Byron's Babbles

Yes Is An Accelerant

Posted in Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development, Yes by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on August 3, 2021

I finished Great Circle, by Maggie Shipstead yesterday, but you are probably going see posts continuing to pop up that are inspired by this great book. Another great quote from the book that I put in my notes was “Yes is easier than no. Yes is an accelerant.” This is so true. Think about that last wild and crazy idea you had. Now, recall the feeling of excitement you had when you heard “yes” to making it so. Just the other day I pitched an idea to a potential client and the answer of “yes” came back with some great ideas of how to make it an even more impactful opportunity for those I would serve. The “yes” served as the gasoline (accelerant) to get me all fired up (pun intended) to get to work and put together some really cool stuff.

Using the accelerant of “yes” or “yes, and” can help make you and your people more engaged, effective, and efficient. A simple “yes” can also bring about an urgency to act. So don’t miss an opportunity for new, smarter, and more aggressive ideas that will take your organization to new heights. Finally, don’t forget to say yes to yourself.

The Place You Want To Go Exists!

Posted in Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development, Simon Sinek, Why? by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on August 1, 2021

“The place you want to go exists, you just have to find it.” I loved this line in Great Circle, by Maggie Shipstead. I believe this to be true. Sometimes, however, we need to identify where it is we want to go. We can do this through goals or just appreciating where we are. As I wrote this post I was in the air on my way to Tampa, Florida. From there I’ll be driving down to Punta Gorda. I will be working with teachers from Charlotte County Public Schools tomorrow. Doing professional development for teachers is something I want to do, so I have to go find the places that need my services. So, the line I quoted from the novel is holding true – the place I want to go exists.

Today, one of the places I want to go is the beach. There are lots of places to go so I will pick one. Then I need to take my walk and enjoy the place I am, not second guessing if another spot a couple of miles farther would be better. I must realize I have found the place I wanted to go and appreciate it. We would be well served to take this approach in many areas of our lives. Back in July of 2016 Simon Sinek tweeted, “A movement exists when people are inspired to move. To start a movement a leader must offer a vision, a direction of a place we want to go.” Many times we choose places to go, not because they are easy to get to, but because they are hard. Keep looking because the place you want to go really does exist.

The Whole Story

Another line in the great book I’m reading right now, Great Circle, by Maggie Shipstead had an impact on me this morning and caused me to reflect. The line was, “I didn’t need to know the whole story. No story is ever completely whole.” As a person who always says things like “That’s not my story to tell.” This reminded me that we don’t always know the whole story. In fact, rarely ever do we know the whole story; or need to know the whole story for that matter. I’ve actually blogged about this before in It’s Not My Story To Tell in a little different context. The problem seems to be that ,somehow, we learn to confuse complete with perfect. Complete comes to mean existing within a narrow scope of our human experience. It means having all of the light and none of the dark. Having flaws or struggles make us less than. Why do we do this? The more we hold on to these beliefs, whether about ourselves or others we serve, the more we are let down. We don’t feel successful, happy, or connected, and we sure aren’t confident. None of this hardness makes us stronger.

As I continued to reflect, I realized that we really aren’t completely ever whole because each continues to mold us into the sculpture we are becoming. The whole of us is not just the shiniest parts. We tend to only look at those parts, both in ourselves and others. Then, when we don’t find what we think should be there we consider ourselves and others incomplete. We make complete out to needing to find all the missing pieces and then becoming something. Instead, wholeness should have us being who we already are – realizing the story is never completely whole. Everything is part of our wholeness. Being whole means seeing perfection and imperfection, hurting and healing, fear and courage as one in the same. Remember, everyone does not need to see the whole story. Also, remember you don’t always need to know the whole story.

What I Know For Certain

Posted in Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on July 31, 2021

I have come to realize that most self-doubt and uncertainty can be traced back to some subtle ways of thinking about things. One of which consists of self-talk that starts something like “I don’t know..” This, I’ve found is a horrible focal point, one that I like to overwrite when I can. Here’s how to do that. Get out a pen and paper, start a new document, begin writing: What I know for certain. Don’t focus on what you don’t know. Focus on what you do know. I got to reflecting on all this when I read “Knowing what you don’t want is just as useful as knowing what you want, maybe more” in the book, Great Circle, by Maggie Shipstead. So when we’re considering what we know for certain, we need to consider what we don’t want along with what we want.

Knowing what we don’t want along with what we want will help us when trying things and not analyzing ourselves into inaction. The key is to knowing if the action we’re taking is aligned with what you know for certain. By focusing on what we know for certain, we’ll be inadvertently writing a story on how we eventually figure out what we want. It will be an amazing story to tell with twists and turns, great times and times of trial. There are so many things we can try, so let’s make the list manageable by looking at what we don’t want right along with what we want. This will help us get to what we know for certain.

Are you a seeker or a searcher?

Posted in Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development, Seaking, Searching by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on July 29, 2021

My love for fiction novels, and the learning they can provide continues to grow. I have already found blog inspiration once from the awesome book, Great Circle, by Maggie Shipstead entitled Building New Instincts. One character, Hadley, was asked “Are you a searcher, Hadley?” Hadley questioned this and was told, “I think of a seeker as someone looking for enlightenment. I mean searcher as something more open-ended, someone who’s actively trying to find their way.” Hadley exclaimed, “I always seem to be a little bit lost.” This really got me to thinking about the question of “Are you a seeker or a searcher?”

We all need to find the thing that will provide motivation and propel us forward. This requires an in-depth examination of values and wants, learning what makes us tick and what gives our life meaning. This will help us find hope because we are in the process of naming and defining the goals that will give us a course of action. Searchers are looking for something, but don’t know what. Searching, as compared to seeking, can be aimless. Maybe why Hadley always seemed lost. Searchers do not have clear goals, and are fuzzy on their agency and pathway thinking. Searchers expect what they are looking for will come to them, and don’t always set out in a process to seek and define what they are searching for.

Searchers need more help and clarification. Once clarification happens, the searcher becomes the seeker. Are you a seeker or a searcher?

Don’t Be A Blind Follower

Posted in DTK, Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development, Mindset Mondays by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on July 28, 2021

I had to laugh, because when I started reading Chapter 48, “Don’t Get Fooled Again,” in Mindset Mondays with DTK by David Taylor-Klaus (DTK), I immediately thought of the great song from The Who, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and little did I know that at the end of the chapter DTK would make reference to the song as playing in the back of his mind. But, the song really is relevant here. Pete Townshend wrote this song about a revolution. He was telling us through the song to beware of our “leaders” and have an independent, inquiring mind, don’t be just a blind follower. Assuming a position of inquiry is not only important in Townshend’s context, but also in our cultural beliefs and personal beliefs.

We believe many things that are not based on fact. It is okay to examine our own perspectives and question what we believe. DTK told us, “Without digging deep, it’s easy to find yourself accepting fantasy as true and choosing denial over truth” (p. 332). We must not let fantasy control truth. When speaking of “Won’t Get Fooled Again” in Rolling Stone magazine, Townshend said, “It’s interesting it’s been taken up in an anthemic sense when in fact it’s such a cautionary piece.” Let’s exercise caution so we don’t get fooled again.

Imaginative Play Zones

Albert Einstein famously said, “To stimulate creativity, one must develop the childlike inclination for play.” And even Pablo Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” If children are more creative than adults, it’s not because they have a superior imagination. They just don’t suffer from self-doubt and fear to the extent that adults do. In this respect, at least, we could all afford to be more like children. We don’t question kids being more creative than adults; we all intuitively just know it’s true and we view it as a natural state for children.

So why do kids have the aptitude for creativity? Play! And, remember they have not yet developed, or been taught the self doubt and fear part to the extent we adults have, either. In studying the work of Dr. Stephanie Carlson, an expert on childhood brain development at the University of Minnesota, she taught us that kids spend as much as 2/3 of their time in non-reality— in imaginative play. This is why when I am providing development for adults I always try to spend some time channeling their inner child. Adults want to, and effectively, learn like kids. We want the play, time for imagination, and a safe place for trying new things.

As I worked with teachers this past week we discussed creating psychologically safe places for our students to learn and try new things (the things we are teaching are new). But, we must also not forget our adults – we need a psychologically safe place as well. How about we create imaginative play zones?

Building New Instincts

Posted in Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Instinct, Leadership, Leadership Development by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on July 24, 2021

I am reading another great book right now, Great Circle, by Maggie Shipstead.This amazing novel tells the story of a trailblazing female pilot named Marian Graves and the woman, Hadley Baxter, who played her in a film decades later. It spans time and space while sharing the stories of two courageous women. Marian wants to be a pilot in the early 20th century, a time when women couldn’t even vote much less work in paying jobs where they defied gravity and risked crashing into mountains. It is incredible how Shipstead has layered this book. I am about a quarter of the way through it and I found myself Googling characters to just check and make sure these really were fictitious characters. But, that’s the beauty of a novel; we get to know everything about each character (person) as they become alive for us. Unlike real life, where there are always hidden or unrevealed aspects.

In the book, when Marian went up for her first flying lesson, her instructor asked her if she knew what to do if the plane stalled. He was surprised she knew the answer: point the nose down to gain some speed before pulling up. The instructor was impressed she knew this because it goes against instinct to point the nose down in a loss of power – we want to try to get higher. Marian’s instructor, during this part of the conversation said, “Don’t always follow your instinct but build new instincts.” I loved this statement and it is so true. Sometimes, not all the time, we must fight our instincts and even go against our instincts. Granted, however, the question of “should we question our instinct or go with it?” is not that easy.

Our instincts are not really that random. They are based on the brain’s rapid appraisal and comparison of our current situation with memories of previous situations. So when a decision feels intuitive, it might in fact be based on years of experience. Because of our cognitive biases, however, we can be led toward the wrong answer. Many times we tend to be over-optimistic; we prefer simple solutions; we notice and remember information that confirms what we already think; Additionally, we have this uncontrollable urge to continue down paths that we have already been down, are the tradition and safe path, or have already invested time and money in. This could keep us from doing a little trailblazing of our own.

So next time your instinct is sending you in one direction it’s worth assessing the situation and asking, “What are the arguments for the options of building a new instinct?

I Was Needed!

I love that a lot of what I do is helping teachers get better at their craft. Teaching is such a beautiful cross of science and art. Leonardo da Vinci would be having great fun if he were around helping us improve our teaching for learning today. He believed science and art were very tightly connected. This week I have had the honor and pleasure of facilitating professional development for teachers at Nashville Collegiate Prep and Knowledge Academies in Nashville, Tennessee. I have truly been inspired by this group of professionals. Every day I am excited to get the day of learning with them started.

“Change the audience, change the meaning.”

Leonardo da Vinci

On Wednesday I did a session entitled “Engagement Strategies: Teachers As Facilitators, Knowledge Navigators, and Co-Learners. At the beginning of this session I do an activity that begins with the prompt question, “What do you want students to say at the
end of the week about your facilitation?” The groups got five minutes to write everything that came to mind on Post-it® notes. This is part of a larger activity and participants get to share out after each part. I love walking around and looking as they are writing. There were literally hundreds of sticky notes being made, and I was inspired by all of them. But, one caught my eye and required my attention (the featured photo of this post).

On one of the Post-it® notes of Jamie Martineau, Kindergarten teacher at Nashville Collegiate Prep she had written four bullet points:

  • I was part of something
  • I was important or needed
  • I am a part of this class
  • We did it

I was blown away by the thought of every student feeling this way. After getting to know Jamie this week, I have no doubt that her students will feel that way. Going through school is where many of students begin learning to be part of something bigger than themselves. It’s during this time in our classes that we can help make our students feel valued as individuals. The developing personalities of our students need a strong and secure environment in order to flourish in academia. Let’s face it; our students learn more and behave better when they receive high levels of understanding, caring and genuineness.

We cannot underestimate the importance of cultivating a classroom culture in which students feel valued, respected, heard, and an important part of something. One way we can build this solid foundation for learning is to listen to our students. Fostering conversations about real world and relevant issues, topics, and problems ensures that our classrooms become places of academic inquiry and collaboration founded on a sense of fairness and mutual respect.

If a student considers their teacher to be caring and accepting, they’re more likely to adopt the academic and social values of their teacher. This, in turn, influences how students feel about their school work and how much (or how little) they value it. Here are some tips on how to make sure our students belong and are part of something:

  • prioritising high-quality teacher-student relationships
  • creating a supportive and caring learning environment
  • showing interest in students
  • trying to understand students’ point of view
  • respectful and fair treatment
  • fostering positive peer relationships and mutual respect among classmates to establish a sense of community
  • positive classroom management
  • Giving students a voice

We all want to belong. ALL of our students deserve to be an important and needed part of our school communities. We can do it!

Flip On Your Awareness

“Because once we are aware, we are also at choice” (p. 323 in Chapter 47, Find The Magic, of Mindset Mondays with DTK by David Taylor-Klaus – DTK). In other words, once we are aware of all the possibilities and our own desires we must choose to do the work and create the conditions for luck, magic, and success to unfold” (p. 324). This is why I love immersing myself in intersectional learning. By interacting and learning from those outside the world I know I am able to become aware of what is on the horizon. Without flipping this switch on it would be just like really trying to chase the horizon – it’s out there, and you can move toward it, but you never get there.

DTK told us that this awareness becomes dot, or real place, on the horizon. Once we have this awareness, we must work hard to create the conditions for that which we choose to accomplish happen. That requires belief and action. How about you? Are you ready to flip the switch on to your awareness?