(#442) Community Building: Beyond Why to How


The question, in my mind, moves beyond why we need community
to how we go about building and sustaining it.

While dichotomies can be simplistic, they can also help frame a conversation. When you seek a community, toward which end of the scale do you feel more welcomed and able to flourish? Which of the following have a better chance to build respectful, inclusive, nurturing, and resilient networks?

  • Sharing visions or sharing your vision?
  • Sharing decision making or sharing your decision?
  • Authentic questioning or leading questioning?
  • Dialogue or monologue?
  • Conversation or collective monologue?
  • Informed debate or ideological diatribe?
  • Compassion or comparatory suffering?
  • Respect or denigration?
  • Lessons or excuses?
  • Risk-taking or fear-mongering?
  • Listening or distracting?
  • Lifting up or humblebragging?
  • Building or talking?
  • Us or me?

Community building requires considered, conscious, and collaborative effort. Sustaining community requires the same. It can be daunting, frustrating, and empowering.  A vibrant, communicative, and respectful community builds its strength and cohesion on solid core values. Each community needs to identify, discuss, commit to, and live according to its recognized values.

A functioning community, though, must go beyond listing and reciting core values. How does your community share and live its values? What about differences of opinion? Does the environment—the atmosphere—of the community allow people to speak what is on their minds? Can they share their vulnerabilities without fear of chastisement or marginalization?

Perhaps, at its core, we require community to satisfy a need to connect with other souls. The question, in my mind, moves beyond why we need community to how we go about building and sustaining it.


Video Recommendation of the Week:

This “teaser” video clip from Episode #40 on The Growth and Resilience Network® podcast channel gets to the heart of community: Relevant and respectful connections developing meaningful relationships. Listen to the Reverend Billy Hester and the congregational Lay Leader, Preston Hodges, Jr. (pictured below) speak about what happens in their church.  The full episode goes “live” on November 15, 2018. Check my website for the link. And, their story will also appear in my new book, Community as a Safe Place to Land.


For more about community building and sustainability, look for my new book, Community as a Safe Place to Land,
due out the beginning of 2019. 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 most recent 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, accountability, action, amplifying, assumptions, authenticity, awareness, change management, Communication, Community, community development, confirmation bias, Critical Thinking, leadership | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

(#441) It Means Something to Somebody


It got me thinking about those missed moments
when we think something isn’t “worth it.”

I often post sunrise photos from my beach walk with Roxie (B.D.E.). Judging from the “likes” and comments, people enjoy “sharing” the morning scenery with me.

Some days I don’t record the scene because I cannot find the right cloud texture.  Other times, in my judgmental mind, I believe it isn’t worth taking a photo because it “looks like yesterday.”  Well, that is never true. I know it. But if I don’t focus and appreciate, I miss it.

Recently, I received a request.  “You wouldn’t happen to have one from the 20th . My grandson was born on that day.”

Well, the 20th happened to be one of those days I decided the shot “wasn’t worth it.” I had photos from before that day and one from the day after. It got me thinking about those missed moments when we think something isn’t “worth it.”

Like that smile you might decide not to give to—or receive from—a passerby. Or the hello or good morning to the person on the elevator. Or the tasteful compliment. Or the student who needs the teacher to stop by her desk before class starts just to say, “How you are doing today?”

As for the photo request, I did share the one from the day after the grandson’s birth. While not from the day of his birth, it did represent the first sunrise in his life. The first of many in his life.

Remember, while it may seem small to you, it means something to somebody.


Video Recommendation of the Week:

Small acts of kindness will lift people up. Instead of yelling, name calling, scapegoating, and pushing your way to the front of the line, perhaps a random act of kindness will make a difference in your part of the world.

If you enjoy this video check out the other uplifting videos on this website.


For more about community building and sustainability,
look for my new book, Community as a Safe Place to Land, due out the beginning of 2019. 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 most recent 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 action, assumptions, awareness, Civility, Community, compassion, intentionality, kindness, Reflection | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

(#440) What Matters Now?


When you set your goals you said to yourself, “These matter to me.”
As you review where you have been and where you want to go, ask yourself, “What matters now?”  And then act on it.

While we set goals throughout the year, New Year’s Day tends to be a starting point for many people. Whether the goal involves getting in shape, finding a new calling, saving more money, or working for social justice, we search for a better/renewed version of ourselves.

In about 65 days or so, we will be saying goodbye to 2018 and facing the entrance of 2019 and all it holds. I’ve written in the past about the 52-Week Review. I do it the last week of the year.  It helps to remind me of the journey I have traveled. And it holds my feet to the fire. Have I been authentic to myself? What stories have I been telling myself—and what stories have I been living?

A recent post by Michael Dolan titled the “Bottom of the 9th reminds us not to wait until the New Year to seek what we want or what we said we wanted 10 months ago. He said,

There is one thing you can do right now that could make all the difference as you put the finishing touches on the final two-months of 2018 and boldly head off into the uncharted waters of 2019: In the deep silent privacy of your own soul, remind yourself what it is you really want. Remind yourself what truly matters. Remind yourself what your biggest most important dream is and refocus on the ultimate vision you foresee in your future. Then ask yourself, “What am I really committed to?”

Remind yourself what your biggest most important dream is and refocus.

I used to send my students an email titled “Now is My Time.” They received it with about three or four weeks left in the term. It challenged them to double down on their semester goals; not to give up; believe in themselves.  With a few semantic adjustments, I offer it here as the challenge we all might need to remember moving toward the end of the year.

You have arrived into the homestretch of the year. Now, you can see what you have accomplished to this point.  Congratulate yourself. Understand where you came up short. And get ready to cross the finish line. 

Keep your energy and passion flowing.  Repeat the following out loud: “Now is MY time!”  Say it again. “Now is MY time!”

Yes, you may have lots of responsibilities with family, children, work, and community. You must always take care of the non-negotiable priorities in your life.  And at times you might have felt like quitting.  Remember, each day brings you closer to your dreams—but only if you continue to move toward your dreams.  This is your time. What will you do with it?

Say—and mean it—and be it: “Now is MY time!”

When you set your goals you said to yourself, “These matter to me.”  As you review where you have been and where you want to go, ask yourself, “What matters now?”  And then act on it.


Video Recommendation of the Week:

Sometimes, we hinder ourselves by not paying attention to, or understanding the importance of, boundaries and limits. As you review your goal progress, do you need to reset yours? Maybe this 60-second video will jumpstart that process for you.


For more about community building and sustainability,
look for my new book, Community as a Safe Place to Land,
due out the beginning of 2019. 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 most recent 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, Appreciation, awareness, Being REMARKABLE, confidence, consideration, core values, Discipline, Dreams, Failure, Integrity, Making a Difference, Mindfulness, Personal growth, Personal Wellbeing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

(#439) Are You Paying Attention to the People in Front of You?


Collaboration does not come from telling, yelling, or selling people.
It comes from considered conversation.

Four quotes that remind us to pay attention to the people sitting at the table.

“Who are these people and what do they want?”—Jim Young Kim, physician, anthropologist, President of the World Bank

  • When we sit down with a group, we must make a consistent effort to understand the people who sit with us in the room. “Who” can refer to demographics, relationships, needs, challenges, skills, strengths, talents, and/or experiences with the task at hand. “What” they need is determined by them—not by us.  The what may change with conversation.  The who helps us understand more clearly the what.  Are we paying attention?

“Your theology determines your anthropology. And your anthropology—how you see humans—determines your sociology…We have to understand that ‘different’ doesn’t mean ‘deficient’.”—Reverend Jeremiah Wright

  • The way we look at people—our assumptions and experiences—determine the way we interact with these people. Are we paying attention?

“You must participate in the play. You must get out of the director’s role of telling everybody what to do and how to behave and who can be on stage. You must say… ‘We’re in this together.’ … Lean into the light.”—Barry Lopez, author

  • When we allow for an equal say from all participants, and respectfully listen to those sentiments, we come to understand what we share and where we differ. True, someone must lead. A good leader, though, understands that transformational leadership enables the followers to speak and grow. Each of us provides opportunities for the other to lean into the light.  Are we paying attention?

“…Franklin Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln would not have succeeded as commander-in-chief if they hadn’t first succeeded as teachers in chief.”—Susan Jacoby, author

  • Sometimes the people at the table do not understand the nuances of the issue at hand. Considered conversation requires that we enlighten the participants. Opposition can be due to a lack of understanding, which can lead to fear or reticence about moving forward. Are we paying attention?


Video Recommendation of the Week:

I have used the Marshmallow Challenge in classrooms and national workshops–and always with success.  It shows the importance of collaboration–and the disadvantage of wasting time jockeying for power.  Research has found that our kindergarten students perform well compared to business school grads(!).  Enjoy this short TED video.


For more about community building and sustainability,
look for my new book, Community as a Safe Place to Land, due out the beginning of 2019. 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 most recent 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).

© 2018. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

Posted in Life lessons | Leave a comment

(#438) You May Not be the Gift in the Room


Effective collaboration rests on the ability to share the stage.

In the early 1990s, the public high school where I taught created a committee called the “Shared Decision-Making Committee.”  I was tapped as its first chair.  The stated mission of the group was for administrators and teachers to collaborate and come to shared visions and decisions about the direction of the school.

Early in the process, I remember a somewhat cynical (and prescient) comment circulating amongst the teachers. “We meet, and the administration shares its decisions with the teachers. That is their version of shared decision making.”

Have you ever been part of a group attempting to establish a “shared vision”?  An attempt to get a group to agree on a common purpose and journey toward that purpose by the group?

Challenging work.

What I have experienced, more times than not, are good intentions that go off the rails quickly. You see, everyone comes to the table intent on “sharing his or her vision.” Collective monologues ensue.

Effective collaboration rests on the ability to share the stage.  If we walk into the meeting with the idea that we alone (or, at least, above all others) have THE gift that the group needs to move forward, we do not help move the group along. What we do, in that situation, is deny the group members the ability to share their gifts. Gifts which can move the team members toward a collective vision.

Simple thought for your next meeting: You are not the gift in the room. The other people bring gifts. Accept, work with, authentically discuss, and appreciate them.


Video Recommendation of the Week:

When we deny others, we may find ourselves on a committee of one speaking to ourselves. Just ask Sheldon Cooper.


For more about community building and sustainability,
look formy new book, Community as a Safe Place to Land,
due out the beginning of 2019. 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 most recent 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, amplifying, authenticity, Being REMARKABLE, Being selfish, Choice, Civility, collaboration, collegiality, Communication, Critical Thinking, decision making, Life lessons | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

(#437) Your Meeting Deserves a K.I.S.S.


Keep It Simple and Short

Do an internet search for “effective meetings” and you will find a few suggestions. About 185 million.

Is there a “secret sauce” for an effective meeting? A few questions to consider as you plan your next gathering:

  1. Is a physical meeting necessary—or can it be done virtually?
  2. Why are you meeting?
  3. Are the right people invited?
  4. What makes these the right people?
  5. Do the attendees know what is expected of them in the meeting? (See #2.)
  6. Is there a stated and respected start and end time?
  7. Will you stand or sit?
  8. How will you keep the meeting moving and focused?
  9. Who will oversee the meeting? (Is it always the same person?)
  10. Will there be structured and unstructured time?
  11. How often will you meet? Suggestion: Don’t equate number of meetings with effectiveness of meetings.  Focus on results. More meetings or the number of meetings or the frequency of meetings should not be the target. With social media tools you might be able to meet less frequently and be more effective.  It’s what you do between the meetings that counts.
  12. Have you considered background music as people enter the room? It could establish a more energetic atmosphere.

Keep the agenda straightforward and simple. Something like this might work for you:

  • What DID WE DO since the last meeting regarding our mission?
    *Group members can share things like research, contacts, follow-through on previous meeting items?
  • What DO WE DO today?
    *Members bring items to the table.
    *Members inform the organizer prior to the meeting—unless your group is comfortable with surprise items. Who will keep “pop-up” items from sabotaging the meeting’s purpose? How will you keep members on topic and what will you do if they drift into a “stream of consciousness” that fails to advance the purpose of the gathering?
  • What WILL WE DO for the next meeting?
    *Assignments going forward.

Video Recommendation of the Week:

Meeting about meetings? Hmm.


For more about community building and sustainability,
look for my new book, Community as a Safe Place to Land, due out the beginning of 2019. 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 most recent 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, awareness, effective meetings, leadership, Life lessons | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

(#436) Facing the Worst. Preparing for the Best.


Once the conversation started, no one was going to stop it.


Two NOTES to my readers:

  1. Tomorrow, October 1, begins Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This week’s blog post honors the month, those with (and who have had) breast cancer, the caregivers, and the activists who do all they can on behalf of those touched by breast cancer.  This post, also, will appear in my forthcoming book Community as a Safe Place to Land (due to be released in January 2019).
  2. On October 15, 2018, you will be able to hear my full podcast with Bobbi de Cordova-Hanks and Jeannie Blaylock. They share their passion—their mission—on behalf of breast cancer awareness. At the end of this post you can link to a brief snippet from that podcast episode.

Connected people create, nurture, and sustain the best resource a community has to offer.  And, those relationships play a pivotal role in establishing, bolstering, and  sustaining resilience.  That is the story from the perspectives of two Jacksonville, Florida community activists. They have been advocates for countless women facing a breast cancer diagnosis.  One as a breast cancer survivor and both as organizers/voices for breast cancer awareness. They became key community players helping people embrace their agency—their power to control their destinies.

Bobbi de Cordova-Hanks was enjoying life as a bass guitar player, magazine editor, and newlywed, when she got the news in 1986 that she had breast cancer.  As she relates in the book she and her husband wrote, Tears of Joy, the doctor seemed to use every word but “cancer.”  Bobbi said, at the time,  there was a stigma to the “C” word. The Big C.  It seemed that to utter the word was the same as proclaiming a death sentence. No one wanted to talk about.

Well, almost no one. Bobbi did in 1988 when she formed the support group “Bosom Buddies.”  Likewise, a woman very much in the public eye, created another pathway for agency.

Jeannie Blaylock, co-anchor of the evening news for First Coast News (Channel 12) in Jacksonville, Florida, was not a cancer survivor. Nor was she living with a diagnosis. She was grappling, however, with the sudden and tragic death of her twenty-nine-year-old friend to breast cancer. In 1993, Jeannie used her visibility as a news reporter to shed light on the topic. She initiated “Buddy Check 12,” encouraging women to connect and remind one another, on the 12th of each month, to conduct a breast self-exam. With her persistence the station aired segments showing actual models conducting breast exams in the shower, lying down, and sitting up.  This was unheard of for the time and market. And most definitely needed.  The first night, the station received 234 calls from women.  A door had been opened.

 

Jeannie remembers speaking with a woman, who in hushed tones on the phone, said she did not know how to tell her husband. She feared he would divorce her. While speaking, the women hurriedly hung up saying, “Oh, no, he just came home. I have to go.”

Meanwhile, by 1993, Bobbi was formally a “survivor” and her “Bosom Buddies” was steadily gaining momentum.  Starting with just three women in the initial support group, the organization had served more than 7,000 by 2018.

I asked Bobbi, “How did you survive the diagnosis, the treatment, and at least at the time (1980s), the social and workplace stigma of breast cancer?”

The first thing she had to do was recognize the situation was bigger than herself; bigger than anything she had ever tackled in her life. She prayed. “When I was given a death sentence, I had to go to someone upstairs.”

She, also, found humor in an otherwise dark situation.  “I told myself that I was too busy to die. And, after all, no other woman can wear my jewelry!”

She asked her doctors hard questions and demanded clear and pointed answers. She stood up for herself and her husband. When patients are diagnosed with cancer, Bobbi said, “Everyone around them, also, has been diagnosed with cancer.”  That includes the caregivers. It’s a community.  She had something greater than herself to live for.

She came to understand the importance of the mind/body connection and of the difference that emotional support can make to newly-diagnosed women. In her book, she shared that she “desperately needed other women to talk to, especially those who had been diagnosed with breast cancer and lived to talk about it. I felt like cancer was a death sentence. Now, I know it’s a life sentence.” She came to focus on seven words: “Facing the worst. Preparing for the best.”

“Bosom Buddies” gave women a forum to share stories and learn from the survivors. “What? You too? I thought I was the only one,” summed up the feeling when they learned they were not alone on this journey. No stigma involved. Friendships were born, and they helped grow resilience.

Like Bobbi’s experience, Jeannie Blaylock found that “Buddy Check 12” gave “permission.” Once the conversation started, no one was going to stop it. The women, she said, “had—and have—guts, spunk.” In hearing other people’s stories, they began to hear the “echo of a voice” of their story. They would not be denied and would not give up.  Cancer was not about what could not be done. It was about what they would do.

“Buddy Check 12” has become a national, intergenerational, and international movement.  This growing breast cancer education and support program has developed legs over a quarter of a century.  These are people, according to Jeannie, who are “staying alive for themselves and for the people they love.”

Bobbi says that she and the thousands she has worked with remain proud to be survivors. They are victors, not victims.

“It’s beyond surviving. It’s thriving,” she told me. “While a little humor goes a long way when you’re wearing a prosthesis the size of a 38 double D, I needed more.”  She made a choice to connect with a support group. “That connection made me feel alive again,” she said. “What a wonderful feeling….”

Relationships. That matter. Resilience.

Video Recommendation of the Week:

Listen to Bobbi speak about the power of sharing, caring, and thriving within a community. The full podcast will “go live” on October 15, 2018.


For more about community building and sustainability,
look for my new book, Community as a Safe Place to Land, due out the beginning of 2019. 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 most recent 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, Appropriate Behavior, authenticity, awareness, change, Choice, Community, courage, focus, fortitude, Friendship, generativity, Gratitude, growth, inspiration, Integrity, Life lessons, Passion, resilience | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment