Byron's Babbles

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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Do Not Look Outside Yourself

Too often we wait on others to do for us, our communities, or the world what we should be doing for ourselves. In other words we need to step up and be the leaders that we have, for so long, been hoping for. Our choices do not, and have never just affected ourselves. I am reminded of what I have heard Gene Simmons say of what drove him during the founding years of KISS; he wanted KISS to be the band he’d never seen. Mission accomplished! We need to become the leader we’ve been hoping for.

In chapter nine this week, entitled “Take the Lead“ in Mindset Mondays with DTK, the Hopi Elder’s Prophecy was referenced. DTK quoted the Hopi elders, “we are the one we’ve been waiting for.” This caught my attention because I spent some time in the late ‘80s learning about the Hopi in Arizona. The Hopi are a Native American tribe located in northeast Arizona. They are believed to have one of the oldest living cultures in the world. They are referred to as “the oldest of people” by other Native American nations. It was incredible to visit and learn in the Hopi lands.

A Hopi Elder’s Prophecy

“You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour, now you must go back and tell the people that this is the Hour. And there are things to be considered . . .

Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?
Know your garden.
It is time to speak your Truth.
Create your community.
Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for the leader.”

Then he clasped his hands together, smiled, and said, “This could be a good time!”

“There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are torn apart and will suffer greatly.

“Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above water. And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, Least of all ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.

“The time for the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves! Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.

“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

Hopi Elders’ Prophecy, June 8, 2000

I’m glad I took the time to look up the Hopi Elder’s Prophecy and read and study it in its entirety because I found another stanza that jumped out at me: “And do not look outside yourself for the leader.” This is a call to be the leaders that we have, for so long, been hoping for. Our choices affect so many more than just ourselves. True leaders lead from inspiration and purpose. We need to seek guidance from within, rather than from without. And share with others in the spirit of servant leadership. As DTK told us, “Leadership starts with you. It’s time to take the lead in your own development” (p. 93). If we are to do this we must take DTK’s advice and lead ourselves first so we can grow to then lead others. We can become the one’s we’ve been waiting for.

“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!

Complex & Different

Posted in Ambition, Leadership, Lyndon B Johnson, Power, Purpose, Robert A Caro by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on August 11, 2020

06282019_caro_1I just finished reading the entire The Years of Lyndon Johnson series by Robert A. Caro. The four books (Caro is presently working on the fifth and final volume) in the series are:

  1. The Path to Power
  2. Means of Ascent
  3. Master of the Senate
  4. The Passage of Power

The Passage of Power ends in 1964 after the transfer of power to President Johnson following the assassination of President Kennedy. During the first few days, weeks, and months of that transition, Johnson got a lot accomplished – civil rights bill and a tax cut bill. Caro discussed how we saw leadership traits in Johnson during this short period of time during the transfer of the Presidency that we had not seen before that enabled him to keep almost all the Kennedy Cabinet in place; making it possible to get major legislation passed that it had been doubtful if President Kennedy would be able to get passed. At the end of The Passage of Power Caro said that we saw good and caring leadership traits in Johnson during the first days, weeks, and months of his Presidency that had been subordinated by other less complimentary traits. Then, later in his Presidency we saw those less complimentary traits come back. Caro shared that Lyndon Johnson once said about himself: “I’m just like a fox. I can see the jugular in any man and go for it.” While he was ruthless, he did have a plan.

Leadership is the accomplishment of a goal through the direction of human assistants – a human and social achievement that stems from the leader’s understanding of his or her fellow workers and the relationship of their individual goals to the group’s aim. W.C.H. Prentice argued in 1961 (during Lyndon Johnson times) that leaders needed to learn two basic lessons:

  1. People are complex
  2. People are different

This argument is reinforced by all the characters in The Life of Lyndon Johnson series. W.C.H. Prentice continued to posit that by responding to such individual patterns, the leader will be able to create genuinely intrinsic interest in the work. He completely rejected the notion that leadership is the exercise of power or the possession of extraordinary analytical skill. Now, fifty-nine years later, we know that leadership is about influence and the ability to empower others and help others to learn and grow.

Caro wrote this biography series with the intent to study power as opposed to just the man: Lyndon B. Johnson. Much of what drove Johnson was his ambition which most of the time seemed to overpower his purpose. He also had an uncontrollable fear of failure and losing. These fears cost him the 1964 Presidential nomination because he was scared to declare he was even running because of the fear he might lose. By the time he declared it was too late. We now recognize how important purpose is to leadership. Leadership then becomes the accomplishment of goals with the assistance of the human element. In 1961 Prentice also taught us that leaders successfully marshal their human collaborators to achieve particular ends.

This study of power by Caro, caused me to think that most of the time Johnson was exercising power as opposed to exhibiting leadership prowess. The paradox is, however, that he was achieving particular ends. I wonder if W.C.H. Prentice studied or thought about Lyndon Johnson at the time he was forming thoughts about leadership? Once Johnson received the ultimate power he had lusted all those those years, he did, according to Caro, have a plan. He used his power for improving what he called the Great Society and championing civil rights. As with all humans, Johnson was complex and different. He did some great things as well as really terrible things. Caro taught us that biography gives of the ability to study all of the traits that are Lyndon B. Johnson.

 

Why Are You On This Planet?

Burnout to Breakthrough: Building Resilience to Refuel, Recharge, and Reclaim What MattersBurnout to Breakthrough: Building Resilience to Refuel, Recharge, and Reclaim What Matters by Eileen McDargh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Anyone who has ever read a book review from me, or spent much time with me knows that I’m not real big on a bunch of words that mean nothing without any actions. I knew this book was going to give actionable advice that was going to be immediately applicable and usable when she used the subtitle “Throw Out The Dictionary” in chapter four. Eileen McDargh reminded us in this book that we are human beings. Everything we experience (good/bad, stress, events, et cetera) changes us forever. Recognizing this fact of being forever changed is key to letting events either knock us down or us being able to grow through them.

One of the great models (…and I love models) that McDargh gave us in the book was the “CAT scan.” It is her acronym for CHECK what claims your time, ASSESS why and how; Is it of value?; and, TAKE action (what can you amend, avoid, alter, or accept). This is so insightful and gives us strategies and tools to take control of how we live a life filled with purpose and meaning. McDargh taught us that your legacy is more important that our eulogy. She asked the questions of us in the book, “What will people say when they hear your name?” and “Why are you on this planet?” Those are pretty powerful things for us to think about. If our “why” is crystal clear and we are steadfast to that “why” we will have the energy to work tirelessly, without burnout, toward completing our role in society.

This is one of those books that everyone should read no matter role you are playing in society. Today, as I write this review, we are in Day 150 of the Global COVID-19 Pandemic and I believe this book is an incredible guide as we are “building resilience to refuel, recharge, and reclaim what matters.

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With The Crowd, Not Of It

Posted in Cincinnatus, Coke Stevenson, core values, Leadership, Lyndon B Johnson, Power, Purpose, Robert A Caro by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on March 6, 2020

I am reading Robert Caro’s second volume in The Years Of Lyndon Johnson – Means Of Ascent. He is such a great author and I love the things in this book that make me ponder, reflect, and give me pause. Right now at about a third of the way through this volume I am learning about a most fascinating man, Coke Stevenson. Or, Mr. Texas as he was known, was Texas’ 35th Governor.

Cincinnatus Statue in Cincinnati

He is my kind of leader. He practiced the learning of one of my heroes, Cincinnatus, of not wanting to lead for power, but to serve. Cincinnatus always returned to the farm. At the conclusion of all his service he just wanted to go back to his ranch, where he milked his own cows and branded his own calves. See why I love this guy?

Stevenson was beyond reproach in the Austin, Texas bar seen of lobbyists that was known for the three Bs: “beefsteak, bourbon, and blondes” (p. 158). The way Caro described him in this setting really caused me to think: “But although, in Austin, Stevenson was with the crowd at the Driskill Bar, he was not of it; there was a reserve, a dignity, about this tall, broad-shouldered, silent man with that watchful stare that set him apart from the crowd” (p. 159). This was a man that lived his values, instead of talking about them like so many leaders do.

I loved that statement, he was with the crowd, not of it. This was a man modeling, not just going along to get along. He was able to get along on his own terms. That’s a pretty big deal in my book. Following the crowd will cause us to be mediocre at best and live contrary to our core values. It really causes us to live a life of self-betrayal, and resigns is to an average life. It has been said that those who follow the crowd get lost in it.

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.

Deep Innovation

As a self proclaimed energetic change agent, I had a great chance to check my values and views toward innovation while reading the awesome book, Innovation For The Fatigued: How To Build A Culture Of Deep Creativity by Alf Rehn. Rehn argued that we have become “shallow innovators” and need to start practicing “deep innovation.” One problem is we start using the same old rhetoric that makes us think we are “maverick innovators,” being “transformative,” or practicing “disruptive thinking.” We think these buzzwordy titles mean we are innovating, but really we are merely tinkering around the edges and making superficial changes. See why I gave this book ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️?

“Innovation has become a tired buzzword.” ~ Alf Rehn

According to Rehn, we need to focus on big solutions. In order to have deep innovation we need to start from scratch, or go in an entirely different direction. Real innovation, Rehn posited, looks beyond what we do and know now. One of my big takeaways was that we need to stop directing so much time and talent on incremental change. Many times we take the easy way out and make ourselves feel better, saying we are taking baby steps.

“Innovation history teaches us that human beings are terrible at identifying innovative ideas.” ~ Alf Rehn (p. 54)

Another part of the book that really jumped out at me was the section entitled “The Curse of Expertise” (p. 54). I have always worried about getting caught up listening to so called “experts.” In fact, I have blogged about my dislike of experts many times in Thanks For Not Being An Expert, Decision Making vs Problem Solving – and Why the Difference Matters, and Dig In & Stop Guessing. Rehn explained that many great ideas have been killed before they had a chance to prove themselves by these so called “experts.” Rehn said, “As curious as it sounds, the better we are at something and the more expertise we’ve amassed, the worse we often get” (p. 55). It is not that experts are bad, but we just should not rely on their word as the final word. Experts often forget that their expertise represents a very small part of the world’s total wealth of knowledge. We have a tendency to overestimate what experts know and want to use their opinions carte blanche. I see this happen a lot in policy decisions.

Finally, Rehn advised us to cultivate a culture of innovation. We need a certain amount of trust and an environment where we are able to voice our ideas or opinions without fear of censure or dismissal. This is what Amy Edmondson coined as “Psychological Safety.” If we lack an innovative culture we will only practice “shallow innovation” instead of “deep innovation.” This will then eat away at our organization’s purpose, according to Rehn. The loss of purpose will ruin an organization and affect employees at every pay grade of an organization.

So, let’s create a culture of innovation so we can practice “deep innovation” and change the world!