is, it needs to be piloted. In other words, we should pilot innovative projects on a small scale before introducing them on a larger scale. 

Common Mistakes In Introducing Change

 A big advantage to pilots is the ability to identify unintended consequences on a smaller scale. This is especially important for complex government programs that often experience many unintended consequences of well intended legislative programs (Maciariello, 2014). Public administrators should learn from experience, and piloting is a way to gain experience. 

Enough Is Enough!


Maciariello, J. A. (2014). A year with Peter Drucker: 52 weeks of coaching for leadership effectiveness. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.

Values Define Your Unique Leadership Identity

CoreValuesSlideImageLeaders know what they value. They also recognize the importance of ethical behavior. The best leaders exhibit both their core values and their ethics in their leadership style and actions. Your leadership ethics and values should be visible because you live them in your actions every single day. People know what to expect if leaders have identified and shared their core values, living the values daily – visibly will create trust. To say one sentiment and to do another will damage trust – possibly forever. As Manning (2015) pointed out in The Disciplined Leader it is not only important for leaders of lead according to their values, but the leaders core values must also align with the values of the organization they work for. Our unique leadership identity is made up of our core values. As a leader, choose the values and the ethics that are most important to you, the values and ethics you believe in and that define your character. Then live them visibly every day at work. Living your values is one of the most powerful tools available to you to help you lead and influence others. Don’t waste your best opportunity.disciplined-leader

Bottom line, the role of leadership is to add value to other people and the true measure of leadership is influence, thus a great leader must have the ability to change the attitude or behavior of others. Therefore values must be aligned to key decision making. Organizations must also determined what the core values of that organization will be. We have really been working on this becoming a part of the DNA and culture of the schools I lead. This has to be so much more than just words on a paper. I was so proud this past week when I was meeting with some members of our team to make some decisions and one of them referenced our core value of putting students first. In fact, she said, “You know, this is a pretty easy decision if we truly want to put students first ahead of the adults this decision will affect.” She even pointed to our graphic we are using to represent our vision, mission, and core values. I thought, “Wow, it does not get any better than this! We are truly changing the culture and really using our core values, not just printing them on a page.” We all need to use this example to guide us to use our core values to proactively and consistently guide our personal and organizational decisions.

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Students Are At The Top of Our Core Value Structure!

Many organizations will define their core values, publicly share them as prints in the offices and stores and post them on their website, and just stop here. Eventually, the core values get ignored. Michael Hyatt, the author of the New York Times bestseller, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, identified 6 ways to communicate the core values to every member of the organization:

  1. Living the values
  2. Teaching the values
  3. Recognizing the values
  4. Hiring new people based on the values
  5. Reviewing people based on the values
  6. Letting people go based on values

In this week’s entry, Manning (2015) also reinforced points 5 & 6. Many CEOs don’t make it because their core values don’t match those of  the organization they lead. My goal for the organization I lead is to clearly communicate and integrate our school’s core values with all the processes and operations of our school. This should result in higher employee engagement and making sound decisions based on our #1 core value of putting students first. This also plays into another important leadership point of making sure that all team members understand his or her role in carrying out the vision, mission, or strategic plan of the organization. Understanding, living, and making decisions based on the core values of the organization goes a long way to making this possible.

“Disciplined Leaders regularly reference their values in critical decision making and rely on them when they are stuck between “a rock and a hard place.” They use them to establish specific direction and get confirmation about those choices they’ve made.” ~ John M. Manning

For me, as a leader I must continue to developed my leadership style around my personality and values, and in the end,  actions are consistent with what I truly believe. As Goethe said: “Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least.”


Hyatt, M. (2012). Platform: Get noticed in a noisy world. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

Manning, J. (2015). The disciplined leader: 52 concise, powerful lessons. Oakland, CA: Barrett – Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Knowing Your Mission & Purpose

2015-11-04 03.42.43

A Graphic Representation of Our Organization’s Study of our Mission & Vision. Thanks Mike Fleisch!

Notice the title of this post is “Knowing Your Mission and Purpose,” not “Writing and Memorizing a Mission Statement.” There is a difference. So many organizations, I’ll bet you have been part of this, write fancy mission and vision statements only to have them made into a plaque to be put on the wall. Maybe, at best, all team members memorize the mission statement so it can be regurgitated to anyone who will listen, or some evaluated who things that’s an important thing to do. This post is not about that, but about the fact that every organization and every life is driven by something. To be effective, organizations must specify a mission (Maciariello, 2014). Then it must be determined how the mission fits assumptions about the specific environment facing it, and the core competencies possessed by it that are needed to accomplish its mission in the specific environment.

We are working on this very process right now in the schools I lead, Hoosier Academies. I have attached some visuals of our work in this area thus far. It is our desire that this process go so much further than just having words. We want our mission and vision to truly represent the shared purpose of all stakeholders in putting students first. By doing so, we can then budget on purpose, structure on purpose, staff on purpose, program on purpose, and strategic plan on purpose. We must know our mission because not everything is in life is worth doing. Without purpose it is hard to discern what is worth doing. In week 45’s lesson in A Year With Peter Drucker (Maciariello, 2014), five reasons for being purpose driven:

1st Draft of Our Graphic Study of Our Mission & Vision

1st Draft of Our Graphic Study of Our Mission & Vision

  1. Purpose builds morale.
  2. Purpose reduces conflict in organizations.
  3. Purpose provides vision.
  4. Purpose allows concentrating.
  5. Purpose provides a system of evaluation.

Drucker (Maciariello, 2014) posited that a theory of business needed three parts to be successful. First, there needed to be defined assumptions about the environment of the organization. Second there must be a specific mission. Drucker put this so well, saying, “The assumptions about mission define what an organization considers to be meaningful results – they point to how it envisions itself making a difference in the economy and society at large.” (Maciariello, 2014, p.353) Finally, core competencies define where an organization must excel in order to maintain leadership.

IMG_0690One of the main reasons we are going through this process right now was driven home by the fact that a mission must be tested against reality. Our schools had not taken a look and really studied it’s mission and vision since the start of the schools. No mission lasts forever. Also, we have to remember what Drucker (2014) taught, “Knowledge is a perishable commodity.” (p. 355) We must not procrastinate if our mission and vision are obsolete or no longer match our purpose. Additionally, we must rethink the assumptions and core competencies on which our mission and vision are based and update the premises on which our organizations are operating. I always have to remind myself and our team to stay focused on the things our organization must do extremely well in order to succeed in carrying out our mission. You will notice in the graphic representation of our mission and vision we chose to use a Jenga theme (I will be doing a post dedicated to the process we are using with our Graphic Facilitator, Mike Fleisch, later). We really think in the case of a school this is such a great way to look at our purpose, vision, and mission using because we have the student at the top, but if any other area fails it brings down the tower and does not allow us to carry out our core value you of putting students first. We must support those areas of required excellence by offering continuing professional development and education.


Maciariello, J. A. (2014). A year with Peter Drucker: 52 weeks of coaching for leadership effectiveness. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.

Overcoming Obstacles

Posted in Uncategorized by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on November 9, 2015

2015-11-07 12.33.29

Showing off our stylish socks!

2015-11-08 06.09.50I had the tremendous honor this past Saturday to be part of the Uplift Indy Youth Expo 2015. The theme of the Expo was Overcoming Obstacles. You can take a look at the program by clicking here. I am so thankful that Reverend Antwan Houser, CEO and founder of UPLIFT Indy, invited me to be a part of this incredible event. Teaching kids to overcome obstacles is part of the organizations mission and I am positive this event will help them become more successful in life.Tim Doty from WTTV CBS 4 Indy was the Emcee and did a tremendous job and it was great to get to meet him. He made a point that is so true: “Bringing about change for our youth is a marathon, not a sprint!” We even had a little fun showing off our fancy socks!

I knew I was in for a treat when the first two speakers were youth, MaKayla Ivory and Jalen McGraw. Here are the points the two of them made that really moved me:

  • Don’t let others tell you who you are, what you believe, or what you want to do.
  • Start and finish everything with God.
  • Many obstacles our youth face exist because they are invisible.
  • When working with Indianapolis youth, remember: the blessings are bigger than the burden.

Then, DeAndra Yates, mother of DeAndre Knox who was shot spoke. Knox was shot in the back of head at a party on the city’s northwest side February 1, 2014. Knox is alive today and took his first steps after the shooting on September 30. He still can’t talk, but is starting to respond to questions by nodding his head. Her points were very moving as well. Here are some notes I took during her inspiring message:

  • God did not allow this to happen without a reason.
  • Grieve, but recognize that the God is using this tragedy to open doors. Yates said she is making it her personal mission to reduce crime in the city and avoid another tragedy like her sons.
  • Expect the unexpected. None of us know what the future will bring.
  • This happened to me, yet I am still here.

Corey Parchman & I

Corey Parchman & I

I also had the very special privilege of meeting Emmerich Manual High School graduate, Corey Parchman. Having been the Turnaround Principal at Manual, it was awesome to finally get to know him. His story of how he lost his dad at age 9 and then went on to be the greatest high school football player in Indiana was inspiring. Parchman shared about his struggles losing his father as a child. “Despite having a single parent household, you can still make it and be a successful man,” he said during his remarks. He also talked about having to walk onto Ball State’s football team and making it in the league as an undrafted rookie. The theme of his remarks was: “Don’t think about your obligation. Think of the opportunity!” Thank for reminding us of this Corey!

Other great speakers included State Trooper, Aaron Allen; Pastor Terry Webster, Jr; and, Sgt. Kendale Adams. Here are some points I tweeted from their remarks:

  • Don’t let obstacles get you sidetracked.
  • Any mentorship program based on forming meaningful relationships will be successful!
  • You must define your own destiny.

Then it was time for my keynote. I titled it “Being Prepared for What You Don’t Know You Need to be Prepared For.” I started with the story of the Little Frog in the Well.

Little Frog in the Well

My good friends, imagine if you were to live at the bottom of a deep, dark well. What kind of world would you see?

There was a Little Frog who lived at the bottom of a deep, dark well. Now let us go down there and see what kind of world he had.

It was a very old well filled with shallow water at the bottom. The walls of the well were all covered with wet moss. When the Little Frog was thirsty, he drank a little bit of the well water, and when he was hungry, he ate some insects. When he was tired, he lay on a little rock at the bottom of the well and looked up at the sky above him. Sometimes he saw passing clouds. He was very happy and satisfied.

The little frog

Now, the Little Frog had been living at the bottom of this old well since he was born. He had never been to the outside world. Whenever a bird or birds flew by and stopped at the edge of the well, the Little Frog always looked up and bragged, “Hello! why don’t you come down here and play with me. It’s so pleasant down here. Look, I have cool water to drink and countless insects to eat. Come down! At night I can watch the twinkling stars, and sometimes I can see the beautiful moon, too.”

Sometimes the birds would tell the Little Frog, “Hi, Little Frog! You see, the outside world is much bigger and nicer. It’s many times more beautiful than your little well at the bottom. ” But the Little Frog would not believe them. “Don’t lie to me, I don’t believe there is any place that could be better than here. ”

Gradually, all the birds began to dislike him They thought he was too stubborn and stopped talking to him.

The Little Frog could not understand why nobody would like to come down to his nice place.

One day, a yellow sparrow stopped by at the edge of the well. The Little Frog was so excited he greeted the sparrow and invited the sparrow eagerly. “Hello, Mr. Yellow Sparrow, how are you? Please come down to my most beautiful house.” The yellow sparrow did not say a word and flew away. The next day the yellow sparrow came again and the same thing happened again. It went on for six days. On the seventh day, the yellow sparrow finally said, “Little Frog, may I show you the outside world?” But the Little Frog refused the offer.

Finally the yellow sparrow became angry. He flew down to the bottom of the well, picked up the Little Frog on his back, and flew out of the well.

“Oh!” the Little Frog exclaimed. “How is it that the outside world is so big!” He had been in the bottom of his dark well for so long that the bright sunshine made his eyes blink shut, and he could hardly open his eyes to see.

When he finally opened his eyes, he saw so many things around him. “Hey! Be careful! Don’t hit this strange thing. What are all these green high and low things?” The yellow sparrow laughed happily: “Ha! ha! These are mountains and valleys. There are countless mountains in this world. The Himalayas, the Swiss Alps, the Rockies and… ”

The Little Frog could not believe there were so many big mountains in the world. When they flew over the high mountains, the next view made the Little Frog even more surprised.

“What is this long, silvery, shiny view?”

“It is a river,” the yellow sparrow replied.

“Then what is that huge, blue thing over there?”

“That is a sea,” the yellow sparrow replied.

“That river and sea, how much water do they have? How much bigger are they than my well? They must hold a billion times more water than my well.” The Little Frog began to realize how tiny his well was. “Let’s go down, O.K. ?” The yellow sparrow put the Little Frog down on the ground and flew away.

The Little Frog jumped into the grass and saw many beautiful flowers of different colors. He had never seen such beautiful flowers and had never smelled such nice scents. He kept on going and went into a forest. In it he looked up and saw many tall trees. He looked down and found many different kinds of fruits that had fallen to the ground. He picked up an apple and tasted it. “Wow, so sweet !” Then he listened to the beautiful singing of the birds. The cute squirrels were jumping, the monkeys were swinging from branch to branch, and the antelopes were scampering speedily.

In the pond, the lotus flowers were dancing in the air, and the lotus leaves were floating on the water like umbrellas. There were many fish in the water.

“The outside world is so big, so wonderful, and beautiful!” The Little Frog finally cried out happily and jumped into the pond. He climbed up on a huge lotus leaf and enjoyed his new life there. The yellow sparrow came back and asked, “Little Frog! How’s this outside world? Big? Beautiful?”

“Thank you very much. If you had not brought me out to see this world, I would never had known that there are such beautiful things that exist outside my well .” The Little Frog never tried to go back to his old well again.

I then talked about my past and how I had ended up in teaching. My teaching career did not begin with the same story that many teachers share. I did not have an epiphany when I said to myself, “I want to be a teacher.” My journey as an educator began during my sophomore year at Purdue University when Professor Dr. Hobart Jones pulled me into his office and asked if I had ever considered teaching. When I said, “no,” he explained that he saw a talent in me for educating and wanted me to double major in Animal Science and Agricultural Education. It is amazing how someone like Dr. Jones can make a huge impact on someone’s life.  His inspiration and personal interest helped me to deal with the challenges of a double major, making my 31 year educational career possible. Without Dr. Jones’ personal interest in my abilities, I probably would have missed this opportunity. It is his example of true caring that I strive to emulate every day of my teaching career.

We Must Be Prepared For What We Don't Know We Need To Be Prepared For!

We Must Be Prepared For What We Don’t Know We Need To Be Prepared For!

It is so important that we have people in our lives, just like the sparrow served the frog, to serve as “kickstands” in our lives. These people do not just end up there by chance. I believe God places them there. I went on to explain that I really have not spent a lot of time planning my career. It is more important that we make sure we are prepared for what we don’t know we need to be prepared for. In education we use the term “backward planning.” In other words you take the standards you want the students to have mastered in the end and you plan backward from there. I explained that I believe that God is the ultimate backward planner. He knows exactly what is going to happen and what his end goal is for us and plans, with favor, accordingly. God doesn’t really work from harsh domination or a strict set of rules. It’s not about God saying “it’s my way or the highway.” Instead, it’s about loving God enough to trust him fully with everything. It’s about understanding that his perspective is so much greater than our own as he sees the big picture of what he wants to do in our life. We just need to accept and continue to prepare for what we don’t know we need to be prepared for.

“Age wrinkles the body. Quitting wrinkles the soul.” ~ General Douglas MacArthur

I then closed with two Bible verses from the book of James that give us comfort when coming up against obstacles in our life and prepare us for what we don’t know we need to prepare for:

“Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” ~ James 1:4

In other words many of the obstacles we come up against are placed there by God to help prepare us for our future missions and roads in life. We may not know what we need to be prepared for, but God does.

“Come near to God and He will come near to you.” ~ James 3:8

Panel Discussion

Panel Discussion

At the end of the Expo I was part of a panel that took questions from the participants. It was a great discussion. The very last question came from a youth who asked a very astute question that caused me to do a great deal of reflecting. She asked, “How do we ever get to a time when we can recognize and appreciate all the uniqueness that each of us possess?” I used what I have learned from Sally Hogshead to answer the question. Sally believes the greatest value a person can add is to become more of themselves. If this isn’t appreciating the unique gifts we have, I don’t know what is. I told her these unique differences are what make us fascinating. While we have society norms we must adhere to, like sometimes needing to wear a tie in my case, we need to be more aware of who we are and who others are. Sally has taught me to take negative things said about my beliefs or actions as compliments and proof that I am fascinating.

I would like to close out this post by repeating the question of this young lady for you to ponder and maybe leave a response to this post about. “How do we ever get to a time when we can recognize and appreciate all of the uniqueness that each of us possess?”

It Isn’t Always Right To Be Right

This week’s lesson in The Disciplined Leader (Manning, 2015) dealt with humility. Manning points out that disciplined leaders admit they do not have all the answers. They are able to let go of the ego and ask for and accept help. The lesson here is, according to Manning (2015), you are responsible for how you carry and lead yourself. It’s really pretty simple, talk less and listen more.

“Disciplined Leaders live and die based on the performance of their team. You will find that many of the best business leaders talk about their team and keep them in the spotlight, not talking about themselves. These leaders understand their role is to help their team be successful and give them credit every time credit is due. Through these actions, such leaders earn that crucial respect, build loyalty, and consistently get their desired results.” ~ John M. Manning

Manning (2015) gave us three great points to live by in the book:

  1. Look beyond you for answers.
  2. Adopt a teamwork mindset.
  3. Grow awareness of your verbal and body language.


I am a believer we must share our mistakes as teachable moments. When, as leaders, we showcase our own personal growth, we legitimize the growth and learning of others; by admitting our own imperfections, they make it okay for others to be fallible, too. We also tend to connect with people who share their imperfections. Another way to practice humility is to truly engage with different points of view. Too often leaders are focused on swaying others and “winning” arguments. When people debate in this way, they become so focused on proving the validity of their own views that they miss. As Manning(2015) pointed out, “It isn’t always right to be right.” Ambiguity and uncertainty are par for the course in today’s knowledge society. When leaders humbly admit that they don’t have all the answers, they create space for others to step forward. Finally, we must role model being a “follower.” Inclusive leaders empower others to lead.

“Develop your leadership style like a branded product. You want others to trust that brand and always lean toward it.” ~ John M. Manning


Manning, J. (2015). The disciplined leader: 52 concise, powerful lessons. Oakland, CA: Barrett – Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Being Prepared For What You Don’t Know You Need To Be Prepared For

Posted in Coaching, Education, Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Inspirational, Leadership, Spiritual by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on November 7, 2015

Later today I will be speaking at the Overcoming Obstacles Youth Expo. This expo is being put on by Uplift Indy. I love the title, “Overcoming Obstacles.” That’s really what it is all about. I will be closing out the day and will tie it all together by working with the youth on around the idea of “Being Prepared For What You Don’t Know You Need To Be Prepared For.” Isn’t that what obstacles are? Things we are not prepared for. But really, we have some tools already in our toolbox for being prepared and just need to think through how we get the rest. I can’t wait to spend time with these kids today! 

I will post my comments and thoughts from the day when the expo ends today.