Byron's Babbles

Who Are You?

Posted in core values, Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Impact, Leadership, Leadership Development by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on December 6, 2022

Our purpose goes much deeper than our job. Sometimes we need little reminders of this. Last night I was watching a new episode of The Neighborhood. In this great sitcom Cedric the Entertainer stars as Calvin Butler, who owns Calvin’s Pit Stop – an auto repair shop. In this episode he is offered a huge sum of money to buy his business. He continues to say he will not sell his business stating he would be nobody without his business. His wife, Tina, played by Tichina Arnold, explained, “Baby [Calvin], that shop does not define you; you define that shop.” So many times we get caught up associating self-worth in conjunction with a job. Tina was reminding Calvin that his identity should be defined by what he loved, what he dreamed of, what he valued, and who he cherished. We should heed this reminder as well.

We are doing ourselves, and others, an injustice if we only define ourselves by our jobs. Our mission here are on this earth is so much more. We have lives of others to touch and impact. Our relationships will serve as our identity more than our careers. When other people reflect or remember us, the thought of our careers might come up, but our personality, character, and how we inspired or impacted them will resonate more. Our identity should be, and is really defined by what we love, what we dream of, our core values, and who we cherish. Who are you?


Leading With Impact

In his great book, This Is Day One: A Practical Guide To Leadership That Matters, Drew Dudley told us to create a pledge to create experiences that make others feel good about engaging with you. To do this he explained we need to pick a value. An example would be “impact.” You can define impact as “a commitment to creating experiences that make others feel better after interacting with me.” I love this value you and try really hard to practice it daily by asking myself a question like, “What have I done today to recognize someone else’s leadership?” Sometimes our light shines better by reflecting the light of others.

Last night I experienced this first hand by someone else’s living being impactful. Jason Ferreira sat down beside me last night at a dinner we were having for National FFA Teacher Ambassadors and said, “I have something I want to tell you. Not a day goes by that I do not use what I have learned about facilitating in my own classroom, facilitating for teachers, or helping others improve their facilitation.” He went on to say that he keeps many of the objects I use for facilitating on hand, like toys and Big Feelings Pineapples. Then, Jason said, “I wanted to tell you that I’m person because it makes me better to reflect on this and tell you thank you and how much you impact me every day.” I’ve got to tell you that this recognition of my leadership felt really good.

This wasn’t an ego thing. Quite the opposite. It was an affirmation that the teaching I am doing for National FFA Teacher Ambassadors is having a impact. It motivated and inspired me to want to work even harder serving the Ambassadors I love so much. Jason showed me a living example of having a daily “impact” – he made me a better person by his interaction with me and he recognized my leadership. I am grateful for Jason being an example and what he does to impact students lives and the lives of others every day.

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.