Byron's Babbles

Shine Brighter

Posted in Education, Educational Leadership, Leadership by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on October 19, 2020

Today in Chapter 8 of Mindset Mondays With DTK, David Taylor-Klaus (DTK) used Marianne Williamson’s classic poem Our Greatest Fear to point out we should “Play Bigger.” There is the greatest question ever in her poem: “…who are you not to be?” As Williamson makes very clear; we are designed by God to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous. The wonderful part is that “brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous” looks different on each one of us. Therefore, we must go out and BE! We must BE brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous in carrying out our bold purpose in life. Here is the poem:

OUR DEEPEST FEAR
By Marianne Williamson
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves,
“Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we’re liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

My favorite part of the poem is: “We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.” You heard that, didn’t you? “Everyone,” yes, “everyone.” We all get to shine! Think about those who have inspired you the most. You’ve probably noticed that these are people who are tapped into something bigger than themselves – the ones who leave us craving that same feeling for ourselves. So what is the difference between you and that extraordinary individual? I got news for you – NOTHING. Stop playing small, and shine.

How can you play big and shine even brighter?

Eccentric and Unorthodox and Quirky! Oh My!

Posted in Creativity, Curiosity, Eccentric, Educational Leadership, Joyful, Leadership, Quirky, Unorthodox by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on October 17, 2020

Let’s face it, eccentrics are the people who see problems from new and unexpected angles; whose very oddity allows them to conjure innovative solutions. They are the visionaries who make giant imaginative leaps. I’ve actually blogged about this before in Leading With A Touch Of Quirkiness. Ingrid Fetell Lee told us to quit being bound by convention; our quirkiness brings joy to the world. We need to celebrate creativity.

I was reminded of this when flipping through the channels (do we still call them that, or am I aging myself?) after the NLCS game last night and coming across Night Court. Night Court, ran on NBC from 1984 to 1992. Harry Anderson starred as the young, unorthodox, and magic-trick performing Judge Harry Stone presiding over the anything-goes atmosphere of New York Municipal Court’s night shift. I had forgotten about this great show so stayed on the channel and watched some of it. Harry was up on insubordination charges and was described as being eccentric. It was said by the presiding judge that being eccentric is how we become effective and get things done to help others. Long story short, the case was dismissed.

As a person who resembles being eccentric, unorthodox, and quirky at times, this really got me to reflecting on why so many see this as a bad thing and so few dare to be eccentric; when really it isn’t such a bad thing after all David Weeks, psychologist, did some research into the eccentricities of 1,000 subjects. Weeks found eccentrics to be highly creative and that they tend to be optimistic people with a highly developed, mischievous sense of humour, childlike curiosity and a drive to make the world a better place. It would seem to me that we need more of this. Just saying!

Weeks found the study subjects to live slightly longer, suffer less from mental illness, have very few alcohol or drug abusers, and visit the doctor less. Therefore, if we eliminate the struggle to conform we probably suffer less stress. Again, as we learned from Ingrid Fetell Lee, a little quirkiness will help bring joy into our lives. And…into the world.

So, go ahead and don’t be ashamed to be curious, creative, and a little quirky!

Just Pay Attention

Posted in Educational Leadership, Emotional Intelligence, Empathy, Leadership, Leadership Development by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on October 17, 2020

My wife and I just finished watching all seven seasons of The Mentalist. I love it when a show reminds us how important it is to continue to hone and develop our leadership skills. This television series is about Patrick Jane, played by Simon Baker, a man who at one time pretended to be a psychic. He made a lot of money doing this, but his arrogance as a fake psychic caused his family to be murdered. This caused him to stop pretending and begin a crusade of calling out the fact that there is no such thing as a psychic. Jane then went to work for the Californian Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and later in the series for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), helping them solve murder cases.

What Patrick Jane did have, however, was very keen powers of observation and a lot of chutzpah. I know The Mentalist is just a television show, but it was amazing to watch as Patrick Jane explained what he knew about a suspect or a witness, just from observing or talking with them. The key was, he was using all his senses, literally. During the series we saw him use sight, smell, feel, hearing, and smell to understand. Body language, clothes, nervous habits, accents, the things a person surrounds themselves with – they all tell a story, if we really pay attention to what we see, smell, feel, hear, and taste.

Patrick Jane also questions things that seem to be out of place, uses his senses, and looks for what people value. Even more importantly, he empathizes. Jane has incredible emotional intelligence. He expands that emotional intelligence to include others – Patrick Jane communicates better by staying focused on the person he’s with, making eye contact, paying attention to nonverbal cues, watching how others are reacting as he is talking to someone else, and sometimes taking there hand or wrist to feel there pulse. In other words he is just paying attention, or as I call it, reading the room. Staying tuned in emotionally with people makes our ability to build and grow relationships even stronger.

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?

Approaching The World With A Sense Of Childlike Wonder

Posted in Creativity, Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on October 4, 2020

The Creative Mindset: Mastering the Six Skills That Empower Innovation by Jeff Degraff

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sometimes I believe we need to eliminate the word “innovation” from our vocabulary because we inhibit deep innovation by skipping the more important “being creative.” This book reminds us and guides us through practical and everyday creativity. We are also reminded that achieving a creative mindset is possible for everyone and what we need to do is simple – approach the world with a sense of childlike wonder.

I’m not going to talk about all six skills covered in the book, because I want you to read it, but as a person who leads and works by metaphors and analogies I found the guide of the skill “Associate – Connecting Ideas With Analogies” extremely helpful. By using the associating techniques of direct analogies, personal analogies, symbolic analogies, and fantasy analogies we can reverse analogies, use idea bridges, and use adaptive reasoning to tap into our creative mindset.

This then leads to the other skill that provided a great deal of personal growth for me: “Translate: Creating Stories From Ideas.” We are reminded in this part of the book that for us to translate creativity to innovations we must have all key stakeholders as a part of the process. A case study is used to describe how just leaving one stakeholder outbid the project caused a wildly creative and successful innovation to fail.

If you want to become a leader with a fully honed creative mindset who enables that same creative mindset in those you serve, you must read this book. Your first step to accelerating down the runway of your creativity taking off is to make this book a part of your personal growth plan.



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Hidden In Common Firewood

Posted in Bob Tiede, Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Inspirational, Leadership by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on October 3, 2020

“There is a legend of an artist who long sought for a piece of sandalwood, out of which to carve a Madonna. He was about to give up in despair, leaving the vision of his life unrealized, when in a dream he was bidden to carve his Madonna from a block of oak wood which was destined for the fire. He obeyed and produced a masterpiece from a log of common firewood. Many of us lose great opportunities in life by waiting to find sandalwood for our carvings, when they really lie hidden in the common logs that we burn.” ~ Orison Swett Marden

During my morning study time I came across this passage from Orison Swett Marden. There is a lot to unpack in this short paragraph. Then I thought about the value of this as a prompt. So, instead rambling on with my thoughts, I’m going to employ a best practice from my friend and great author, Bob Tiede: ask you all a question. What lesson do you take away from this Orison Swett Marden passage that you want others to think about and act on?Please add your answer as a comment to this post.

“What Might Have Beens” Are Risky

Posted in Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, History, Leadership, Leadership Development, Robert M. Gates by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on September 28, 2020

A comment made by Robert Gates in his great book Exercise of Power: American Failures, and a New Path Forward in the Post-Cold War World really made me think. He said, “Addressing ‘what might have beens’ in history is risky.” I wrote it in my notes so I could think about it and blog about it. I believe we need to study history in a way that doesn’t force us into being judgmental outside of the context the history was made in.

Everyone needs to study history. The past is filled with warning signs. We must be able to reflect on the events that built up to them, learn from mistakes made and resist and question if we see similar patterns emerging. By studying history we can identify when society is going down perilous and contribute toward getting back on the right track. This should not include continuing to place blame on individuals who are, in many cases, not even alive any more. We need to think of how to learn from the past not think in terms of “what might have been.”

Additionally, history cannot be studied by learning isolated events without understanding the events, personalities, and events that molded the personalities involved leading up to historical events. One point I believe Gates was making was that there had been no perfect leader, and never will be. Therefore, we need to study the positives and negatives, uplifting and inspiring, and chaotic and immoral. There are lessons, both good and bad, to be learned from the way our ancestors have interacted with other people who have different ways of living. Understanding how our leaders, communities, and past societies have acted, reacted, and integrated is key to humanity improving in the future.

Don’t Overlook The Brilliance Of Our Students

I’m still getting caught up on my reflection of the lessons from Kevin Eikenberry’s Virtual LeaderCon last week. This post is about Chip Bell’s response to my question about where education and the students we serve fall into the realm of the work he has put together in his latest book, Inside Your Customer’s Imagination: 5 Secrets For Creating Breakthrough Products, Services, and Solutions. The first thing he said was, “We must treat students like customers, not consumers.” There is brilliance in our students that so many times gets overlooked.

I asked Chip to go into a little more detail about treating students like customers and not consumers. To this he stated that we have board meetings and where are the students (I’m excited that many states have put students on their state boards of education – I’m still working on Indiana)? But, local school boards should think about student members in some capacity, too. He also asked us to think about where the student was when we were having planning meetings. Chip explained that everything we do should “have our customer’s fingerprints all over it.” He used the example of when we coach little league baseball we tell the kids to “be the ball.” We need to be telling our students to “be the customer.” And, then letting them be the customer. Chip believes our students should be partners along with our students’ families. He promotes student-staff partnership initiatives.

Chip Bell reminds us that customers can give us our best next idea. We should be asking the question, “What is something no-one else has ever thought of?” This discussion reminded me that the words “customer” and “consumers” are often interchangeably used and are easily confused with one another. While students are consumers and the ultimate user of the product, we need to treat them like customers – the person buying the product. We need to think of our students as a final customer– these are the customers who buy the product for their own need or desire. This kind of thinking will help us to better individualize education for every student.

We must innovate. Listening to our students will help us to do this. We can’t keep offering the same thing over and over and over again. We owe it to our students to be authentic. As Chip told us during Virtual LeaderCon, “Authenticity wins every time.”

Precisely What Students Need

Yesterday I had the opportunity to spend the morning at Heartland Career Center with the Mark Hobbs, Director; Lori Dubois, Precision Agriculture Specialist; and, most importantly, students of the new Precision Agriculture Program at Heartland Career Center. I say I was at Heartland Career Center, but actually the bulk of our time was spent 15 minutes from the school in the field.

We were out on McKillip AgVenture land learning about seed genetics and the start to finish process of their seed corn operation. Last week the students had sorted seed corn as it was being harvested. This is just one of many partnerships that has been formed so that students can get real world and relevant content for learning.

This all took me back to my days as an Agriculture Science Teacher and our partnerships with AgReliant Genetics and our students doing real research for the company in our school greenhouse alongside geneticists. As I always say, “School work must look like real work.” I talk about that a lot in my book, The Hand In The Back Of The Room.

I am passionate about this program and have had the opportunity to be part of many of the planning meetings, served as a champion, have helped remove obstacles along the way, and helped make connections where I could. One of the many things I love most about this program is that it was developed shoulder to shoulder with business and industry. The very businesses that will be hiring students from this program, helped design the program. Novel idea I know, but you’d be surprised how often this does not happen. Students are able to leave this two year program with an Unmanned Part 107 Drone Certification, Chemical Applicator License, and a Class A Commercial Drivers License (CDL).

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to experience drone flying first hand. In fact this was the very first time I had ever flown a drone. We’re not talking some toy drone, but a commercial drone like would be used in precision agriculture businesses. I was shocked at how quickly I was able to learn to fly the drone. The students did an incredible job of teaching me. Here are two videos of me piloting the drone:

This two year program of study prepares students for careers that bridge the gaps between agronomy, agriculture, machinery management, and data analytic sciences caused by the rapid evolution of high-speed sensor agricultural technology. This is all stuff that fascinated me. We even got into a discussion about artificial intelligence, which is an area I have been exploring with some of the work I have been doing with SMART Factory League, globally.

This program is truly making school work look like real work! Well done!

Salient Issues From The Field Of Personalized, Competency-Based Education

I had the opportunity to be a part of what I would call a silver lining of the COVID-19 Pandemic situation. Aurora Institute had to pivot to their annual symposium being virtual so took that opportunity to develop a virtual pre-symposium webinar series of over 20 webinars leading up to the Aurora Institute Virtual Symposium being held October 26-28, 2020. Click here to see past webinars and click here to see webinars yet to happen. The webinar series has been incredible and I had the opportunity to present with Lauren Bailey from the Middlebury School Corporation and Sarah Koontz of Horizon Education Alliance. I have had the opportunity to work a great deal with both of these great individuals when providing professional development on project-based learning for the school corporations in Elkhart County, Indiana and then when we (Noble Education Initiative) partnered with them on our free webinars last spring. Click here to read about this.

Yesterday, Lauren, Sarah, and I presented on Integrating Project-Based Learning in Online and Blended Courses in Indiana for the Aurora Institute Pre-Symposium Webinar Series. This was such an awesome experience and I have had so many participants reach out afterward wanting further information and wanting to stay in touch. I also love the fact that the Aurora Institute has made the recordings of these webinars open access. Its great that that these webinars are available for educators, education leaders, and policymakers for high quality learning.

For this post I am going to let our webinar recording and the quote banners that the Aurora Institute did do the talking. Here is our webinar:

Here are some quotes from the webinar: