Byron's Babbles

Don’t Freeze Me Out

Posted in Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on January 11, 2023

Last night on FBI International we were introduced to Special Agent Zoey McKenna (Kelley Missal). McKenna was appointed to the Fly Team without the team leader, Scott Forrester’s (Luke Kleintank) knowledge or input. Forrester was upset and seems to be facing a transfer himself, but still recognized specific skills and included Zoey in solving the latest case. In the end Zoey told Forrester, “I was pretty sure you’d freeze me out.” Forrester replied, “Not my style.” As a person who does leadership development, I loved that reply. Have you ever been the victim of a freeze out? Or, have you ever been the one doing the freezing out? Agent Forrester could have frozen Zoey out of the team, but to what end? She had knowledge and skills that were crucial to solving the case. Practicing great leadership, Forrester put the greater good of the team above his own personal feelings.

This really got me to thinking about how cruel the practice of freezing someone out is. Being left out, excluded, or not communicated with is a terrible feeling. There is the speculation running through our heads as to what might be going on on the other person’s end. I’ve actually heard leaders advocate for freezing people out saying that “they’ll take the hint,” but in reality because the leader didn’t communicate their motives, the victim wouldn’t necessarily know what’s happening at all. I am so glad this reflection was prompted last night because I have been the freezer before. When considering all this I am reminded that no one deserves to go through that and how wrong I was. It really is about being a decent human. Let’s all make sure we are never practicing the freeze out.

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Playing To Strengths

Posted in Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development, NFL, Super Bowl by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on January 8, 2023

I have always been a fan of being a strengths finder. The best leaders find ways to play to the strengths of those they serve. My son and I watched the Jacksonville Jaguars win the NFL’s AFC South last evening. Their coach, Doug Pederson, is a strengths finding leader and someone I have studied and admired. First and foremost, he is genuine person who players have zero issues building relationships with – the most important leadership trait. Pederson can also relate and connect with professional athletes because of being one. Additionally, he has a credibility factor because of the success he has had as both a player and coach. Players call him “genuine.” Being genuine and authentic is about as good as it gets!

What has always impressed me is how Pederson builds a game plan around strengths and talent, not the other way around. For example he had Carson Wentz playing at an MVP level in just his second season with the Philadelphia Eagles. Then when Wentz was injured, in came Nick Foles, and the rest is history. Pederson made the necessary changes to play to Foles’ strengths and the Eagles won the Super Bowl. He found what Nick Foles did best and changed everything to compliment that. He has now done the same at the Jacksonville Jaguars for Trevor Lawrence. Changing everything to compliment what your quarterback does best and the talent around him – genius. Great leaders don’t try to fit everyone into their own prescribed way doing things; they make adjustments to compliment the strengths of the talented people they serve. Playing to the strengths of those you serve – great leadership!

More Found Than Lost

Posted in Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on January 7, 2023

I loved the line, “Perhaps I was feeling more found than lost” in in Book 3 of Threads West An American Saga: Uncompahgre: Where Water Turns Rock Red by Reid Lance Rosenthal. The context was really the fact that the character, who was part of an 1855 wagon train westward, was feeling more found than lost because of being in such beautiful country, with newfound friends, and so much opportunity. And, feeling lost is many times a step toward feeling found. Also, all these characters left their familiar homes, friends, and families and were now with strangers in a very strange land. I heard it said once that sometimes we are never more found than when we are the most lost.

The members of the wagon train had become a very tight knit network offering vital connections between people who came to rely on one another. This network offered real, substantial support around a common vision. Unlike most our social networks of today. Another lesson we can learn from these emigrants is every one was aware of why they were doing what they were doing, I believe we learn from this how important it is for us to have a shared purpose and a network offering support.

Flattening The Bumps

Posted in Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on January 7, 2023

Today, I had a person thank me for “flattening out the bumps for them along the way.” I appreciated the “thank you” and began to reflect on the bumps. Had I really done that much? She thought so. Then I got to thinking; it wasn’t about the bumps, it was about someone being there to flatten them out. Everyone needs someone to flatten out the bumps. Are you that person for someone?

Going The Distance

Posted in Educational Leadership, Explorer, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on January 7, 2023

“It seems I’ve come a great distance but yet have still not arrived.” Rebecca said this in as they were looking down the valley at Cherry Creek (what would become Denver, Colorado) in Book 3 of Threads West An American Saga: Uncompahgre: Where Water Turns Rock Red by Reid Lance Rosenthal. Considering she had started in England; taken a ship to New York; a train to St. Louis; and the a wagon train to Cherry Creek, she really had traveled a great distance, but there was still so much to explore, do, and experience. Sound familiar?

“We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time.” ~ from Little Gidding by T.S. Eliot

The quote above from T.S. Eliot says a lot. I believe all the characters in the great Threads West novel series that headed west knew themselves and where they came from better, the further they explored. Only after extensive exploration and experiences, in other words, living, do we fully understand the beauty or all that we gained from where we grew up and the people that have been part of our lives. We cannot see who we are and where we are until we go through the process. The process of searching for something outside of ourselves reveals the truth within ourselves. All the characters in this book, like us, are searching for something, and in the process all are finding themselves. What we should all aspire to do is to continually question, to seek, to “not cease from exploration,” and ultimately, the result of our quest will be to see our original experiences and encounters in new and enlightened ways, to see now what we could not see then (whether due to lack of maturity, contemplation or experience) and to have a full understanding of our experience’s meaning.

Eventually

Posted in Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on December 31, 2022

“What happens when eventually comes too late?” ~ Nathan “Nate” Ford (Timothy Hutton) on Leverage. Those lines jumped out at me and really made me think. This should probably be one of this milestone/benchmark questions we should be constantly asking ourselves. I know we are at that time of year where everyone talks about New Year’s resolutions. Not me. But let’s contemplate the old adage that it is ‘never too late.’ While I believe that, I also believe we can wait too long. Sometimes I believe we, myself included, use ‘eventually’ and ‘it’s never too late’ as a crutch, or excuse, to not start something. This really is an avoidance to starting something we might really want or need to do. Think about these things: starting a business, going back to college, getting a doctor’s checkup, calling an old friend, or insert your own here, ____________. Now, look back at that list. Can eventually come too late? Can it really be too late? It sure can! By the time we finally do these things or get started we might just find ourselves in a difficult position and have to fight an uphill battle to get the things done or even stay alive.

“Sadly,
sometimes it’s too late.
And that’s the thing about time,
we cannot get it back.” ~ Kiana Azizian

Notice I made the title of this post ‘Eventually.’ I did not want ‘Eventually Is Too Late’ or ‘Eventually Is Never Too Late.’ Both could be right, but I want us on this New Year’s Eve to keep ‘eventually’ at the forefront of our thinking for 2023. While our calendar timeline is linear, our life’s timeline is not. We do not have complete control over when we are going to achieve something or when something will surprise us. Our lives are extremely unpredictable. Something might happen earlier than we think, it might happen later than you think, or it might not happen at all. So, as you think about that next eventually, remember life can be really long and really short and ask yourself, “What happens when eventually comes too late?”

Less Team & More Living Organism

Posted in Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development, Team, Trust by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on December 29, 2022

Yesterday I was doing some work that I wanted a little noise in the background for so I turned on an old episode of </Scorpion>. The show was about four geniuses teamed up with a government handler and a mother of a young genius son, who solved issues globally. At the end of the episode, of which a theme of teamwork had emerged, it was said, “Maybe we should think less of ourselves as a team and more as an organism [that is living and adapting].” Many times teams operate under the old industrial model like machines. And…machines break down and are unable to adapt. By contrast, living organisms are masters at adaptation. Many times when we think of adaptation, we thing of Charles Darwin. One of the observations of Darwin that Ernst Mayr (1982, 2001) made was that, “Individuals in a population are not identical, they vary in many characteristics.” Adaptation comes from the Latin word adaptus, which means to become fitted, to join, and to adjust.

Here’s why teams need to think, act, and be led more like living organisms than machines:

  1. Organisms can adapt to their environment.
  2. Organisms respond to changes in their environment and continue to be relevant in a changing environment.
  3. Organisms function by keeping homeostasis, or equilibrium, between its many independent actors.
  4. Organisms grow and develop.

Now, go back and replace ‘organism’ with ‘great team’ and you’ll get the point of the post. Wait. I’ll do it for you:

  1. Great teams can adapt to their environment.
  2. Great teams respond to changes in their environment and continue to be relevant in a changing environment.
  3. Great teams function by keeping homeostasis, or equilibrium, between its many independent actors.
  4. Great teams grow and develop, both as individual team members and a whole team.

Get it? As great teams adapt and their members grow and develop, bonds of trust are formed and relationships are built. I’m grateful for the living organism metaphor for a team provided by </Scorpion>.

Learning Vs Being Right

We live, work, and play in such complex institutional and cultural environments today. Therefore, we must be adaptive individual learners, as well as, learning organizations. Mary Catherine Bateson taught us that openness to learning and changing is more important than what one knows at any given point. Openness to learning and willingness to adjust are important qualities. Learning is more important and being right. Learning is a perspective as much as it is a practice. We need to be nurture and encourage an attitude of learning. We must seek out ideas, information, and approaches so we can learn from others, including those whose views diverge from ours.

There are really three pieces to great leadership:

  1. Curiosity
  2. Growth Mindset
  3. Openness

If we go back to the teaching of Bateson, we find openness as an essential trait. If we have an appreciation of diverse perspectives and a willingness to try new things, we can better navigate daily challenges and discover novel solutions. Openness allows ideas to merge and develop by valuing diversity of thinking. Unfortunately, school taught us (and is still doing this) that we need to always be right. But, that binary way of thinking keeps us from considering that there might be a right answer, especially when we are on uncharted ground.

Forgiveness Is Not Earned

Well, here we are, the 52nd week of the year and the final reflective post from the great book, Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways To Be A Servant Leader and Build Trust, Making Common Sense Common Practice, by Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley. I love books that are broken into 52 lessons like this one. Every year I pick a book like this one where I can read a weekly passage, reflect, and then dedicate writing a blog post each week. If your looking for a great book to inspire you in 2023, this could be that one. Simple Truth #52 was “Forgiveness Is Letting Go Of All Hope For A Better Past. We need to practice forgiveness because, as Collins said, “You can’t revise history to make it better” (p. 133). When we forgive we are doing an action of faith.

Gandhi taught us that forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. We must remember that forgiveness is a gift and gifts are not earned, they are given. Collins told us, “Forgiveness can’t be earned by the offender; it can only be given by the offended” (p. 133). The most courageous act of leadership is to forgo the temptation to take revenge on those on the other side of an issue or who have wronged us in some way. Bottom-line is that those we serve are human. The thing about us humans is that we all have personal issues, frailties and struggles, we inevitably do lots of things that make others unhappy. So, let’s put empathy into action and show compassion and forgive.

Christmas Playfulness

How are you doing with your playfulness? On this Christmas morning I am thinking about how we learn through our bodies. The somatic side of learning if you will. Watching kids play with toys on Christmas is amazing. Wait a minute; watching adults play with their kid’s toys on Christmas is amazing. With play we get participation and full engagement. Play inspires curiosity. Curiosity in turn opens the door for exploration, experimentation, and more learning. What if we intentionally focused on learning, leading, and living through play? For adults and children alike, play makes use of all our different senses – visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Our bodies store so much of our information and when we become active, our learning becomes sticky.

I love to use playing as a part of the leadership development work I do. Play fosters our curiosity and strengthens our childlike spirit to transform the way we show up as a conscious leader. Play reduces resistance and pushback because people are relaxed. When we let our guard down, all learning happens more easily. Playing also brings low-stress social interaction. Playing is how we connect. Play stimulates our imagination, helping us adapt and solve problems. Play gives us an opportunity to refresh, rejuvenate, and revitalize. When was the last time you played?