Byron's Babbles

Lou Brock: Universally Admired

Posted in Baseball, Coaching, Leadership, Lou Brock, Mentor by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on September 7, 2020

So many things have directed my thoughts toward baseball ⚾️ this weekend. Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of Cal Ripken Jr.’s becoming Iron Man by playing in his 2,131st consecutive game (I blogged about it in Leading By Availability). Additionally, I’ve been sharing how I love having our family’s cutouts at Great American Ballpark supporting the Cincinnati Reds and the Reds Community Fund.

Then came the sad news today that Hall of Famer Lou Brock had passed away. He was dubbed the “Steals King” and I always admired his ability to steal bases. Stealing bases is a great metaphor for leadership because to steal bases you can’t be afraid to fail, and you have to take your foot off base and go. Lou Brock was a stolen base specialist.

You can’t be afraid to make errors! You can’t be afraid to be naked before the crowd, because no one can ever master the game of baseball, or conquer it. You can only challenge it. ~ Lou Brock

In her great piece, HOFer Brock, Former Steals King, Dies at 81, Anne Rogers has quotes from many who described him as a mentor, great ambassador, driven, and universally admired. It was said he could light up a room when he entered.

Enough said! He taught us leadership when stealing bases and was universally admired. Thank you Lou, for the example you set. You will be missed.

My Labor Day 2020 Wish

Posted in Labor Day, Leadership, Servant Leadership by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on September 7, 2020

Today will mark the first time I have written a post specifically referencing or honoring Labor Day. Honestly, I believe this might be the first time I have even done anything other than work around the farm (which is always like a holiday for me) on Labor Day. This year, however, we decided to spend the long weekend with my son, Heath, in the Murray, Kentucky area near Murray State University, where he attends.

We have had an absolutely fabulous weekend of fishing on Kentucky Lake, exploring the Land Between The Lakes, attending Mayfield (KY) Trade Days, learning to make pork rinds, having a big fish fry with the Crappie we caught, and making lots of new friends. The best part has been spending time with family around the campfire every night reminiscing and telling stories. While talking late into the night last night, Heath and I got into a discussion over what Labor Day really was all about. Neither of us had really given little or no thought to the origin or intent of the holiday. Of course, we both ended up on our phones and commenced to having a history lesson.

National Postal Museum, Smithsonian Institution

In 1894 President Grover Cleveland signed S. 730 into law making Labor Day a national holiday. From what we could gather, individual states had been celebrating Labor Day in some form or another since 1882. Then between 1887 and 1894, 23 states enacted there own Labor Day holidays. During this time in our countries history we had been experiencing many labor relations issues. These issues culminated with the Pullman Strike that actually stopped traffic west of Chicago. The railway workers actions elevated awareness of a growing need for displaying greater appreciation for American workers. Since that time we have still had labor disputes and there continues, and probably always will, be the ebb and flow between business and labor. Since the first Labor Day, many elected officials have used this day to reach out and connect with the constituents she/he serves.

As a servant leader this day is meaningful in recognizing the incredible contributions of all who have worked very hard to make this country great. I certainly believe we have made great social and economic achievements. My Labor Day 2020 wish is that we would all dedicate ourselves to continue to study our history, not bash it or try to erase it, but learn from it for continued improvement. Today I honor all who have worked so hard making strength, prosperity, and well-being possible in our country.

Leading By Availability

Posted in Availability, Baltimore Orioles, Cal Ripken Jr., Iron Man, Leadership, Orioles by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on September 6, 2020

For an avid baseball fan, today marks the 25th anniversary of a true milestone in baseball’s most revered records. 25 years ago Cal Ripken Jr. surpassed Lou Gehrig’s record of playing in 2,130 straight games by playing in his 2,131st game. In fact, one of my most valued items in my den is my autographed picture of Cal from that 2,131st game (see featured picture on this post). It was on this day in 1995 in front of a home crowd at Camden Yards hosting the California Angels that he became baseball’s new Iron Man. I had the honor of seeing Cal Ripken Jr. play at Camden yards many times with students when I was an agriculture science teacher and FFA advisor because we always took in an Orioles game when either traveling to or home from the National FFA Organization’s Washington Leadership Conference. What a leadership role model my students and I were seeing in Cal Ripken Jr.

To read more of my blog posts featuring inspiration from Cal Ripken Jr. read Learn From The Day! and Luckiest Leaders On Earth!

“It’s widely believed that the most important ability is availability. Cal Ripken Jr. cornered the market on that skill.” ~ Chris Haft

Thus, the title of today’s post: Availability. The title and topic were inspired by a great piece by Chris Haft, MLB.com. He started his piece, Cal Ripken Jr.’s Top 10 Career Highlights, with the statement: “It’s widely believed that the most important ability is availability. Cal Ripken Jr. cornered the market on that skill.” How true! Being available is really the ultimate thing any leader can be. By always, literally, being available he was able to provide leadership for the Orioles, be a role model for the players in his team, be a mentor for the players on his team, and be a role model and inspiration to all his fans, young and old. What an example of work ethic.

Availability is crucial. It is important for people to know they have personal access to their leaders. Every game his teammates new he would be working right alongside them. We need to be the leader that builds relationships by being available. Thanks Cal for setting the example for us and the bar high.

Angry Fishing

Posted in Angry Birds, Education, Global Education, Global Leadership, Innovation, Leadership by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on September 5, 2020

I just tweeted that having your son in Murray, Kentucky at Murray State University had its advantages; one of which is getting to spend the day on Kentucky Lake fishing for Crappie. Heath picked such a beautiful place in the world for college. We had a great day that started at 5:30am. It’s always great to spend the day doing anything together with the boy. We have been blessed to make so many memories doing a variety of things together. I’ve always said that raising this kid has been the single most important and rewarding thing I am doing.

Today, we had the opportunity to use some of the latest computer vision technology for fishing. Thus the title for this post: Angry Fishing. It was truly like a video game, at times, that I would call Angry Fishing (referring to Angry Birds). As always, I was fascinated with the technology and learning how to use it. I was also amazed at how being able to use the technology, in much the same way a video game does, enabled me to improve my fishing skills.

We were fishing for Crappie today and they require a very patient technique, but you must be quick to set the hook at the right time. With the video technology we could literally watch the fish going for the bait. I’m not going to lie, I missed several today because I got caught up watching fish going for Heath’s hook and him catching them. We were able to, in real-time, just like when playing Angry Birds, know what adjustments to make in our techniques. And the great part about Angry Fishing (real life fishing like we were doing) is you get to do it over and over, just like you can when playing Angry Birds. It was fascinating!

This was a reminder of how we need to always employ ways to give students, or anyone we are teaching for that matter, immediate and usable feedback. Today, I was even able to begin to self diagnose areas for improvement and make those changes immediately. Another reason we need to always be teaching using real-world and relevant contexts. We all, no matter what our age learn best when we are using adaptation. We need to be applying across disciplines, thus why I am right now applying this day of fishing to doing a better job of teaching and professional development. This also gives us the opportunity to apply the learning to real-world predictable and unpredictable situations. I talk about these same things when using Angry Birds as a throughline for discussing high impact teaching strategies.

It is also my hope, and I believe they are, that these technologies can be a catalyst for transformation of fishing and fishery policy. Under a sustainable approach, where we satisfy the needs of the present without compromising the resources of future generations, technological innovations like my son and I used today offer an opportunity to improve the fishery and seafood industries; as well as protect the environment. Electronic monitoring systems and computer vision technologies combined with artificial intelligence machine learning is being used to improve the cod fishery and preventing overfishing of halibut in the Pacific.

I continue to be amazed and hungry to keep learning the technological innovations that can help us all learn more effectively and continue to make the world a better place. The possibilities are as vast as the great bodies of water we love to fish on. Join me in continuing to explore and learn!

“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!

Open Your Mind To The Past & All Of This May Mean Something

Posted in Community, Educational Leadership, Global Education, Global Leadership, Leadership, Star Trek by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on September 4, 2020

Late last night I found myself flipping through the television channels. Actually, using the term channels probably really ages me – are they even called channels anymore? Anyway, I came across an old episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation (TV Series). This was my favorite of the Star Treks because I love the character Captain Jean-Luc Picard (played by Patrick Stewart). My favorite line of his that is in almost every episode is “Make it so.” I practice “Make it so!” leadership and just realized I haven’t really blogged specifically about that. Maybe tomorrow.

As I surfed and found Star Trek, the episode was just beginning. The episode was Season 2, Episode 17 and was titled Samaritan Snare. There were two throughlines established early: Captain Picard needed heart replacement surgery (routine in the 24th Century) so was traveling with Wesley Crusher in a small craft to far away Starbase 515. The Enterprise was on a rescue mission to a Pakled vessel that turned into an attempt to steal computer knowledge.

On their journey to the medical facility and surgery Picard and Crusher had a deep and revealing conversation where Picard shared how his heart had been damaged in a fight with Nausicaans as a young ensign. While at the base Crusher will be taking Starfleet exams. Here is the conversation:

Captain Jean-Luc Picard: There’s no greater challenge than the study of philosophy.

Wesley Crusher: But William James won’t be on my Starfleet Exams.

Captain Jean-Luc Picard: The important things never will be. Anyone can be trained in the mechanics of piloting a starship.

Wesley Crusher: And Starfleet Academy…

Captain Jean-Luc Picard: Takes more. Open your mind to the past – art, history, philosophy. And this all may mean something.

Star Trek has taught generations of us how great humanity could be if we study and learn from our past, learn to deal with our biases, and work together (I bolded that for emphasis) to create a better future. People have always faced difficult times and situations, and Star Trek always reminds us that when smart people come together they can come up with smart answers. It would be interesting to know just how many have been inspired to leadership, science, engineering, medicine, or many other careers because of Star Trek. As Edmund Burke taught us, “People will not looking forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors.” Thus, pretty good advice from Captain Picard to open our minds to the past so that all this does mean something. Pretty good advice indeed in the 21st Century year of 2020!

I hadn’t thought about philosopher William James for a long time. William James, the father of psychology and a leading thinker of the 19th Century, actually laid the groundwork for the study and research that continues on leadership. James asserted that individuals do make a difference in history, and that the study of influential people an important pursuit. Interestingly, as I studied more and more on this I came back across the work of Thomas Carlyle and the “great man” theories I talked about in Leaders Crashing and Flying Higher. It also had me looking at studies on “hero-worship.”

According to James (1880, 1884, 1890/1956) any change that happens can be attributed to an individual or multiple individuals. The potential of a group, organization, business/industry, community, or country will be brought out not by just one individual leader, but by a collective of leaders. Thus why I believe everyone is a leader. I really believe James believed this too. No one leader has the power to determine change. No one has that kind of power. Instead a leader must work within the context she is given. Leadership then brings together individuals with circumstances.

And, I really got to thinking that this theory was modeled by the entire Enterprise crew. It took leadership from all to solve the issue with the Pakled vessel and Picard’s surgery that ended up having complications. The head surgeon said that the complication was out of his realm of knowledge and that Picard was dying. He then said that he knew someone who could solve the issue – she was summoned and did. Nothing happens in a vacuum. This is why the context matters and everyone’s expertise matters and must be brought to the “table.” This is why everyone must be a leader.

Seeking Opportunities To Observe & Update Our 🌎Worldview🌍

We create our own beliefs, they don’t happen to us. We choose what and how we believe. As we grow up, we see the world and ourselves in a particular way. This “way” is based on environmental influences, our parents/families, and our peers. Whether we like it or not, we are responsible for developing our own belief system.

“To argue with someone else’s experience is futile. To add their experience to your own is possibly useful.”

One of my favorite quotes by an unknown author is, “To argue with someone else’s experience is futile. To add their experience to your own is possibly useful.” To me this is what empathy is about – understanding how another person’s experiences have shaped them. If we take time to truly study the experiences of others, those experiences can help give us information free of confirmation bias.

One Machiavelli principle I prescribe to is that we should always “declare” what we believe. This does not, however, mean that those beliefs can’t evolve and change. Thus, why declaring is important. In fact, sometimes we must grapple with contradictory evidence. As our society becomes more and more global, we have more and more of our own experiences and the experiences of others to process. This contemplation of dealing with opposing views and possibly believing parts of both has always intrigued me. F. Scott Fitzgerald taught us, “The rest of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” I see this as an ability of great empathy, openness, humility, and leadership.

“It’s not what you don’t know that gets you into trouble, it’s what you know for sure that ain’t so.” ~ Mark Twain

This trait of openness was reinforced in an awesome book I’m reading right now, Creative Confidence: Unleashing The Creative Potential Within Us All by Tom Kelley and David Kelley. In the book we are taught that building on the ideas of others requires humility. We must first acknowledge to ourselves the we don’t have all the answers. The upside to this is that it takes the pressure off of us to know we don’t have to generate all the ideas on our own.

Mark Twain taught us that, “It’s not what you don’t know that gets you into trouble, it’s what you know for sure that ain’t so.” We need to be diligent to not be fooled by what we “know for sure” about ourselves, our customers, our students, those we serve, our communities, or the world. We must seek out opportunities to observe and update our worldview.

Leaders Crashing & Flying Higher

IMG_9434So what traits do great leaders have? That’s such a loaded question – different great leaders demonstrate different traits. If you ask a group of teacher leaders to select the top traits they think are important in a leader, you’ll find as many answers as you have teacher leaders. No one has ever been able to come up with a definitive list of leadership traits that everyone – or even a majority of people contemplating leadership – agrees on. This doesn’t stop me from trying however. During our August 3D Leadership gatherings I always do a discussion/activity called “Good Leader/Bad Leader: Crashing & Flying Higher.” This involves an activity where participants fly paper airplanes to each other with good leadership traits on the left wing and bad leadership traits on the right wing. They then keep adding to the lists as we fly the planes. This is really fun virtually on Zoom. Yes, you can fly paper airplanes virtually! Ultimately, their task is to develop a top five good leadership trait list and a top five bad leadership trait list,

Screen Shot 2020-09-01 at 9.29.10 AMThe exercise enables a great discussion and thought provoking debate. What we find is that each person’s list of good and bad traits is heavily dependent on her or his experience with different leaders. I get to do this activity 9 or 10 groups per year and every group’s lists are always at least a little different, but many times are very different. Things like who is leading the school, turnover of leaders, style of leadership of leaders, culture of the school, et cetera. This activity somewhat reinforces the idea that the trait theory of leadership is not the end all be all. “The trait theory of leadership focuses on identifying different personality traits and characteristics that are linked to successful leadership across a variety of situations. This line of research emerged as one of the earliest types of investigations into the nature of effective leadership and is tied to the “great man” theory of leadership first proposed by Thomas Carlyle in the mid-1800s. The idea with trait theory is that if you can identify the personality traits or characteristics a great leader has, you can look for those same traits in other leaders, or even develop those traits in people who want to be leaders.

Screen Shot 2020-09-01 at 9.29.48 AMThe differences that I see when doing the “Good Leader/Bad Leader: Crashing & Flying Higher” activity suggest that this may due to situational variables in which different leadership skills emerge when opportunities for leadership arise. These situations might include turnaround work, poor leaders in place, war, a political crisis, or in the absence of leadership. As a believer that everyone in an organization is leader, I believe that there must be adaptive leadership for many situations.

Screen Shot 2020-09-01 at 7.20.28 PMI just finished reading Robert Gates’ great new book, Exercise of Power: American Failures, Successes, and a New Path Forward in the Post-Cold War World. Having served for eight Presidents of the United States, he certainly saw different leadership styles and traits. He explained that most want to put Presidents into ascribing to idealism, realism, or transactional. As he stated, great leaders must be all three. He gives examples of Presidents being all three. In other words, to be effective, leaders must be able to adapt. When I reflect on the top five “good leader” traits that our 3D Leadership group from Tennessee came up with this past Saturday, I believe they are traits that would serve all leaders well. Here is there top five list:

  1. Listening to understand
  2. Authentic
  3. Being consistent
  4. Straight forward
  5. Relationship builder

Here of the top five “bad leader” traits causing leaders to crash, from our Tennessee teacher leaders if you are interested:

  1. Insecure
  2. Belittling
  3. Negative
  4. Leads by intimidation
  5. Doesn’t walk the talk

 

Leading Like A Superhero

 

Ever since we were kids we’ve dreamed of becoming superheroes. During our first fall gathering of 3D Leadership, I used a superhero throughline and had participants research superheroes and pick one that best represented themselves; or they could create an all new one. As always, they were super creative (a superhero power) and as they shared out I asked them a few questions:

  1. What is your superpower?
  2. How did you get your powers?
  3. What’s something that your arch nemesis has?
  4. Where would you live when your not saving the world?
  5. If you were on a team of superheroes, what would your role be?
  6. What would you fight the enemy with?
  7. In addition to your powers, what weapon would you want?

A couple of these superheroes really jumped out at me: Wonder Lori and Glinda. Wonder Lori was a new and made up superhero and Glinda was based on the good witch in the Wizard of Oz. The superpowers for these two were empathy and serving. Pretty good superpowers for leading like a superhero, right? Really being a superhero is about tapping one’s ability to do extraordinary things; and, being able to help others doing extraordinary things.

I was really struck by the superhero Glinda from the Wizard of Oz. The participant picked Glinda because of her power of always showing up at just the right time. This blew my mind because I had never thought about this in all the times I have watched the Wizard of Oz. But, what a great superpower, right. All of us as leaders would love the superpower of showing up at the right time. Glinda really did show up at just the right time, every time.

Additionally, the participant quoted Glinda at the end of the movie when she said, “You had the power all along, my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.” This is such a powerful statement. Glinda was a great teacher—and this compliment is not undeserved. The first lesson she teaches is one of delegation. She tells Dorothy the Wizard might be able to help her get home, but that the journey to Oz is a long and treacherous one. Dorothy needs, as always seems to be the case, more information and asks for it (she’s very good at asking questions). Glinda tells Dorothy to follow the Yellow Brick Road and never take the ruby slippers off her feet. Of course, the Munchkins help her get started and find her way on the yellow brick road. Dorothy has more questions, but Glinda is a master delegator: she waves her wand and disappears! Remind you of any great leaders you have worked with?

Even though we don’t see Glinda very much in the movie, she’s clearly behind the scenes keeping watch, removing barriers, and doing things to help without desiring any recognition. We learn this in the scene in which Glinda sends snow to counteract the effects of the sleep-inducing poppies. Glinda never rushes in dramatically on a white horse (even thought there are really cool horses in the movie that change colors) to fix everything herself and, in the process, undermine Dorothy’s self-confidence as a leader. Even when Glinda reappears at the end of the movie, it is only to make sure that Dorothy has learned the lessons of the ruby slippers for herself – “You had the power all along, my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.”

“Who Am I Not To Be?”

Posted in Coronavirus, COVID-19, Doomscrolling, DTK, Global Leadership, Growth Mindset, Leadership, Mindset Mondays by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on August 31, 2020

IMG_9431This morning, on day 170 of the COVID-19 Global Pandemic, I am committing to a 52 week journey in a new book that gets released tomorrow, September 1st. I have been perusing my advanced copy of Mindset Mondays With DTK: 52 Ways to REWIRE Your Thinking and Transform Your Life for several days and really like what I have found in the book. As the author, David Taylor-Klaus, told us in the book, it is to be savored over time and used every week for a year. I love books that are organized in 52 lessons to use over a years time. This gives me a chance to also do a weekly reflection blog post, of which is this the first of at least 52 I am committing to do.

“The greatest weapon we have against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” ~ William James, discussed on pages 39-41 in Mindset Mondays With DTK

The title of the first lesson was Choose Consciously. It was ironic that DTK called our ability to choose, a weapon. In a leadership gathering I facilitated over the weekend I used superheroes as a throughline and we talked about leadership weapons. The ability to make the right choices was a superpower weapon of choice for some. “Who am I not to be?” (DTK, 2020, p. 40) is a statement that DTK has made to himself. So, really, who are we to not be? Whatever we want to achieve starts, as DTK taught us, with examining our own ideas of what is and is not possible.

Screen Shot 2020-08-31 at 8.07.42 AMThe choices we make are even more important in this time of “doomscrolling.” I usually love the creation of new words, but I’m not real big on this one that means continuing to surf or scroll through bad news. The act of doomscrolling, then, is to roll toward annihilation. So, back to David’s question, “Who am I not to be?” The one thing we get to control is our mind; so, we need to quit things like doomscrolling and control our mindset and beliefs.

Social media has been a blessing staying connected. One of the other challenges, besides doomscrolling, however, that has been created because of our ability to easily connect is some continually comparing themselves to their peers. DTK addressed this in the first lesson saying, “So instead of comparing our beginning to somebody else’s middle, we actually, see their success as an inspiration instead of a threat” (DTK, 2020, p. 41). I have always believed that each of us has our own personalities and set of skills that make us very special. We just cannot let ourselves fall in a trap of comparing, because there just is no comparison to ourselves – we are a “one-of-a-kind”.  We cannot allow our internal expectations of what defines success keep changing depending on what others desire. Think about it: “Who am I not to be?”