(#425) A Community of Mentors for Music, Hope, and Rainbows


Neighbors entertaining neighbors while enjoying
the company of other neighbors.

Research tells us that “hope” requires three ingredients: Goals + Pathways + Agency. Our goal—a rainbow that attracts and draws our attention—must be valuable to us and/or our community.  A pathway—a plausible route to the goal—must be present. And, we intuit (in some way or another) we have the ability (at some level), the power, and the talent to reach that goal.

Mentors assist along the pathway. They help us discover the agency we have not yet recognized. We typically think of mentors as solo entities; individuals sharing expertise. If one mentor can change a life, think what a community of mentors can do.  That’s what the Atlantic Beach, Florida Songwriters’ Night provides.

As cliché as it might sound, Songwriters’ Night (SWN) started on the back of a cocktail napkin.  In 2003 I served on the Atlantic Beach Cultural Arts and Recreation Advisory Committee. That body approved my suggestion for the city to sponsor an outdoor music event for our community.   I went to the best person I knew who could deliver as both the MC and musical muse for the event, Mike “Shack” Shackelford. As a singer-songwriter, Shack brought the musical chops needed to produce a professional event. He could mentor me (the promoter) and the stage performers (the talent).

At the time, Shack’s band was playing at a lounge in Atlantic Beach.  I met him there one night and our plan came together in a matter of minutes. With the backing of our city government, we would provide a free, family-friendly music event for our community. It would be for amateurs and professionals alike. No auditions required. All welcomed. Respectful performances (read: G-rated; family-oriented) only.

We hoped to provide a musical pathway for our community.  An opportunity for songwriters to share their talents, gain confidence, connect with like-minded creative types, and entertain community members.  Neighbors entertaining neighbors while enjoying the company of other neighbors.

Over the years the adults have shared the stage with children of the community. These young artists test and hone their musical skills in a true listening room environment.

One such aspiring singer-songwriter shared her experiences with me.  Twelve-year old Izzy Moon Mayforth told me she likes that people listen to her music—and that she gets to listen to others and learn from them for her songwriting and performing. When she hears the heart-felt applause after her performances she says to herself, “Glad that I did it!” She gains confidence—and that strengthens the agency needed to move toward goal completion.

Shack (who, BTW, is a few years older than 12) believes one of the most beautiful results of the monthly events is to see people, who were petrified at first, come back as part of the regular rotation of artists. One who helped me perform (singing and with a tasteful lead guitar) one of my songs when he was about 10 years old, now records and acts in Los Angeles.

For the audience, the event builds the community’s “social capital.” It serves as a community laboratory to help young and not-so-young, of varying musical abilities, wing toward their dreams. In between songs, before the event, or after the lights go dark, the audience talks about things other than music like neighborhood schools, workplace opportunities, home improvement projects, or important community issues. Spin-off events to other parts of the county have occurred as well.

A beach venue for dreams helps create a pathway for other venues.

And hope lives. When people take time to listen to, and give gratitude for the gifts of others, respect builds, and community strengthens.  As Izzy sings in one of her original compositions, “You’re my friend, and I love you.”


Video recommendation for the week.

Izzy will be a part of a podcast on The Growth and Resilience Network podcast channel later this fall. When we spoke, she graciously agreed to perform her song “It Rained Today.”


For more about community building and sustainability, look for my new book due out the end of 2018.  More information to come.

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

For information about and to order my 2017 book, Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here. A few colleges and one state-wide agency have adopted it for training and coaching purposes. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.

The paperback price on Amazon is now $14.99 and the Kindle version stands at $5.99. Consider it for a faculty orientation or a mentoring program. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

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) 2018. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

Posted in acceptance, amplifying, Appreciation, authenticity, awareness, Being REMARKABLE, Community, community development, confidence, core values, creating your future, Creativity, Friendship, listening, mentoring, Mindfulness, mindset, Motivation, Personal growth, Personal Wellbeing, Relationship, resilience, respect | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

(#424) Connections


Marriage has no guarantees.
If that’s what you’re looking for, go live with a car battery.”
– Erma Bombeck –

Random thoughts about the power of connections.

  • On those times when we take chances, when we risk stepping outside of the comfort zone, an encouraging voice or smile can be the difference between moving forward or retreating. As one blogger put it, when we play on the “skinny branches of life”—we need support.
  • How often do we stop to remember the grace others have added to our lives? One author reminds us “that a grateful outlook produces emotional prosperity, whereas failing to live gratefully leads to emotional poverty.”

  • A neighbor who graciously accepted the invitation to review one section of my new book, shared an ageless quote:

No man is an island,
entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the continent,
a part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less,
as well as if a promontory were,
as well as if a manor of thy friend’s
or of thine own were.
Any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind;
and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
it tolls for thee.
John Dunne’s Meditation 17 –

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us that “It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny.”
  • One Buddhists meditation technique, Naikan, guides us to ask three questions about our relationships:
    • What have I received from ________?
    • What have I given to ________?
    • What troubles and difficulty have I caused ________?
  • Relationships can be messy. Or as Erma Bombeck has said, “”Marriage has no guarantees. If that’s what you’re looking for, go live with a car battery.”

Video recommendation for the week.

Tenth Avenue North sings that there “ain’t no life outside each other…we are not meant to live this life alone.”


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

For information about and to order my book, Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here. A few colleges and one state-wide agency have adopted it for training and coaching purposes. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.

The paperback price on Amazon is now $14.99 and the Kindle version stands at $5.99. Consider it for a faculty orientation or a mentoring program. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

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) 2018. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

Posted in amplifying, Appreciation, assumptions, authenticity, awareness, Community, Connection-Disconnection, family, fortitude, Friendship, growth, happiness, health, humor, Integrity, Life lessons, listening, love, Reflective practice, Relationship | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

(#423) Poverty


When communities build walls to separate their people
(due to a poverty of understanding or compassion), the lack can seem insurmountable.

 “The world tends to define poverty and riches simply in terms of economics. But poverty has many faces—weakness, dependence, and many forms of humiliation. Essentially, poverty is a lack of means to accomplish what one desires or needs, be it lack of money, relationships, influence, power, intellectual ability, physical strength, freedom, or dignity.”Richard Rohr.

Rohr’s words convey that the concept of poverty goes beyond dollars and cents. At its heart, poverty is a lack of something—something that is crucial to humanness.

You know people (or you may have experienced it yourself) who have the dollars and cents but are poor (lack) in:

  • acceptance
  • authenticity
  • calm
  • clarity
  • critical thinking
  • discipline
  • education
  • evidence
  • health
  • hope
  • humor
  • inspiration
  • love
  • opportunity
  • peace
  • purpose
  • relationships
  • resilience
  • respect for others
  • respect for selves
  • security
  • spirituality
  • virtuous action
  • vision

When we experience poverty we feel, in that space, a separation from those who have what we do not.  It could be ego-based, or it could just as well be survival-oriented. Whatever its roots, it is real to us.

When communities build walls to separate their people (due to a poverty of understanding or compassion), the lack can seem insurmountable.  When those barriers are breached by humanity—kindness, understanding, assistance, education, nourishment on physical, spiritual, and emotional levels—we have a chance to address poverty.

When we continue to separate, demonize, fail to understand, or do not even attempt to communicate, poverty deepens.


Video recommendation for the week:

One view of poverty.


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

For information about and to order my book, Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here. A few colleges and one state-wide agency have adopted it for training and coaching purposes. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.

The paperback price on Amazon is now $14.99 and the Kindle version stands at $5.99. Consider it for a faculty orientation or a mentoring program. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

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) 2018. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

Posted in accountability, action, assumptions, authenticity, awareness, Being REMARKABLE, change, change management, Choice, Civility, collaboration, Critical Thinking, Life lessons, respect, responsibility, risk-taking | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

(#422) Ask. Listen. Act.


Noise abounds as people tell us what we should and should not.
Perhaps we do the same to others.

I stood in the back of an auditorium in New Mexico.  In ten minutes, I would be introduced to an audience of about 1,000 public school teachers. They had come to hear me for their professional development day.

One of the organizers leaned over and whispered in my ear. “You got a big group today! And, about 900 of them don’t want to be here.” He smiled.

Thanks!

Later this summer, I will facilitate  a four-hour workshop for 125 to 150 community college faculty.  The organizer told me that the event will be mandatory for the faculty.

One would hope the people forced to attend “training” would have input into what the program would cover. In my experience, that rarely happens.

I have written on this blog about the importance—the necessity—to ask questions, listen, and then act considering the information gathered. You can read those posts here and here.

At a community meeting this week, I noticed a similar dynamic.  Knowledgeable, civil, compassionate, and respectful people sat around the table with thoughts, plans, and initiatives for what we could do for our community.  Great ideas of how to help people and improve well-being. What was not part of the initial comments was the question, “Have we asked the people (our neighbors) what they want or need?”  Simple. Yet often overlooked in the hurry to do what we “know” is the right thing to do.

Noise abounds as people will gladly tell us what we should or should not do. Perhaps we do the same to others. (Probably do!)  At times, we go for the quick answer or (what we think is the) resolution and miss the eloquence of pertinent questions.

Ask authentic and meaningful questions.  Listen and ask more questions. Act with purpose, direction, and support.


Video recommendation for the week.

Active listening is not easy.  Just ask Ray Romano.


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

For information about and to order my book, Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.  A few colleges and one state-wide agency have adopted it for training and coaching purposes. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.

The paperback price on Amazon is now $14.99 and the Kindle version stands at $5.99. Consider it for a faculty orientation or a mentoring program.  The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

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) 2018. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

Posted in assumptions, awareness, Civility, collaboration, Communication, conversation, faculty development, Life lessons, professional development | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

(#421) Step Out, Stretch, and Experience


You make your partner look good. The scene is never about you….

When we learn we either acquire new skills and knowledge or modify old structures of knowing and doing.  It helps us adapt, change, survive, grow, and thrive.  The great teachers in our lives have provided the opportunities for the modifications and acquisitions. They help us step out of our comfort zones and stretch in new directions.

When we cocoon ourselves with the same people, processes, frames of reference, sources of information, activities, and thought patterns we limit perspective. We become mired in what we consider our best practices.  We fail to grow to potential.

For the past two months, I have been a student with an improv comedy workshop.  I have stretched, learned, failed, learned some more, laughed, failed again, collaborated, and grown with nine talented, witty, and encouraging troupe members.

Certain themes resonated with each session. Consider how each of the following can have applicability, beyond the improv stage, to our personal and professional relationships.

  • Give and receive gifts.

o   Good improv starts with the basic “yes, and” premise.  You make your partner look good. The scene is never about you; you make the scene about the scene. You and your partner give each other opportunities to shine and advance the message. This also applies to the audience.  Accept them. Receive them. Without them, you are speaking to yourself.

  • Commit to the scene.

o   Let the people in front of you (your partners and the audience) know who you are and what you are doing. Be specific. Be clear. Be heard. Step out and take a chance. If you fail, your partners will be there for you. If they fail, you will be there for them. See above.

  • Listen and share the stage.

o   While it’s important to be heard, you must share the scene. This requires listening and following. When we all talk, and all increase the volume of the conversation, we end up with chaos.  Know when to modulate or stop talking. Remember, again, it’s not about you. It must be about the overall message.

  • Don’t start a race to the bottom.

o   Do you really need to drop the “F-bomb” or insult a group of people? Once you open the door for lower-level discourse, you give the audience permission to go there. “Oh,” they think, “so it’s that kind of show!  Let’s give ‘em more of that.” When we revert to disrespect we announce that we either cannot do better, or we are too lazy to create at a high level.

  • Laugh and collaborate.

o   Yes, and yes! Learning does not need to be solitary or drudgery.

Being a continual learner gives us opportunities to experience, fail, and grow.  It can be frightening. It can be exhilarating.

Step out, stretch, and experience.


Video recommendation for the week.

Failure can be frustrating.  I like it when I can laugh and learn from it.  As I did from the experiences in this video.  Enjoy!

 


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

For information about and to order my book, Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.  A few colleges and one state-wide agency have adopted it for training and coaching purposes. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.

The paperback price on Amazon is now $14.99 and the Kindle version stands at $5.99.

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) 2018. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

Posted in accountability, awareness, Being REMARKABLE, change, collegiality, Communication, Discipline, Gratitude, growth, habits, laughter, teamwork | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

(#420) Trust As A Core Value


Everyone has a story and our job is to listen.

A few decades years after the Civil War, Clara White, a former slave, saw a need and took action in her Jacksonville, Florida neighborhood.  Some of her neighbors did not have enough to eat. So, she fed what she could to whom she could.   A mission took hold.

Fast forward to the 1930s and the beginning of the Great Depression. Carrying the mission forward, Clara’s daughter, Eartha, began moving the mission from a soup kitchen to a community development center. Today the Clara White Mission feeds, houses, educates, and ministers to the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the homeless, low-income, and veterans in need.

CEO/President of the CWM, Ms. Ju’ Coby Pittman, told me that each client arrives at the front door “broken, with a laundry bag of challenges,” and in need of someone to believe in and assist them. They need a community of resources.

But how does an agency ministering to the needs of a transient population develop a sense of community? Is that even possible?  Pittman told me it comes down to one core value. Trust.

Trust does not come from words in a mission statement. It grows from authentic relationships having relevant conversations about people’s rainbows. Often, clients do not believe the CWM can do what it says it can.  “How does someone care this much about me?” they wonder.  Enter the trust building process.

The staff members have regular conversations with clients. Recognizing that everyone’s situation is different, the CWM support system connects with the person as an individual.  Once the clients are enrolled and basic survival needs met, they start to see what is possible. They begin to see the relevance of the CWM services to their lives. Rather than passive observers, the clients remain actively involved in their journey. The CWM shares the mission and history of the center with clients. The staff listen to the clients, which in turn makes them feel engaged in the process.  Trust builds. They hear from the “alumni” of the CWM programs tell about their respective journeys. Those stories resonate with the lives of the new clients. Relevance.

 

The mission expects them to give back when they get on their feet. The clients become part of the partnership and they, in turn, help new clients see the relevance in what the CWM does each day for each client.

In fact, Pittman shared that the mission provides “a hand up, not a hand out.” They give back to the community. With unbridled enthusiasm, Pittman states, “It’s not a job; it’s a ministry…this is my purpose.  Everyone has a story and our job is to listen. What we think might be best for them, might not be the best for them.”

Mark Twain reportedly said that the two most important days of a person’s our lives are the day we are born and the day we discover why we were born.

Pittman said she finds her “why,” the relevance for what she does in the motto of Clara and Ertha White:

Do all the good you can,
In all the ways you can,
For all the people you can,
And all the places you can,
While you can.

That is relevant. That forms trust. And it builds community.


Video recommendation for the week.

Click here to hear and see the power of The Miracle on Ashley Street.  Think of the miracles that can happen in your community when people come together, trust one another, and build programs of support and relevance.


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

For information about and to order my book, Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.  A number of colleges and one state-wide agency have adopted it for training and coaching purposes. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.

The paperback price on Amazon is now $14.99 and the Kindle version stands at $5.99.

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) 2018. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

Posted in acceptance, accountability, amplifying, Appreciation, assumptions, Being REMARKABLE, change, Community, community development, courage, dignity, Discipline, fortitude, Goals, habits, health, hope, Integrity, Motivation, resilience, Social responsibility, social ties, transactional leadership, wisdom | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

(#419) What If It Were All Gone?


We allow ourselves to get overwhelmed by the “stuff” of life.
We end up taking a lot for granted. We may even have GDD.  
Gratitude Deficit Disorder.

This past week I’ve been devouring gratitude. Actually, devouring three works by Robert A. Emmons: The Little Book of Gratitude; Gratitude Works; and Thanks!  So many useful nuggets and reminders about gratefulness and being aware.

In one of the works, Emmons references the “principle of scarcity.” When something or someone becomes unavailable—or we think we might never see it again—our gratitude and appreciation for that object reawakens or heightens.

I’ve often read or heard words something like, “If I knew I only had one week left, I’d make sure I witnessed a sunrise/called that long-lost friend/took a walk in the park/listened more deeply/said thank you to my significant other/loved a little longer/went to a music event/hugged my kid this morning/had a wonderful family meal/swam in the ocean/learned to surf/played the piano/….

Interesting that we have 52 weeks a year X the number of years in our lives and it takes knowing we have “only one week left” before we go into high alert and become aware of what we are to lose forever.

Perhaps you have heard of the “George Bailey Effect” named for the main character in It’s a Wonderful Life (1947). George, down on his luck, speculates that the world would have been better if he had not been born.  His guardian angel, Clarence, indulges the thought and leads George through a life that does not include him. A life he never had the chance to impact.  It’s only then that George, with the help of Clarence, realizes he had lost site of the great things in his life.  He sees what the world—and he—would have missed if his wish were realized. His emotions are heightened and he sees with new eyes what he had with wonder and gratitude. He, in essence, experienced the principle of scarcity.

It can happen to any of us when we allow ourselves to get overwhelmed by the “stuff” of life. We end up taking a lot for granted. We have what Emmons refers to as GDD.  Gratitude Deficit Disorder.

Either we do not receive enough and/or we do not offer and recognize enough gratitude in our lives.  If we focus on the offering of gratitude, maybe, just maybe, we see the world a bit differently. We linger a bit longer on the awe of what is in front of us and what it would be mean if the person, the place, or the purpose no longer were in our lives.  We shift attention.

“Gratitude is a way of seeing that alters our gaze,” Emmons said.

We have the control. Do for yourself what Clarence did for George. And perhaps, for a friend, family member or colleague, you can be an “angel” who helps that person focus on the good in life.


Video recommendation for the week.

In this scene, George Bailey has altered his gaze and experiences appreciation, joy, and gratitude.


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

For information about and to order my book, Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.  A number of colleges and one state-wide agency have adopted it for training and coaching purposes. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.

The paperback price on Amazon is now $14.99 and the Kindle version stands at $5.99.

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) 2018. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

Posted in Appreciation, awareness, Choice, Gratitude, growth, Life lessons, love, resilience | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment