(#369) About Kayaks And Perspective

June 18, 2017

If we focus on the possible negative, we get sucked into it.

Lessons. Everywhere, lessons present themselves.  And they remind us that we are always students. Lifelong learners. If we pay attention.

My latest education has come over the past few weeks courtesy of my new twelve-foot ocean kayak.

Previously, I had paddled in the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, the Florida Keys, and in North Florida inlets.  Let’s say my first week of ocean kayaking has gifted me some wonderful lessons.

  • Perspective. I spend time on the beach observing surfers and paddle boarders. I notice smooth water, small waves, and storm-tossed breakers. The appreciation for the conditions, though, changed when I walked my kayak into the ocean for the first time. The waves took on a very different perspective  atop of (and soon tossed from) my kayak seat.
    • Lesson. Until we dive into a project, we do not have a full appreciation of what to expect.  A new job might look perfect—until we report to work. Perhaps it’s criticizing a co-worker, government action, or the stance of a group different from ours.  Until we get into that water, we really don’t understand that perspective.

  • Respect and Fear. I have always had a deep respect for the ocean.  That is different from the fear I felt the first time I paddled beyond the breakers. I could feel myself tense up—which in turn led to poor body mechanics. Instead of attacking the waves, I stopped paddling–and eventually ended up in the water with the boat on top of me. (With a broken seat back and lost sunglasses, thank you very much!)
    • Lesson. Fear can lead to counter-productive actions. We start to focus on the thing we do NOT want to do. I once heard a race car driver’s advice on how NOT to hit the racetrack wall. Simply, he said, do NOT look at the wall. If we focus on the possible negative, we get sucked into it. My first day on the kayak I focused on the waves and not being tossed rather than focusing on the shore and gliding to a stop. I tensed up and face planted in the water.

  • Adrift. The first time I got beyond the breakers and to (relatively) smoother, less undulating water, I looked back and saw that I was further from shore than I had thought. The voice in my head cried, “What the hell are you doing out here? Way out here?”
    • Lesson. When we attempt something new, when we stretch ourselves, we might feel adrift. Like we have no anchor. We find ourselves treading unfamiliar waters. Some people quit. Some figure out how to persevere. Some look for reassurance and guidance.  In my case, I looked a little north and spied surfers and paddle boarders. I felt better knowing others were close by. They wouldn’t paddle my boat but just knowing others were in similar waters gave me a feeling of security. When you feel lost and adrift, look around for those who may be in similar waters. Collegiality can be a powerful motivator.
  • Coaching. I sought out a neighbor with experience to help me with kayaking technique.  From posture, to paddle stroke, to entering and leaving the surf, he has provided needed guidance. Simple ideas take root due to his repetition
    • Lesson.  There is no need to be an island.  Reach out for coaching.  A fresh set of eyes and a different perspective can help move you to a new level. (And do not forget gratitude. Bruce found a twelve-pack of his favorite beverage on his patio later that week.)
  • Daily Discipline. Each day I go out, I see improvement. I paddle further; spill less frequently; unload, load, and strap the kayak to the cart with more skill.  I now look at how the waves break on a particular day before lunging into the surf.  I am more aware. I still have a long way to paddle—and I have come a long way, as well.
    • Lesson. Whether you want to call it locus of control or self-efficacy, when you fall short, get up, fall again, get up again…ad nauseum….you learn, you grow, and move closer to a goal. If we fail to notice that we fail to notice—we hinder our movement forward.


Video recommendation for the week.

Sometimes laughing is the best way to soothe a bruised ego. With that in mind, my bride sent me this video link.  Even kayakers have a blooper reel.


Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network™ (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#368) Fake, Illegitimate Or Incomplete Information?

June 11, 2017

Just because you find a lot of information does not mean
you have found accurate or credible information

If, as famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright claimed, “An expert is a man who stops thinking because he knows,” then can we say the same for a person who claims one source of information as the fount of all legitimacy and contrary accounts to be illegitimate or “fake”? Has she stopped discerning because she “knows” what is legitimate and what is fake?

More than five years ago, I shot a quick video (see below) outlining four basic considerations when considering information to address an issue or task?

  1. What information do you need for the task at hand?
  2. Where will you find that information?
  3. How will you evaluate the information you find for accuracy and legitimacy?
  4. How will you organize and use the information for your audience?

Can we grow as individuals if we filter what we read, hear, and see through one source (or a number of like-minded sources)?  Are we motivated to grow–or just “be right” even in the face of confounding information?

Do we care?

A friend shared two stories this week.  I doubt they are apocryphal.

  • A neighbor asked my friend where she got her news. My friend rattled off a list of seven or eight sources. Out of hand, the neighbor dismissed the entire list as thoroughly “illegitimate.” When asked what her source of information was, the neighbor mentioned one source. Just one source. It was, according to her, legitimate. End of story. (See numbers two and three, above.)
  • My friend has found the same situation in her college classroom.  No matter the topic,  two camps emerge. Diametrically opposed. Refusing to listen and discuss with the other. Each considering their source(s) of information legitimate and the others’ suspect at the least and fake at the worst.

Is this a sign of intellectual laziness? A lack of critical thinking? Or is this sort of thing nothing new—just magnified because everyone can have a social media platform where we surround ourselves with “likes” and “shares” and then block opposing viewpoints?  (I still remember my mother often warning me (more than fifty years ago) not to speak about politics or religion.) It does seem like today’s volume, as well as the personal vitriol, has been cranked up considerably.

I offered a suggestion to my friend.

  1. Pick two sources of news that generally disagree on issues and stances.
  2. Find one current news story on which both of these sources present a similar account of the issue or event.
  3. Print both stories without any attribution (nothing that would identify the sources).
  4. Ask your friend (or students) to identify the “illegitimate source” based solely on the content presented. If both stories are drawing the same conclusion then how can the argument hold that a particular source is always illegitimate?

Perhaps you could do it as well to at least start a rational conversation. Start with common ground and move from there.


Video recommendation for the week.

Just because you find information does not mean you have credible information.


Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.



For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network™ (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#367) Understand Your Goal Motivation

June 4, 2017

Create a space for transparency, authenticity, and accountability for yourself.

During the life of this blog, we have examined often the power and purpose of goals.  In addition to the “what” we have looked at the “how,” “when” and “why.”

Last week, when I facilitated an Austin, Texas workshop, I encouraged the audience to consider The Six Ps when it comes to why they want to speak or publish.  The same steps easily apply to other professional or personal goals.  Consider how each of the following may act as goal motivators.

  • Publish, Present, or Perish.
    • In the world of higher education, publishing may be a requirement for contract renewal. In your case, your motivation may be to lose weight or suffer a heart attack; save money or never enjoy a comfortable retirement; or find affordable healthcare or face the prospects of life without basic coverage. Does your goal have a distinctive and critical sense of urgency?
  • Promotion.
    • Perhaps a professional goal will help you advance to another level of development within your calling. Maybe you need to promote a community resource for a specific service area. Or maybe you finally decided that you need to promote a non-digital, distraction-free hour every night for your family to re-connect. When you reach your goal (or while you journey to your goal), what core value(s) does the goal advance?
  • Passion.
    • It might prove beneficial to do a “passion check” for your goal. What compelling emotion or desire moves you in this direction? Is it your goal or someone else’s dream for you?
  • Personal Connection.
    • A young woman in a recent workshop shared with the group that she wanted to write a book about breast cancer. She believes she has a decided vantage point as someone who has experienced, survived, and grown because of the cancer that touched her life. Her passion and a personal connection are twin motivators pushing her forward.  Can you clearly articulate how your personal and professional goal personally resonates for you?
  • Profit.
    • Maybe the pay range for the new job listing caught your attention. Or perhaps the pitch at a seminar on how to flip houses sounded promising. Pause and ask, “Is money the motivating factor here? Will it be enough to keep me moving forward? And will the goal of profit connect with my core values?”
  • Prestige.
    • Some people want to publish a book just so they can see their name on the cover. The ego boost becomes the drive. Do you find that your goal direction connects directly to status, standing, and reputation?

The Six Ps can help you clarify the “why” of your goals.  One is neither better nor worse than others are.  Each item can create a space for transparency, authenticity, and accountability for yourself.


Video recommendation for the week.

Consider the message of this TED Talk about understanding why we do what we do and the impact that has on our authenticity.


Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network™ (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#366) Why Not You?

May 28, 2017

Speaking and writing does not belong to some elite group of individuals.

Have you considered publishing or speaking to broaden the powerful impact and reach you already have on those around you? It could be for a small local audience or something larger. You might do it for money—or for the sheer passion you have for a particular topic.

Later today (May 28, 2017), I will have the opportunity to facilitate a workshop at the annual NISOD Conference in Austin, Texas.  I will pose a simple question, “Why not you?” If you don’t share your talents, who will?

I hope to encourage participants to consider sharing their accumulated wisdom through publishing and/or speaking. I will be talking to college professors, advisers, and administrations. But whether you manage a retail store, teach students, serve customers in a restaurant, nurse patients in a hospital, coach a little league team, manage a household, or lead your community, you have experiences to share.  Speaking and writing does not belong to some elite group of individuals.

Take a moment today, and consider all that you have to offer with respect to your accumulated wisdom.

To be sure, just because you want to write or speak, does not necessarily mean you should write or speak.  And just as assuredly, not everyone has the talent or temperament for speaking and writing.

Before you brush aside the idea, though, consider what you have that others may be interested in learning.  From parenting, to surfing, to gardening, to home renovation, to mentoring young minds, you make a difference in your world. Here are a few questions to help you sort through your thoughts to share your wisdom. I encourage you to work through these with someone who will give you trusted feedback.

  • WHY do I want to publish and/or speak? Is it for ego, profit, passion, or the need to share an important lesson?
  • WHO cares about my work—and why should they? Huge question! If you decide to speak or publish, who will be interested enough to listen?
  • WHERE do I find opportunities? Local community organizations? Regional and national conferences? Letters to the editor? The community newspaper? A national magazine? Self-publishing?
  • HOW do I develop a supportive learning community of associates to help me develop your writing and speaking talents? And, how can I help others to find their voices?

When we start examining these types of professional and personal growth opportunities and questions, we identify and clarify our inner desires, strengths, and challenges. And we increase our chances to connect and form collaborative, supportive networks, and create community.

Rather than saying, “I’m not a writer or speaker” I hope you will consider (and act upon) “Hey, I can write and speak, too…just never thought about it.” Find a mentor to help you begin your journey.

In fact, you may find yourself saying, “Hell, yeah, that is for me!”


Video recommendation for the week.

Your story has power!


Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network™ (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#365) Listening For Stories Of Inspiration

May 21, 2017

Inspiration from a woman who did not let circumstance
dictate her outcome.

[Note to my readers: Today’s post marks the beginning of the eighth year of this weekly blog.  Thank you for following, sharing, and commenting.]

Stories. They surround us. Some have the power to illustrate, instruct, and inspire.

Minutes before I delivered my commencement address to the Florida State College at Jacksonville Class of 2017, I had a front row (literally) seat for a young woman’s touching story about her journey.

Lyse Medina, the FSCJ Kent Campus Student Government Association President, delivered a 4½ minute description of her journey as an immigrant, a daughter, a student, a leader, and a person with heart and determination.

Her tale is one of perseverance and resilience. “My past did not define me, but it did lead me to where I am today,” she told the nearly ten thousand people before us.


Video recommendation for the week.

Rather than tell you about Lyse’s speech, listen to it. Learn and grow from it. Her story in her words. A reminder of the importance of community colleges in our society. And a powerful dose of inspiration from a young woman who did not let circumstances dictate her outcomes. She envisioned her dreams and she will continue to define her journey. I am glad to have met and learned from her.

My appreciation to FSCJ for sharing the video and to Lyse for allowing me to share it with you. Note: The video should start with her introduction. If it does not, move to minute 52 for Lyse.


Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network™ (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#364) Your Legacy

May 14, 2017

Whatever you build, destroy, hand down, create, or undo will be your legacy.

Legacy: Something handed down from one generation to the next; from one person or group to another. Whether for good or ill someone or some entity passed something along. It can include a memory, an accomplishment, a deed, a message, a financial donation, or a physical resource.

A sports team, for instance, that wins a championship creates a legacy. No matter what follows, the team will always have the title of champion for that particular year.  I find it odd when I hear people say something like, “The Chicago Cubs will defend their championship this year.”

One defends something he or she may lose. The Cubs can NEVER lose the 2016 championship they won.  They may not repeat as champs, but they will always be 2016 World Series champions. No one can remove that distinction.

Every so often, I hear a report that so-and-so’s legacy will be eliminated.  I am not sure how that can happen.  The handoff occurred.  You cannot “unhand” it down.  If someone changes or eliminates a program or service, that becomes the legacy of the eliminator.  The person who created it will ALWAYS have the legacy of the creation.  Someone else can amend or end it but the previous act stands as part of history.

What you do today, tomorrow, or in ten years becomes part of your legacy. One experience, one dot, one moment, and one day at a time. You (and with whomever you collaborate) create a legacy. You can add texture and color to it. You cannot un-create it.

Whatever you build, destroy, hand down, create, or undo will be your legacy. What will your legacy be?


Video recommendation for the week.

Building and meaning of legacies. Check this view.


Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network™ (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#363) A Resiliency Group: Collaboration, Creativity, Caring, and Collegiality

May 7, 2017

Rather than waiting for (or blaming) “them” to do something,
get creative and start a resiliency movement yourself.

During my undergraduate years at Jacksonville University, I spent a fair number of hours in the campus library. On the second floor (as I remember), there were a few study rooms.  Here a student could isolate himself for quiet. I recall some of these rooms having a typewriter for those needing to hammer out a term paper. Quiet time.

When I taught at Florida State College at Jacksonville, the library had quiet rooms for students to study or practice for presentations.  These study groups helped students understand concepts, share ideas, review notes, and encourage one another during exam preparation. Collaborative growth and development.

The image of students pulling all-nighters notwithstanding, some campuses now provide nap zones and nap stations.  A rested student is a better-prepared student the thinking goes.

When I visited Zappos headquarters last month, I met the “Zappos Mayor” (Tony Ferrara). In follow-up emails, I asked the “Mayor” about the Zappos nap room.  Where there any metrics on its use and success?

Photo by Steve Piscitelli

“Yes, we do have a nap room here at Zappos for those folks that may need a little power nap during their break or lunch times. In addition to the nap room, we have several miscellaneous benefits here at Zappos …. We don’t provide these extras specifically for the purpose of quantifying their results. We provide them as part of building and maintaining culture through employee engagement.   For example, we don’t monitor who uses the nap rooms at all. They’re there for the benefit and convenience of team members, not for analyzing metrics.”


Video recommendation for the week.

Arianna Huffington promotes the power of rested employees.  As she states in this clip, the workplace “pays people for their judgment not their stamina.”


More than likely, your workplace does not have a nap room.  The culture and the leadership may not support such a departure from the industrial work model.  OK. What can you do to promote wellbeing?

Rather than waiting for (or blaming) “them” to do something, get creative and start a movement yourself.  Consider your own “resilience group.”  Create a critical mass for a “resilience movement.”  It could start over a cup of coffee or a walk around the campus during lunch.

It does not have to be a venting group. In fact, since it is a resilience group, you may want to focus on positives. What is working in your workplace and how can you create more of it?

Start with a group of co-workers you can trust, talk with, and share ideas; people who understand your experiences. You function as a collegial support group. You might find that you need to bring in a facilitator at some point to bring your “movement” to a higher level.

At times, just having co-workers acknowledge that they hear our concerns, and maybe share those concerns, is the shot of energy we need. Great start. But what action will you take beyond the words?  What will your collective resiliency plan look like? When will you start?

Collaboration.  Caring.  Collegiality. No need to be an island.

It’s worth consideration.

Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

Check out my latest podcasts at The Growth and Resilience Network™
(http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

Check out my website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


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