Byron's Babbles

The Possibilities Are Endless

Posted in Community, Global Leadership, Ideas, Leadership, Uncategorized by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on December 3, 2020

I just had to do a followup post on my sandcastle post from this morning, Build Great Things Anyway. I have continued to think about how sandcastles have endless possibilities. Kids don’t go out with a set plan, architectural drawing, or blueprint; they just create. Scale isn’t even worried about in most cases. This thought reminded me of Peter Block teaching me that, as a leader or community member, when creating and ideating you don’t want to move to quickly to scaling. This can kill great ideas. The sandcastle teacher I encountered never tells kids that something can’t go somewhere she wants to put it, he can’t make it look that way. That’s why sandcastles are so beautiful.

Many times the process is more important than the product. This is very true when making sandcastles. We make the awesome structures in and out of sand with the understanding that when the tide comes in, or if it rains overnight, or even if left, the castle will wash away, or erode away in the wind, and the sand will again become part of the beach. Kids, even at a young age, get that it is about the process and activity of building the sandcastle.

I wonder if we should take a cue from the kids on the beach. In a world that requires us to work as a community to solve complex issues, develop new ideas, and be creative we need to be cognizant of the process. If we want everyone to be engaged we need to remember the process of building sandcastles on the beach.

Belief Is The Price Of Admission

Posted in Baseball, Coaching, DTK, Global Leadership, Leadership, Mindset Mondays, Uncategorized by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on September 15, 2020

I love baseball. Something exciting happens every day and this past week was a great week for the game of baseball. Albert Pujols hit is 660th career home run this past Sunday, September 13th. This tied him with Willie Mays. That same day, Alec Mills threw a no-hitter for the Chicago Cubs. That was the first of his career. Monday, in Lesson 3 of the great book Mindset Mondays With DTK, by David Taylor-Klaus, which contains 52 weekly chapters designed to be done on Mondays, the lesson was entitled “Believe in the Impossible.” The lesson was about Roger Bannister breaking the four-minute mile in 1954. Everyone told him the four-minute mark could not be broken, but this did not stop him. He believed it could be done and that he was the person to do it. Bannister even broke the traditional way of training (how it’s always been done) and came up with his own, unconventional, way of training.

“Just because they say it’s impossible doesn’t mean you can’t do it.” ~ Roger Bannister

This made me think about professional baseball players and how impossible being good enough to break records or pitch no-hitters must feel at times. After hitting his 660th home run Pujols said, “To be able to have my name in the sentence with Willie Mays is unbelievable,” Pujols said. “I’m really humbled.” But really, Albert Pujols does believe he can do it. He tells us, “There is no time to fool around when you practice. Every drill must have a purpose. I try to never get away from that, habits are important.” This tells us, just as David Taylor-Klaus pointed out, that our belief in our ability to do something matters greatly. If we don’t believe something is possible, nothing else really matters.

I’m a really smart player. If you tell me something, I get it quickly. If there is something wrong with my hitting, tell me what’s wrong and I’ll pick it up right away. That’s the best thing I have going for me, my ability to listen to a coach and fix what I’m doing wrong. ~ Albert Pujols

Baseball, perhaps more than any other sport, is about heroes. Albert Pujols certainly has a hero’s story. That hero’s story starts like every other baseball hero story; with the player believing in himself – really believing in himself. This is why all of us imagine ourselves as pro baseball players, but only a few actually make it happen. It is important for us to recognize our ability to achieve goals. How we view ourselves, how we measure our value, how we assess our potential, and how we determine our worth all combine to create the life we will live. Are you paying the price for admission? Belief.

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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“Getting It Right” Before “Being Right”

Screen Shot 2020-07-28 at 8.33.08 PM“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18 KJV). A good daily growth exercise to read a chapter of Proverbs every day each month. There is a lot of wisdom to be gained from King Solomon. The difference between “getting it right” and “being right” with this statement, is not to suggest that we are more often than not wrong in our thinking. Despite the religious origin, people use this nowadays without religious overtones. People can say this simply as a warning not to be too arrogant.

To me “getting it right” before “being right” means having humility and an ability to consider all sides of an issue or question. Being humble does not mean that you diminish your value or take a subordinate position in terms of presenting your ideas or perceptions. It does, however, as a leader, mean than we should listen to others’ ideas before always presenting our own. And acknowledging when those ideas are better than our own. True humility is a sign of wisdom, knowledge, confidence, and strength.

“When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.” ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer

“Getting it right” is a core value I practice to remind myself that making a contribution as part of a bigger team means that you have the humility to accept that others also have something worthwhile to contribute. I truly believe there is no such thing as an “expert.” But, I do talk about the “collective expertise” in the room all the time. We should all strive to be an important part of a “collective vision.” When we give up the need to always be right, we communicate and listen on a deeper level, with more understanding and acceptance, and with less judgment and resistance.

FACE Is Social Currency

Saving Face: How to Preserve Dignity and Build TrustSaving Face: How to Preserve Dignity and Build Trust by Maya Hu-Chan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one book that you will want to put on your “to read” shelf and then move immediately to your “currently reading” shelf. While reading this book there were many things that became immediately applicable and usable. This, to me, is the greatest of compliments. There were also times when, as I read, I would literally say, “So, that’s why I screwed that up so bad.” “Face,” as Maya Hu-Chan said is like social currency. The more you have, the easier and faster you can get things done.

IMG_8795Immediately after reading my advanced copy of the book I had the opportunity have Maya be a part of a professional development webinar I put on for teachers. Maya and I used Angry Birds as the throughline for presenting the professional growth. We actually watched part of the first Angry Birds movie and picked the part of the movie where Red is asked to be a leader and he says, “I’m not a leader.”

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“I’m not a leader!” ~ Red

This provided a great springboard for Maya to connect the teachings of her book. One of the things she discusses in the book is using the Platinum Rule instead of the Golden Rule (not that the Golden Rule is bad, mind you). The Platinum Rule is, “Treat others the way they want to be treated.”
Think about how just doing this would improve relationships – “face.” Needless to say, Maya’s teaching is a huge hit with educators.

Screen Shot 2020-05-13 at 10.11.50 AMOne of the most impactful parts of the book dealt with psychological safety. Hu-Chan posited that, “At the very heart of creating psychological safety in an organization is the ability to honor face, save face, and avoid situations where someone loses face.” Psychological safety is one of the number one variable for team performance. Psychological safety allows for moderate risk-taking, speaking your mind, creativity, and sticking your neck out without fear of having it cut off — just the types of behavior that lead to ideas, creation, and breakthroughs.

Finally, Maya also taught us the BUILD model in the book. BUILD stands for Benevolence, Understanding, Interacting, Learning, Delivery. By putting the BUILD model into action in our lives we will be able to live a life of significance while saving face. As you can see, you are going want to start reading this book right now.
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Win Every Day!

Posted in Leadership, Uncategorized, Win Every Day, Win The Day by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on March 14, 2020

Win Every Day: Proven Practices for Extraordinary ResultsWin Every Day: Proven Practices for Extraordinary Results by Mark Miller

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Back in 2012ish my son was obsessed with the term “Win the day!” because growing up he was a rabid Oregon Ducks football fan. At that same time I had just become principal of a state turnaround academy. My son even made me a plaque, declaring “Win The Day!” out of a 2X4 he found in the barn for my office. This is still one of my most valued possessions. You can check out my 2012 blog here: https://byronernest.blog/2012/11/04/w… .

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My “Win The Day!” Plaque Made By My Son, Heath

Winning the day can mean many things, but to me it means giving all I have every day and making the most out of the things I can control. That’s why I love the title of Mark Miller’s book that was just released this past week, Win Every Day. The book is based on Miller’s findings that high performing organizations do these four things: 1. Bet on leadership; 2. Act as one; 3. Win the heart; and 4) Excel at execution. I love the fact that Miller uses some sports analogies in the book to make the points. He makes the point that if you execute well you do not need a lot of plays.

As a leader, we owe it to all those we serve to “Win Every Day!” Miller taught us in this great book that our choices are the only things we can control. He told us to “Choose wisely” (p.127). The bottom line according to Miller is that we can be encouraged and even challenged, but if we want to be great, we will have to decide. This book is so appropriate for everyone to read right now as we are dealing with the global outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). This challenge is top of mind for individuals and organizations across the world. Because of the ever changing and fluid nature of the situation, it would be wise for us all to contemplate how we excel at execution. This is a book that every person in the world should take time to read and reflect on right now. We must WIN EVERY DAY!

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Reflective Culture Gut Checks: A ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review

Posted in Creating Constructive Cultures, Cultural Awareness, Culture, Leadership, Uncategorized by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on March 2, 2020

Creating Constructive Cultures: Leading People and Organizations to Effectively Solve Problems and Achieve GoalsCreating Constructive Cultures: Leading People and Organizations to Effectively Solve Problems and Achieve Goals by Janet L. Szumal PhD

My rating: 5 of 5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This is the most extensive use of data and research I have encountered dealing with organizational culture. The most striking part of this, however, is the practical way in which the information is delivered – in easy to understand chunks that allow for what, I have been calling in tweets, chances for reflective gut checks.

As leaders, we need this opportunity for reflection and these driving questions. Reading this book gives leaders an opportunity to take a deep look and examine the community being created as a result of that leadership. As this book taught us, “Leaders Affect Culture…and Culture Affects Leaders!” This book should be on that shelf that contains your most valued books between your favorite book ends.

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When Purpose & Passion Turn Into Ambition

Posted in Uncategorized by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on January 16, 2020

bad blood coverTwo new friends of mine recommended the book, Bad Blood by John Carreyrou, to me. We were discussing recent top reads and this great book was one of theirs. My top read that I recommended at the time to them was The Power Broker by Robert Caro. Interestingly, for two books written at very different times about very different people, the through line was very similar: two individuals who obtained power and then craved power and then abused power.

Caro_powerbroker_bookshot-e1551201329792As I always do, when given a book recommendation, I asked what I was going to learn, or get out of reading the book. Both of my friends told me I would get a lot out of what happens when winning the ultimate prize of wealth and notoriety becomes more important than anything else. They also said I would get much more out of it based on my professional and policy making life’s contextual lens. Boy were they right!

The book reads like a well-written novel, not what we think a well-researched non-fiction book (which it is) would read. I mean that as a compliment. I did not want to put it down. Amazingly, the real events played out much like a thriller novel. The big point of the book for me was how purpose and passion turned into ambition. This transition to ambition should be taken note of. This can happen very easily, and does: passion and purpose turning into ambition. When ambition took over, those involved, particularly Theranos Inc. CEO Elizabeth Holmes, shifted from creating significance to submitting to greed. Greed for celebrity, power, and money – a very dangerous combination. We have seen this happen historically and in current times with people who become larger than life. This book is an amazingly chronicled and written account that all should read and reflect on.

Obstacles Vs. Barriers

Posted in Uncategorized by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on October 30, 2019

Today at the 2019 iNACOL Symposium I got to thinking about the terms obstacles and barriers because a speaker mentioned we need to recognize they are not the same. Many times these terms are used interchangeably. As leaders, however, we need to look at these mutually exclusively. An obstacle is something that impedes or stands in the way of progress. Barriers are structures that block/bar passage.

In other words:

  • if it slows you down it is an obstacle.
  • if it impedes or stops you, it is a barrier.

Think about this: most of the difficult situations and circumstances we are presented in life are difficult because they present us with a difficult choice. We need to notice where we, or our organizations get stopped. Then distinguish whether you are confronted by an obstacle or barrier.

As long as you have options, your difficult circumstance is an obstacle; regardless of whether you use the options or not. Obstacles, most generally, require a change. Sometimes this involves a change we ourselves need to make. These can be tough changes. In the future we need to begin to notice where we get stopped and start taking time to distinguish whether we are being confronted by an obstacle or a barrier.