(Issue #543) How Will You Remain Vigilant?


How will community be sustained? Will core values change?

[For this week’s post, I pull from a recent book of mine (2019; p. xxix). Deals with community, complacency, and challenge. Seemed appropriate.]

Have you ever been part of a community that appeared to be stagnating? To outside observers, the challenges would have been imperceptible. But to you, signs popped up. Some minor irritants, perhaps, while others loomed as storm clouds. The challenges could have come from sinister outside forces. Or, the erosion of community may have been the result of an internal complacency. The members became comfortable and took for granted their community would always be there.

As an example, colleges and universities invest a great deal in recruiting and retaining first-year students. They offer orientations, first-year experience success courses, dedicated counselors, and residences halls. Each strategy has the goal of helping the students to build community, feel comfortable in that community, and return to that community for their second year of college.  

But what happens the second year, third year, and beyond? Will resources be invested to re-recruit the students—to keep the idea of the college community foremost in their minds? How will community be sustained? Will core values change? Will best practices continue to work?

Consider a workplace that invests hundreds of staff hours in screening and interviewing candidates for a position. Perhaps there is an orientation of sorts. What happens to the new employee after that? Is the new person greeted with one mind-numbing bureaucratic checklist after another, or does she receive a meaningful welcome that recognizes and nurtures the powerful transition to her new community? As the Heath brothers pointed out in The Power of Moments, “What a wasted opportunity [not] to make a new team member feel included and appreciated. Imagine if you treated a first date like a new employee.”[i]

[i] Chip Heath and Dan Heath, The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2017. 18-22.


Video recommendation for the week:

This brief (88 seconds) clip from a larger episode reminds us that to build a community we need to listen to one another–understand what we need. When we listen–really listen–we begin to trust. And we have to ask ourselves, “What are we willing to do?”  The community members step up and take responsibility for vision and actions.

We have heard that the village raises up a child. But what can be done if the village itself needs to be raised up? What do we do, for instance, if the village has inadequate infrastructure, health disparities, high crime and poverty, lack of accessible pharmacies and fresh foods, and educational and financial literacy challenges? Threatened on many levels, the village nears the breaking point. If you’re Executive Director George Maxey, you listen and help the villagers create a movement–the New Town Success Zone movement. (Note: Since this recording, Mr. Maxey has moved on to another position with another organization. His words still reverberate.)


Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

My new book has been released.
eBook ($2.99) Paperback ($9.99). Click here.

Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.

Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story.
Click here for more information about the book.

In the meantime, check out her blog. (She writes better than I do.)

And you can still order:

My book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. I conducted (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®.

You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

©2020. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

Posted in accountability, Communication, Community, community development, resilience | Leave a comment

(Issue #542) Who I AM. Who I Was.


Will you settle or amplify?

Michael Crawford cartoon shows two people standing at the altar on their wedding day.  They look at each other and say, “You’ll do!”

“You’ll do?”—“This’ll do?”—“I’ll do?”

And they settle. And we settle. For what?

Sometimes this happens as we view who we are today. We can let ourselves get confused with who we were yesterday. A connection exists—and there is so much more if we have continued to amplify and plus our lives.

For instance, I facilitate a webinar tomorrow for college faculty and administrators about online resources supporting student wellbeing, growth, and resilience. When the program description posted online, the bio of my was from three years ago. It reflected, based on my experiences, who I was then. A great description but it did not, in my opinion, convey who I am now, who I had become based on where I’d been, where I am, and where I plan to journey.

I did not want to represent who I am by marketing who I was. (We changed the bio.)

Thirty three years of teaching informed who I had become but not who I am. I often tell people that I have not retired but, rather, I have repurposed. The people, experiences, and places since the date of my “repurposement” have amplified who I am.  And that reminds me that I need to continue to look for ways to amplify and plus those I have contact with as well as myself.

How will you continue to amplify yourself, your skills, talents, good deeds, resilience, and the communities that depend on you?

Will you amplify or settle?


Video recommendation for the week:

Listen to what amplification means for Pixar.


Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

My new book has been released.
eBook ($2.99) Paperback ($9.99). Click here.

Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.

Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story.
Click here for more information about the book.

In the meantime, check out her blog. (She writes better than I do.)

And you can still order:

  • My book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
  • Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. I conducted (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®.

You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

©2020. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

Posted in Life lessons | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

(Issue #541) Message Over Marketing


This past week, Beaches Watch held an online forum for the Jacksonville Beach, FL city council and mayoral candidates.  I’ve provided the link to the forum in my video recommendation for the week.

We had 90 minutes of questions, reflection, and considered responses. What I did not hear were labels. Not once in the 90 minutes did anyone attach the importance of her/his answers to a political party affiliation. No labels. Just message. Words that had to stand on their own—and from which the listening audience had to make critical appraisals of the candidates.

A previous blog post spoke to the metaphor of “Into the Wine, Not the Label.” The candidate forum mentioned above brought other comparisons to mind:

  • Into the CONTENT, not the COVER.
  • Into the IDEA, not the IDEOLOGIES.
  • Into the MESSAGE, not the MARKETING.
  • Into the PERSON, not the PACKAGING.
  • Into the WORDS, not the WINDOW-DRESSING.

Authenticity.


Video recommendation for the week:


Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

My new book has been released.
eBook ($2.99) Paperback ($9.99). Click here.

Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.

Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story.
Click here for more information about the book.

In the meantime, check out her blog.
Nothing like reading observations through the eyes of ,and from the paws, of a dog.

And you can still order:My book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. I conducted (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®.

You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

©2020. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

Posted in Life lessons | Leave a comment

(Issue #540) My Community Has A Sense of…My Community Struggles With….


Growth (professional and personal) benefits the community
and the people it serves. Just as importantly, the growth
can stimulate and sustain personal resilience.

The concept of resilience—the ability to connect adaptability, recovery, discovery, and growth—has been getting a lot of play over the last six months. Individuals, families, and larger communities dig deep to cope with the sacrifices and challenges they confront.

The following comes from the last section of my book Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019; pp. 191-193). I hope you can find a nugget or two that can help you help the communities to which you belong.

…The evolution of a team, organization, or community depends on continuous growth. Forward looking leaders understand the importance of continuous growth opportunities for their followers. Development should not be hit or miss—and it should never be considered a luxury. The leader must have a plan and that plan must consider the needs of the team members as well as the team as a whole.

And, it takes work. Disciplined work. Balanced work. Consider how meaningful professional and personal development can provide a sense of:

  1. Bridge building
  2. Collaboration
  3. Consistency
  4. Doing
  5. Followership
  6. Intentionality
  7. Joining the pieces of the puzzle
  8. Leadership
  9. Listening
  10. Perseverance
  11. Persistence
  12. Humor
  13. Reflective practice
  14. Support
  15. Vision
  16. Willingness to fail
  17. Willingness to learn from failure
  18. Work

Growth (professional and personal) benefits the community and the people it serves. Just as importantly, the growth can stimulate and sustain personal resilience.

CONSIDERATION, CONVERSATION, & COLLABORATION

  • Discuss the 18 items above with a community member. Create two lists. Title one: “Our Community Has a Sense of….” Title the other list: “Our Community Struggles When It Comes to….” From the larger list (18 items), choose the top five for each of your lists. You have identified your strengths and challenges. Add other descriptors if needed.
  • Based on your lists above, what is your next step?
  • What other questions do you need to address regarding this topic?

Video recommendation for the week:

Filmed in Atlantic Beach, FL at sunrise, “Professional Growth and Personal Resilience” gives you a chance to pause, ponder, and breathe.


Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

My new book has been released.
eBook ($2.99) Paperback ($9.99). Click here.

Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.

Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story.
Click here for more information about the book.

In the meantime, check out her blog.
Nothing like reading observations through the eyes of ,and from the paws, of a dog.

And you can still order:

  • My book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
  • Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. I conducted (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®.

You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

©2020. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

Posted in Life lessons | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

(Issue #539) They Share. We Share.


Online resources have the capability to be symbiotic.

In preparation for a webinar I will facilitate next month, I did an Internet search for “online resources for college students.” Google came back with nearly three billion. Billion. That’ll take a day or two (or billion) to sort through. When I narrowed the search to “online wellbeing resources for college students,” the number dropped to “only” 260 million.

Where does one start and how does one choose?

I recognize that my webinar audience will bring a wide array of experiences identifying online resources for their students. So much depends on the particular school, majors, and student population. To provide what I believe to be The Top 10 (or 15 or 100) online resources would be subjective, narrow, and (more than likely) redundant.

So I have focused on presenting an organizing rubric that looks at who does the sharing of a resource—and why. Who is the provider of the information or skill? In each case a ray of light can be shared with the world from three perspectives.

  • A person, a group, an entity shares a resource that will make our world/our space a better place. This resource helps us learn, grow, and adapt to a challenge.  I have chosen to label this exchange as THEY SHARE.
  • There a times we share, rather than receive, a resource with the world and we help those recipients learn, grow, and adapt to a challenge.  I call this WE SHARE.
  • The third form of sharing involves mutualism where both the giver and receiver benefit. We put something out into the universe with the hope that someone will take/use it and then create something of their own with what we have shared. We both have an opportunity to learn, grow, and adapt. This is WE SHARE so THEY can SHARE.

 

Examples.

  1. THEY SHARE. This is what we think of the Internet doing daily: Sharing resources. Billions of online resources.  “They” want to share something with you. When a college/university shares a resource (like a virtual student center) that is an example of THEY SHARE. The college (They) share their online resources or it acts as a curator for other THEY resources. When we look for THEY resources we start with a need we have—and THEY (hopefully) provide assets to help our exigency.
    1. Examples include community activists, fitness trainers, yogis, meditation leaders, spiritual congregations, grief groups, improv troupes, and musicians.
    2. How can we help our students, friends, family, and ourselves find THEY resources that exist in their communities?
  2. WE SHARE. This looks at giving back to our community. When WE SHARE, we provide our creations to the community for its betterment. In this situation, we look for (or provide) a platform to provide light to a broader group.
    1. Examples include people who share their photography, music, or poetry. Blogs and videos provide opportunities for us to contribute to others. We focus on giving.
    2. How can students, friends, family, and ourselves become resources for their communities?
  3. WE SHARE so THEY can SHARE. This combines the above two categories. First WE share a skill, talent, or other resource to a larger group with expressed purpose of helping them develop something. That is, THEY (that larger group; the broader community) can then build on what we share so they can share something with their community. JR the Artist, as an example, uses his skills in this way.
    1. I have recorded fifty podcasts with people from various walks of life. When people tune into each episode that is an example of THEY share. The listening audience has found a resource (the podcasts represent the THEY in this case) to meet a need or address a curiosity within them. If I use my podcasting skills to help a hospice patient record her/his final thoughts about life so that the family can have that memory, then I have used a talent of mine to help another being pass along (share) memories, lessons, and desires they possess.
    2. How can students, friends, family, and ourselves share our creativity to help others share their creativity and lessons?

Online resources have the capability to be symbiotic. What do we do to help nurture that relationship?


Video recommendation for the week:

Roxie, my canine companion, and I have been certified as a pet therapy team. In that capacity we visit our local hospital, hospice, schools, and airport to bring comfort to others. Once the COVID-19 lockdowns came about, our visits ended.  So, we went online. Roxie and I created a video that we shared with the local hospital’s nurses and staff. An example of WE SHARE.


Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

My new book has been released.
eBook ($2.99) Paperback ($9.99). Click here.

Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.

Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story.
Click here for more information about the book.

In the meantime, check out her blog.

And you can still order:

  • My book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
  • Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. I conducted (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®.

You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

©2020. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

Posted in Life lessons | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

(Issue #538) The Package And The Person


Maybe if we focus on the person,
we may come to see the packaging in a different light.

“They’re nice but, you know, they belong to that political party.”
“She’s a retired teacher. So cheerful. Just don’t understand how she could support that candidate.”
“Don’t talk to them. They don’t look like us.”
“Did you see that t-shirt? Didn’t know they cheered for that football team. Makes no sense.”
“You go to what church? OMG!”

We’ve all heard variations of the above. Probably with a lot stronger language. We find ourselves captured by the labels. Race. Sexual orientation. Spirituality beliefs. Political affiliations. Sports team allegiance. Neighborhood choice. Types of cars or trucks we drive (!). On and on.

Example: Two (of the, what would you say, bazillion?) labels in political diatribes: socialist and fascist.  The descriptors are thrown around with little regard to meaning—actual definition. They become shorthand to slam a person of the other political party. Little thought given to the continuum on which they lie. Rather than attempt to understand the person or group, we toss a label. Draw the line. Easy.

And prone to error as the labels miss the nuances, the similarities between two (supposed) contrary ideas that could never share (so the reasoning goes) a thought or value.

The packaging becomes more important than the person in this context. An easy way to avoid critical thinking  and remain “loyal” to our tribe.

An episode of Schitt’s Creek highlighted this using wine as a metaphor. Daniel tells Stevie that he is “Into the Wine. Not the Label.”

Into the person. Not what we call him.

Into the character. Not what moniker is placed upon her.

Into the totality of one’s life. Not that her preferences may differ from ours.

Into the Person. Not the Package.

Of course, when the person’s life, his totality of actions and interactions IS consistent with the packaging, then we can have a different conversation.  Until then…maybe if we focus on the person, we may come to see the packaging in a different light.


Video recommendation for the week:

From Schitt’s Creek, Season 1, Episode 10.


Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

My new book has been released.
eBook ($2.99) Paperback ($9.99). Click here.

Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.

Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story.
Click here for more information about the book.

In the meantime, check out her blog.

And you can still order:

  • My book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
  • Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. I conducted (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®.

You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

©2020. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

 

Posted in Life lessons | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

(Issue #537) Critical Thinking Revisited


Critical thinking is not only looking for information that supports
what we want to hear, see, or believe. It helps us see the fallacies in our assumptions.

A few of the student success textbooks I wrote for Pearson Education focused on the RED Model for critical thinking. When followed, this simple model helps us process information in an accurate and rational manner based on facts.

First, let’s define two concepts. As I wrote in my Choices for College Success book in 2015:

  1. Assumptions.  An assumption is an inference, an opinion, or a belief about (among other things) a person, place, or philosophical position.  Whether it is a wild accusation heard during political campaigns, differing expectations of a supervisor and employee, or a misunderstanding between two friends, an assumption can get us into big trouble if not verified or fact checked. We must separate fact from fiction.
  2. Confirmation Bias. This happens when we lean toward or agree with only information that confirms already held personal beliefs. We tend to overlook or dismiss anything that may challenge or disprove our opinion. Hard to have an honest and meaningful fact check if any contrary information or source is eliminated.

Now for the model*.

Recognize Assumptions. When we assume we accept something as accurate—with or without proof. When we critically think we have to make sure we identify all that we accept as fact. The critical thinker is willing to say, “I may believe in this position (fact, source, person) but I need to challenge the assumption.  Example: Our nation’s intelligence community engages in Red Team Analysis whereby they purposefully take a role that rebuts initial assumptions.

Evaluate Information. To challenge assumptions we need to gather information. Then, we need to examine the information. Is it wide-ranging? Or does it only come from certain sources that confirm the assumptions and biases we have?  This step requires one to use information literacy skills.

Draw Conclusions. You have objectively separated fact from fiction and analyzed the information in front of you. You have identified confirmation biases. You draw a conclusion even if it goes counter to your original assumptions because the evidence dictates such a conclusion.

Critical thinking requires careful reflection and analysis.  It reflects the ability to go counter to original assumptions if the information leads in that direction. It helps build a reasoned and sound case for a position in which we believe.

Critical thinking is not only looking for information that supports what we want to hear, see, or believe. It helps us see the fallacies in our assumptions.

(*Note: Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal, Forms A/B (WGCTA). Copyright © 2007 NCS Pearson, Inc. All rights reserved. “Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal” is a trademark,  in the US and/or other countries, of Pearson Education, Inc. or its affiliates(s).)

Video recommendation for the week:

Digging into the archives. Here is quick overview of the model.


Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

My new book has been released.
eBook ($2.99) Paperback ($9.99). Click here.

Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.

Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story.
Click here for more information about the book.

In the meantime, check out her blog.

And you can still order:

  • My book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
  • Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. I conducted (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®.

You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

©2020. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

Posted in Life lessons | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

(Issue #536) Inspirational Hatchling


It did not let a force bigger than itself keep it from its goal. It did not quit.
A lesson taught. A lesson learned.
~Roxie~

In 2019, Roxie (my canine companion) and I came across a lone sea turtle hatchling inching its way to the ocean. Roxie would later share that story in her book.

Lone Sea Turtle Hatchling Crawling to the Ocean. ©Steve Piscitelli. 2020

A few days ago, about an hour or so after sunrise, I came across another such intrepid creature. Alone and pulling itself toward the pounding surf. Impressive. Inspirational.


Video recommendation #1 for the week:

As the hatchling inches forward toward the surf…More in the 2nd video below.


I realize there is an instinct that is drawing the hatchling to the sea. Still, watching such a small being take on such an immense challenge makes me shake my head in disbelief and appreciation.  When it got pushed back by incoming waves, it did not quit. It did not return to its starting point. No, it reoriented and continued toward its goal. Determined, the little creature made it into the water. A hoped-for future in an overwhelming environment.

I thought of Roxie and part of her tale of the hatchling(Story #45):

….Why do some beings move forward in spite of what seem to be overwhelming odds, while others shrug and give up? Odd, isn’t it, something so small can have such a lasting impact on so many who appear to be so much larger. It did not let a force bigger than itself keep it from its goal. It did not quit.

A lesson taught. A lesson learned.

It’s not always about how big you are—or how big you are not.  A great deal depends on your determination, motivation, desire, and discipline. Why do you think some beings are able to move forward in spite of what seem to be overwhelming odds? In fact, they may never even start moving forward.
They sit there defeated, never knowing what they could have been
if they only stepped forward. How do you keep going when the odds seem against you? What specific strategies do you use? Is there someone, like the little turtle, who inspires you to move when the going is difficult?….

It was the message I needed to see on that particular day.

Pass it along to someone who might need a nudge of inspiration.


Video recommendation#2 for the week:

The surf hits and turns the little one around. He reorients.  He will make it to the ocean.


Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

My new book has been released.
eBook ($2.99) Paperback ($9.99). Click here.

Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.

Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story.
Click here for more information about the book.

In the meantime, check out her blog.

And you can still order:

  • My book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
  • Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. I conducted (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®.

You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

©2020. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

 

Posted in Goals, growth, Life lessons, resilience | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

(Issue #535) Conveying Your Story


In their story lies their strength for a better future. The same for you.

[For those who follow my blog, you know I end each blog post with a video recommendation.  Don’t miss this week’s video.  I reached into the archives and share with you my conversation with one of the courageous Little Rock Nine students as she conveys her story—or at least a piece of it.]

Stories, when told in a compelling fashion, capture attention. They get an important message across to the other people in the room, on the video call, or reading a social media post.  The teller, however, needs more than a tale to convey and an audience. She needs a structure, or as Bernadette Jiwa says, a scaffold. More specifically, she writes and speaks about The 5Cs of the Story Scaffold.

  1. Context (or backstory for the person)
  2. Catalyst (or event that changes in the person’s world)
  3. Complication (or obstacle that creates a choice for the person)
  4. Change (or transformation to address the obstacle)
  5. Consequence (or resolution that changes the person’s worldview)

Photo by Steve Piscitelli. ©2019

An example I saw often while teaching in the community college system involved older “non-traditional” students coming back to school to change the trajectory of their lives.

  1. Context. They had worked in a particular field for years, for example.
  2. Catalyst.  A layoff or economic recession created the need for a new skill, training, or direction.
  3. Complication. I often worked with students at the community college level who first had to work their way through preparatory classes before they could get to the major area of concentration. Many needed financial assistance.
  4. Change. They attended tutoring sessions, applied for grants and scholarships, or sought career guidance with a student affairs counselor.
  5. Consequence. Certification or graduation.

I always found their stories (their life journeys) powerful and motivating. The obstacles (Complications) they overcame on a daily basis were inspirational. They knew they needed to transform (Change) their behaviors in order to achieve their dreams (Consequence).

Another example.

Let’s use the Reconstruction Era of United States History to demonstrate this model.

  1. Context. The immediate post-Civil War era (1865-1877) saw the ratification of the 13th Amendment (end slavery), the 14th Amendment (citizenship and equal protection of the law), and the 15th Amendment (voting rights). Federal troops were in place until states in the South ratified the amendments.
  2. Catalyst. Federal troops were removed from the last of the Southern states in 1877.
  3. Complication. Jim Crow laws were passed that effectively abrogated the three Reconstruction Amendments (noted above). Black Americans were denied rights and faced discrimination, arrest, and death.
  4. Change. The discriminatory laws were in affect for about a century. The modern Civil Rights Movement leaders paved the way to challenge/expose the marginalization (at the least) of African-American citizens. Brown v. Board of Education (1954) changed the landscape and dialogue. The movement grew and caught the attention of the nation. Marches, sit-ins, and protests mobilized citizens for change.
  5. Consequence. Civil Rights legislation was passed.

Now, given the recent marches regarding social injustice and racism, you could make the argument for a new story where the consequence of the previous story (Civil Rights legislation passed) has become the context for the current story. And the rest of the scaffold continues to build in this story.

We all have stories that demonstrate our resolve. They helped shape your life.  Think about how your story scaffold can help someone else see the light—a new way. Help them see their potential by assisting them to see their own story. In their story lies their strength for a better future. The same for you.


Video recommendation for the week:

While in Little Rock, Arkansas a few years ago I had the opportunity to meet Minnie Jean Brown Trickey. She was one of the Little Rock Nine (1957).  Listen to her compelling story.

Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

My new book has been released.
eBook ($2.99) Paperback ($9.99). Click here.

Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.

Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story.
Click here for more information about the book.

In the meantime, check out her blog.

And you can still order:

  • My book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
  • Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. I conducted (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®.

You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

©2020. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

 

Posted in Life lessons | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

(Issue #534) Physically Distant Yet Socially Connected


As you, your family, and community practice physical distancing,
how are you nourishing the appropriate
social connections vital to your wellbeing?

We have been inundated with an updated vocabulary this year. Not necessarily new words. The context has changed.

I came across a social media post (thank you, Njeri!) that reminded me how we can become desensitized to words. We accept them as the new normal (there’s one of those updated context concepts). We become immune to their meaning.  We may even mix meanings and interchange labels.

Like, social distancing and physical distancing. We hear these and we probably envision six feet of separation, masks, and avoiding crowded places. But according to an article in Johns Hopkins Medicine (July 15, 2015), there is a difference between the two that came about early in the pandemic here in the USA.

The article states,

“The practice of social distancing means staying home and away from others as much as possible to help prevent spreading of COVID-19. The practice of social distancing encourages the use of things such as online video and phone communication instead of in-person contact.  As communities reopen and people are more often in public, the term ‘physical distancing’ (instead of social distancing) is being used to reinforce the need to stay at least 6 feet from others, as well as wearing face masks.  Historically, social distancing was also used interchangeably to indicate physical distancing.  However, social distancing is a strategy distinct from the physical distancing behavior.”  [emphasis added]

Six of one; half-dozen of the other. Maybe.  But still it gives pause for thought.  While it is prudent to maintain our physical separation and practice proper hygiene practices, we would do well to remember that we also thrive on/depend on social connections.

Think Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  The first two levels address our needs for sustenance and safety. We could argue that practicing physical distancing falls here.

Level three of Maslow’s theory addresses belonging, love, intimacy, and friends. Or in other words, social connections. If we were to quarantine or isolate, we would/could socially distance ourselves from other people. Over a prolonged period of time that could have a negative effect.  Our challenge has become to stay socially connected while physically distancing.

Another social media post shared, “The mental health issues related to our lockdown and the pandemic are especially hard for people with depression.” There are organizations in place to lend an ear and coping strategies.

As you, your family, and community practice physical distancing, how are you nourishing the appropriate social connections vital to your wellbeing?

Until next week, may you remain safe, physically distant, and socially connected.


Video recommendation for the week:

Listen to Mental Health Counselor Eileen Crawford explain how one community Developed programming to help residents socially connect and thrive. (NOTE: This is a smaller clip of a longer podcast.)


Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

My new book has been released.
eBook ($2.99) Paperback ($9.99). Click here.

Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.

Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story.
Click here for more information about the book.

In the meantime, check out her blog.

And you can still order:

  • My book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
  • Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. I conducted (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®.

You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

©2020. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

Posted in Life lessons | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment