Byron's Babbles

Forgiving & Forgetting

Another phrase from the father, Gavin Donahue, to his daughter, Colleen, in the great novel I finished this past week, The Favorite Daughter by Patti Callahan Henry was, “You can’t separate forgiveness from forgetting.” Gavin was telling his daughter that in order to truly forgive someone or something, we must be able to forget the offense, or at least let go of the negative emotions associated with it. Much easier said than done. Right? Forgiveness requires us to move past the hurt and resentment, and we can’t do that if we’re constantly holding onto the memory of what happened. I’ve often said I am glad many in my past had amnesia when it came to my many shortcomings or disappointing actions. As a teacher forgetting had to come with forgiveness. Imagine if I would not of been able to let go of every little transgression of my students.

I must note, however, that this does not mean we should completely forget what happened, but rather learn from the experience and use it to grow and improve as individuals. Ultimately, forgiveness and forgetting go hand in hand, and it requires a level of acceptance and understanding to fully achieve both.


We Are Memories

You gotta love those “chicken or egg – which came first?” type questions. I loved one that was posed in The Favorite Daughter by Patti Callahan Henry. The question was “Do we make memories or do memories make us?” Pretty interesting to ponder, right? Unlike the chicken and the egg, I believe it is a bit of both. Our experiences and interactions with the world around us create memories which we then use to shape and understand our own identities. We also don’t want to forget that this memory building has a profound impact on those in our lives. Never forget that most of our memories are not built in isolation. We can all point to events in our lives that had some profound impact on us, or just stand out as one of those important or “favorite” moments in our lives. Usually, those memories involve family, friends, or even co-workers.

The question of memories is an ever-evolving cycle where we both make memories and are made by them. It is also important to remember, as was pointed out by the characters in The Favorite Daughter that our memories aren’t always accurate or reliable and can be influenced by various factors like emotions and biases. Which points to another great line in the book, “We are not a biography or list of facts, we are memories.” If you think about it, this is very true. Think of those who have meant the most to you or had the most impact on your life – you don’t remember them as a biography, but by memories you created together. We are the memories!

A Nice House Does Not Make A Home

Posted in Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on April 19, 2023

“Home must be a place that shelters your life.” Patti Callahan Henry wrote that in her great novel, The Favorite Daughter. In the context of the novel, the comment suggests that home should be a place where we can retreat to from the stresses of daily life and find comfort and solace. In a broader sense, the phrase also implies that a home should be conducive to personal growth and self-discovery, allowing individuals to explore their passions and pursue their goals without fear of judgement or critique. Home should be a safe, nurturing, and supportive environment for us, security and protection from the outside world. It should also be that place where we can flourish as a unique individual.

After thinking about Patti’s comment, I then heard another related comment in an episode of the television series, Lethal Weapon. Trish Murtaugh (Keesha Sharp) told Martin Riggs (Clayne Crawford) that “Home isn’t a shell you crawl into. It is the people who surround you and leave the door open, even when you are not at your best.” The point Trish was making to Riggs was that home is not just a physical space or dwelling, but rather home is a collection of the people who make up our support network and create a sense of belonging. Home is the place we are welcomed and accepted, even when we are not at our best or going through difficult patches. Sometimes home is that place where we can be ourselves and where we feel comfortable being vulnerable with others is an extension of home.

We all need friends and loved ones who are always there to support us and who leave the door open for us, both physically and emotionally. Trish’s comment reminded us of the importance of human connection and the role it plays in creating a true sense of home. Remember, it’s the people who are important here. As my dad used to say, “A nice house does not make a home.” That’s pretty wise and very true!

Understanding The Narratives

Posted in Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development, Relationships by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on April 18, 2023

I am reading Bruce Arian’s great book, The Quarterback Whisperer: How To Build An Elite NFL Quarterback. In the book he stresses that all important leadership trait of building relationships. He reminded us it important to understand the narratives of peoples’ lives. This is a crucial, and sometimes forgotten part of building relationships. Understanding the narratives of people’s lives is crucial for a number of reasons. First, it allows us to empathize with and relate to others, which is essential for building strong and meaningful relationships. Additionally, we need to understand the experiences and perspectives of those we serve.

Understanding the narrative of others’ lives also helps us to broaden our own perspectives and challenge our preconceived notions, which can lead to personal growth and new ways of thinking. Ultimately, understanding people’s narratives is essential for fostering greater understanding and improving our ability to help those we serve.

Leading The Crusade

I always talk about having “passion bubbles” – those things that I am passionate about and want to work on to hopefully change the world. Those “passion bubbles” are what Mark Twain described as being what takes up the extra space we have in our hearts for things we care about. This past week I had a person describe me as a “crusader.” Never before had I ever considered myself a crusader. A crusader, I found, is someone who is dedicated to a cause or mission and is willing to go to great lengths to achieve it. Okay, guilty as charged! My crusades are my passion bubbles. Everyone needs to be a crusader for something.

If we are to be special as a crusader, we need to have an unwavering commitment to our ideals and a willingness to take risks and make sacrifices in pursuit of our goals. Sometimes that means people will think we’ve gone off the deep end. But, we must possess a strong sense of purpose and believe deeply in the righteousness of our cause(s), which will give us the courage and determination to overcome obstacles and opposition. How about you? Are you a crusader?

Crusaders need to be inspirational figures who inspire others to take action and stand up for what they believe in. As crusaders, we have a powerful impact on society and can bring about positive change by challenging the status quo and advocating for a better future. Overall, what makes a crusader special is our passion (bubbles), courage, and dedication to making a difference in the world. Won’t you join me in the crusade to make the world a better place?

Don’t Settle For Mediocre

Posted in Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development, Memories by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on April 16, 2023
A photo I took along the Savannah River

The phrase “Do not settle for the mediocre to avoid pain” became a through line in the great book I just finished by one of my favorite authors, Patti Callahan Henry, The Favorite Daughter. This was a phrase from the father in the novel, Gavin Donahue, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s, and to me meant that it’s important not to choose something that is just okay or average out of fear of experiencing discomfort or difficulty. It suggests that settling for something subpar may actually lead to greater frustration or unhappiness in the long run. This phrase was an important comment Gavin made to his daughter Colleen and became central to the book. Gavin had not taken the mediocre path in life. In fact he had a complicated and wonderful life full of storied paths.

Gavin was encouraging his daughter to push herself and strive for excellence, even if it meant enduring some hardship or discomfort along the way. Essentially, the phrase is a reminder that short-term pain or discomfort can often lead to long-term gain and fulfillment. Our stories will become our memories. We need to remember that our stories and memories are shared with others. We also need to remember that our stories are just that – our stories, and not accept mediocre in developing and living out those stories.

Viewing Students Through An Asset Model Lens

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to facilitate a leadership retreat for Silver Creek School Corporation here in Indiana as they begin a year-long strategic planning process. It was a very inspiring day, and I was reminded of just how complex education is. Every child we serve comes with different experiences and different aspirations. It is our job to make sure each of personal journeys can be pursued and is successful. Each individual should be able to pursue their journey without interference or obstruction. We need to recognize and build upon the unique strengths and talents that each student possesses.

Our students are filled with aspirations, goals, dreams and desires – we should facilitate and learn from these. Our students are rich with experiences and should be viewed through the lens of an asset model instead of a deficit model. By using an asset model, educators can create a positive and empowering learning environment that encourages students to reach their full potential. This approach involves identifying and nurturing the skills, interests, and talents of each student and providing them with opportunities to develop and succeed. Viewing students through an asset model lens helps to create a more inclusive and equitable education system that values diversity and promotes success for all students.

To Say Or Not To Say

In Season 10, Episode 233 of M*A*S*H, Hawkeye (Alan Alda) gave Colonel Potter (Harry Morgan) an incredible compliment saying, “He not only knew what to say, he knew what not to say.” This compliment referred to Colonel Potter’s great communication skills. It meant that Potter had the skill and wisdom to choose his words carefully, knowing when to speak and when to keep silent. A person with this skill understands the impact of their words on others, and has the ability to communicate effectively without causing offense or misunderstanding. The character of Colonel Potter in this great show had incredible emotional intelligence as a leader. This emotional intelligence helped him to be articulate and tactful. His leadership was a valuable asset in the chaotic situations of war and leading an army hospital, where communication is important.

Have you ever noticed that it is much more difficult to know what not to say? In fact, sometimes those we serve just need for us to listen and not say anything. To say or not to say, really is the question.

Move With It

Posted in Adaptive Leadership, Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on April 4, 2023

I love the phrase “Life moves in one direction; you should move with it.” Life is constantly moving forward and changing, and it is important to adapt and evolve with these changes instead of resisting or trying to go against them. We can use the past to inform our journey moving forward, but we can’t go backward. We cannot control everything that happens in our lives, but as the saying goes we can control how we respond and react to those events. We can apply this to the various aspects of our lives, including personal growth, career development, and relationships.

Furthermore, by embracing change and moving forward with life, we can better navigate the ups and downs, ultimately living a more fulfilling and satisfying life. We need to stay open-minded, resilient, and adaptable to whatever life throws our way.

The Best Plans

Posted in Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on April 3, 2023

You all know I love the television series, Lethal Weapon. There are always lots of little lessons and things to reflect on. During Season 1, Episode 17, Riggs told Murtaugh that, “the best plans never feel like they are the best plans.” Murtaugh pushed back on that, but the more I thought about it the more I believe that is sometimes the truth. Actually, more than sometimes; a lot of the time. Often, the best plans require effort, sacrifice, and hard work. They may involve making difficult decisions, taking risks, and stepping outside of one’s comfort zone. These actions can be uncomfortable, and even scary at times.

The bottom line is that whether a plan feels like the best plan or not may depend on our perception and attitude towards it. We must always make sure our plans are well thought-out and executed properly, so they have potential to result in success. It is important to remember that the journey to success is rarely easy, but the rewards can be worth the effort.