(#378) If Something Happens and No One Sees It, Does Anything Happen?


Quietly reaching out and forging a connection and creating change.

On a recent visit to Cedar Key, Florida, my wife I stumbled upon a rusted sign nailed to the front of a dilapidated wood bungalow.

On this site in 1897 nothing happened.

I have used the image often in talks about collaboration and community sustainability.

Is it possible for “nothing to happen”?  If nothing happens, doesn’t something happen because of what did not take place? Or if something does happen and it is not visible, then did anything happen?

Social media allows us to state our opinions and address the views of others. Network and cable news allow followers to opine. This provides multiple forums for us to take a stand and publicly declare our core values and condemn others when they cross the line in the sand we have drawn. And, likewise, others do the same.

If you choose not to join the crowd with a “me-too” post, does that mean you have done nothing? Does it mean you do not have an opinion or hesitate to take a side? Does it mean you have chosen neutrality or to fly under the radar?  Or worse, does it mean you condone the questionable behavior?

Not necessarily.

Our history is replete with brave souls who took courageous action for good at grave risk to themselves. They stood and acted in a public way. For that, we have a great deal to be thankful. A great deal.

A person, as well, can fight discrimination and bigotry one simple, quiet act at a time.  She doesn’t need to “post” the action to be proactive and take a stand.

Quietly reaching out and forging a connection and creating change.

Few may see or hear of the act.

But it makes a difference to that person and the lives that person will then touch.

And, you make a difference.

Video Recommendation for the Week:

One simple act of kindness at a time.

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


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

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

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

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

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

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

Posted in amplifying, Appreciation, assumptions, Being REMARKABLE, change, Choice, collaboration, Community, community development, core values, ethics, mindset | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

(#377) Your Future Self


These strategies can help students (and, after all, aren’t we all students?)
stay the course, continue their journey, and enjoy growth and resilience.

Last week, on a local TV morning show, I shared strategies to help college students adjust to their schedules and demands on and beyond campus.  If you or someone you know will be walking on to campus soon, consider these four suggestions for success.

  • Meaningful and authentic relationships provide a foundation. You probably have heard of P.A.C.s—Political Action Committees. I encourage students to form an educational P.A.C. of sorts. Not the kind that raises money for political candidates. Rather, one that helps them adjust and thrive in their school community. As soon as possible (first week), reach out to at least one person in each of the following groups:
    • Professors. Send an email. Stop by their offices. Quickly and politely introduce yourself. Ask a pertinent question or offer a comment that shows you have done a bit of research about the course. This allows the professor to put a face and name together. This ice-breaking/community–building strategy can work for graduate assistants you may have, as well. Be proactive in establishing an authentic relationship.
    • Advisers. These folks know the system. They can help students navigate financial aid and scholarship availability. They know the ins and outs of scheduling and core curriculum requirements. An adviser can connect students with both academic resources (like tutoring and study groups) and non-academic resources (like counseling and transportation issues). Some schools may assign a specific adviser or counselor. In other situations the student may be able to choose her own. Get to know this person as soon as practical.
    • Classmates. Audition your classmates. In this context, to “audition” means to “observe.”  During the semester you may be asked to join a study group or form a team for a semester project for one or more classes.  When possible, choose wisely. During the first few weeks of class notice which of classmates come to class late or leave early, come to class on time and stay through the entire class.  Who participates and who seems distracted by technology?  Who is sleeping in the back of the classroom?  Simple and poignant question: “Who do I want to depend upon in a group setting?” This may be a great workplace skill to cultivate in your future.
  • Disconnections. Identify your top five personal priorities for the semester. Write them down. They could be tied to health, a college major, roommates, or something else of importance and relevance to life. At the end of your week, write down the top five activities that took most of the time that week. Compare them to the priorities list.  Connected or disconnected?  The priorities list represents the stories you tell ourselves. The action list represents the stories you live.  Maybe your P.A.C. (above) can help sort things out.

  • Your Future Self. You may or may not know with specificity where you are headed. You might be a bit (a lot) confused. To help your future self, I encourage you to stay curious. You want to find a major—a career—to pursue? Rather than force yourself to “find your passion” why not find what you are curious about? Stay curious about your courses—even those that seem totally remote from what you find interesting. Stay curious about events and issues around campus. Once you discover that curiosity start to develop that area of your life. Who knows where it may lead?  Your priorities may change.  Pay attention to “weak signals” of what may be in the future.

  • Seven Core Values for Success. All of the above tie into seven key interlocking and guiding principles for life success. At the least, they provide a compass to help in times of difficulties and challenge.
    • Surround yourself with relationships that will help you grow as a person. Find and use resources that have relevance for your journey toward your rainbows—your dreams and aspirations. You will have a lot of stuff (how’s that for a technical term—stuff?) coming your way.  Set aside time for frequent reflection about what you are doing, why you are doing it, an adjustments you need to make. Remain curious! Finally, act with responsibility toward others as well as your own self-care and resilience.

Success is the product of small yet consistent choices we all make and do (or don’t do) each day. The four suggestions above can help students (and, after all, aren’t we all students?) stay the course, continue their journey, and enjoy growth and resilience.

Video Recommendation for the Week:

Here is the link to my TV interview in which I discuss the above points.  One key takeaway: Be proactive in creating community–whether it is on a college campus, in your workplace, or in the neighborhood.

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


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

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

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

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

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

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

Posted in authenticity, awareness, core values, creating your future, curiosity, Dreams, Education, emotional intelligence, engagement, Goals, Life lessons, priorities, Reflection, Relationship, relevance, resilience, responsibility, self-efficacy | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

(#376) The Lesson of the Bunny and the Deer


We can walk a pathway and never see it at all.

Walking along a street in Boulder, Colorado last week, I almost missed the bunny rabbit sitting three feet in front of me.

The same happened a few days later when we passed a wild deer munching on grass behind the University of Colorado practice football field alongside the Boulder Creek.

Each time, I was following the path. And each time I almost missed the journey.

Thomas Cleary in No Barrier: Unlocking the Zen Koan, shares two simple yet eloquent truisms about life.

Just reading a map is not making the journey,
but without reading the map there is no direction.”

and

“Those in a hurry do not arrive.”

There can be a lot of distractions along the daily paths we trod.  We can become so caught up in the external and/or internal distractions that we miss the signs and beauty right in front, beside, behind, above, or beneath us. Like the bunny and the deer. Or a beautiful sunrise.

We can be consumed by habit, patterns of thought, routines, and perseveration that we miss signs and guideposts. Yes, we need to read the map but just because we read it does not a journey make.

We can walk a pathway and never see it at all.

Video Recommendation for the Week:

Close your eyes and envision nature.

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



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

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

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

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

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

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

Posted in awareness, curiosity, growth, habits, health, little pleasures, Mindfulness, Personal growth, Personal Wellbeing, resilience | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

(#375) Capacities for Community Growth and Resilience


A community needs to be vigilant; to continuously deepen and develop
capacities for sharing, cooperating, and growing.

Last week, we looked at the broad topic of community—factors that define, foster, and hinder it.

Let’s drill down a bit.

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 got “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 that second year? Will resources be invested to “re-recruit” the sophomores—to keep the idea of the college community foremost in their minds? Well, not always.

A community needs to be vigilant; to continuously deepen and develop capacities for sharing, cooperating, and growing. Consider five steps:

  • Visualize the purpose, journey, and membership of your community. What “weak signals” exist to indicate the future of your community will not look like the past? What does this future focus tell you?
  • Prioritize the resources you will need and the actions required to sustain your community—and make it thrive into the future. What non-negotiable steps do you need to take? What comes first?

  • Exorcise that which no longer serves or nourishes your community. How can you minimize or eliminate the pernicious effects? Where does this fit with your prioritization of resources and actions? Who will help you identify these factors? Where will this fit in your prioritization?
  • Exercise contributes to the health of body, mind, and spirit of the individual’s health. Community building can be challenging work. How will you and your members maintain your emotional, physical, and spiritual health moving forward? Is this on your list of priorities?
  • Realize your visualization. How often will you stop to evaluate your progress? How will you realize if you are faithfully following the four steps above (visualize, prioritize, exorcise, and exercise)?

Video recommendation for the week:

Denver, Colorado has a vibrant social scene on its 16th Street Mall.  You will find upright pianos placed along the mall (street side). At any time someone can sit down and an organic, impromptu concert breaks out.  Scatter in a few street musicians and the surrounding activity–and you experience energy.  Does music have a place in your community?  Where are the gathering places for your members to share?

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

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

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

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

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

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

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

Posted in accountability, action, amplifying, Appropriate Behavior, assumptions, awareness, collaboration, Communication, Community, community development, core values, Critical Thinking, curiosity, decision making, Dreams, intentionality, Reflection, Relationship | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

(#374) Can A Community Be Inclusive And Like-Minded?


When dialogues devolve into collective monologues
do we miss out on our shared identity?

We hear, see, experience, and read about divisiveness. Common ground seems difficult to reach with the shouting voices, pointing fingers, and mean-spirited attacks. Fear, disgust, and/or mistrust carry the day. A lot of “us, good” and “them, bad” thinking. When dialogues devolve into collective monologues do we miss out on our shared identity?

If you had the opportunity to facilitate a conversation about community, where would you begin?  You may want to start with defining community—what it conjures up in the imagination.

Last week, I posted three questions on social media.

#1. What does community mean to you (personally, professionally)?

#2. If you had to name ONE action that FOSTERS community, what comes to mind?

#3. If you had to name ONE action that HINDERS or even destroys community
building, what comes to mind?

Definitions of “community” included the concepts of inclusion, respect, a sense of caring, respectful relationships, support, belonging, network, care, concern, support, encouragement, familiarity, ties, like-minded people, and commonality. 

A community, in other words, cooperates, shares, and helps its members grow. And we can belong to a number of different communities personally and professionally.

My social media friends shared that we can build community in many situations: on the front porch, in the workplace, at a place of worship, and around the neighborhood. Communities, they shared, can benefit when their members gather in specific locations, participate, act with selflessness, build trust, and openly communicate.

A recent Forbes.com article states that leaders who want to address divisiveness (and build community) might do well to focus on shared values.

Factors that hinder or destroy community, according to my informal social media poll, include exclusion, cliques, time demands, architectural designs, conflict, competing goals, divisiveness, selfishness, hate, and closing one’s mind to the ideas of others.

The image of silos comes to mind. They exist on campuses and in the corporate setting. When silos of separation become entrenched, it becomes harder to construct bridges of collaboration.

In short, community is about cooperation, inclusion, and support. And it includes like-minded people.

But that brought a bit of cognitive imbalance for me: Can a community be inclusive and at the same time like-minded?

If I surround myself with a community of people who believe as I do (politically, socially, nutritionally, economically, socially, or religiously) can it be inclusive?  Or do we, within a community segregate ourselves into smaller like-minded groupings? Perhaps we need to define inclusive? Is inclusiveness an idealized goal that cannot be reached? Same for seeking a diverse community. Saying we are inclusive and diverse and living it can be two different sides of the coin.

For me, community means an emotional commitment to a group of people.  It can be a physical location or it can be virtual. Something binds the group.

As one of the respondents to my social media conversation stated,

“Community is a word I think a lot about. I grew up in a ‘neighborhood.’
I knew every one of my neighbors. Today I live in a gated ‘community.’
I know nearly no one. Community has to be more than a marketing term.
It’s an expression of true care and concern for others. Actions and deeds.
Not words or labels. 

What does community mean to you? Does it conjure up a definition? Or does it bring about a feeling? Does it exist as a concept any longer? Or does the traditional concept need a transformation to reflect where we are now, and more importantly, what the future holds. Do your communities consist of like-minded people and do they demonstrate an inclusive nature?


Recommended Video for the Week:  A thought-provoking short TED Talk about inclusion, exclusion, and a few strategies on how to encourage participation.


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


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

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

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

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

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

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

Posted in acceptance, amplifying, authenticity, collaboration, collegiality, Communication, Connection-Disconnection, core values, decision making, Goals, Mindfulness, mindset, resilience, respect, responsibility | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

(#373) What Factors Affect Teaching Efficacy?


Teaching efficacy reflects the teacher’s belief that
he or she can impact student learning.


Video recommendation for the week.

Let me reverse format this week and start with a video clip. While this post addresses “classroom teachers,” this topic (and the video) go beyond traditional classrooms. “Teaching and learning” takes place in various settings (college, elementary school, corporate training, personal coaching, and more).


Below you will find the scenario* addressed in the above clip. As you read it, keep these two questions in mind:

  1. Did you find your teachers’ sense of efficacy important in your learning?
  2. What factors, traits, or habits affect teaching efficacy?

If you are not a “teacher” per se, remember that teaching (and efficacy) connect to many situations. A corporate trainer can be a “teacher.” So can a Little League coach, a community leader, and a parent.  No matter the situation or setting, what role does the teacher play and what does the student need to bring to the table?

Faculty entered the room for their kick-off of the semester faculty meeting. The dean greeted each faculty member as they came in with a warm smile and greeting. He was authentic and greeted each faculty member as if he or she were the only person in the room.

The first thing the faculty noticed (after the warm reception) was the setup of the room.  They had been using this same classroom for faculty meetings for the last three years. It comfortably fit everyone and allowed for a degree of intimacy and ease of communication.  Today the tables had been removed and chairs were set up in two large circles; one circle on either side of the room. On the wall closest to each circle was a piece of flip chart paper.

One side of the room said: “The bottom line for teaching and learning is what the student brings into the classroom. The professor cannot do much if the student is not motivated.”

On the other side the paper read: “With few exceptions and with my diligent effort I can reach even the most challenging student.”

The dean instructed his faculty to take a seat. “I realize few people will agree totally with each statement. For our purposes today, I would like for you to sit nearest the sign that you believe captures what you have experienced, for the most part, in your teaching career.”

Matt, a math professor with a sense of humor, moved his seat to the middle space between the two circles. He sat there and smiled.

With that, the faculty chose their seats, and the meeting began.

Where would you sit in this meeting—and for what reasons?

[*The full scenario with questions and further discussion can be found in Steve Piscitelli’s Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need To Be An Island. Atlantic Beach, Florida: The Growth and Resilience Network, 2017. Pp. 106-109]

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


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

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

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

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

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

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

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

(#372) Independence


Consider where you can expand beyond your comfort zone.

Insights can come at any time.  We just need to be open.  One appeared a few days ago in a yoga class–while I was doing my best imitation of swaying tree, twisted mountain, and wobbly chair poses. (For those not familiar with yoga, the real names are tree, mountain, and chair.  I bring my own, how do you say, flare, to yoga.)

Our instructor, Shannon, used the imagery of the majestic eagle as we seamlessly moved from one pose to another. (Well, the others in the class moved seamlessly.  I provided sound effects by grunting and tipping over. Nothing like being the session’s star yoga casualty. But I digress.)

At strategic points in our practice, Shannon encouraged us to feel free, like the eagle, and flow with a sense of independence and release. Each inhalation and exhalation helped us to mentally focus, discharge emotional tension, and strengthen our physical selves.

As we moved through the practice, my focus was not so much on what I could not do, but rather on how I could stretch myself—literally and figuratively.  Consider it a metaphor for life.

As you move into this week, consider where you can expand beyond your comfort zone. In what areas have you been reticent to spread your wings? What do you need to release? Fear? Shame? Control? Perfectionism? What do you need to embrace? Confidence? Fortitude? Risk? Uncertainty? Independence? Maybe a coach or mentor could help you focus on your independence.

Does fear limit your life? Do you know how far your wings could spread—if you would allow them to do what they were meant to do? Do you find yourself viewing opportunities from the perspective of “what if I fail” and then getting sucked into the complacency of standing pat?

Bernadette Jiwa’s latest book Hunch reminds us that the “lack of certainty makes us uncomfortable—and it’s something we need to become accustomed to if we want to make progress.”

Anne Lamott shares that “rationality squeezes out much that is rich and juicy and fascinating.”

How can you spread your wings a little further this week to feel that sense of independence that can set you free on the next part of your journey?

Create your future one stretch at a time.


Video recommendation for the week.

Staying with the eagle metaphor, I offer two short videos for your enjoyment. One is a cool computer animation of an eagle’s flight. The other captures the magnificence in nature.


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



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

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

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

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

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

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

Posted in Appreciation, authenticity, awareness, change, Choice, coaching, confidence, creating your future, curiosity, Discipline, Excuses, Failure, fitness, Gratitude, Grit, growth, habits, resilience | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments