Byron's Babbles


Posted in Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on December 31, 2022

“What happens when eventually comes too late?” ~ Nathan “Nate” Ford (Timothy Hutton) on Leverage. Those lines jumped out at me and really made me think. This should probably be one of this milestone/benchmark questions we should be constantly asking ourselves. I know we are at that time of year where everyone talks about New Year’s resolutions. Not me. But let’s contemplate the old adage that it is ‘never too late.’ While I believe that, I also believe we can wait too long. Sometimes I believe we, myself included, use ‘eventually’ and ‘it’s never too late’ as a crutch, or excuse, to not start something. This really is an avoidance to starting something we might really want or need to do. Think about these things: starting a business, going back to college, getting a doctor’s checkup, calling an old friend, or insert your own here, ____________. Now, look back at that list. Can eventually come too late? Can it really be too late? It sure can! By the time we finally do these things or get started we might just find ourselves in a difficult position and have to fight an uphill battle to get the things done or even stay alive.

sometimes it’s too late.
And that’s the thing about time,
we cannot get it back.” ~ Kiana Azizian

Notice I made the title of this post ‘Eventually.’ I did not want ‘Eventually Is Too Late’ or ‘Eventually Is Never Too Late.’ Both could be right, but I want us on this New Year’s Eve to keep ‘eventually’ at the forefront of our thinking for 2023. While our calendar timeline is linear, our life’s timeline is not. We do not have complete control over when we are going to achieve something or when something will surprise us. Our lives are extremely unpredictable. Something might happen earlier than we think, it might happen later than you think, or it might not happen at all. So, as you think about that next eventually, remember life can be really long and really short and ask yourself, “What happens when eventually comes too late?”


Less Team & More Living Organism

Posted in Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development, Team, Trust by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on December 29, 2022

Yesterday I was doing some work that I wanted a little noise in the background for so I turned on an old episode of </Scorpion>. The show was about four geniuses teamed up with a government handler and a mother of a young genius son, who solved issues globally. At the end of the episode, of which a theme of teamwork had emerged, it was said, “Maybe we should think less of ourselves as a team and more as an organism [that is living and adapting].” Many times teams operate under the old industrial model like machines. And…machines break down and are unable to adapt. By contrast, living organisms are masters at adaptation. Many times when we think of adaptation, we thing of Charles Darwin. One of the observations of Darwin that Ernst Mayr (1982, 2001) made was that, “Individuals in a population are not identical, they vary in many characteristics.” Adaptation comes from the Latin word adaptus, which means to become fitted, to join, and to adjust.

Here’s why teams need to think, act, and be led more like living organisms than machines:

  1. Organisms can adapt to their environment.
  2. Organisms respond to changes in their environment and continue to be relevant in a changing environment.
  3. Organisms function by keeping homeostasis, or equilibrium, between its many independent actors.
  4. Organisms grow and develop.

Now, go back and replace ‘organism’ with ‘great team’ and you’ll get the point of the post. Wait. I’ll do it for you:

  1. Great teams can adapt to their environment.
  2. Great teams respond to changes in their environment and continue to be relevant in a changing environment.
  3. Great teams function by keeping homeostasis, or equilibrium, between its many independent actors.
  4. Great teams grow and develop, both as individual team members and a whole team.

Get it? As great teams adapt and their members grow and develop, bonds of trust are formed and relationships are built. I’m grateful for the living organism metaphor for a team provided by </Scorpion>.

Learning Vs Being Right

We live, work, and play in such complex institutional and cultural environments today. Therefore, we must be adaptive individual learners, as well as, learning organizations. Mary Catherine Bateson taught us that openness to learning and changing is more important than what one knows at any given point. Openness to learning and willingness to adjust are important qualities. Learning is more important and being right. Learning is a perspective as much as it is a practice. We need to be nurture and encourage an attitude of learning. We must seek out ideas, information, and approaches so we can learn from others, including those whose views diverge from ours.

There are really three pieces to great leadership:

  1. Curiosity
  2. Growth Mindset
  3. Openness

If we go back to the teaching of Bateson, we find openness as an essential trait. If we have an appreciation of diverse perspectives and a willingness to try new things, we can better navigate daily challenges and discover novel solutions. Openness allows ideas to merge and develop by valuing diversity of thinking. Unfortunately, school taught us (and is still doing this) that we need to always be right. But, that binary way of thinking keeps us from considering that there might be a right answer, especially when we are on uncharted ground.

Forgiveness Is Not Earned

Well, here we are, the 52nd week of the year and the final reflective post from the great book, Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways To Be A Servant Leader and Build Trust, Making Common Sense Common Practice, by Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley. I love books that are broken into 52 lessons like this one. Every year I pick a book like this one where I can read a weekly passage, reflect, and then dedicate writing a blog post each week. If your looking for a great book to inspire you in 2023, this could be that one. Simple Truth #52 was “Forgiveness Is Letting Go Of All Hope For A Better Past. We need to practice forgiveness because, as Collins said, “You can’t revise history to make it better” (p. 133). When we forgive we are doing an action of faith.

Gandhi taught us that forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. We must remember that forgiveness is a gift and gifts are not earned, they are given. Collins told us, “Forgiveness can’t be earned by the offender; it can only be given by the offended” (p. 133). The most courageous act of leadership is to forgo the temptation to take revenge on those on the other side of an issue or who have wronged us in some way. Bottom-line is that those we serve are human. The thing about us humans is that we all have personal issues, frailties and struggles, we inevitably do lots of things that make others unhappy. So, let’s put empathy into action and show compassion and forgive.

Christmas Playfulness

How are you doing with your playfulness? On this Christmas morning I am thinking about how we learn through our bodies. The somatic side of learning if you will. Watching kids play with toys on Christmas is amazing. Wait a minute; watching adults play with their kid’s toys on Christmas is amazing. With play we get participation and full engagement. Play inspires curiosity. Curiosity in turn opens the door for exploration, experimentation, and more learning. What if we intentionally focused on learning, leading, and living through play? For adults and children alike, play makes use of all our different senses – visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Our bodies store so much of our information and when we become active, our learning becomes sticky.

I love to use playing as a part of the leadership development work I do. Play fosters our curiosity and strengthens our childlike spirit to transform the way we show up as a conscious leader. Play reduces resistance and pushback because people are relaxed. When we let our guard down, all learning happens more easily. Playing also brings low-stress social interaction. Playing is how we connect. Play stimulates our imagination, helping us adapt and solve problems. Play gives us an opportunity to refresh, rejuvenate, and revitalize. When was the last time you played?


Posted in Belonging, Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development, Memories, Tradition by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on December 24, 2022

‘Belonging’ is something I’ve been contemplating a lot lately. And, tradition has a lot to do with belonging. In fact this past week the WD-40 Company posted on LinkedIn: “92% of tribe members recently shared that as a part of WD-40 Company, they strongly experience a sense of belonging. Now that’s something to be proud of! Want to join us? Visit our careers page today!” I commented, “Belonging is such an important part of a community. Thanks, WD-40 Company, for being a great role model and example of this for all of us!” Then this morning, Christmas Eve, my son Heath, reminded me how important traditions are to belonging. Today is also Heath’s birthday and he wanted to make sure we went out and fed the cattle together because we always do that together on his birthday. He had also secured some Florida Ruby Red grapefruit because we always have them on Christmas Eve and Christmas mornings.

Having Heath reminding me of those traditions brought about great feelings of belonging. Traditions provide a sense of stability and help us connect with our roots. “Tradiare”, a Latin word meaning “to hand over, to transmit” is where tradition gets its roots. It is a practice or ritual that is passed down from generation to generation. Those traditions then become memories. So keep building belonging, traditions, and memories.

The Sanest Insane Thing

Posted in Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on December 24, 2022

As she was making her way westward on the the wagon train in April of 1855, one of the characters in Book 2 of Threads West An American Saga: Maps of Fate by the award winning historical fiction author Reid Lance Rosenthal made the comment that this was “the sanest insane thing I’ve ever done.” The characters in this book went west for many different reasons, but all carried a dream of creating a better life for themselves and their families in this new, undeveloped territory. I love the paradox of sanity and insanity that Rosenthal created here. Though the emigrant characters of the book may have been prepared for the trip physically by bringing the supplies necessary and hiring qualified wagon masters, few were prepared psychologically for the intensity of the pioneer experience. This could be said for many of our experience. Were we prepared for the intensity of the experience?

“You have to forget about what other people say, when you’re supposed to die, or when you’re supposed to be loving. You have to forget about all these things. You have to go on and be crazy. Craziness is like heaven.” ~ Jimi Hendrix

That’s why I love the quote above from Jimi Hendrix. Sometimes we just have to do the crazy. Over the last couple of weeks I have been to holiday gatherings with people from my past work of being a principal of a school we took over. Every person I have encountered has discussed the intensity of that experience. It was crazy insane to leave a great teaching position at a great school to be a principal of a failing school, but it really was heaven. Every student deserves a great school and we made that possible for students on the south side of Indianapolis. In the process, I became part of the family of one the greatest group of teachers and staff members in the world. One of the things that always gets brought up when visiting with those family members is just how much fun we had. It was crazy insane at times, but it was also heaven.

In A First-Rate Madness, author and psychiatrist Nassir Ghaemi, used the provocative thesis: “For abnormal challenges, abnormal leaders are needed.” I love this. I am not suggesting any of us had mental illness or disorders. Ghaemi argued, however, that “[w]e should accept, even celebrate” the possibility that our decision-makers have dealt with mental illnesses — disorders which, he wrote, tend to promote the qualities of “realism, resilience, empathy and creativity.” As Hendrix said, we have to forget what people say and “go on and be crazy.”

The Synchronized Team

Posted in Communication, Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development, Relationships, Trust by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on December 22, 2022

“The camp worked together like a synchronized team.” This was the wagon master speaking of the group he was leading westward in Book 2 of Threads West An American Saga: Maps of Fate by the award winning historical fiction author Reid Lance Rosenthal. As I read that line I imagined the pioneers as synchronous swimmers, floating around their wagons, oxen, horses, and cooking fires, practicing marksmanship for those new to firearms, and getting all the important things done. Like, cooking food, greasing and tightening wagon wheel axles, making jerky from a freshly harvested deer, or the myriad of other duties necessary for a very long and arduous journey to be successful. I imagined every person having some role they were particularly good at and then learning new skills as they chipped in and helped each other. A synchronized team, just like in synchronized swimming, consists of differing roles or dimensions that are balanced to ensure success.

In synchronized swimming the choice of music and choreography enhance the team’s performance and highlighting of the best attributes of team members. The wagon master had displayed this leadership skill by building relationships with those he was leading, allowing him to understand strengths, weaknesses, and skills. This allowed him to choreograph each stop to be perfectly synchronized. Everyone had to move together and everyone had to be able function together as a team. Sound familiar? This is what all our teams need to do. So what are the keys? Here’s what the wagon master taught us:

  1. Build relationships
  2. Have a shared vision/goal
  3. Build trust
  4. Create transparency and accountability
  5. Understand each others’ strengths
  6. Communication

Are you serving as a good leadership wagon master?

Delete The Screenshot

This will be my 51st post about the book Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways To Be A Servant Leader and Build Trust, Making Common Sense Common Practice, by Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley. I committed to reading one simple truth each week during 2022 and writing a reflective post. With this one I’ve got 51 down and one to go. This week’s Simple Truth #51 is “Choosing Not To Forgive Someone Is Like Taking Poison And Waiting For The Other Person To Die.” Everyone knows how I love metaphors. My metaphor for refusing to forgive others is like taking a screenshot of the time of the offense and then making it your lock screen wallpaper, so every time your phone or computer screen lights up, you see it.

Why does that screenshot matter? You end up playing that offense over and over and over. Conley told us that, “Leaders need to have tough skin and soft hearts” (p. 131). This is so true! This simple truth also taught us we are limited in our ability to lead authentically when we choose not to forgive. We need to choose to forgive completely, delete the screenshot, and move on to what we are called to do.

Ringing True

Posted in Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on December 19, 2022

It is interesting when reading about something in history how different people have different takes on the same event. The way we remember things is not necessarily the way they were. Reality and imagination get mixed together. If you think about it, endings have a disproportionate influence on any narrative. How what happened ended can have an impact on how the story is told. We need to remember that the context of the person telling the story matters. Sometimes the context gets dropped or there is nuance to the history. As leaders or authors, when we tell the stories they need to be true.