Byron's Babbles

Something To Build On

Posted in 9/11, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on September 28, 2020

“A record is never something to stand on, it’s something to build on…” ~ Richard Nixon in his first debate with John F. Kennedy on September 26, 1960. The two met in Chicago to discuss domestic issues in the first televised debate in history. American History TV did a great job of providing a look back at the first televised presidential debate. Interestingly there were no more debates until 1976. Dr. Barbara Perry, professor at University of Virginia’s Miller Center, did a great job discussing the highlights and answering questions.

Nixon’s statement that our records are something to build on really struck me. For each leader, the records are always a bit different. We must remember, however, that trust is an important piece of our record. People have unique strengths to leverage and vulnerabilities to address. We must not forget that our mistakes are a part of our records. We need to take responsibility for our mistakes. When we admit we’ve made a mistake, you don’t erode trust in your leadership, you strengthen it. When the people we lead see us stepping up and owning our mistakes, they know they can trust us to do the right thing in tough situations.

Nixon’s point was that we should never sit back and become comfortable with past successes; we must continue to build on those successes. It’s always beneficial to review our accomplishments to build on prior successes. The key is to recognize current successes and chart a course for future advancement.

Never Forget

Posted in 9/11, Global Leadership, Leadership, Never Forget by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on September 11, 2020

This morning as I reflected on 9/11 I caught myself going to my blog archives. Then I had that moment of “Gosh, I’m an idiot!” because I was not blogging yet in 2001. That short moment of stupidity reminded me just how important my blogging is to me. It is a very personal, yet very public, shared diary of my thoughts and learning. I take my blog posts very seriously because they are something I go back to often for reviewing the learning and experiences I have had. When I think about the “never forget” theme around 9/11, I think about how important written personal accounts are, not only from that day, but from every day.

In fact, just yesterday I was in a meeting discussing some past professional development I conducted and pulled up two past blog posts to answer some questions in detail. I was also amazed that the meeting had begun with a person I was meeting for the first time quoting things from my blog. He had combed through my blog to learn about me.

As I continued to think about 9/11 I realized the events of that day served as a catalyst to the start of the blogging revolution. The days of the citizen journalist were born. We want that first hand account from people who are just like us. I was teaching school on 9/11 and I can still remember a teacher coming over from across the hall to tell me that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. The TV was on in my room as we were watching the morning school news service that did a morning program for students each day. I did switch over to the news and we saw the towers smoking from a distant news camera. At that time the students in this rural school didn’t have cell phones, and if they did, not like the smartphones of today, so there wasn’t any outside communication going on. We switched off the TV and went on with the morning. Of course, I was getting tidbits as the day went on, but it wasn’t until I was on my way home with my son, Heath, who was one year old at the time. He was in the back seat of my truck and as we went past the gas station in Kirklin, Indiana we saw a line of cars that was about 3/4 of a mile long down the highway with people waiting to get gas. It then hit me; this was real. I hadn’t seen panic like this since the energy crisis of the ’70s. It was then I realized that life would never be the same. Life for my son would be very different than it was for me.

That day also changed the way we look at weblogs and citizen journalists. Bloggers were literally writing the first draft of history that day and forever after. That was truly a media revolution. Now we use video logs, or vlogs, in the same way. Can you imagine the first hand experience we would have seen on 9/11 had we had the photo and video capabilities we now have on our phones. We might remember 9/11 with even more iconic images. We might even have a very different understanding of the happenings of that day.

I don’t want us to forget how selfless heroes ran toward danger putting themselves in harms way to help others and how quickly we bounced back from tragedy. I don’t want us to forget the lives lost and the importance of being vigilant against future attacks. I also remember all the American flags flying proudly afterwards. We had them flying on combines and tractors that fall during harvest and for planting the next spring. We were all standing proud and together. Let’s “never forget” that!