Byron's Babbles

What Do You Look Forward To?

Posted in Global Leadership, Happiness, Leadership, Leadership Development, Passion, Purpose by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on March 3, 2021

While reading Rules Of Civility by Amor Towles, I was struck by this comment made speaking of her father by the character, Katey Kontent: “Whatever setbacks he had faced in his life, he said, however daunting or dispiriting the unfolding of events, he always knew that he would make it through, as long as when he woke in the morning he was looking forward to his first cup of coffee. Only decades later would I realize that he had been giving me a piece of advice.” This got me to thinking about how today many people don’t seem to be driven by purpose and passion like in the past. They also don’t seem happy. We’ve always been taught that purpose and passion bring happiness and the desire to get out of bed each morning. What if it takes more than purpose and passion for happiness? What if there is more to it?

According to Kieran Setiya, in Midlife: A Philosophical Guide, it also takes looking past our own happiness to “something else.” John Stuart Mill, the famous nineteenth century British philosopher, realized that people who are happy always have their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness. “Aiming thus at something else.” Setiya taught us that “The “something else” that you aim at can be any kind of hobby, interest, or pursuit – like watching baseball, cooking, or collecting stamps. All that matters is that it interests you.” It could also be as simple as looking forward, as Katey’s dad from Rules of Civility looking forward each day to his first cup of coffee. Or, Katey’s looking forward to reading each day.

Mill also realized that chasing his passion of changing the world through social reform had caused him to not recognize many of life’s pleasures that had nothing to do with solving problems. Happiness means learning from Katey Kontent and valuing the aspects of life that don’t involve problems and solutions. For you, as it did for Katey, that might mean reading. Or, it may mean that cup of coffee and newspaper each morning. For me, this has reminded me how important my trip to the barn every morning and evening is to my day. Spending time caring for the animals brings happiness to my day – every day. Setiya reminded us that “What matters is making time for passions that involve more than addressing life’s misfortunes.” What are the things that make you happy and keep you excited to get out of bed each morning?

Leading Like Valentine’s Day

Posted in Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development, Passion, Purpose, Valentine’s Day, Why? by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on February 14, 2021

Because Valentine’s Day is on Sunday this year, I hope you are spending a Happy Valentine’s Day with those you care most for. And, I hope that tomorrow you will continue to lead like Valentine’s Day with those you work with. The American clergyman, and personal effectiveness writer and speaker, Norman Vincent Peale, considered a burning conviction and contagious enthusiasm to be the most critical factors in successful living and leadership. You, no doubt, probably have someone on this Valentine’s Day you have that kind of passion for. How about in your professional life? Do you have a cause, a passion, or a why that makes you contagious with enthusiasm? Do you have a burning conviction for those you serve?

“Your enthusiasm will be infectious, stimulating and attractive to others. They will love you for it. They will go for you and with you.”

~ Norman Vincent Peale

Valentine’s Day makes us think of love. What comes with the thought of love? Passion and desire. Great leaders have passion. Passion for the work they do. They love leading a team to success. Great leaders also have great desire. They desire to lead a successful organization. So be contagious with your enthusiasm and burn with conviction.

Lastly, don’t do like some do in the romantic realm of Valentine’s Day and only show your love one day a year with flowers or a box of chocolate. That’s not what love is. Love is treating people well every single day of the year. Find ways to treat your people well, with respect, and show them your appreciation. Treating people well will inspire them to new heights. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Do You Feel Like I Do On Christmas 2020?

Heath & His Milking Machine!

Here it is, Christmas morning on Day 288 of the Global Pandemic in 2020. It’s easy to get caught up in all that is chaotic in the world right now, but I also want to pause and reflect on this day of the celebration of birth. This is the day that many of us celebrate the birth of Jesus. This day has, and will continue to serve as a day of birth to many new interests for kids. Think about that Lego set or rocket model that spurs an interest in engineering or being an astronaut for a little girl. Or, the electric keyboard that encourages the musical aspirations of a little boy.

I realize there are more significant influences on a child’s career choice than toys or the things they play with on Christmas morning as kids. But, children need access to a healthy play diet. It’s why I believe programs that make sure children get a toy at Christmas are so important. Playing boosts a child’s belief. No child plays with Legos and learns how to build houses, but she might learn how to overlap bricks to create a stable structure. Or, her brother and her might decide how to change the design of the picture on the box as they build. It’s more about confidence and familiarity than an actual skill set.

Toys and playing can compliment attributes in our children such as having their own mind, standing up for their own beliefs, showing initiative, having goals, and finding passion and purpose. I was reminded of all this while reading Peter Frampton’s incredible book, Do You Feel Like I Do? A Memoir, this week. Early in the book he told the story of his dad playing Father Christmas. Their tradition must have been to put the presents at the foot of the bed and his dad was making noise with the wrapping paper. Peter woke up and busted his dad. Of course, no kid’s going back to sleep, so he began to play with acoustic guitar Father Christmas had brought him. I loved the last part of the story in the book when Peter Frampton said, “But I didn’t know how to tune the bottom two strings. Dad said, ‘It’s three in the morning; can’t you go back to bed?’ ‘No, no, come on!’ So he came in and tuned the two bottom strings for me. And from 3:30 in the morning on Christmas when I was eight years old, I haven’t stopped playing since” (p. 11). Was that where the career of an awesome and very talented rock star was created? Probably not completely, but it certainly played a part in his development, or Peter would not have told the story. For one thing, think of the morale boost for a kid to get a musical instrument from his parents. Wow, my mom and dad believe I have talent!

Of course, all of this from the father of the boy who got a milking machine from Santa. In my defense, that was what he asked Santa for. But, that little boy grew up, and is now studying Animal Science at Murray State University and has a respectable herd of Jersey dairy show cattle. Did it all happen because of the milking machine that we assembled on the living room floor and then carried to the barn that Christmas morning? No, but Heath has never forgotten that Santa invested in his interest of dairy cows. Thus, the intersection of purpose and passion were beginning to be defined for Heath.

Now, let’s not overthink this. The most important thing is to make sure our kids have the chance to play. If they have specific interests, great, but it doesn’t have to be a guitar or milking machine. Let’s let kids play with a wide variety of toys and give them the opportunity to discover their interests, passion, and purpose.

Work From The Heart

Posted in Bible, Leadership, New Orleans, New Orleans Saints, Passion, Purpose, Terron Armstead by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on November 11, 2020

I am amazed at how one football game is now prompting a third blog post from me. The game was the amazing 38-3 win of the New Orleans Saints over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday night. Posts are already out there from me entitled Spreading The Wealth and Catch Me and Prop Me Up inspired by this game. This post is inspired by Terron Armstead, who was really the inspiration for the latter mentioned post as well, and his posting of Colossians 3:23 on his twitter landing. When someone posts a Bible verse, if I don’t remember it, I always look it up and reflect on it. Here is the verse from The Message Bible:

“Work from the heart for your real Master, for God,” ~ Paul to the Colossians

Colossians 3:23 The Message Bible

So this immediately meant working from passion and purpose. I also went ahead and read the whole chapter (3), and verse 17 (Colossians 3:17 The Message Bible) jumped out. Here it is:

“Let every detail in your lives – words, actions, whatever – be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.” ~ Paul to the Collosians

Colossians 3:17 The Message Bible

Does this speak to character, or what? This is all about walking the talk! Our conduct should extend to all aspects of our life, not just a small set of rules. Then for me I need to put verses 22-25 all together. Here is how it reads in The Message Bible:

22Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. 23 Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, 24 confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. 25 The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.” ~ Paul to the Colossians

Colossians 3:22-25 The Message Bible

In other words we are to work heartily, giving it our best every day. I believe this why Terron picked this as the Bible verse to put on his landing page. In his case he must give of his all whether it be working out, studying film, practicing in order for him to be able to show up as a positive role model on one of the world’s largest stages NFL game day. This is all about enthusiasm and passion. We may not be on as big a stage as Terron, but we do have influence on others. Demonstrating a good work ethic and attitude makes a tremendous difference on our personal life and on the influence we have on others. Thanks Terron Armstead for posting Colossians 3:23 on your Twitter landing so we could be inspired in the influence we have on others.

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“Today I am Wise So I Am Changing Myself”

Posted in Authentic, Authenticity, Educational Leadership, Empathy, Global Leadership, Leadership, Nothing More, Passion, Purpose by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on September 4, 2020

I love studying the work of the great philosophers. As I was studying the work of William James while writing Open Your Mind To The Past & All Of This May Mean Something I came across another great philosopher I hadn’t thought about in a while, Rumi. Actually, I guess really he is considered a poet and scholar. His words of wisdom from the 13th Century have continued to stand the test of time. I’m also impressed with the global impact of his work.

“Yesterday I was clever so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise so I am changing myself.” ~ Rumi

My favorite Rumi quote is, “Yesterday I was clever so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise so I am changing myself.” When I think about who I was 10, 20, 30, 40, or, well you get the idea, years ago I am now a very changed person. Early on I was all about changing the world as fast as I could. Now, I’ve learned and gained the wisdom to realize I need to keep evolving and changing myself so I can be best suited to contribute to the world today.

One of my favorite rock bands is Nothing More. They have a song, “Do You Really Want It?” that I use as a throughline for a leadership development session. There is a line in the song that is very impactful; it says, “Everybody wants to change the world; But one thing’s clear; No one ever wants to change themselves.” Spot on! I had the chance to have a long philosophical conversation on the bands tour bus a couple of years ago.

“Everybody wants to change the world; But one thing’s clear; No one ever wants to change themselves.” ~ Nothing More

Here’s the deal: changing ourselves doesn’t mean becoming a different person. It means improving ourselves to become a better person. If we’re doing it right we become self-aware, aware of others, develop a growth mindset, find meaning and purpose in our lives.

“All because we hate the buzzkill.” ~ Nothing More

We must learn to understand ourselves better. We must also develop empathy for others, authentically love ourselves, become values driven, and be authentic in all we do. Another line in the Nothing More song says, “All because we hate the buzzkill.” When I was visiting with their lead singer, Jonny Hawkins about this line he said we always get frustrated with all the people who are not authentic and talk a big change for the better talk, but are in it for themselves. He also stated these folks are really “virtue signaling”; just trying to say they are better than us. I wrote about this in Leading Without Virtue Signaling.” So, we need to better ourselves to be in a position to contribute positive change to the world. Rumi had it right!

“Don’t Romanticize The Job”

Posted in Ambition, Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Passion by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on August 2, 2020

Yesterday, I heard the phrase “Don’t romanticize the job” used. We all romanticize certain ideas. The context that was being used when I heard it was romanticizing police work and wanting to help people and make a difference in the world. Interestingly, those are the same things said by those going into education. Pick any job and something could probably be romanticized about it. We could find someone in real life or in movies, television shows, or books who looked cool doing it. When we romanticize, however, we are responding to how we think our lives should be, look, or feel.

As opposed to romanticizing, we need to check reality. We need think about what we really want or how we really feel. Otherwise we are probably going to be very disappointed. Most things are not near the way we romanticize them. Think about this romanticization: the person working the longest, sleeping the least, stressing the most, sending emails at all hours of the night, is working the hardest and getting the most done. Of course this is not correct, but I actually know people who set their computer to send out emails in the middle of the night so people think they are working. Dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!!!

Notoriety used to be something that happened or was achieved after having done something notable in a person’s respective field. Now it has morphed into a goal in and of itself. In other words, the romantic ambition of fame begins to inform passion – not good. This romanticizing can lead people to focus more on getting attention than learning and growing their individual skills. When deciding how to build our lives and our personal growth plans, we need to make sure we are deciding based on facts, and not some romanticized version of reality.

Passion At Ambition’s Command

Posted in Ambition, Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Lyndon B Johnson, Passion, Power, Purpose, Robert A Caro by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on February 14, 2020

We teach that having passion is a key to success, particularly when linked with purpose. History, however, teaches us that passion can become destructive. Research in psychology describes this destructive passion as “obsessive passion.” The good passion is “harmonious passion.” My recent reading has given examples of two individuals where obsessive passion drove the individuals to become power hungry.

“His passions were at ambition’s command.” ~ James A. Caro in The Path To Power

In The Path To Power, Robert A. Caro said that Lyndon B. Johnson‘s passions were at ambition’s command. Johnson was obsessed with power and couldn’t get enough of it. The ambition for power and becoming president took over and clouded any purposeful passion for helping the people of our country. Everything he did and anyone he helped was dependent on what he could get out of it, or what power could be derived. When obsessive passion takes over with ambition calling the shots, the person’s self-worth becomes validated by whatever the ambition is. In the case of Lyndon Johnson that ambition was power.

Another person I recently studied who let obsessive passion take over was Elizabeth Holmes, Founder and CEO of Theranos. I read about her in Bad Blood: Secrets And Lies In A Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou. She had purpose and passion for a world changing blood testing and analysis machine that only needed a drop or two of blood to run a myriad of tests. Her company wasn’t able to meet performance standards or efficacy. She is still involved in legal actions against her including criminal charges. Her ambition was for success as defined by celebrity, power, and greed instead of purpose for significance. To read more about this check out When Purpose and Passion Turn Into Ambition.