Byron's Babbles

The Moments That Change Our Lives

Posted in change, Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development, Nothing More by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on June 21, 2022

What are your life-changing moments? I think about life-changing moments a lot. These can be very small things to very big-time events. As I think about those moments that changed my life, I realized that they also changed my perspective. As my son enters his senior year in college we are experiencing the life-change of our developing an adult father-son relationship. This has caused me to reflect on changes that happened when I was younger, and made me feel like I was leaving my younger self behind. I was moving into adulthood, never to return. My son is moving into adulthood never to return to the “little man” as I always called him. The incredible Nothing More song, Fadein/Fadeout states it like this: “Son, I have watched you fade in; You will watch me fade out; I have watched you fade in; You will watch me fade out; When the grip leaves my hand; I know you won’t let me down.” I want to create as many moments possible with my son as he continues to fade-in.

We all had the chance to go to Matt Winn’s Steakhouse this weekend and our server, Brandon, who was awesome, got us to discussing life-changing events when he told us the biscuits would “change your life.” They did, by the way! What are those life-changing moments in our lives which reveal something powerful and influence our perspectives as we mature? We went on to discuss that the lobster tail “brought new meaning to life,” and the honey pie “is the answer to life.” I know these were goofy little quips to be coming up with, but they struck a deeper conversation about the fact that all the things we do in life change our life in some way. I even reflected on the times my mom and I use to spend lying on the ground looking up and clouds and imagining the shapes they made. Did this help shape the creative person I am today?

What are your life-changing moments? We all have those blips on our life’s metaphorical screen that shape our lives. We also need to consider the blips we are creating on others’ screens. Let’s make sure the life-changing events we bring to others are like the biscuits, lobster tail, and honey pie.

Turning Talk Into Reality

To go from talk to action is a journey. We better support ourselves and others when we understand what the journey to proficient implementation really entails. Yesterday my son and I were in Screven County, Georgia for an annual event with the Screven County FFA. Last June I had told the agriculture teacher and National FFA Ambassador, Nancy Sell, that I wanted to be a part of the event. We walked the talk and made it happen. Once I got clarity about the exact date, what else would be going on at that time, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera; I was able to say, “Yes, I’ll be there.” Then, there was no backing out. If YOU SAY IT, DO IT! As someone commented yesterday, “We turned the talk into reality.”

How many times do we hear people say, “I’ll be there.” Then, they won’t be, and you knew all along they would not be. Or, even worse, “I’ll take care of this and __________will happen.” Then when it doesn’t you get the, “I’m sorry, so and so said we can’t do that” “Or, I didn’t know…” This really is a case of faking it. Or worse yet, lying. Michael Fullan (2001) called this “false clarity.” False clarity occurs when change is interpreted in an oversimplified way; that is, the proposed change has more to it than people perceive or realize” (p. 77). The problem with false clarity is we know less than we think we do. We can relate this to walking the talk or turning talk into change/action. So many times leaders see talking as doing. The real work begins when the talking ends. Successful teams make decisions that impact behaviors and produce visible results.

Bottom-line here is that successful leaders move through talk to action!

Fullan, M. (2001). The meaning of educational change (3rd ed.). New York: Penguin Group.

The Power For Change

Posted in change, Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on September 14, 2021

I have always been a believer that we need to view our worlds from the perspective that there are no wrong decisions as long as we base them on all the information we have at the time. I was reminded of this last week and have now taken time to pause and reflect about this. The reminder was a comment in The Bookshop At Water’s End by Patti Callahan Henry. The book was amazing and I highly recommend it. Here is what was written: “We do what we can with what we know at the time. And, with what we believe.” This is so true. Our knowledge, wisdom, and beliefs come into play when making decisions. Additionally, our emotions play a role and I believe this is a good thing. Every moment of success in our lives has been a result of all the decisions we’ve made combined, whether we call them bad or good, or right or wrong. Our decisions are additive.

I love another line in the book where the character said, “We can’t subtract or undo decisions but we can make new ones.” This speaks to the additive nature of decisions I spoke about. What I really reflected on while reading this great book was that while some decisions open doors wide to success, others pull us into real and sometime perceived problems. But, it’s our attitude toward those decisions that decide our fate, not the nature of those decisions.

Let me share one more quote from the book to help make my final point: “Inside the very worst things you can find the power for change.” Sometimes decisions that seemed wrong at the time, help us make the right decision. For example, the student who chooses to do an internship in a medical office and hates it. The decision was not wrong, it was the right decision to let her know she didn’t like that field and should pick something else. So don’t judge your past decisions too harshly, instead learn from them and move on. Don’t use them as an excuse to affect your present.

Where Do You Want To Rise Up Next?

The title of Chapter 23 in Mindset Mondays With DTK by David Taylor-Klaus (DTK) is “Rise Up.” This caught my attention and immediately made my mind go to my friends in Alter Bridge and their great song “Rise Today.” When the first sentence in the chapter was “In our house, we like to use rock & roll life style as a metaphor,” I knew we had serendipity.

DTK told us in this chapter that no matter what happens we must step up and put on the best show possible. This made me reflect on the fact that we have the opportunity to change the world every day. As it says in “Rise Today,” “Yeah, oh yeah; I want to rise today; And change this world; Yeah, oh yeah; Oh, won’t you rise today; And change this world?”

I blogged about this song before in “How Do We Change This World?” DTK told us in this chapter there are so many opportunities when things are far from perfect and that every obstacle is an opportunity. So let’s choose to show up and step up! “Oh won’t you rise today
And change this world?”

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.

Waves Of Change

“Sometimes in the waves of change, we find our true direction”

Unknown
🌊 Destin, Florida 🌊

As I read this quote I thought about how very relevant this is to us all in 2020. Changes from the global pandemic continue to hit us hard. Sometimes things are unexpected and we have to adjust on the fly to changing circumstances. As we ride the waves, the unrecognizable becomes clear, and finding new direction becomesJust as the tide changes, other things in our life can change too, and this can push us towards the path that we were destined to follow.

Change is something we cannot keep from experiencing, but the way we get over the hurdles is where the difference stands. We all have extra obstacles put in the way right now during the global pandemic. The question becomes what are you learning, what are you doing with that learning, and how are you sharing the learning? We must be a community. How are you breaking through and finding the right path?

Do Ideas Cause Change Or Does Change Cause Ideas?

Posted in change, Global Leadership, Ideas, Innovation, Leadership by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on November 15, 2020

In the great book, The Upswing: How America Came Together A Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again, Robert D. Putnam and Shaylyn Romney Garrett posed the question of, “Do ideas cause change or does change cause ideas?” I am loving reading the research and work of Putnam and Garrett. I am only about 80% through the book and I love how he always points out when there cannot be any correlation, causality, or answers gained from leading or lagging indicators. I see this a lot in education; people want to jump immediately to causation. Putnam is a brilliant political scientist and Shaylyn has had a brilliant career as a change-maker and social entrepreneur. The two of them together have put together this award winning literary analysis of economic, education, civil rights, political, and other social trends for over a century. The book posits we have gone from an “I” to “We” and back to “I” society and gives us hope and ways to get back to we.

Change is defined as to simply make something or someone different, unlike the way it was before. Change can also be defined as moving from one thing to another. Synonyms for the word change consist of transform, alter, and modify. A lot of people have ideas about changing the world and making it a better place for people to live. This desire to change the world sounds very noble and heroic.

Now, back to the question prompting this post: do ideas cause change or does change cause ideas? I believe it is both. For example the idea of us carrying a source for listening to music in our pocket caused an entire chain of events (changes) leading ultimately to the SMART phone. Conversely, Coronavirus has hit the world in 2020. This has drastically changed our world from open and social to closed and locked down. This change has affected people’s lives, finances, relationships, and even their children. New ideas because of this change are being thought of every day.

Therefore, we need to keep being creative and having ideas about how to change the world. Additionally, we need to be paying attention to changes happening around us and let them prompt ideas for positive change.

Day 💯 – Getting To Know People In A Different Way

Well, here we are; day 💯 of the Covid-19 Global Pandemic. During this time of discovering a new normal, I feel more connected than ever before. I have met the children, spouses, pets, and even a grandmother of people I never would have thought possible. I’ve even introduced some of our Jersey dairy cows to others while connecting virtually. Additionally, I’ve witnessed parents attending school events virtually, while at work, that never would have been able to attend before. My point? There are things that we need to consider becoming normal. I’m not saying replace necessarily, but supplement.

Having said that, I now begin to think about what else do we need to be thinking about? How do we leverage technology? How do we stay human? How do we get the right tools in the hands of everyone? How do we decide what the right tools are?

It’s interesting to me that before the WHO (I thought that was a rock band) named this a Global Pandemic we were talking about sustainability and the environment, health care, education, and many other things. While in the education realm we have been focused on connectivity and providing meaningful virtual education, and in healthcare our actions have been around caring for Coronavirus patients and stopping the spread of the disease, we will get back to talking about the major issues in the way we were before the pandemic took over. For example, we will, no doubt, be rethinking health care and how it is delivered. In education, I continue to argue that our conversation needs to shift to the idea that school is no longer a place.

Even though I served as moderator for an awesome global event last month that was virtual with 47 countries represented, I also wonder if our assumptions about globalization have been challenged. We had been talking about distance no longer being a factor, but in some ways I’ve seen us become more isolationist and seeing us care more about the locality we operate in and what we can touch and feel. But, we’ve also seen that we can hire the best talent from anywhere and bring them onto teams. The only remaining question related to that is how to do remote working well.

I don’t think I am alone with all of this thinking and pondering. We are now entering a time of needing to decide which practices still make sense and which need to change. We need to come together as families, businesses, schools, communities, cities, states, and nations to answer the question, “What can we create together?”

Change Is A Coming!

IMG_8098There is one thing for sure as I sit and write this post on this Sunday morning; change is a coming. My son is coming home from college till at least April 6th, and learning remotely and online (since I miss him being at home every day, I am excited for him to be home). The students at the schools I serve will be learning remotely. The teachers and school leaders I serve will be learning and creating best practices for remote and online student learning. Also, we must develop best practices for caring for the non-academic needs of our students (eg. food, social emotional, et cetera). I need to consider what limiting social contact means for mean personally. Additionally, I am positive that there will be things on the policy side of my life, as an Indiana State Board of Education member, that will have to be decided. So, as I said, times are changing. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is bringing change to all the world and all our lives.

As I contemplate all the constant and fluid change going on around me, I continue to remind myself that change is a never-ending process. Change is not a journey or a one-time event. Additionally, as a person who doesn’t like the term expert, or am not even sure there is such a thing, we need to remember that, right now, there are no experts – we’ve never been through this before. So, we have a bunch of people doing the best we can. The changes we are experiencing due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic need to be continuous and participatory. We must communicate and collaborate. This can’t become about who can tweet what they are doing the fastest to feed their own ambition. Or, who can blast someone else for what they haven’t done.

The problem with thinking of change as a journey is that travel is sequential. We move from one leg of the journey to the next. Change, in contrast, isn’t a series of steps; it is not a map you can follow. There is no Maps App for change, particularly not for coronavirus. As a lover of metaphors, let’s imagine pouring cream (I prefer coconut flavored) into a mug of coffee. Almost immediately as the liquids merge, there is a color change from black to brown to a light tan depending on how much cream we add. Change needs to look more like that. Instead of someone trying to come up with a well-executed plan on their own, it becomes what I call triageformational. Yes, triageformational is a term I coined. I first blogged about it in Triageformational Leadership: New Hybrid Definition of Triage and Transformational Leadership. I believe it applies more now, with our coronavirus situation, than ever before. Here is what I said in that blog post:

“Those that I believe that would make great triageformational leaders place a high value on fostering an environment or community of collaboration. This community is balanced, diverse, and equitable. These leaders build community and culture by truly living out their own core values and the organization’s core values. Just like doing triage in an emergency situation, these leaders are prioritizing what gets done next by matching core values to the situation. This in turn brings about transformation and service oriented leadership.”

We must change the way we change. We cannot have all change initiatives coming from on high. CEOs and other bureaucratic leaders who decree the values they created alone have already failed. Those values must be collaboratively developed. So, how should we change? Well, change must be continuous and participatory, and we must look for those who know more than ourselves.

 

Influencer, Inspiring, & Impactful

At yesterday’s Indiana 3D Leadership gathering I was inspired to do some deeper studying, which is usually the case, because of discussion that took place. I usually say the discussion inspired me, but for this post I’m contemplating what to call it. More on why I say that, later in the post. Last night we did an activity that I call Rushmorean Leadership which was then followed up by an activity called extending the influence. The activity calls for teacher leaders to bring pictures to identify four great leaders to put on their own personal Mount Rushmore. Then they bring six additional pictures to extend the influence.

As with everything this Indiana group does, I was blown away. What struck me last night, however, was that one participant talked about the persons on their board as influencers. Then the next referred to the leaders as inspiring and yet another referred to the her chosen leaders as impactful. For some reason I just had to ask the question of the group: What’s the difference, if any, in these descriptors? A great discussion ensued, which then led to me studying deeper this morning.

We all know that leadership is not about a title or a designation. We also know, and I’m glad we discussed this in depth last night that ambition is not a favorable characteristic of great leaders. For ambition will take over purpose. Influencers, we decided, spread passion for work, causes, innovation, or change. Those that inspire evoke a sense of energy. Finally, impact involves getting results. Impact is ultimately the measuring stick of the influence or inspiration.

Influencers cause us to think about things differently. They help us to shape our purpose, passion, and core values. Interestingly several participants had parents on their boards and referred to how they had influenced their lives.

In contrast, those that inspire help us gain motivation. This inspiration may be in the form of receptivity, positivity, or motivation. There is research that links inspiration to motivation. This inspiration causes us to actively engage in environments that lead toward self growth and fulfillment of needs.

The more I studied and reflected on all this I formed the opinion that most, if not all, of the leaders chosen by the group were influencers who were creating an impact. These individuals were all helping to create constructive cultures, whether in organizations, nations, or globally. In their five star book, Creating Constructive Cultures: Leading People and Organizations to Effectively Solve Problems and Achieve Goals, Janet Szumal and Robert Cooke of Human Synergistics International ask the question: “As a leader, how can you both directly and indirectly influence your organization to ensure that members can independently and interactively solve problems and achieve the organization’s goals more readily and effectively?” I love the question because it has both directly and indirectly. Of the ten leaders each participant brought pictures of, some influenced directly, eg. parents. Others influenced indirectly, eg. Michelle Obama.

One thing is for sure; in all cases the individuals chosen embodied the necessary styles to create constructive cultures. All strove to create the cultural norms necessary for creating constructive cultural styles. See the constructive styles below:

So, I’ve come to the conclusion that influencing, being inspiring, and being impactful are not mutually exclusive. They go hand in hand when being a model of personal growth for us and creating constructive cultures.