(#486) A Metaphor for Growth and Resilience


Some will experience a metamorphosis they never dreamed
they could attain. Others will quietly walk away.

I always looked forward to the first day of the semester. As a teacher, that first day came full of anticipation for me and the students. No matter what went well or not so well the previous semester, day number one represented promise.  Every person who walked in that room, including  me, had expectations for the coming months. We were in that room for a variety of reasons.

One of the many challenges a teacher—the leader of the classroom—has is to understand that each student who walks through the door brings a host of abilities and challenges with herself or himself.  Some enter with confidence and a desire to jump in and start the swim. Others, full of trepidation, barely stick a toe in the water.

Photo by Steve Piscitelli

Some will interact with the environment, looking for opportunities to grow. A few, lacking confidence or role models, do not know the questions to ask, let alone the answers to offer.

Some will experience a metamorphosis reaching heights they never dreamed they could attain. Others will quietly walk away.

The same dynamic will happen for any team.  How does the leader respond?  What does the leader do? How will the team members respond? How should they respond?

Your challenge for the week.

Watch the following short (150 seconds) video with your class, team, neighbors, spiritual community, or community action committee. Each cup of water is a metaphor for how any of us may respond (and, probably, have responded) to a challenge, demand, expectation, or a personal dynamic with another.

What lessons do you see?  What is the role of the leader? What are the roles of each individual in the room?

 

Video and Lesson Recommendation of the Week


My latest book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on Amazon.  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 will be conducting (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®   (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, change, change management, courage, curiosity, emotional intelligence, empathy, Goals, Grit, Life lessons, resilience, tenacity | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

(Issue #485) Human Beings with Human Challenges


Benefiting from human connections.

Effective teachers understand that they never know what questions or dilemmas a student will bring through the door. In addition to academic issues, students (just like the rest of us) always have a bag full of personal and family challenges. And those concerns always have an impact on classroom success.

Photo by Steve Piscitelli.

Corporate managers have the same dynamics with people on their team. Ministers with their congregation. An activist with community residents.

And consider the inverse.  The managers, ministers, and activists have their own baggage. Do the people in the room, stop to consider that perspective as well?

Everyone has a story. We might not (and usually do not) know the nuances of those stories.

What we will discover at the heart of each story plot line, however, are human beings with human challenges who can benefit from human connections.

Video Recommendation of the Week

While this short video (59 seconds) addresses faculty issues, consider a space in your life where the questions pertain to you.  After all, no matter the situation, it always comes down to a teaching and learning moment for the people in the room.  We have to pay attention.



My latest book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on Amazon.  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 will be conducting (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®   (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, Communication, Community, Connection-Disconnection, curiosity, empathy, leadership, Life lessons, problem solving, Reflection, resilience | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

(Issue #484) Nutritious People and Purpose


The key is to understand the story and the associated people, because
there can be a danger if community devolves into tribalism.

 I have written of energy vampires. I’ve even recorded a song about these dastardly beings who “suck the air right out of the room.”

In his book The Power of Purpose Richard J. Leider delineates the attributes of the people who help us discover our best talents and skills. They can provide, if you will, an antidote to energy vampires.  He encourages us to surround ourselves with “people [who] have three primary characteristics: their face lights up when you come in the room, they listen to you, and they have few (i.e., no) plans for your improvement!”

These souls help us grow and find ourselves. We become the best of our capabilities.  Leider found in his research that nutritious people can help us “align our energies around our true priorities.” They help us connect to our purpose. In fact, when we have a community of nutritious people, the entire group can lift itself up.

As David Brooks said in The Second Mountain, “A community is, in part, a group of people organized around a common story.”  The key is to understand that story and the associated people, because there can be a danger if community devolves into tribalism. As Brooks found in his work, “Tribalism is community for lonely narcissists.”

Pause for a moment today and think of the nutritious people in your life who help you and your community grow in a purpose that embraces and fosters virtue. For whom are you a nutritious person? How do you know?


Video Recommendation of the Week

Richard Leider found three themes related to purpose when he asked people what they would do differently if they could live their lives over.  Perhaps your nutritious people can help you identify and commit/recommit to your purpose.


My latest book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on Amazon.  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 will be conducting (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®  (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 amplifying, authenticity, awareness, Being REMARKABLE, coaching, collaboration, Connection-Disconnection, Energy Vampires, nutritious people | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

(Issue #483) Think in Reverse


Ask yourself what you need to do to create what you do not want.

Wasn’t it Einstein who said that if we keep doing the same thing and expect different results, we’re idiots?  Well, I’m sure he didn’t use the word idiots, but you get the point.  We have to break away from tried and tired practices when we confront problems if we want creative and fresh solutions.

 

Critical thinking requires we first recognize and fully understand the problem (and accompanying assumptions) at hand before we act on a solution.  Before we act, we need to plan.  And before we plan, we may benefit from thinking more creatively about where we want to go; where we want to end up when the problem has been solved.

 

An article recently reminded me of the power of thinking in reverse. Rather than start with some creative go-to point (which can be daunting), start with envisioning the situation you do not want to see occur.  The “solution” that would be furthest from what you want to accomplish. Start with the opposite of what you want.  Ask yourself what you would need to do to create what you do not want.

Consider this example.

 

A teacher wants to create the most memorable and impactful lesson that will engage and energize her students.  Rather than start the brainstorming process with what to do she could start by creating the exact opposite of what she wants.  What would she need to do to create the most boring, uninspiring, sleep-inducing class? (Makes me shudder!)  Ok, now that she has that in mind with all the attending specifics, she can identify what she would have to do (specifically) to be that boring, uninspiring, sleep-inducing teacher. This provides an effective starting point to move toward that energizing and inspiring class.  What opposite actions can and need to be taken?

 

How about a store that wants to draw more customers through the door?  The typical question might be, “What do we need to do to get more people to enter our store and buy merchandise?”

 

The opposite approach would be to ask, “What do we need to do to drive people away from our business? (Raise prices. Act disrespectful. Make poor quality merchandise. Open late. Close early.)  Now, once you have your answers to those questions, plan your actions to be the opposite of these!

 

What do you want to create in your workspace, with your family, in a community organization, or at a faith-based gathering?  Start with the opposite and then reverse your thinking.

 

Have fun…and create the world you want to create.


Video Recommendation of the Week

Above, I mentioned the need to recognize and address assumptions before we start crafting solutions (forward or in reverse!).  Here is a video I recorded more than 7 years ago that presents a simple critical thinking model, starting with recognizing assumptions.


 

My latest book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on Amazon.  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 will be conducting (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® (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, creating your future, Creativity, Critical Thinking, curiosity, Discipline, Life lessons, problem solving | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

(Issue #482) Political Pyrotechnicians


Unfortunately, because they refuse to listen,
a fruitful give-and-take becomes more of a chimera.

I bought a t-shirt on the Savannah waterfront that has the picture of a dog on it. While the image reminded me of Roxie, the words on the shirt caught my attention.

Dogs speak but only to those who know how to listen.

I believe this sentiment is true for us humans as well.

Why would anyone want to speak to someone who will not listen? Or someone whose intent appears to be to insult, not to listen and learn. Rather than ask an authentic question, they bait, goad, and instigate.  People intent on calling out others simply because they can.

Perhaps you have heard some people describe themselves as “political pyrotechnicians.” I just heard of the term recently. And I believe I witnessed one at a recent community meeting.

Not interested in listening to any opposing viewpoints, this person rudely challenged the panel over and over and over again. Not interested in dialogue. Only interested a monologue. Sabotage the meeting.  Engage in explosive rhetoric.

Sometimes the fireworks come in a post or an email to a larger group (after all, this person thrives on audience for effect). They claim the other is always the offending party; never stepping back to examine where they may have erred.

There is irony in this, however.  You see, the political pyrotechnician may actually have pertinent and valuable information to share.  Unfortunately, because they refuse to listen, a fruitful give-and-take dialogue becomes more of a chimera.

Who wants to speak to someone unwilling to listen? And, yet, that remains the challenge that great leaders take on endlessly. Attempting to get people to the table to engage in meaningful conversation.  While we seek understanding and conversation, it remains true that some people do not want a seat at that table of reason.

This week let’s continue to search for those people who raise tough questions, present clear-headed ideas, and listen.


Video Recommendation of the Week

This week, in this space, I want to share three video snippets from podcasts I produced this year.


My latest book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on Amazon.  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 will be conducting (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® (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, call-out culture, Civility, collaboration, Communication, political pyrotechnicians | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

(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