Byron's Babbles

What Are You Focusing On?

Photo and Artwork Credit: Alexis Prieto

I’ve always said that when we place sincere effort on the attributes we want to see, and can let go of those that no longer serve or support, we have greater chance of success in achieving our desired outcomes. This also applies to those we serve as well. Today in a session during our north Florida 3D Leadership gathering participants were to make a graphic representation of their leadership mantra. Alexis Prieto of Keys Gate Charter School did an incredible job of representing “What You Focus On Will Grow” with her scratch art. I really liked this reminder that we need to consciously focus on those things that work for us. We need to focus on the things that will give us amplified results. When telling about this mantra it gave Alexis the opportunity to tell stories and take note of what she was most proud of.

The metaphor part of Alexis’ leadership mantra is also appealing to me. If we plant the seeds we want to grow and tend them well, the more they grow the less room there is for weeds. Whether in this garden metaphor or in our life and work, what we focus on is what we will grow. What we focus on is what grows more fully in our garden of life. What we focus on thrives, so we need to be sure and focus on the good that we have and the good that we want, because without a doubt, what we focus on is what will grow in our minds and in our lives. Just like anything practiced or done repeatedly, whatever we continue to focus on will become stronger in our minds. Therefore it is in our best interest to choose well the thoughts we choose to entertain.

Core Values Are The Heart & Soul

Posted in #NEI3DLeadership, 3D Leadership, core values, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on August 21, 2021
Laura Goynes

Right now I am sitting in the Orlando International Airport with my flight delayed due to weather, but reflecting on an incredible day of facilitating leadership development for north Florida participants of our 3D Leadership Program. One of the topics of discussion today was core values. During a part of the discussion where we were discussing organizational versus personal and shared versus unshared values, one of our participants, Laura Goynes, interjected that the whole time of the discussion she had been reflecting on her experience working for DryBar while in college. She posited that their core values were easy to share and easy to live. Then she shared them with us and we were all speechless. They were probably the most authentic core values I had ever heard. I was actually pretty excited because Drybar’s core values were in the same vain as the core values I am living for my newly founded company and listed on my website. Here are DryBar’s core values:

The Heart & Soul Of Drybar: Our 10 Core Values & Beliefs

  1. It’s the experience! The single most important part of the Drybar experience is the way we make people feel. We are committed to making our clients feel like a million bucks.
  2. It’s not just blowouts! It’s confidence. And happiness. It’s artistry and quality.
  3. Be yourself! Tattoos, piercings, quirky laugh and all! It’s what makes you special and interesting. As Gaga says, “I’m on the right track baby, I was born this way.”
  4. Embrace the power of random acts of kindness! Selfless acts of kindness make someone’s moment/day/week. This defines you, you define us.
  5. Have fun! Laugh, smile, dance! Look beautiful! Life is too short to be someplace lame.
  6. Always be growing! There is tremendous opportunity ahead for all of us. You commit to helping us grow and we’ll do the same for you.
  7. Nothing is sexier than honesty and humility! Arrogance and cockiness are gross. Actions speak louder than words. Be sexy.
  8. Make a difference! Have an opinion, a point of view. Have the courage to stand up and make a difference.
  9. Pretty is as pretty does! Be a good person. Care about people. You’re only as pretty on the outside as you are on the inside.
  10. We are family! Drybar was started by family. You are part of our family.

Pretty amazing, right? I was so glad that Laura shared these with us and was so inspired. Laura went on to explain to us the people she worked with loved their jobs, DryBar retained employees, employees always felt heard, and that, as an employee, these were easy values to share. So, really it was a “drop the mic” 🎤 moment and Laura had given us the prompt for a great discussion about the authenticity of core values and not needing to be a bunch of buzz words, hooplah, and corporate gibberish. Think about if we all lived personally to the DryBar core values. The world might just be a better place. This whole discussion made me feel better about my own core values which are:

Core Values

  • Integrity above all
  • Everyone is a leader
  • Listen, Hear, Learn, & strive to be better
  • Not just better – Different
  • Never cookie cutter
  • The glass is half full and we want a bigger glass

We will generally be most comfortable working in a company that has a corporate culture that reflects our own personal values. Core values are the guiding principles that help to define how we should behave personally, in business, and perhaps beyond. What gives your life meaning or what do you want to achieve? If you can articulate those answers, you’ll likely see a pattern that you can boil down into a single concept or list of concepts.

Good Leadership Is Pragmatic

Last week I was doing leadership development facilitation for our participants from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee. This session involved developing a top 5 list of Bad Leader traits and a top 5 list of Good Leader traits. While we were voting and tallying to get to their top 5s, I thought about how the traits are really pragmatic. Take a look at their voting tallies and their top 5s:

The opposite of idealistic is pragmatic, a word that describes a philosophy of “doing what works best.” From Greek pragma “deed,” the word has historically described philosophers and politicians who were concerned more with real-world application of ideas than with abstract notions. Did you catch that? Doing what works best. Being concerned with real-world application. Look at the Good Leader traits above and I think you’ll agree they involve doing what works best.

Somebody Did It For Me

Leaders motivate us to go places that we would never otherwise go. They are needed both to change organizations and to produce results. In any organizational climate, good leadership is perhaps the most important competitive advantage an organization can have. Amazingly, followers of leaders are just as powerfully driven to follow as leaders are to lead. Great leaders have a way of supporting others to grow and become more productive. Great leadership means putting people in the right place at the right time and then letting them thrive there.

Mr. Combrinck & Ms. Figueroa’s Potato Heads

Yesterday, during our south Florida gathering of 3D Leadership participants, we did an activity that I love to do called “Who Am I As A Leader Now?” We use Mr. and Mrs. Potato Heads to do this and participants build their Potato Head to represent themselves, at that moment, as a leader. It becomes such a powerful reflective time. Then, we gathered in a big circle and shared out. All of the share-outs were so meaningful, but one phrase really caught my attention that a participant ended with, represented by a Potato Head arm placed backward, “Somebody did it for me.” This really struck me because it is so true. Everyone has a “somebody did it for me” story. And this fit so nicely with the work we were going to do later around John Maxwell’s 5 Levels of Leadership. Helping others develop into all they can be are those “People Development” and “Pinnacle” levels of great leadership.

Alexis Prieto’s Potato Head

It’s always inspiring to be in a room of educators because developing young women and men into all they can be is what we do. We get to provide that “somebody did it for me” story for many. But, let’s not forget that as leaders we have an obligation to be finding ways to provide those “somebody did it for me” stories for those in our organizational communities. It really comes down to being a servant leader. As I listened to all the stories and reasons for the Potato Head designs I was in awe of all the collective expertise in the room. This group of leaders truly wanted to be the best at serving others. Now, as I write this post I am reflecting on those in my life that have been that “somebody that did it for me” person. There have been a lot, and I would even say this group of south Florida educators “did it for me” yesterday. All of this reflection made me go back and reflect on a blog post I did back in 2013 where I reflected on those who had been a servant leader to me along the way and, in some cases, throughout my entire life. Check out my post, Matthew 20:26 on Being A Servant Leader to learn more about my journey and those who have “been there” along the way.

As we try to make some sense in this pandemic stricken world, I, and I believe all the other participants, needed to hear the stories of others – how they got where they are and how they are dealing with all things related to the global pandemic. We really developed a bonded sense of we are in this together, and while we all may be separated by only a few miles, or hundreds of miles we can all be kindred spirits and part of something bigger than ourselves to into great leaders providing “somebody did it for me” moments.

How about you? Who has provided those “somebody did it for me” moments in your life? And, who are you providing “somebody did it for me” moments for?

Leading Like Yahtzee

Last week in our first gathering of our newest cohort of Florida 3D Leadership Program participants, we were discussing leadership being like chess or checkers. The participants even played chess and checkers while having the discussion. We had some great discussion related to this considering things like you must know your opponent, players have limited movements, checkers is at a smaller level, checkers and chess have different missions, playing chess is more like be a principal, playing checkers is more like being a teacher leader, and strategic movement/placement. Then, one group discussed that they thought leadership was more like playing Yahtzee. The game of Yahtzee then came up again in another discussion. I finally had to come clean with the group and admit I had never played Yahtzee or even knew how the game was played. Of course after the gathering was over I had to look up the game of Yahtzee and found that the group was right, there are leadership characteristics contained in the game of Yahtzee.

Actually, on the surface Yahtzee appears to be a simple game. Each player gets thirteen turns to complete their score card. The top section of the score card consists of numbers 1 thru 6. You need to roll three ones, three twos, three threes, etc. to get your “minimums.” You could also roll four fives (or four of anything), which comes in handy if you were only able to roll two threes on a previous turn. The idea on the top section is to score at least 63 total points, so you can get the 35-point bonus. If you get a “Yahtzee!” you score 50 points. That’s when you get all five dice to be the same during your turn. Some players focus solely on getting Yahtzee at the expense of everything else. Some people really work hard count on getting the Yahtzee. From my studying, however, a balanced scorecard is more beneficial to winning the game. Balance is important in leadership as well. In education for example there must be balanced effectiveness in governance, financial health, student performance and achievement, or teacher effectiveness. Concentrating on any one of these and forgetting the rest would be disastrous to the school.

Yahtzee seems like a game of chance. It’s much more. It’s a game of decisions and imperfect trade-offs. Wow, doesn’t that sound a little like leadership. So, there is actually some genius in comparing leadership to the game of Yahtzee. We must at some point fully form our approach to decision making. Success, failure, decisions, and sacrifices are in play with every turn while playing Yahtzee. Excellent practice for leading in real time. The game of Yahtzee is completely random. But, as leaders we know that sometimes completely random things happen. Therefore, something completely random and driven by chance can be, as we can learn from playing Yahtzee, be managed within a solid set of priorities and strategies. Do you have other ways you would compare playing Yahtzee to leading effectively?

Make Your Changes Out Loud

Posted in 3D Leadership, change, Educational Leadership, Global Education, Global Leadership, Leadership by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on December 11, 2020

We know that a best practice for editing written work is listening out loud. Hearing our written work offers a new perspective to help us catch grammatical errors, poor sentence structure, plot holes, or pacing issues that your eyes skip over when you read. Because our minds will automatically make corrections when looking at something, listening provides another perspective for us to review our written work. In fact, there are apps for this. These apps allow you to edit documents while exercising, taking a run, or in my, case milking cows.

Last night when working with teacher leaders from Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee we were discussing how to adapt boldly and one of the participants said that we need to “make your changes out loud.” This was a ‘click the mic moment’ (the Zoom equivalent of ‘drop the mic’). This comment was genius. If we make our changes or intended changes out loud we can get feedback from others to make the proposed change better and give others a chance to understand the changes before they happen.

Let’s go back to using writing as the analogy here. Whether we are working on a blog, novel, or business document it’s critical that each paragraph is well written and tells the complete story necessary in that block of verse to get our point(s) across. Reading audibly as opposed to only in our head, changes our perspective on the text and provides deeper meaning. By employing making your changes out loud you will inspire others to greater engagement, ownership, and action to create positive change. So, I challenge you to listen to make your changes out loud, make sure others are listening and providing feedback, and listen to yourself as you speak or read your own words of change.

What Are Your Filters?

Posted in 3D Leadership, DTK, Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development, Mindset Mondays by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on November 16, 2020

I promised another post inspired by the Carolina 3D Leadership participants from the activity where I showed the group the picture of a spider web that I had taken in the barn the morning of their gathering to prompt a discussion. The first post was entitled Out of Kilter. This post is about a comment made that the picture has a filter that blocks everything except the spider web, which if you do not like spiders is a bad thing. The picture used for this activity is shown above on the left. The original picture without any filtering is on the right. This was described as a negative filter. Then it was said that we need to remove the negative filter to see the good. Therefore, we need to change the filter we look through at times. This was such an awesome metaphor the group had created.

This also made me think about all the augmented reality filters there are out there right now to use with our images of ourselves to make our Zooms and other interactions more interesting. Honestly, they just annoy me! But, we really do need to think about what our personal filters are. This is particularly true when we are experiencing what David Taylor-Klaus (DTK) describes as “feeling less” (p.109) in Chapter 12 (Choose a New Perspective) of Mindset Mondays With DTK. This would be like the filter only showing the spider web, or an amygdalla hijack, where our brain is seeing the event as a bad thing – real or perceived. The way to shift out of this hijack, as DTK taught us, is to remove the filter as the event is happening so we can see it for what it really is. That spider web doesn’t look near as threatening in the picture on the right. I love DTK’s questions he proposes we ask ourselves for removing filters:

  1. What am I making up as true?
  2. Is that actually true? If so, when did it become true?
  3. What do you know is true?

Now: choose a new perspective, one that serves you and you can honestly believe is true.

DTK’s last thoughts in the chapter on this are very meaningful. He said, “Once you can get beyond your made up beliefs of who you think you are not,creativity emerges. In that more open, receptive space, that’s where ideas are born and connections grow” (p.112). My final thoughts are if you look for things that are wrong with whatever you are looking at you can usually find plenty. After all you are looking through your filter that defines what wrong and right look like. It is easy to find confirmation for any viewpoint, whether negative, positive or neutral. The unfortunate thing for most of us, much of the time, we are unaware that we are looking through our own filter. Therefore, we need to be aware of what filter we are looking through.

Consider using a positive first filter starting today. Life would look much better if we were able to use our very own positive filter to remove the negative and focus on the positive. What are your filters?

Out of Kilter

We had a gathering of our Carolina’s 3D Leadership Program today and, as is always the case, I was inspired and learned a lot from the group. Last week I blogged about the activity where I showed the group the picture of a spider web that I had taken in the barn that morning to the group to prompt a discussion. You can read about Leaders Weaving The Web here. Today I switched up the prompt just a little. Here it is: On Day 247 of the Global Pandemic, relate the  journey you are on to the picture. The picture was the photo featured in this post minus the target and dart. After having some time to discuss in small breakout groups, they came back with some very insightful points for discussion. This post includes all of their points except one: the picture looks as though we are looking through a filter. I will address that point in a separate post.

Looks Like a Target

It was commented that the web looks like a target. I loved a comment that was made that even though the world has been thrown “out of kilter” (this, from one of our participants, is so much better than saying unprecedented times), we still have much to accomplish for our students. We must still be meeting our educational targets for our students and developing them as a whole person. In other words we need to be very careful about what things we have paused that turn into permanent pauses. Some pauses need to be made permanent, but we really need to match what decisions we make to the targets that need to be achieved for our students.

Looks Like Broken Glass

One group of participants said the web looked like broken glass. This was a reminder that we must keep going. This reminded us that there has been a great deal of positive innovation brought by the pandemic. Also, we discussed that the pandemic cannot be used as an excuse to lower expectations. Our kids deserve effective instruction and like was said earlier we must continue to lead them to their learning targets.

Looks Fragile

The group pointed out that everyone is very fragile right now, but there is strength in the web. We need to make sure we are serving like the silk of the spider web connecting all the small, important pieces together for our students, families, and those we serve. We need to continue connecting ideas, which in-turn creates the beautiful masterpiece. Even though the web looks fragile, we need to remember that much of the strength of the spider web comes from its elasticity.

It turns out that a key property of the silk in the spider web that helps make it so robust is something previously considered a weakness: the way it can stretch and soften at first when pulled, and then stiffen again as the force of the pulling increases. Now that is a great metaphor for during this time of being out of kilter. We are being pulled and we need to soften and allow for being stretched, which will then allow us to stiffen and become strong for those we serve. Markus Buehler, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering (CEE) at MIT, has done extensive research on spider webs says this about the web: “It’s a very flaw-tolerant system.” We need to also assume this “flaw-tolerant” position when dealing with students or those be serve.

Hopefully this being out of kilter is preparing us for a new phase of greatness in education, business, and our lives. With each day of the pandemic my hope is that we are assuming an attitude of preparation. I know I am very different today that I was 247 days ago. I’d like to think that most of those differences land in the positive column. Let’s keep moving forward – onward and upward!

Leaders Weaving The Web

Posted in 3D Leadership, Education, Educational Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on November 7, 2020

This morning when I went out to do the morning feeding I saw a very beautiful spider web as I went in the barn. It was so awesomely constructed I had to take a picture and then I got the inspiration to use it in a 3D Leadership Gathering I was facilitating for our Florida participants today. I had them relate the spider web to their leadership development during the last 240 days of the Global Pandemic. A great way to describe leadership is to compare the construction and function of a spider web. Just like each strand of web is carefully woven in just the right places for a spider to capture what’s necessary for it to survive, an effective leader also weaves attributes that attract and nurture those the leader serves. Each strand of that web is a specific tactic the leader can use to engage and influence.

We discussed the vibrations that happen when something touches or gets caught in the web. These vibrations go quickly through an organization so communications should be chosen carefully. A leader should have a meaningful feel of what is going on at the ground in the organization, and that he or she should want to be in touch with the whole organization through effective representatives, reports, liaisons, collegiality, and partnerships within the organization. Leaders should constantly work towards enabling their organizations to become intricately woven groups of people in harmonious partnership.

Take Off The Mask & Cut Out Those Frustrations

Posted in 3D Leadership, DTK, Educational Leadership, Leadership, Mindset Mondays, Women Igniting Change by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on October 13, 2020

Ever trip over yourself? David Taylor-Klaus (DTK) reminded us this week in Chapter 7 of Mindset Mondays with DTK to “Get Out of Your Own Way.” We need to integrate the brain and body by using awareness and intention.

Interestingly, this weekend I did an activity for a leadership training using pumpkins. Participants had to carve their pumpkin using this prompt: “Truths that frustrate you.” This gave participants a chance to ponder where those frustrations come from. Many times those frustrations come from ourselves. We become frustrated when our decisions are not aligned with our core values and purpose.

We need to take time to take an introspective look at ourselves and listen to what both our mind and body are telling us. Then trust what we hear and not sabotage ourselves. Sometimes if we took time to name our frustrations (or carve them into a pumpkin) it gives us the chance to reflect on and even remove the mask that those frustrations form.

As Robbin Jorgensen did in DTK’s story, we can change and cut the frustrations out (pun intended) and remove the mask. Jorgensen’s Women Igniting Change movement is giving women the power to take action around the world. By taking off her own mask she was able to reflect, listen to herself deeply and then trust her own decisions.

What’s keeping you from making the impact you want to make in the world?