Byron's Babbles

Leading FOR Others

I had the chance to go visit three Indiana schools this past week and see some great things happening for students in our state. I visited the International Soccer School of America, Stable Grounds, and Millersburg Elementary Middle School. I love getting out into schools and seeing programs that I have not visited before. This is an important part of my own development as a citizen leader and being part of the Indiana State Board of Education. It is impossible to understand others and build relationships without taking the time to visit and listen. At all three stops I saw communities of people who were innovating to serve our young scholars. They were meeting them where they were and preparing them for the future they choose.

When we lead as a community we foster an environment for inspiration, success, trust, and teamwork. I want to lead FOR others, to provide thought and care, develop strong relationships, support others in their own successes and consciously act with integrity. When we develop as leaders FOR others, we grow in grace, understanding, and self awareness.

Being Childlike

The other day during a Zoom meeting I said that I thought that I had matured a little over the last year. Then, one of the participants said, “Well, just don’t quit being childlike.” I thought about that and actually wrote it on my notepad. Now, as I come back to that note I guess I look at being childlike having all to do with growth, curiosity, and feeling free enough as individuals to be ourselves without unduly formed restrictions. Those things really have nothing to do with maturity and all to do the positive qualities related to children. Things like innocence, trusting, unguarded, or being vulnerable like a child. It also means taking off the many masks of propriety imposed within our society that limit our creativity and sense of exploration. I do allow myself to play, and to be silly.

I probably wouldn’t have written a blog post about this, but when reading yesterday in Mo Rocca’s awesome book, Mobituaries, yesterday he wrote that someone had described Sammy Davis Jr. as being childlike, not childish. This made me think more about the difference. Sammy certainly was fun, relaxed, spontaneous, creative, adventurous, and silly. At the same time that he was entertaining us he was doing a lot of great things in the world. Certainly not childish behavior. Childlike, yes; childish, no.

Therefore, being childlike has everything to do with growing, being curious, and being ourselves without those unduly formed restrictions that society wants to place on us. I sure hope I don’t grow out of being childlike!

What Is Your Essence?

Posted in #NEI3DLeadership, 3D Leadership, Essence, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on October 17, 2021

I am reading the great book, Mobituaries: Great Lives Worth Reliving, by Mo Rocco right now and while discussing Sammy Davis Jr., he posited that when Sammy did an imitation he had a way of getting to the essence of the person. Our core essence is what makes us uniquely “me”, and is what separates each person in their individuality. This thought of essence is pretty deep. Essence is our style and what seems to show up in every one of our stories. Just as important to discovering our essence is to unraveling the mysteries of our actions, it is also important to explaining the mistakes we make. But, I was also reminded this weekend how important understanding essence is to effective relationships.

I was reminded of this during a discussion yesterday during our Carolinas 3D Leadership gathering. Two participants did some deep soul searching and were discussing how they hated to hear things from their principals or team members like, “your doing to much” or “not sure why you are doing that” or “why in the world did you add so many features to that spreadsheet.” I added that last one because I’m guilty of saying things like that. I am so glad that these two opened up, though, because I believe it opened all our eyes – I know it did mine. We were hearing their essence in their stories. Glad we were listening to understand!

I asked them what it was they wanted to hear. They said they just wanted to hear, “Great job on this” or “This is very helpful” or I really appreciate having this.” For these two, their essence is something like being three steps ahead or going above and beyond or striving for success. What we learned from this discussion was that it is not helpful for those whose essence is to build the over the top spreadsheet to say, “Um, not sure why you spent so much time on this, we don’t need all the bells and whistles.” We just need to acknowledge and recognize the person’s essence. You all know me, I asked what do you want to hear? They told me instead of “you shouldn’t have” they wanted to just hear “thank you, I appreciate all the extra work you have done.” Otherwise, we are not respecting their essence.

Since our essence is our style we don’t want to let a story overwhelm our style. That would mean to lose touch with ourselves. When work becomes more important than the living of your own life, or a relationship overshadows your individual needs, or expectations are so prescriptive that you are no longer in control of your life or how you do your job, we are not living by our essence.

It’s amazing to me how a simple word like “essence” can cause such deep thought. But, just as Sammy Davis Jr. could catch the essence of others, we too have an obligation to listen and watch for the essence of those around us understand the essence of those we work with and have relationships with. Essence is a part of each of our stories and follows us no matter which forms we may take. To truly understand the essence of another is to have power in how we work and flow with other. Finally, we also need to understand our own essence and embrace it because to do so will keep us from working against ourselves.

Work The Problem

Posted in Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development, puzzle by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on October 11, 2021

I love the phrase, “Work the problem.” I’ve heard some of my military trained friends use this phrase. To me it means not sticking our heads in the sand and ignoring the problem or hoping it goes away. It also means we won’t guess. As Gene Kranz would say, “Work the problem. Don’t make it worse by guessing.” What he was saying was that to work the problem we need a firm understanding of the complex puzzle and what’s going on to work the problem.

Let’s also not forget in The Martian when Mark Watney, was stranded alone on Mars. My favorite quote from the movie after him having the mantra of working the problem was, “You begin. You do the math. You solve one problem, then the next one and then the next one. If you solve enough problems, you get to come home.” It’s kind of like making a puzzle; one piece at a time.

To work the problem we need to define the problem or challenge. Then we need to determine the desired outcome. For Watney, it was coming home. Information and research gathering comes next, followed by the most important part: the game plan. Then we go from working the problem to working the plan.

Attracting Successful People

Posted in Collaboration, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on October 9, 2021

If I had heard the story of H.B. Reese, I had forgotten it. He actually started a rival candy company in Hershey, Pennsylvania while still working in chocolatier Milton Hershey’s factory. Can you imagine what would happen with most leaders? There would be inevitable envious fit, and then there would be the immediate firing. Not with Milton Hershey. He supported Reese in creating that very special candy cup we all so enjoy. Not Sorry!

In fact the Hershey factory supplied the chocolate for the experiments as Reese developed the peanut butter cup. Of course Reese became successful and he and Hershey collaborated forever after till both their deaths. In fact the two companies were merged after their deaths. This is such a strong reminder that we all need to be aiding in the success of others. And, as others see this happening, it will attracted more talented people our way.

Even though they were competing, Hershey and Reese were inspiring each other. Who are you helping to be successful? Don’t be sorry!