Byron's Babbles

Being Eclectic

A couple weeks ago after doing my weekly social media posts about the books I am reading, one of my connections posted, “That’s an eclectic mix. Thanks for sharing.” This got me thinking about being eclectic. Inherent to the meaning of eclectic is the idea of a mixture. In the context of loving to learn from a mixture of intersectional (unrelated) genres, topics or authors I myself could be considered eclectic. I am such a believer in the power of intersectional learning. In fact I many times use things like how a toy is played with in my workshops to spur thinking about totally unrelated topics. For example, last week each participant received a toy and then had to find someone with the same toy and figure out how to use the way the toy was played with to solve an issue in their school. We had some incredible responses and discussion.

This also got me to thinking about the eclectic philosophers. These were a class of ancient philosophers who did not belong to, nor found any recognised school of thought, but drew ideas and doctrines from various schools. While I have some very definite core values/beliefs, I would have to say I do draw from and love studying various schools of thought. I am really not sure how I would continually grow and improve if I did not. I look at this as using diverse instruments and theories strengthened and harmonized when learned and used in a mutually reinforcing manor.

Remember, as human beings, we don’t just passively experience the social world around us. Instead, we actively construct that world ourselves through our actions and the ideas that guide them. Therefore, the more eclectic our sources to learn from, the more ideas available. We must also never forget that we may need to know what others know in order to solve our own problems. I like to approach everything as an exploring instead of an expert. Diversifying how and where we learn will not compromise our core values and beliefs.

Leading Like Charlotte’s Web

You all know I love intersectional learning, where I, or I have others, take a random object and create meaning about a seemingly unrelated topic. I never thought that a spider web would lead to the unbelievably deep conversation it did with our Florida 3D Leadership participants last night. To get things started for the evening, I asked them to look at a picture of a spider web I had come across in my barn to the journey they are on right now. When our small groups came back from their discussions I could tell from the energy it was going to be an amazing evening. When the first group started to report out, the participant said, “I loved my group.” Those of you who have facilitated before know how good that sounds and feels.

The participant went on to say that Lauren Berry, Curriculum Resource Teacher at Collier Charter Academy in Naples, Florida, had thought of all the lessons from Charlotte’s Web. You know, the 1952 classic written by E.B. White and then turned into a great movie in 2006. The genius of White’s work was that he used a deceptively mundane and ordinary setting, set of characters, and plot to explain the profundity of life in ways that people of all ages can understand. The perfect definition of intersectional learning! Without knowing it I had spurred this deep discussion with something as mundane, but incredibly complex, as a spider web – in a barn of all places.

So, what did Lauren and her group teach us? First of all, to sum up a 184 page book in a couple of sentences, Wilbur, a pig given to a little girl, Fern, yearns for companionship but is snubbed by the other animals. When he finds out he is be raised for slaughter he is befriended by a barn spider named Charlotte, whose web sits in a doorway overlooking Wilbur’s enclosure. Here are the points that Lauren and her group made to us:

  • Friendship and relationships are at the core of everything. Charlotte said, “After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.” Life is precious, wonderful and beautiful, especially when it is well-lived.
  • Celebrate diversity. Wilbur and Charlotte are very different, but friendship makes it possible to transcend those differences. Even Templeton the Rat, the self-serving one even learns to be a team player (sorry, I couldn’t help but put the rat in the mix, too).
  • Wilbur was humble. “Why did you do all this for me?” Wilbur asked. “I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.” “You have been my friend,” replied Charlotte. “That in itself is a tremendous thing.” People respond well to humility because it shows that you place yourself at the same level as others, and not above them.

We were so blessed to be reminded of this story last night. My hope is that we will always keep in our hearts the lessons of friendship, life, and loss that will help us navigate through our lives to be better leaders, friends, and people in this diverse world.

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?