Byron's Babbles

Becoming

This morning I read Chapter 41, “Constantly Becoming” in Mindset Mondays with DTK by David Taylor-Klaus (DTK). He taught us that becoming is a fulfilling journey that includes all the ways we expand along the way. There will always be new ways to expand, learn, and grow. I always use the metaphor of being a portrait that will never be finished. If I truly believe what Carol S. Dweck told us that, “Becoming is better than being” then that portrait won’t ever be finished, even on the day I die. Being or becoming depicts different outlooks on our worldview. Some people seek change and can’t wait to transform. Others often ask why they have to change.

Becoming is open and unlimited; being is structured and limiting. Just as the artist paints a portrait, we can look at our lives. Learning to live artfully has us see our lives as a process open to inquiry and learning, thus becoming. DTK reminded us that becoming takes courage. Using my portrait metaphor, I would say we don’t always know what the next brush strokes will be. But, that’s alright. The artist is always looking forward. The only way to assess if something was right is to look backward. Let’s not do that. Let’s keep becoming and make those brush strokes into another beautiful part of our life’s portrait of opportunities for exploration and growth.

Recipes For Success

Obviously, no matter what you do, there is never a guarantee for success. We just use recipes and practices to increase our chances of success. Basically, we follow “recipes for success.” In other words, a number of good practices that we have either discovered for ourselves through trial and error, or others. All this popped into my mind as I read Chapter 38, “Own Your Mistakes,” in Mindset Mondays with DTK by David Taylor-Klaus (DTK). DTK taught us in the book the we need to own up to our mistakes or our credibility is undermined. By owning up to and hopefully learning from our mistakes, we become trustworthy and human.

As a believer in having a growth mindset, I began to think about the difference between a mistake and failure. In doing some research I found that the difference is in the learning, which to me is a big part of the “owning up to it” advice of DTK. Then I turned to Seth Godin who said, “A mistake is either a failure repeated, doing something for the second time when you should have known better, or a misguided attempt (because of carelessness, selfishness or hubris) that hindsight reminds you is worth avoiding” in The Difference Between A Failure and A Mistake. He went on to say, “A failure is a project that doesn’t work, an initiative that teaches you something at the same time the outcome doesn’t move you directly closer to your goal.” Guilty as charged. Using Godin’s definition, I’ve made lots of mistakes and failures.

We all make mistakes. Do not forget that mistakes are behaviors, just like experiments. We must clean up after them and own them. Failures are outcomes and all about the learning. Don’t make the mistake (pun intended) of not learning from our actions.

Finding Your Growth Edges

I love my Monday morning study time. It involves reading the next chapter in Mindset Mondays with DTK by David Taylor-Klaus (DTK). This week’s chapter (37), entitled “Uncomfortably Comfortable” did not disappoint. DTK told us that, “…growth happens when we lean into our edge” (p. 263). I love the imagery of growth edges in self-development. We are invited into a new narrative that is possible for us, but this new narrative is just being written and we have not yet embodied it. It can be uncomfortable to see a new way of being, a new way of doing something, or some new subject to learn, in front of you, understand and be inspired by the possibility of it, and yet still employ your old set of behaviors because it’s all we know to do. This is when we need to let our conscious incompetence take over. DTK reminded us that Martin M. Broadwell first described conscious incompetence as the second part of the “the four levels of teaching” model in February 1969.

I don’t know about you, but I can appreciate how huge it is to be aware of something that wasn’t even in my consciousness, but then realize the gap. This stage, however, when we become aware of the thing that needs to shift but we haven’t yet shifted, can be a little uncomfortable. It’s having the desire for change while feeling stuck being how we’ve always been. Sometimes it becomes making mistake after mistake after mistake and thinking you’re never, ever going to get it – until you do “get it.” This is where we must channel our inner child and keep falling until we learn to walk. I always tell people we must allow our self the opportunity to bad at something before we can be good at it. DTK said, “Yet juicy, exponential growth comes from breaking free and experiencing what’s out there” (p. 265). Additionally, don’t forget to ask for help. DTK also told us to “…collect allies. Most likely, if you could’ve done it alone, you already would’ve” (p. 265). When we encounter conscious incompetence, we have a choice. We could let our inner critic take over, or we can enjoy being uncomfortable and learning something new.

Finally, we need to appreciate the how huge it is to become aware of something that wasn’t even in our consciousness until now. Think about about it, in this state we know what we don’t know! So, allow yourself to fall as you learn to walk, enjoy the messes you make along the way, and then reflect on how far you’ve come. Will you allow yourself to find the growth edges in your self-development?

Visions & Revisions

In this week’s Mindset Mondays with DTK lesson in Chapter 29 entitled “Make ‘Em Proud,” David Taylor-Klaus (DTK) posed this question to us: “Would the child you were be proud of the adult you are?” He told us this was very complex because as kids we had all kinds of things we wanted to do and then as adults the world tells us we can’t be all those things. The problem is that none of this talk from the world is true. Somewhere along the way we lose our wonderment with the world and begin to believe the lies of our limitations. I loved how this wonder was described in Rules Of Civility by Amor Towles, “Anyone can buy a car or a night on the town. Most of us shell our days like peanuts. One in a thousand can look at the world with amazement. I don’t mean gawking at the Chrysler Building. I’m talking about the wing of a dragonfly. The tale of the shoeshine. Walking through an unsullied hour with an unsullied heart.” We must fight being constrained by other people’s truths.

DTK asks us if it could be as simple as, “The childhood you, when faced with something they didn’t like, would set out to create something different.” I believe it could be that simple. We should never stop exploring, learning, growing and evolving. I loved another description of life from Amor Towles in Rules Of Civility that said, “It is a bit of a cliché to characterize life as a rambling journey on which we can alter our course at any given time–by the slightest turn of the wheel, the wisdom goes, we influence the chain of events and thus recast our destiny with new cohorts, circumstances, and discoveries. But for the most of us, life is nothing like that. Instead, we have a few brief periods when we are offered a handful of discrete options. Do I take this job or that job? In Chicago or New York? Do I join this circle of friends or that one, and with whom do I go home at the end of the night? And does one make time for children now? Or later? Or later still? In that sense, life is less like a journey than it is a game of honeymoon bridge. In our twenties, when there is still so much time ahead of us, time that seems ample for a hundred indecisions, for a hundred visions and revisions—we draw a card, and we must decide right then and there whether to keep that card and discard the next, or discard the first card and keep the second. And before we know it, the deck has been played out and the decisions we have just made will shape our lives for decades to come.” I believe this is true, but one caveat I make is that the deck is not limited to 52 cards and is infinite. We never have to quit shaping our lives – we get to keep drawing cards till the very end.

So, in honor of that inner child that is always with us, we need to ask ourselves how we are doing in the card game of life – keeping, discarding, asking for a new card, or even shuffling the deck. Let’s make the childhood versions of ourselves proud.

A Great Unknown

Posted in DTK, Growth Mindset, Leadership, Leadership Development, Mindset Mondays by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on December 8, 2020

David Taylor-Klaus (DTK) used the smoothing of a rock under a waterfall over a period of time as the metaphor in Chapter 15, Define Yourself, in Mindset Mondays with DTK. He wrote, “Just as it is in nature, there’s no escaping the fact that your human experiences shape who you are.” He went on to say, “Yet you neither become nor are defined by the events that impact you.” DTK’s metaphor made me think of the beach and ocean. Beaches are constantly changing. Tides and weather can alter beaches every day, bringing new materials and taking away others.

Even though a beach is constantly changing (just like us) every beach has a beach profile. A beach profile describes the landscape of the beach, both above the water and below it. We, like the beach, all have a profile that the events of our lives do not have to define. While ever rolling in a constant rhythm of ebb and flow, each wave, day, and week is different. No matter the changes, the beach is always beautiful – just like us.

We never know what we are going to encounter. Just like the beach has new weather and tidal patterns in its future, we have an unfamiliar element, perhaps a great unknown. But, it’s only by encountering the unknown that we can learn, grow, and experience adventure.

Catch Me and Prop Me Up!

In Chapter 11 of Mindset Mondays with DTK, David Taylor-Klaus used the analogy of a fitness class and wearing a weighted vest to discuss “Reclaim Your Brain.” This got me to thinking that athletes are the perfect examples of reclaiming your brain. Let’s use football as the example. When a quarterback throws an interception, they must immediately get their mind back on track and tell themselves the next pass will be caught. Otherwise the mindset of throwing another interception will take over. For the quarterback it becomes about taking a deep breath and the reminder of all the work in practice that has gone into being on the same page that ensures success on the next pass.

Then, during a post-game interview following the New Orleans Saints huge 38-3 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Drew Brees (Pride of Purdue University and greatest quarterback of all time) reminded us that we also need to be propped up by others to help us see the things that will keep our mindset focused in the the right direction. Here’s an excerpt from Brees’ inspiring comments:

“It was funny, I got hit and I was going down and Terron Armstead caught me and propped me up and said, ‘I just wanted you to see this touchdown.’ So, it’s funny how often the offensive linemen catch that stuff; You know, their blocking, their blocking {and} the minute their guy sees the balls been thrown, the lineman is able to look down the field…So, it’s funny, he caught me, propped me up and said, ‘I just wanted you to see this touchdown.’

Drew Brees is post-game interview

Is that the coolest story or what? It really got me thinking about how many times others have propped me up, even at times when I probably didn’t deserve it. In listening to the interview, this propping up of Drew Brees had a profound impact on him. He was also very complimentary Terron Armstead’s awareness of what was going happening on the whole field. This big picture vision and propping up I’m sure plays a huge role in the team community of the Saints. Armstead saw a need for leadership and seized the moment. I touched on this in Spreading The Wealth. Everyone is a leader and everyone has the responsibility to lead from wherever they are whenever necessary. Period.

Leadership is crucial to setting others up to become successful. By really understanding and paying attention to the needs of those on our teams we can help provide for other to become the “best self” they can be. In our example here, Armstead became a servant leader by being there for Brees. Sometimes we need a cheerleader, other times a champion, and other times a blocker. Through our own curiosity and vision we can help others reflect on their own work and mindset, which helps them be successful the next time around. Don’t think for a minute that Drew Brees won’t be thinking about being propped up and watching that touchdown for some time to come. And, that seeing that touchdown first hand while being propped up hasn’t added to a positive mindset. Success breeds success and the more we learn from what others do right, the more we all grow.

What have great leaders in your life done lately to prop you up and help you reclaim your brain with the right mindset?

“Who Am I Not To Be?”

Posted in Coronavirus, COVID-19, Doomscrolling, DTK, Global Leadership, Growth Mindset, Leadership, Mindset Mondays by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on August 31, 2020

IMG_9431This morning, on day 170 of the COVID-19 Global Pandemic, I am committing to a 52 week journey in a new book that gets released tomorrow, September 1st. I have been perusing my advanced copy of Mindset Mondays With DTK: 52 Ways to REWIRE Your Thinking and Transform Your Life for several days and really like what I have found in the book. As the author, David Taylor-Klaus, told us in the book, it is to be savored over time and used every week for a year. I love books that are organized in 52 lessons to use over a years time. This gives me a chance to also do a weekly reflection blog post, of which is this the first of at least 52 I am committing to do.

“The greatest weapon we have against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” ~ William James, discussed on pages 39-41 in Mindset Mondays With DTK

The title of the first lesson was Choose Consciously. It was ironic that DTK called our ability to choose, a weapon. In a leadership gathering I facilitated over the weekend I used superheroes as a throughline and we talked about leadership weapons. The ability to make the right choices was a superpower weapon of choice for some. “Who am I not to be?” (DTK, 2020, p. 40) is a statement that DTK has made to himself. So, really, who are we to not be? Whatever we want to achieve starts, as DTK taught us, with examining our own ideas of what is and is not possible.

Screen Shot 2020-08-31 at 8.07.42 AMThe choices we make are even more important in this time of “doomscrolling.” I usually love the creation of new words, but I’m not real big on this one that means continuing to surf or scroll through bad news. The act of doomscrolling, then, is to roll toward annihilation. So, back to David’s question, “Who am I not to be?” The one thing we get to control is our mind; so, we need to quit things like doomscrolling and control our mindset and beliefs.

Social media has been a blessing staying connected. One of the other challenges, besides doomscrolling, however, that has been created because of our ability to easily connect is some continually comparing themselves to their peers. DTK addressed this in the first lesson saying, “So instead of comparing our beginning to somebody else’s middle, we actually, see their success as an inspiration instead of a threat” (DTK, 2020, p. 41). I have always believed that each of us has our own personalities and set of skills that make us very special. We just cannot let ourselves fall in a trap of comparing, because there just is no comparison to ourselves – we are a “one-of-a-kind”.  We cannot allow our internal expectations of what defines success keep changing depending on what others desire. Think about it: “Who am I not to be?”

 

Getting Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

Screen Shot 2020-05-29 at 1.50.24 PMI first drew the illustration featured in this post for a webinar that I presented as a part of for the SMART Factory League back in April. Then I used it again this week for two webinars I did for teachers entitled “Embracing the Changes: Let’s Not Go Back to Status Quo.” The drawing represented how we are being nudged, pushed, or even shoved to make changes, given our current uncertain and unprecedented times. I hoped the drawing represented going from the massive, unorganized scribble that was the uncertainty and confusion we first experienced when dealing with the COVID-19 Pandemic to a very focused, straight line. On this, now day 80 of the pandemic, I would argue we are not at the focused, straight line yet, but are moving closer.

So, how do we get started? To borrow from our friend Goldilocks – we must get our focus just right. Focusing to narrowly on just one of our challenges will not work, but it also will not work to try to change everything at once, either. We need to change in a controlled fashion. But, what does that mean during this time of both the normal disruption of things and the ongoing pandemic? We are all trying to cope with unprecedented levels of uncertainty.

In fact, studies show that we are loss-averse and gain-seeking. We want the sure thing. We will accept less to lower the risk of failure. Sometimes we even give up success to not experience failure. We contemplate this a lot in athletics. Do we play to win, or play not to lose? Most teams who play not to lose, do just that – lose.

One thing I know for sure, we have done a lot of developing our “dealing with uncertainty capability.” One of the most important ways I believe that I have been able deal with the uncertainty has been to fully embrace the fact that every day was going to be a learning experience. I have literally asked myself, “What can I learn today?” These past 80 days have put the mantras of “lifelong learner” and “growth mindset” to the ultimate tests. You see, when something’s too easy or we’re not facing uncertainty, we’re not learning. Numerous scientific studies show that when we confront setbacks and we can adjust our view of these setbacks to see them as lessons, our brains literally begin to change.

None of us were trained on how to respond in a global pandemic and our immediate response to the challenges might have been “I can’t do this” or “We’ll figure it out.” As Nora Bateson (2016) so aptly put it in Small Arcs of Larger Circles: Framing Through Other Patterns, “No one is qualified to talk about uncertainty. You cannot get a degree in it yet, to the best of my knowledge.” Furthermore, she went on to say, “How, after all, can I pretend to offer you any kind of lesson on what I do not know?”

But, learn in adversity is what we did in education. While in the beginning it looked like the left had side of my scribble, we have been making our way across the page to the straight line. Wednesday and today we began to chronicle our learning by embracing the changes and discussing how to not go back to status quo. Here are two graphic recordings done by Amy Reynolds, Principal of Governors Charter Academy, during our session: “Embracing the Changes: Let’s Not Go Back To Status Quo.” Check them out:

The information in the graphics came from over 200 teachers working in breakout groups answering the following “What if?” questions:

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I learned to use “what if?” questions from the late Dr. Clayton Christen. These type of questions allow us to challenge assumptions, allow for innovation, and allow us to prepare. How about you? What have you been learning during these uncertain times?

Good Enough: Five Positives For Every Negative

Posted in Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Growth Mindset, Leadership by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on May 17, 2020

IMG_5711I finished reading a great book, The Power of Bad: How the Negativity Effect Rules Us and How We Can Rule It by John Tierney and Roy Baumeister this morning. This was an interesting book to read during the COVID-19 Global Pandemic. It’s interesting to me that I interact daily with people who are very positive right now and those who are extremely negative. There does not seem to be much of an in between. Anecdotally, there seems to be more negativity than positivity. Tierney and Baumeister told us this is because negative experiences are more powerful than positive ones.

44902133The authors reminded me that the Gottman Ratio is a pretty good rule of thumb. The Gottman Ratio tells us that we are happiest when we have five positive interactions for every negative one. The authors posited this is a pretty good rule, but that we should aim for at least four positives for every negative. Kind of makes you think about who you want to be hanging out with, or Zooming with, whichever the case may be. Or, if others want to hang out with you.

“If one thing goes wrong, don’t interpret it as a harbinger of inevitable doom, whether you’re dealing with a personal setback or contemplating the state of the world.” ~ John Tierney & Roy Baumeister in The Power of Bad

If we want to keep things positive we must avoid the negative things. A Yale study really caught my attention described in the book where abusive parenting was found to have a statistically significant effect resulting in unhappy children. The opposite of very supportive and loving parenting did not lead to a larger number of happy children. Therefore, reducing negatives was more important than adding more positives. I found this to be encouraging because I believe it is easier to reduce negatives that increase positives. For one, I can do this by just having a positive attitude myself.

Furthermore, I was reminded of what Voltaire said, “Perfect is the enemy of good.” I would add that “Perfection is the enemy of done.” Progress, tweaks, checks, re-do’s, and reviews do not equal perfection. Good or effective work is about moving toward the destination than about getting things done with spilling or knocking something over in the process. Momentum matters! As Confucius said, “Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.” For example, if I am needing to market an event for next week, would it be better to have already gone out with an advertisement made by me that will for sure not be perfect (a marketer, I am not) or on Sunday of the week of the event, still be waiting on the perfect advertisement? For me it is the former rather than the latter.

“Striving to better, oft we mar what’s well.” ~ William Shakespeare

In The Power of Bad we were taught that rather than always striving for perfect, we need to think in terms of being “good enough.” Make no mistake, this does not mean lowering standards. It means paying less attention to transcending expectations and paying more attention to getting the basics right. Being steady and reliable is much more effective that dramatic ups and downs. So, don’t forget, your mood and demeanor and the mood and demeanor of those around you will have a huge impact on your own and the feelings and effectiveness of those with you. Positivity will cause social support and negativity will cause social undermining. Get out there and be positive and “good enough.”

K.O.B.E.

Posted in Football, Growth Mindset, Kobe Bryant, Leadership, MAMBA, super-bowl by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on February 2, 2020

Today, on this Super Bowl Sunday, ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown ran a great tribute to Kobe Bryant with reflections from pro football players. Click here to watch the video. One of the pro football players made the comment that they had learned so much from Kobe and had never met him or known him personally. Samantha Ponder and Randy Moss made very moving comments following the video. This made me reflect on what had I learned from this NBA great that I never met.

This loss needs to be a reminder to all that there are always people watching and using us as an example. While Kobe had a checkered past with mistakes that left scars on his life, there is still a great deal of positive examples to take from his life. What examples will others remember and take from your life?

Here’s my takeaways from Kobe:

K Keep fighting and Kill the opposition. He taught us to make the opposition believe they could never play at the level we play.

O – Make your purpose and passion become your Obsession. He taught us to fall in love with the process of what we do.

B Believe that if others can do something, you can too. When we follow in the footsteps and model our actions and habits after successful people, we can get similar or even better results.

E Embrace the mantra of MAMBA mentality. Kobe taught us that hard work outweighs talent every time. We were also taught to trust the process. Kobe said, “Without studying, preparation, and practice, your leaving the outcome to fate. I don’t do fate.”

Let’s remember Kobe by not doing fate.