(Issue #481) No Parental Instruction Manual


They—like so many (all?) parents then and now—had to write their own parenting how-to guide.  A half century later, I am grateful.

Today (August 11, 2019) marks the 50th anniversary of my father’s death. He succumbed, at age 56, to cancer. Born into a first generation Italian-American family, he grew up on the tough streets of the city. His father died young (in his forties as I remember).  Dad quit school after the 8th grade so that he could work to help his large family survive.  Early in life, he chose to drink and live hard, which in part led to an early demise.

Dad never experienced “higher education” or a “respectable job.” I have few physical reminders of our brief time together. Two ashtrays (courtesy of a 3 packs-a-day unfiltered Lucky Strike cigarette addiction). A set of drinking cups. An old beach shirt.

I cherish two non-material attributes that I saw him master: His ability to connect with people and his penchant to dream. As I think back at how he lived and the things he did (and did not do), he did not want to create and live within a small and safe world.

Unfortunately, he got sidetracked on the “how.”  He had difficulty enlarging that worldview. He got stuck.

Parents don’t get an instruction manual. Sixty-six years ago, when Dad and Mom brought me into this world, there were no parenting classes (at least not in the various neighborhoods we moved in and out of). They both learned and did the best they could. They—like so many (all?) parents then and now—had to write their own parenting how-to guide.

They made mistakes. They made sacrifices. They made choices. They help me make me.

I am fortunate that Dad left me those two sustaining lessons. One on the importance of connecting with the people in front of you and the other on dreaming big.

There was a third tenet I learned from his life’s journey. Dream AND do the work the dreams require—or they may become chimeras.   Sometimes you reach them. Sometimes you don’t.  Forever dream. And keep moving forward.

A half century later, I am ever grateful.


Video Recommendation of the Week

Perhaps my father was talking to me when I wrote this song in 2010.  I am forever grateful for connecting with John Longbottom. In this video, John joined me one morning as part of a class lesson and discussion. It was 2011. The location, Florida State College at Jacksonville (then Florida Community College at Jacksonville) on the Downtown Campus. Again, grateful.


You can purchase my latest book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print or e-book) on here.  More information (including seven free podcast episodes to highlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

And check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). Another university recently (May 2019) adopted it for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. I will be conducting (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college 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® (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

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

©2019. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

Posted in accountability, Discipline, Dreams, Life lessons | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

(Issue #480) Community Building Components


Building community requires that we consider our subject mindfully,
hold conversations driven by authentic questions,
and then engage in collaboration to do the needed work.

Over coffee last week, I participated in a conversation about community with a city leader and a neighbor. Later in the week, I facilitated a conversation with a group of about thirty neighbors. Again, the topic centered on the concept of community.  The week before, I spoke to more than a hundred people in Nashville. There, we examined how to empower college and university students to develop and sustain a growth-oriented campus community.

While I have not found “THE” formula (if one exists) for community development, certain key components keep presenting themselves when the dialogue focuses on community building, growth, and resilience.

  1. Definition. Before we can build community, or even discuss the concept, we have to understand what the term means. Ask five people to define community, and you will hear varying descriptions.  When I have worked with college faculty about student retention issues, the first thing we have to do is understand what the people around the table mean when they use the word “retention.” Sounds simplistic but often times when this important first step is missed, the other parts of the conversation begin to go off the rails.
  2. Core Values. Once you have a common understanding and agreement about what community is, you need to examine the foundational pillars of you community. What are the foundational values? My experiences and research have led me to identify and write about The 7 Rs. Your community might gravitate to others. Which of the identified values are strong and stable in your community—and which have become challenged and, in turn, have challenged the others?
  3. HTRB. How will your group remain vigilant about pausing, reflecting, breathing, and hitting the reset button as needed? When and how will you know it is time to take a timeout and regroup?
  4. Weak Signals. How will your group learn to pay attention to those signs that things are about to change, need to change, or have changed?  How will you recognize when best practices have become crusty and historically mired in the catch phrase, “Well, that’s how we have always done things around here”?  Community growth and resilience demands that look for signs and patterns that portend trends.

5. Noise.  A lot of chatter, yelling, video, memes, trolls, and bots vie for our attention. How does a community and its members remain on task and not get distracted by unusable, untimely, hypothetical, and distracting feeds? How does the community go about separating the important signals from call-outs and redundant noise?

Building community requires that we consider our subject mindfully, hold conversations driven by authentic questions, and then engage in collaboration to do the work needed.

Where do you need to start or continue with your community work? What are the bright spots? What are the not-so-bright spots?  What is your next step?


Video Recommendation for the Week:

This video comes from Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island.  While it specifically speaks to connecting students with campus resources, it can be a starting point for a community conversation. How does your community connect its residents with needed resources like food, medical care, transportation, leisure activities, educational opportunities, spiritual discussions, or ways to combat isolation? As I state at the end of the video, “Are you building silos or are you creating bridges?”


My latest book,
Community as a Safe Place to Land,

has been released! You can purchase it (print or e-book) on Amazon.
More information (including seven free podcast episodes to highlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.


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

You can still order my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). Another university recently (May 2019) adopted it for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.

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 can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network® (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

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

©2019. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

Posted in action, amplifying, assumptions, awareness, Community, community development, hope, influence, resilience | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

(Issue #479) Lessons by the Numbers


Six short video strategy lessons.

This week’s blog evolved from a former student. She reminded me of a guitar metaphor I used in class to highlight six dimensions of growth and resilience. That got me thinking about videos I had made featuring a number. As in steps, types, characteristics, strategies, and interlocking concepts.

So, I dug into my video archives. Below you will find six short (all but one run 123 seconds or less) videos that might provide a nugget or two of inspiration for yourself, your team, your students, or your family.

Whether in my home office, on a stage, or outdoors, I had a blast making  these videos. I am thankful for the opportunity to share these with you once again.

Enjoy this week’s video blog.

3 De-Motivating Words 

https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=rPX4vSajDCk

4 Steps to Goal Achievement 

5 Characteristics Of Effective Leadership

6 Dimensions of Wellness

7 Rs for Success 

8 Success Strategies for the Classroom (and the Business World)


My latest book,
Community as a Safe Place to Land,

has been released! You can purchase it (print or e-book) on Amazon.
More information (including seven free podcast episodes to highlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.



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

You can still order my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). Another university recently (May 2019) adopted it for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.

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 can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network® (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

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

©2019. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

 

Posted in assumptions, awareness, coaching, collaboration, collegiality, common sense, Community, core values, Critical Thinking, Dreams, Goals, Gratitude, Life lessons, Living a remarkable life | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

(Issue #478) A Possibility Conversation


Dig down … why do you remember this and
why does it speaks to your soul? Eulogy or résumé virtue?

Juxtaposition of experiences leading to a common conclusion.

Experience #1 goes back to a challenge I have offered to audiences. The question, “Are you building a resumé or are you building a life?”  I first used it to encourage students to think about what they were doing; where they focused energy. Was it on grade obsession or content comprehension and relevance? What was their purpose in doing what they were doing? Small choices, repeated over and over, will create a larger life. Were they  happy with their compounding small choices?

Experience #2 reinforced the above.  In his new book, The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life, David Brooks makes a distinction between “résumé virtues and eulogy virtues.” The first usually is a by-product of hyper-individualism per Brooks. It focuses on ego, status, title, dollars, and self, to the detriment of the greater good. Eulogy virtues reference those community-minded accomplishments and energies; our legacy. They tend to speak to our vocation, Brooks writes.  When we follow our vocation, we “listen to our heart.”

Photo ©Steve Piscitelli. 2019

Experience #3 occurred when I attended the Nelson Mandela International Day Jax event this past week.  One of the speakers, Khalil Osiris, reminded the audience that we don’t need empowerment. We already have the power. What we need to do is ask how we are using that power.  Going back to experiences 1 and 2: Are we building a résumé or a life? Are we listening to our souls or being distracted by shiny objects/people/rhetoric?

At the same event, Tukwini Mandela remembered how her grandfather maintained forward movement for something bigger than himself. If you want to make progress, she remembered him saying, you cannot follow the status quo.  You have to stretch. Ask questions. Do one good thing each day for your community.  Or in other words, eulogy virtues.

Your challenge for the coming week. Identify what you consider to be your most meaningful career accomplishment. (You could do it with a broader “life” accomplishment.) This would be something that spoke to your soul. Take time with this. Don’t be fooled into going with your first answer. Once you remember the achievement, write it down. Under that, identify the who, when, where, what, who, and (most importantly?) the why of this.  In short, dig down on why you remember this and why it speaks to your soul. Eulogy or résumé virtue? Transformational or Transactional? Focused on tasks or the collective genius of the community?

This exercise can help you have, as Brooks phrases it, a “possibility conversation” with yourself.


Video Recommendation for the Week.

Do we treat life as a cold calculating journey?  Hear David Brooks take on the importance of eulogy résumé.



My latest book,
Community as a Safe Place to Land,

has been released! You can purchase it (print or e-book) on Amazon.
More information (including seven free podcast episodes to highlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.



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

You can still order my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). Another university recently (May 2019) adopted it for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.

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 can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network® (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

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

©2019. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

 

Posted in awareness, Choice, Community, core values, engagement, focus, fortitude, Life lessons | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

(Issue #477) Call-Out Culture: Increasing Understanding or Volume?


If you have to name-call, then you have no argument;
you have admitted your lack of understanding and/or
inability to intelligently debate the issue at hand.

One of the byproducts of social media has been the legitimization of a call-out culture. One can argue that “calling out” irresponsible, cruel, hurtful, and illegal activity, in fact, can hold people responsible for their actions. By shining the spotlight, a dialogue can develop, and behavior improve. In this manner, one might call out in order to increase understanding and the moral climate.

Increasing understanding.

But that is not always the case.  Calling out has become a way of shaming those with whom we disagree. Yell louder. Embarrass. Demean. Name call. Vitriol. No dialogue. One person points a finger at someone and yells about lack of principle. Of course his principles are always just fine.

Increasing the volume at the expense of conversation and understanding.

We have all seen it (and, perhaps, many of us have done it): Someone reads a social media post and responds. Rather than comment on the content of the post, the person’s reply calls out a person or group—and, usually in an insulting way. And, the called-out party may or may not even be a part of the original conversation.

Example.  I saw a video post that involved a heart-warming act of acceptance, understanding, and compassion.  One viewer agreed about the need for such acts of generosity—but this person’s response could not stay on that positive note.  The next sentence went to an insult of a national figure (not even connected to the video).  What purpose did this serve? The video below offers that such callouts serve a way of gaining “prestige” or “credit” in the social medial world. Or a way to gain more credibility within our own “resistance bubbles.”

I often hear people lament the decline of civility, and then immediately engage in name-calling. Is name-calling leading to civility? Or, as I was taught as a child, if you have to curse or name-call, then you have no argument; you have admitted your lack of understanding and/or inability to intelligently debate the issue at hand.

When we call out, does it turn up the understanding or the volume? Is the call-out leading to deliberative dialogue or more collective monologues?

Video Recommendation for the Week.

Jonathan Haidt describes the rise and consequences of the call-out culture in this podcast excerpt (https://youtu.be/m5dIS8NmK1U).  INTERESTING NOTE:  One of the viewers of this video posted, “His voice is annoying.”  What in the world does that have to do with the topic or message?  Rather than address the nuances of Haidt’s position, the viewer criticizes him for something extraneous and (probably) beyond his control.



My latest book,
Community as a Safe Place to Land,

has been released! You can purchase it (print or e-book) on Amazon.
More information (including seven free podcast episodes to highlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.



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

You can still order my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). Another university recently (May 2019) adopted it for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.

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 can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network® (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

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

©2019. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

 

Posted in call-out culture, Civility, collaboration, Communication, Community | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

(Issue #476) Red Team Analysis


Reaching critically reviewed, dissected, and discussed decisions may require creative thinking about how to do it.
Critical thinking, though, is not a synonym for creative thinking.

I received a reminder about the simple eloquence of critical thinking during a recent visit to the Spy Museum in Washington, D.C.  Throughout the museum, visitors have opportunities to listen to primary source accounts of what spies do and how they do it.

Two things jumped out as we toured the facility.  One was a statement and the other a strategy.  Perhaps our current environment of jumping to conclusions, tweet storms, “fake news,” and ideologically embracing only what serves one’s POV, made these memorable for me.

Photo by Steve Piscitelli

One background video shared the perspective of a long-time intelligence official.  She explained that the intelligence community gathers an overwhelming amount of data.  She reminded the audience that intelligence officers cannot (should not) tell a whole story from a single piece of information.  That piece of data must be connect to, corroborated by, or dismissed because of the other data that surrounds it.

The Lesson/Reminder.  Don’t jump to a conclusion because one piece of evidence is compelling or supports a preconceived notion or ideological stance.

An interactive exhibit shared the story behind the Osama bin Laden raid. In particular, the intelligence analyst spoke about Red Teaming (Red Team Analysis).  Museum visitors sit at a board and walk through the process the intelligence community did as it reviewed the evidence (lots of data points) pointing to the probable location of the intended target. (If you click here and scroll to the Media Gallery and then move to item 4/8, you will see a still photo of this exhibit.)

The Lesson/Reminder.  Red Teaming requires assuming a role to rebut an original premise.  So, in the raid mentioned above, the starting point placed the key person inside a compound. The Red Team analysis established three other credible explanations as to whom or what else could have been housed in the same compound. The intelligence community then needed to sift through the information—the original hypothesis and the alternative explanations—in order to determine the course of action.  It was not easy.

Critical thinking requires gathering information, evaluating the information and sources for credibility, examining possible alternative explanations, discussing the findings, listening to and weighing contrary points of view, and then drawing conclusions based on analysis of credible evidence.

Critical thinking is not memorization of facts, blind ideological adherence to only what supports a preconceived belief, remaining steadfast in the face of countervailing information, or creating a narrative to support a belief.

Reaching critically reviewed, dissected, and discussed decisions may require creative thinking about how to do it. Red Teaming is one example of such thinking.

Critical thinking, though, is not a synonym for creative thinking.  Creating the facts to support our view or ignoring facts that do not support our beliefs is not critical thinking.


Video Recommendation for the Week.

This TED-Ed video explains a five-step critical thinking process.



My latest book,
Community as a Safe Place to Land,

has been released! You can purchase it (print or e-book) on Amazon.
More information (including seven free podcast episodes to highlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.



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

You can still order my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). Another university recently (May 2019) adopted it for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.

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 can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network® (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

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

©2019. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

 

Posted in accountability, Critical Thinking, Life lessons, red team analysis | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

(Issue #475) Purposeful Relationships Require Deliberative Efforts


Consider how you can incorporate deliberative efforts
for deeper organizational relationships—one person at a time.

I often stressed to my students that strategies for student success would prepare them for life success. My words came back to me as I have been settling in as a board member with a community group.

First, let’s look at one strategy I encouraged my students to embrace: Building authentic relationships with instructors.

Photo by (c) Steve Piscitelli

I urged them to contact their instructors as soon as possible at the beginning of the semester.  The ideal timing would see contact made prior to the semester starting; before entering the physical classroom or signing on to an online class for the first official day of class.  Such contact (by way of an office visit, email, online chat, or phone call) serves multiple purposes, For instance, it will allow the student to:

  • Establish the beginnings of an integrity-based relationship with the instructor.
  • Learn more about the course.
  • Learn more about what students need to do and have for class.
  • Ask about the top one, two, or three challenges past students have had with the class. The same for achievements.
  • Find out what resources are available to supplement the class material.
  • Help check assumptions about the professor that might have developed from past student evaluations.

That’s just a short list.

When I started my most-recent community work, the first board meeting confirmed that I had a great deal to learn about the organization.  Some things I have learned by trial and fire—going to meetings, taking part in discussions, and jumping into the program planning and delivery.  These were/are instructive, but I needed more grounding.

So, I listened to the professor whispering in my ear.

I reached out individually to each board member and set up a time to have a cup of coffee.  My purpose was to learn from people who have been doing this type of community work for many years.  I asked questions about the past, present, and future.  I learned about challenges, strengths, and weak signals for the group. And, I developed a better picture of what my space could be within the group—where and how I could serve with purpose.

Review the bulleted list above for students and apply it to community work, or a workplace team, or a new spiritual community membership, or [you fill in the blank]. By reaching out to, meeting with, and asking authentic questions of people who have a history with a group, you can:

  • Establish the beginnings of an integrity-based relationship with each member.
  • Learn more about the organizations past, present, future, strengths, challenges, and weak signals.
  • Learn more about what you need to do for the group. How can you serve best?
  • Ask about the top one, two, or three challenges each member has experienced with the organization. The same for achievements.
  • Find out about resources (available and needed) for the organization to carry out its mission.
  • Check assumptions about each member you might have formed from brief encounters in meetings.

Consider how you can incorporate deliberative efforts for deeper organizational relationships—one person at a time.


Video Recommendation for the Week

This brief video, while specifically addressing the context of campus culture, reminds us about the importance of building collaborative bridges. When we reach out, in a deliberative manner, we can learn about resources. And, after all, before we can use resources, we must know about them.



My latest book,
Community as a Safe Place to Land,

has been released! You can purchase it (print or e-book) on Amazon.
More information (including seven free podcast episodes to highlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.



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

You can still order my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). Another university recently (May 2019) adopted it for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.

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 can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network® (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

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

©2019. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

 

Posted in assumptions, authenticity, awareness, collaboration, collegiality, Communication, Community, community development, emotional intelligence, generativity, growth, Life lessons, resilience | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment