Byron's Babbles

Do You Have An Inexhaustible Ability To Just Live?

Posted in Boston Legal, Courage, Growth Mindset, Jesus, Leadership, Lifelong Learning by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on December 12, 2019

Yesterday I blogged about a scene from an episode of Boston Legal that really caused me to think and reflect. You can read about it in Are We Best Friends. Please allow me to post about another balcony interaction of Denny Crane and Alan Shore at the end of another episode.

After asking Alan Shore what he had had for lunch, and telling him he had a steak sandwich with onion rings, Denny Crane said, “Alan, you know, one thing you sometimes forget is, no matter how hard your day, no matter how hard your choices, how complex your ethical decisions, you always get to choose what you have for lunch.” Alan Shore replied, “Daily, I’m amazed at your inexhaustible ability to just live.” Replying, Denny Crane said, “It’s either that or die.” This hit me like a ton of bricks. I believe I have an inexhaustible ability to just live, but just exactly what is that and can we, as leaders, help develop this in others?

Of course this prompted a study for me. What I found was, nothing. So, how do we develop or continue to have an inexhaustible ability to just live? I was actually reminded of a bible verse (John 10:10) where Jesus tells us we are supposed to have an abundant life. Realizing there is a difference here when using the word abundant, I began to think about what really allows us just to live. It turns out that picking what we want for lunch is a perfect example.

It is about what Lolly Daskal taught in the great book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You And Your Greatness. Daskal posited that focusing on using can, want, and will instead of could, should, and must empowers us to live in terms of our own goals and motivations – just like picking what we want for lunch. Think about it: when asked about lunch, we say, “I want…”

Typically, when we choose what we want for lunch it is very authentic. We, or at least I can speak for myself, have no problem having the courage to proclaim what we want for lunch. Why not live and lead on our own terms in other areas of our life as well? Daskal also taught us to have a kinder dialogue with ourselves and focus on leading from within. Could it be as easy as working toward can, want, and will? I think so!

Finally, I believe an inexhaustible ability to just live means to go after what you want without worrying about what others will think. It means continually reaching out for newer, richer, deeper, life changing experiences. So let’s go push the boundaries of ourselves mentally, spiritually, and intellectually for personal growth and the betterment of the world at large. Also, step back and just enjoy the ride that is the journey of our life.

Do you have an inexhaustible ability to just live?

If You Cannot Lose, You Cannot Win

IMG_5157I always have a long list of topics that I want to blog about. With this post I get to one that hit the list on Christmas Day, 2018. My father-in-law had a page of quotes from a magazine and he did a little devotional reading before we sang Happy Birthday to Jesus (a family tradition on my wife’s side). He handed me the copy when he was done and I got to reading the other quotes. One quote really jumped out at me. Better yet, it hit me like a ton of bricks. It is one of those that I needed to read two or three times to really comprehend what it was saying. Here it is:

“If you want to do something where we can’t lose, then we must accept the proposition that we cannot win.” ~ Gene Hill, A Hunter’s Fireside Book, 1972

Read it one more time. This quote really caused me to take pause. It is very true. I we want to do things that we cannot lose at, then we have to accept that we will never win. At the time I was reading this I was really thinking about lots of things in a winning and losing context. Whether it be in the public policy arena, football bowl games, or many other things. It is very frustrating to me that many times people do not want to get behind, support, or associate themselves with new and innovative things until they know they are going to be successful (a win). That to me is playing not to lose, not playing to win. In athletics, one of the worst things you can do is play not to lose. Very rarely will that strategy get the person or team the win. I believe this is true in all other areas as well.

Not being able to take a loss or having fear of losing will keep us from ever making progress. Trying not to lose is not the same thing as trying to win. Trying not to lose is reactionary. It’s prevention. Most of the time it prevents us from winning. Worst of all, it starts with the belief that we should focus on “not losing,” which gives the idea of losing too much power. “Playing to win” begins with the belief that we can and will win. It’s empowering. The belief that we can win and the desire to do so allows us to take initiative, be creative and innovative, to be resourceful, and to take the necessary actions that will better the chances of winning—even if taking those actions comes with a particular risk. We cannot live risk free and have guarantees that everything we do will be a winner.

We’ve all seen athletes, athletic teams, businesses, and political leaders try to play it safe and approach games, life, and administrations from a safe and play not to lose vantage point. What usually happens? At best, nothing! At worst, the loss. If you’re like me you have probably been in the situation where you were really working hard for a win with very little support of others who were afraid you might lose. Then all of the sudden when the win came, lo and behold, everyone was there to take credit. Amazing!

When we are playing not to lose our focus is not on what we could gain, but on protecting what we already have. When playing not to lose energies are channeled into shoring up the status quo, and guarding against what we do not want to happen. So play to win, not to not lose. In the larger game of leadership, playing it safe is the most dangerous game plan of all. Playing to win might just be the greatest of all leadership traits. It requires putting what you already have at risk for the sake of something bigger, something better. Additionally, it requires throwing caution to the wind and having the courage to creative something new and be innovative. This takes a great deal of courage and a trait that I am so glad I have been blessed with: “being comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

So, lets get out there and play to win. Remember, without failure there can be no real progress. I leave you with the great wisdom of Theodore Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

 

 

Are You There?

This post is dedicated to the ones who are always there for others. Always there for us. I was reminded of how important those individuals are three times yesterday, in three different instances, and by three different people. These are the ones that are more than just a listener. They are warmth, compassion, insight, strength, aspiration. Sometimes just the person who can help you turn a PDF file into a Word file (I know, a stupid example, right? But a real example, nonetheless). They are that solid boulder when you need help with something. You know, that person that when you have something come up, you just know will come through in a pinch to help.

Think about what the world would be like if we were all striving to be this way. I’ve said in blog posts and many other times before that Jesus is the best leadership example there is, and he said, “And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.” Now, if that’s not being there when you need something, I don’t know what is.

This post is just meant to remind us how important being there for others is. Reflect on how important that handful of individuals is to you, that you know you could pick up the phone right now, ask for help, and they would drop everything for you. Are you that same person when they call you?

Now I realize that we can’t always just drop everything every time to help others, but do think about it – you know who you could call right now and who you couldn’t. Maybe, if we all worked just a little harder at leading like Jesus, and being there till the end of time, the world really would be a better place.