Byron's Babbles

Leading Like Yahtzee

Last week in our first gathering of our newest cohort of Florida 3D Leadership Program participants, we were discussing leadership being like chess or checkers. The participants even played chess and checkers while having the discussion. We had some great discussion related to this considering things like you must know your opponent, players have limited movements, checkers is at a smaller level, checkers and chess have different missions, playing chess is more like be a principal, playing checkers is more like being a teacher leader, and strategic movement/placement. Then, one group discussed that they thought leadership was more like playing Yahtzee. The game of Yahtzee then came up again in another discussion. I finally had to come clean with the group and admit I had never played Yahtzee or even knew how the game was played. Of course after the gathering was over I had to look up the game of Yahtzee and found that the group was right, there are leadership characteristics contained in the game of Yahtzee.

Actually, on the surface Yahtzee appears to be a simple game. Each player gets thirteen turns to complete their score card. The top section of the score card consists of numbers 1 thru 6. You need to roll three ones, three twos, three threes, etc. to get your “minimums.” You could also roll four fives (or four of anything), which comes in handy if you were only able to roll two threes on a previous turn. The idea on the top section is to score at least 63 total points, so you can get the 35-point bonus. If you get a “Yahtzee!” you score 50 points. That’s when you get all five dice to be the same during your turn. Some players focus solely on getting Yahtzee at the expense of everything else. Some people really work hard count on getting the Yahtzee. From my studying, however, a balanced scorecard is more beneficial to winning the game. Balance is important in leadership as well. In education for example there must be balanced effectiveness in governance, financial health, student performance and achievement, or teacher effectiveness. Concentrating on any one of these and forgetting the rest would be disastrous to the school.

Yahtzee seems like a game of chance. It’s much more. It’s a game of decisions and imperfect trade-offs. Wow, doesn’t that sound a little like leadership. So, there is actually some genius in comparing leadership to the game of Yahtzee. We must at some point fully form our approach to decision making. Success, failure, decisions, and sacrifices are in play with every turn while playing Yahtzee. Excellent practice for leading in real time. The game of Yahtzee is completely random. But, as leaders we know that sometimes completely random things happen. Therefore, something completely random and driven by chance can be, as we can learn from playing Yahtzee, be managed within a solid set of priorities and strategies. Do you have other ways you would compare playing Yahtzee to leading effectively?

Irrational Exuberance

As an artistic leader versus being a technocrat, I have always been that one focusing on how great things were going to be; how great that lesson I just planned would go, how that next webinar would go, how many gazillion people would want to be part of a new leadership program, or how much everyone would love that latest workshop activity I just planned. Sometimes, because of this focus, I am viewed as not being detail oriented enough, or not being realistic enough. Some of that might be true, but as David Taylor-Klaus (DTK) pointed out Chapter 21 of Mindset Mondays with DTK entitled “What Could Go Right?”, nothing can ruin an organization quicker than not planning for success.

I’ve actually seen and experienced this with new schools that weren’t prepared for the large number of students who enrolled. It is tricky to not be prepared for great things. Without thinking through what could go right, we won’t be ready to handle great things when they happen.

“Stop being afraid of what could go wrong, and focus on what could go right.”

~ Unknown

DTK pointed out that companies buckled under the pressure of not being able to handle what Alan Greenspan called, “irrational exuberance,” during the dot-com era. Bottom-line: we must focus on what could go right. I like the quote above because while we need to have operational awareness of challenges and obstacles, we must not fear them. What are the next things that will go right for you?

Tomorrow. And The Day After Tomorrow.

Posted in Creativity, Curiosity, Global Leadership, Imagination, Leadership, Leadership Development by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on January 17, 2021

I am reading a great novel right now about an alien from the planet Vonnadoria who takes over the body of Professor Andrew Martin. I’m not going to tell you much more than that about The Humans: A Novel by Matt Haig because I would recommend reading it and I don’t want to spoil it for you. What I can tell you is that it is eye opening to think about some of the stupid things we do, or don’t do, when seen through the eyes of a much more advanced species. Just to give you a for instance, have you ever thought about the fact that contemplating about the weather is the chief human activity?

This morning as I was reading I was struck by something the alien said, “I mean, this was the species whose main excuse for not doing something was ‘if only I had more time.’ Perfectly valid until you realized they did have more time. Not eternity, granted, but they had tomorrow. And the day after tomorrow. And the day after the day after tomorrow. In fact I would have had to write ‘the day after’ thirty thousand times before a final ‘tomorrow’ in order to illustrate the amount of time on a human’s hands” (p. 197). This made me think that sometimes we don’t appreciate “tomorrow” near enough. I realize that we don’t know for sure if we have tomorrow, but I have to say, the odds are in our favor. Research even shows that putting something down, taking a break from a creative session, or just sleeping on something can help our imagination or creativity. So why don’t we do it?

The alien went on, “The problem lying behind the lack of human fulfillment was a shortage not just of time but of imagination. They found a day that worked for them and then stuck to it and repeated it, at least between Monday and Friday. Even if it didn’t work for them—as was usually the case—they stuck to it anyway. Then they’d alter things a bit and do something a little bit more fun on Saturday and Sunday” (p. 197). If you’re like me when I read this, I felt a little stupid. Kind of spot on, don’t you think? By the way, the alien proposed a pretty good solution when he said, “One initial proposal I wanted to put to them was to swap things over. For instance, have five fun days and two not-fun days. That way—call me a mathematical genius—they would have more fun” (p. 197). So, why do we, as a species, admittedly, have a lack of imagination?

We need to think beyond fulfilling the bare minimum requirements with what we bring to the table. What can we do that is a bit more memorable, with a bit more flavor and a bit more of an impact on everyone, the basic just won’t cut it. We’d be better off experimenting. The cost of bringing something new to the metaphorical table is, of course, you’re going to make someone uncomfortable, change someone’s routine, or upset somebody. The trade-off for experimenting with new ideas, creating new ways of doing things, or working on something new is that you will make something valuable and unique, but what you create won’t be for everybody.

Having just said that about being creative and experimenting I have to include the last thing the alien said about our week, “But as things stood, there weren’t even two fun days. They only had Saturdays, because Mondays were a little bit too close to Sundays for Sunday’s liking, as if Monday were a collapsed star in the week’s solar system, with an excessive gravitational pull. In other words, one seventh of human days worked quite well” (p. 197). As I write this on Sunday morning I’m thinking, yep, that’s about right. If we want to be comfortable and blend-in, doing what we’ve always done is the safe bet and a great way to do just that. But if we want to stand out and do things more uniquely, we must embrace the fact that we’re going to be uncomfortable and make others uncomfortable doing so. We must understand and be okay with the fact that the cost of valuable and unique might be turning off somebody, somewhere, who doesn’t want to be uncomfortable themselves, or who don’t believe their comfort should be the cost of a great idea.

Do you have style?

Posted in Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, James Madison, Leadership, Leadership Development, Style by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on January 16, 2021

“Madison’s style was not to have one” (Ellis, 2002). I’m reading Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph L. Ellis and this was a statement by the author about our fourth President, James Madison. From Ellis’ book and now digging a little deeper about Madison I find that Madison showed a blend of abilities in all he did. All of this got me thinking, however, is it possible to not have a style. I actually do a teacher leadership session on developing and embracing your own style. So, my initial thought here is that to not have a specific style, might just be a style. Hopefully you’re catching what I’m pitching.

Some have called James Madison a philosopher statesman. After all, he was one of the principal architects of the constitutional and political institutions that continue to shape our nation’s life today. Madison could take ideas and put them into action – a hallmark of American citizenship. Leadership is the ability to persuade others to follow a certain path. Leadership as a concept was demonstrated in the life of James Madison through intellect, fairness, hard work, and pursuit of excellence in everything that he did. Therefore, we could list all the leadership traits that Madison had, and there were many, but that still doesn’t answer the question of style?

To answer this question I had to uncover what is even meant by personal style. After reading quite a bit about style, I concluded it is how a person influences their everyday life, how they look, behave and present themselves to the world. True style is a very personal thing. Style is a personal consideration. Nor does style belong to the crowd or to the norm. Style is a natural expression of the self.

Madison possessed the ability to come up with a solution to a complex problem. His leadership skill in this department was tested during the American Revolution and the time when the United States government was still in its infancy. For all of his leadership acumen, however, Madison lacked many of physical and oration attributes we are obsessed with today. He was only 5’4” tall, pale, and was said to have trembled when he delivered his first inauguration speech. Madison’s long list of exemplary leadership traits, understanding that leaders are followers first, and his desire to be a lifelong learning enabled him to develop out of mediocrity to be considered a Founding Father.

So, is it possible to not have a style? I don’t think so. Here’s how I see it: Who we are includes our style. Our style reflects the coherence between all levels of the self – what we desire, what our habits are, our thinking, our intentions, what we say and what we do, as well as how we reflect. Glad I had this chance to reflect. Do you have any thoughts on this?

What Lies Beyond Your Imperfections?

Posted in Authentic, Authenticity, DTK, Educational Leadership, Flawsome, Leadership, Leadership Development, Mindset Mondays by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on January 10, 2021

Funny how things work out. I’m reading the great book Flawsome: The Journey To Being Whole Is Learning To Be Holey by Georgia Murch right now. Her book teaches us that being the best you you can be requires us to accept our flaws. As she said, “Your unique flaws draw people to you.” I love that and have been enlightened over the years to understand that people want me for who I am, not someone else. It is about being authentic.

So what’s funny? I’m also reading Mindset Mondays With DTK by David Taylor-Klaus (DTK). DTK’s book is is set up in 52 chapters set up to be read on, you guessed it, Mondays. This week I’m on Chapter 20 entitled Beyond Imperfections. So, some of the same stuff I was learning from Murch. DTK told us that trying to present ourselves as perfect is inauthentic. I have known organizations that have also got caught up in believing they are perfect. DTK wrote, “The fantasy that we’ll become perfect leaders, perfect partners, or perfect people is just that – a fantasy.” Remember, no organization or person is perfect. My imperfections make me, well, me.

So by recognizing our flaws and imperfections we can also find and develop our perfections. This is why I am such a believer in finding our strengths. Let’s recognize our weaknesses and grow our strengths. You be you!

Remembering Tommy Lasorda Leadership

Posted in Baseball, Coaching, Global Leadership, Humanocracy, Leadership, Leadership Development by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on January 9, 2021

The world of baseball lost a great one this past Thursday with the passing of Tommy Lasorda at his home at the age of 93. He won his first World Series as a major league manager the year I graduated from high school. I remember his antics on the field and off the field. He was such an enthusiastic and animated person. His players loved and respected him. Under Lasorda’s leadership his teams won 1,630 games in the major leagues. This figure includes his postseason wins as well. He was at the helm of the Dodgers for seven division titles, four World Series appearances and two world championships, in 1981 and 1988. After he retired, he managed the United States baseball team to gold at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Lasorda had said in interviews that the Olympics gold medal was won of his proudest moment.

The point I want to make in this post comes from Lasorda’s great biography, I Live For This: Baseball’s Last True Believer. Lasorda told of his experience playing for the Triple-A Denver Bears and learning from manager Ralph Houk, who became his role model. Lasorda reflected, “Ralph taught me that if you treat players like human beings, they will play like Superman.” He went on to write, “He [Ralph Houk] taught me how a pat on a shoulder can be just as important as a kick in the butt.″ Tommy Lasorda had a gift of knowing what his players needed. Lasorda was a human-centric leader. Some leaders treat their people as resources, to be used. These same leaders see their team members as mere handles to be cranked to complete tasks. The leaders I have most respected, on the other hand, treat others like human beings, form relationships that are about the whole person, going beyond just treating people as a supply. It’s about being people oriented and people centered.

The loss of Tommy Lasorda leaves a big void in the world. Let’s remember him by honoring his legacy of treating his players like human beings and make sure we are doing that as leaders as well.

Living Lifeopoly

In Chapter 19 entitled “Mistakes Don’t Matter” in the book Mindset Mondays With DTK by David Taylor-Klaus (DTK), he used the metaphor of life being a little like a game of Monopoly. Well, I couldn’t resist created my own game called Lifeopoly. And, yes, Lifeopoly has a red hash line underneath it. I love creating new words. I even drew a prototype box for the game shown here as the featured image of this post. Let me know what you think. This chapter was all about mistakes and our mindset in dealing with those mistakes. DTK described it this way, and I have inserted a blank for you to put whatever area you’ve considered yourself a failure in: “The wounded version of myself was making this one significant failure mean that I would always be a failure at ___________________” (p. 151). As a person who can make hundreds of mistakes per day, I have developed a mindset of considering what I can/have learn(ed) from these mistakes. Failing at something once does not we we are always going to fail at it. Never forget, we have to be bad at something to get good at it.

I loved the Happy New Year card that DTK described getting from a friend that said, “This year, may every mistake be a new one” (p.152). I thought this was very appropriate given this is the first week of 2021. I am also reading the great book The Midnight Library: A Novel by Matt Haig right now. I’m not going to divulge too much here because you need to read the book, but there are three great passages in the book that caused me to reflect on making sure we grow from mistakes and life’s events. Additionally we need to not get so uptight and view some things as moves on our Lifeopoly journey. Our time and energy is best spent being the best “me” we can be, and as an educator I’m reminded we need to make sure our students have as many experiences possible and help them understand how to grow and learn from the mistakes and experience life offers. Here are those passages from The Midnight Library I believe will cause you to do some reflection about life decisions and mistakes:

“‘Because, Nora, sometimes the only way to learn is to live.'” ~ Mrs. Elm to Nora

The Midnight Library, p. 67

“Everyone’s lives could have ended up an infinite number of ways.” ~ Nora thinking to herself

The Midnight Library, p. 54

“‘If you aim to be something you are not, you will always fail. Aim to be you. Aim to look and act and think like you. Aim to be the truest version of you. Embrace that you-ness. Endorse it. Love it. Work hard at it. And don’t give a second thought when people mock it or ridicule it. Most gossip is envy in disguise. Keep your head down. Keep your stamina. Keep swimming…'” ~ Mrs. Elm to Nora

The Midnight Library, p. 93

How about you? Are you embracing your you-ness?

Top 10 Books Of 2020

2020 was an incredible year of reading. I finished reading 119 books this year. I was an extremely tough chore to pick my top 10 and then put them in order. I love books because for a brief moment in time, books release us from the constraints of our own reality. They take us beyond our own small place in the world and into another person’s real or imaginary one. Each of us has a unique and valuable role in life. When experiencing life through the eyes of another, we encounter diverse angles on life’s most common situations. I have read such great books this year by very talented writers. Finally, I am a better person and understand many more diverse perspectives from reading 119 books this year.

Here are the posts that give the posts influenced by books I read in 2020 by each quarter:

The First Quarter Of An Incredible Year Of Reading

Second Quarter 2020 Book Inspired Posts

2020 Third Quarter Book Inspired Posts

The Books That Opened My Eyes In The Fourth Quarter Of 2020

Here is my video revealing my Top 10 Books Of 2020:

Learning Together Apart

As I walked back to the house from the barn this morning I noticed the unmistakable sound of fresh snow squeaking and crunching under my boots with every step. For anyone who has ever lived in a climate with snow, this sound is immediately recognizable. These sounds reminded me that in the midst of a pandemic, we have watched the transformation from winter, to spring, to summer, to fall, and now, back to winter. But other transformations are upon us everywhere without such clear cut and defined definition. These other transformations are of a global perspective and are personal, health related, economic, political, and economic. When you add all this together it is very complex change.

All those areas listed above are constantly evolving, but as we know a single virus has taken over how the game is played right now. Think about it, change has come in much the same way you draw a card in a board game – “You are now in the middle of a pandemic; go back 10 spaces.” Or something like that. Change is here, and has been here. There are changes in my house, in my body, in my family, in my community, culture, economy, and in the whole wide world of ecological systems. In some ways things are falling apart, but maybe that has to happen to put things back together.

I guess it is only appropriate that one of my last posts of the year, on New Year’s Eve, would be entitled with the hashtag I coined back in March as we began our, now 294 day, journey together dealing with the global pandemic – #LearningTogetherApart. As a person who believes so deeply in the power of community, it is about “showing up.” Just like when Major League Baseball gave us the opportunity to show up, albeit in the form of cutouts. Nevertheless, in our case, my family was in attendance for every Cincinnati Reds game in Great American Ballpark in Section 136, Row P, Seats 6-8.

You might say this is a trivial example in the face of a pandemic, but I would argue it’s the perfect example of being invited to be a part of a community. Being invited is fundamental to showing up and be part of a community. By being invited by the Reds and the Reds Community Fund we were able to, as a family, show up to help the Reds Community Fund continue the creation of programming that connects underserved children with baseball and softball, and connecting baseball with the community.

So, in the case of my field of education where right now via Zoom we are expected to give our students a sense of “home” when some children have never experienced or have any perceived notion of what “home” is, I must continue to show up and support environments for learning together apart. The issue just described is very complex with no one direct solution as some might naïvely think. Education, religion, poverty, economics, technology, generational cultures, and community are all woven together as part of this issue. No single directive will solve this. I hope to take the opportunity each and every day to shift the tone.

Even though things are confusing, terrifying, infuriating, heartbreaking, and completely out of control right now, we all need to keep showing up. We must continue “learning together apart.” We still do not know what all will be required, but whatever it is we must, with all we can offer, be there, learning, in integrity and generosity.

The Books That Opened My Eyes In The Fourth Quarter of 2020

Well here they are; the collection of blog posts inspired by great authors and great books in the last quarter of 2020. There has been so much great learning from books this year. So many times it might be just a sentence or paragraph that makes me pause and reflect, make me want to study something a little (or a lot deeper), or make me want to read another book. That’s why I always seem to have three to four books started at the same time. I know, that would drive many of you crazy, but it is how my mind works. Everything we read fills our mind with new information. We never know when those new bits of information might come in handy. The more knowledge we have, the better-equipped we are to tackle challenge we may face. You might want to consider allowing yourself some time to read each day. Because of all the distractions available to us now we don’t spend much time on any one thing. When you read a book, if you’re like me, all of your attention is focused on the story, I get lost in the content and the rest of the world just falls away, and you can immerse yourself in every fine detail you’re absorbing.

I’m sure I am going to need to update this post as it is just the 28th and I know of two or three posts I am formulated that are inspired by great books I am reading right now, but I wanted to go ahead and get this out there and will update before the end of the year. I’ve already posted about the posts inspired by books from the first three quarters of the year in these three posts:

The First Quarter Of An Incredible Year Of Reading

Second Quarter 2020 Book Inspired Posts

2020 Third Quarter Book Inspired Posts

Here are the posts inspired by great books for the fourth quarter of 2020:

October, 2020

Do Not Look Outside Yourself

Shine Brighter

Take Off The Mask & Cut Out Those Frustrations

Safety Nets Instead of Safety Barriers

Approaching The World With A Sense Of Childlike Wonder

November, 2020

Becoming The First Me

Getting Wound Around The Axle

What Are Your Filters

Catch Me And Prop Me Up!

Leading With Artisanship

Building A Community

Beyond COVID-19

The Education Catapult

Do Ideas Cause Change Or Does Change Cause Ideas?

Spreading The Wealth

December, 2020

Do You Feel Like I Do On Christmas 2020?

Building The Cocoon

The Language To Open Our World

Adding Fiction To The Reading Diet

Going Platinum

If Only We Would Just Ask

A Great Unknown

A Penguin Inspired Quest