(#298) Do You Have “Hell, Yeah” Goals?

February 7, 2016

When you establish new goals,  consider these four components.
Give your goals a second R.E.A.D.

During one of my recent podcast recordings, film producer Pepper Lindsey posed an intriguing question:  “What does success look like to you?” (This podcast will air on March 15, 2016. Click here for more information.) What a wonderfully thought-provoking query.  Consider it for yourself. Is success for you measured by money, fame, a certain title, ego, an opulent life style, a simple lifestyle, making a difference in your community, driving a larger car, or taking trips? Something else?

Derek Sivers, in his book Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur, asks a similarly interesting question:  “How do you grade yourself?”

Does success to you only matter if other people notice? Does success only matter if (for instance) you have your name on a park or building? Or is it more connected to the programs you helped start in that park or building—programs that will live well beyond you and your name recognition?

sivers

Both of these questions tie directly to why we want to do what we want to do—our goals.

Goals can be powerful motivators. They provide direction, purpose and energy.  And, if we are not clear on the what and the why of our goals they can lead us in unhealthy directions. We may even beat ourselves up because we have not achieved a certain goal (“Life is passing me by”; “I’m not getting any younger!”).

How are we grading ourselves? How do we define success?

Have you had a remarkable career (read: you have made a difference for those around you) but because you have not reached the “next level” (however you define that) you do not consider it a success? What is important—the difference made or the title not achieved?

Do you take on projects and tasks that you’re truly juiced about or do you settle for anything with the hope it will bring you something.  Sivers proposes you only consider those goals to which you say “Hell, yeah!” Projects that give you energy and purpose

We all have different versions/definitions of what success looks like and how we grade ourselves. The point: Be aware of  and understand the assumptions you make when establishing your goals—and ask whether they meet your definition of success. Allow me to use a personal example.

I learned early on to carefully weigh whether I will take on a speaking or writing opportunity.  I use what I have come to call my R.E.A.D. principle. That is, for me to take on an engagement (a new goal), four components must be in place.

  • Relationship. I have to work with people I enjoy and respect. This requires validation by and for all parties and not manipulation by any party.
  • Excitement. I have to have enjoyment preparing for and doing the event. This is a major piece of the “Hell, yeah!” factor.
  • Authenticity. I have to be allowed to be my authentic true self. Don’t ask me to be something I am not. Yes, the event is about your needs and your people. However, if who I am does not fit that need, then we should not sign a contract. (Why would you even ask me?)
  • Difference. I want my participation to make a difference in the lives of the people in the audience. I don’t want to waste their time with exhortations and clichés.

You see, my goal is not to have an engagement. It goes beyond the numbers. My goal is to have the right engagement. If the potential gig does not have a proper R.E.A.D. for me, I will no longer agree to it.

When setting and re-evaluating your goals give them a second R.E.A.D. and determine if you can enthusiastically yell, “Hell, yeah!”

Video Recommendation for the Week:

While this video clip looks at entrepreneurial decisions, consider where and when you can apply this in your life. Yes, when you “work for someone else” you may feel you have fewer options to say “Hell, no!”

And then, that might provide reason for another conversation to have with yourself.

Make it a wonderfully successful week as you pursue your “hell, yeah!” goals.—H.T.R.B. as needed.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

You can find my podcast series at Growth and Resilience (http://stevepiscitelli.com/video-media/podcasts). 

Check out my website  (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/programs.html) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/webinars).

My books Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff?  (3rd edition) are published by Pearson Education.

(c) 2016. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

 


(#272) Grit: What Keeps You Moving Toward Your Goals?

August 9, 2015

“If at first you don’t succeed try, try again. Then quit.
There’s no point being a damn fool about it.”
-W.C. Fields-

Resilience. Passion. Tenacity. Grit. Well-being. Balance. Mindset.

When these concepts are tossed around, they can apply to situations in which we examine our ability to either avoid or bounce back from adversity. They can indicate a persistence to reach a desired end as well.

In his book, GRIT, Paul G. Stoltz breaks GRIT into more than a defensive scheme.  He and his team see it as an offensive weapon we need to be intimately familiar with and aware of as we navigate our lives. And, we need to understand that not all grit is created equally.

GRIT = Growth. Resilience. Integrity. Tenacity.

Bad v. Good GRIT

When we use our “stick-to-it-iveness” to achieve a worthwhile and honorable goal (reach a healthy weight, earn a college degree, or work on a community initiative) that represents “good grit.” We achieve positive consequences for ourselves and/or others.  We act with inteGRITy.

markuso@FreeDigitalPhotos.net

markuso@FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Bad grit,” according to Stoltz, comes into play when we tenaciously hold on to a thought, an action or a goal that creates negative consequences for us or others. Such as doggedly pursuing a mean-spirited course of action to belittle or demean someone with whom we may not agree.

Dumb v. Smart GRIT

For decades, I heard students say some variation of “I’ll study harder!”  Often they said that in response to a question like, “Terry, you have failed the first 3 math quizzes.  What do you think we need to do so you can pass your next quiz?” When Terry responded with “I’ll study harder” he generally meant he would use the same techniques that led to repeated failure—only this time he would use more of those failed strategies for longer periods of time.  I understood the thought—never the logic.  The persistence may be seen as “grit” or tenacity.  But in this scenario, Terry needs to understand when to give up on a failed strategy and follow a new course of action.

“If at first you don’t succeed try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point being a damn fool about it.”
-W.C. Fields-

Making wise adjustments to a goal or practice (and persisting) constitutes “smart GRIT” says Stoltz.

Weak v. Strong GRIT

I understand the importance and power of setting and visualizing our goals. And I have also come to the conclusion that, often, goal setting is way over-hyped.  Goal setting is the easy part. But if you set goals and then have difficulty staying focused on them and what you need to do to reach them (you quit, for instance, in the face of required consistent work) that is “weak GRIT.”

Goal achieving becomes the challenging part—and requires “strong GRIT.”

Video recommendation for the week:

In her TED talk, Angela Duckworth refers to grit as a characteristic needed for a goal-achieving marathon. It may take years to reach. Your goal requires stamina.

For the week ahead, examine one of your goals for good, smart, and strong grit. What adjustments do you need make? How do you plan on maintaining your stamina to persist?

Make it a wonderful week—H.T.R.B. as needed.

You can find my podcast series at Growth and Resilience (http://stevepiscitelli.com/video-media/podcasts). 

Check out my website (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/programs.html) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/webinars).

My books Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff?  (3rd edition) are published by Pearson Education.

(c) 2015. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

 


(#161) Reach Your Goals: One Step At A Time

June 23, 2013

Have you been feeling a bit rushed—overwhelmed by all you have
in front of you?  My suggestion is to remember that you do have
the choice to respond—even when others have made your plans a mess.

I am reminded often that I am a “work in progress.”  During a writing session this past week, I re-read a passage I wrote a few years ago:

Two suggestions to guide your days to come:

*You will be confronted with situations that are not of your choosing.
Recognize that you have the choice on how you handle and respond to those situations.

*Living a life of wellness and balance is a lifestyle choice.
Embrace your ability to choose and live each day honestly, responsibly, and respectfully!

(Choices for College Success, 2e. Pearson Education. 2011)

Image: dan/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: dan/
FreeDigitalPhotos.net

At times, just like other people, I feel like I am losing control and my world is devolving into chaos.  Currently, I am in the midst of a hectic professional schedule that includes travel for speaking engagements, a book revision, webinar preparations, and general day-to-day activities of keeping a business going.

Reality #1: It is all good!  I am learning and growing.  My business plan is working. And, I am meeting wonderful people along the way.

Reality #2: Every piece of this is my choice.  True enough, some curves have been thrown my way.  Other people have created situations that have presented challenges for me.  They created the situations—I, however, must handle these situations.

On a recent road trip, I was talking to my wife while waiting for a connecting flight out of Denver.  As I rattled on about all I had to do, I could feel my muscles tense and breathing quicken. I felt overwhelmed.  The problem, at that moment for me was that I was drowning in the big picture.

Image: koratmember/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: koratmember/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Find your own RSS. While the long view is helpful, I know that if I only concentrate on the end result I end up overwhelming myself.  What I needed to do was to stop, breathe, and break things down to their smallest components.  For me, on that day, at that time, I broke it down into real simple steps: when the flight ends, get off the plane. Then find the rental car location. Load my gear into the car. Find the highway. Drive.


Video recommendation for the week:


One of the biggest lessons I have learned is to stay aware of what I am feeling and thinking. I have to listen to my body.  This helps me to do a lot more responding rather than reacting.  It is healthier. This allows me to embrace my ability to choose and live each day honestly, responsibly, and respectfully—for me and those I live and with whom I work.  That is integrity to oneself.

Have you been feeling a bit rushed—overwhelmed by all you have in front of you?  My suggestion is to remember that you do have the choice to respond—even when others have made your plans a mess.  Focus on the healthiest, simplest, and most positive step. Then do it.  Then repeat for the next step.  Slow and steady will get you to your goal.  You can pick up the pace as you feel more in control.

Back to the Denver airport…On that day I had to remember (with the help of my bride) my own mantra to choose well, live well, and be well.  From this “work in progress”—those are good words to live by.

Enjoy your week—and H.T.R.B. as needed!

On July 15, I will offer my next webinar. The topic: Fostering Civility and Nurturing an Attitude of Gratitude.   Take advantage of this complementary offering.  Click here to register now for the webinar.  Or go to my website for registration information. 

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. Please share it (and any of the archived posts on this site) along to friends and colleagues. You also can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. If you get a chance, visit my Facebook page and join in–or start–a conversation (www.facebook.com/stevepiscitelli).  If you have suggestions for future posts, leave a comment. Make it a wonderful week!

 ©2013. Steve Piscitelli

 


(#89) Set Your Goals and S.O.A.R.

February 5, 2012

You can write the most specific and realistic and timely goal you can think of—but it will be useless (a fantasy) without ACTION.  You have to put the “do” behind the “want to do.”


Video recommendation for the week:


When I moved to Florida as an eighteen year-old college student I dreamed of one day living at the beach. It took me about 26 years to realize that dream.  As a first-year college student I can tell you with certainty that I had no plan of how I would come to live at the beach.  I did not have any specific steps mapped out. I didn’t even have a specific date.  For me it was pretty nebulous: “Someday I will live at the beach.”  But over the years, the dream became more focused in my mind; I developed a plan; I took action; and now I am living the dream I dreamed as that young college student.

So why do I tell you this? Because even though all of us have dreams, haven’t you noticed that some of us reach those dreams and some of us never do? For me, it all comes down to four simple steps.  Think of the acronym S.O.A.R.

  • Specific. You need to be specific about your direction.  “I want to lose weight” is a noble start—but what does it mean? It lacks specificity. How much weight will you lose? How will you do it? By when will you lose the excess baggage? Perhaps you have heard someone say “I want better grades” or “I will study harder.”  Again, nice start—but what does it mean.  Be focused and flexible (you never know when detours, obstacles or bumps in the road will appear) but be specific about your direction.
  • Organize. Identify the resources you will need. Will you need time, money, education, mentorship, or practice?  Find them.
  • Action.  You can write the most specific and realistic and timely goal you can think of—but it will be useless (a fantasy) without ACTION.  You have to put the “do” behind the “want to do.” The last verse of my song Dreams goes like this:

    So will you dare to dream
Or chose to cry?
Live for your life
Or just sit by?
You gotta take action
And do what you love
It may be no further
Than a couple of your dreams

 There is no substitute for taking action now—and doing it often.  If need be, find a mentor, find a coach, find someone who will push you forward.  Just keep moving forward.

  • Reason. Know why you are doing what you are doing. Why is the goal important?  If you ever think of giving up, remember the reason you established your goal. Is it strong enough to keep you moving forward?  Why do you want to lose weight? “I want to be healthy.” Again, a great start—but vague.  “I want to drop two inches from my waist…I want to get into the old pair of jeans…I want to be able to run three miles again.” Your answer to “Why?” reflects your motivation. What is driving you to the goal?  Again, be specific.

 Best wishes as you turn your dreams into reality!

For more on motivation and goal setting, see my book Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? 3rd edition (Pearson Education). Please visit my website (www.stevepiscitelli.com), contact me at steve@stevepiscitelli.com, or visit Pearson EducationAmazon and Barnes and Noble.

Enjoy your week—and H.T.R.B. as needed!

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. Please pass it (and any of the archived posts on this site) along to friends and colleagues. You can also follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. If you get a chance, visit my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/stevepiscitelli) and click on the “LIKE” button. Also, if you have suggestions for future posts, leave a comment. Have a wonderful week!

© 2012. Steve Piscitelli and Steve Piscitelli’s Blog.

 


#21 Goals, Failure, and Choosing to Move Forward

October 17, 2010

In their book Built to Last Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras describe what they refer to as BHAGs. In their research of successful companies they found that companies that set big, hairy, audacious goals left their competition in the dust. In other words, these companies did not settle for making goals that would be easily reached–they set goals that required effort to attain. They make you stretch.

When setting a goal think of another acronym HOG.  Set a huge outrageous goal.  Think of this as a reminder not to settle for something that will not allow you to take advantage of your best efforts. If you aim high and take appropriate action steps, you will move further than you may have thought possible. Yes, you may stumble; you may even fail to achieve a particular goal. But if you aim low (the easy way), you will hit your mark every time–and more than likely never achieve your potential.

We can all remember stories of people (famous and not so famous) who failed miserably but were able to rebound from the pits of despair and find success in the aftermath.  It may be hard to find the unseen benefits in a failure at the time it happens but they are there.  Consider some of these more famous “failures.”

  • Award-winning actress and comedienne Lucille Ball was dismissed from acting school.
  • Early in their career, a record company rejected the Beatles because the company did not like their sound and thought “guitar music was on its way out.”
  • His high school basketball team cut future hall-of-fame basketball player Michael Jordan.
  • Long before his famous inventions, a teacher told Thomas Edison that he was stupid.
  • A newspaper fired Walt Disney because he lacked creativity.

Life is full of risks–and failed attempts. Just because you fail at something does not make you a failure. It simply means you failed at that attempt.  As cliché as it sounds, the only failure in a failure is the failure to get up and do it again.

If Michael Jordan had never rebounded from his high school failure, think of the basketball and athletic genius the world would have missed.  Therefore, the next time you do not achieve what you want and you consider quitting, think of what the world might miss if you do not persevere toward your dream!

Think about your favorite novel or movie for a moment. The hero started at a certain point in life and ended at another at the conclusion of the story. The final scene usually represented some type of success or progress for the main character. However, that achievement did not occur without twists and turns of the plot. Those adventures–or misadventures–kept you turning the pages of the book or sitting in your seat watching the screen. As the hero made his way toward a particular goal, an obstacle presented itself and the hero detoured from his goal. He had to gather his thoughts, refocus, and then move back up the road toward the goal. This continued until he reached the final scene.

Just like the hero, you, too, will probably have missteps along the way. Goals are set in the real world. Problems, unforeseen circumstances, and “bad luck” are also part of the real world. Expect them, plan for them, and make choices that keep you moving toward the desired result. 

[The above is an excerpt from Piscitelli, Steve. Choices for College Success, 2nd edition. Boston: Pearson Education, 2011. Pages 63-64; 68.]

© Steve Piscitelli and Steve Piscitelli’s Blog, 2010.


(#367) Understand Your Goal Motivation

June 4, 2017

Create a space for transparency, authenticity, and accountability for yourself.

During the life of this blog, we have examined often the power and purpose of goals.  In addition to the “what” we have looked at the “how,” “when” and “why.”

Last week, when I facilitated an Austin, Texas workshop, I encouraged the audience to consider The Six Ps when it comes to why they want to speak or publish.  The same steps easily apply to other professional or personal goals.  Consider how each of the following may act as goal motivators.

  • Publish, Present, or Perish.
    • In the world of higher education, publishing may be a requirement for contract renewal. In your case, your motivation may be to lose weight or suffer a heart attack; save money or never enjoy a comfortable retirement; or find affordable healthcare or face the prospects of life without basic coverage. Does your goal have a distinctive and critical sense of urgency?
  • Promotion.
    • Perhaps a professional goal will help you advance to another level of development within your calling. Maybe you need to promote a community resource for a specific service area. Or maybe you finally decided that you need to promote a non-digital, distraction-free hour every night for your family to re-connect. When you reach your goal (or while you journey to your goal), what core value(s) does the goal advance?
  • Passion.
    • It might prove beneficial to do a “passion check” for your goal. What compelling emotion or desire moves you in this direction? Is it your goal or someone else’s dream for you?
  • Personal Connection.
    • A young woman in a recent workshop shared with the group that she wanted to write a book about breast cancer. She believes she has a decided vantage point as someone who has experienced, survived, and grown because of the cancer that touched her life. Her passion and a personal connection are twin motivators pushing her forward.  Can you clearly articulate how your personal and professional goal personally resonates for you?
  • Profit.
    • Maybe the pay range for the new job listing caught your attention. Or perhaps the pitch at a seminar on how to flip houses sounded promising. Pause and ask, “Is money the motivating factor here? Will it be enough to keep me moving forward? And will the goal of profit connect with my core values?”
  • Prestige.
    • Some people want to publish a book just so they can see their name on the cover. The ego boost becomes the drive. Do you find that your goal direction connects directly to status, standing, and reputation?

The Six Ps can help you clarify the “why” of your goals.  One is neither better nor worse than others are.  Each item can create a space for transparency, authenticity, and accountability for yourself.


Video recommendation for the week.

Consider the message of this TED Talk about understanding why we do what we do and the impact that has on our authenticity.


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.


(#360) Embrace Life’s Fragility

April 16, 2017

A reminder to appreciate.

Attending the screening premier last week reminded me of life’s fragility. In a good way.

Embracing the fragility recognizes that this part of the journey is limited.  The embrace, for me, brings appreciation and respect.  It, also, nudges me to treasure the precious life source rather than focus on fear and what-ifs.

Over the course of our lifetime we do a lot, see a lot, gather a lot, read a lot, work a lot, write a lot, plan a lot, talk a lot, tweet a lot, post a lot, Instagram a lot, and ____ (you fill in the blank). Each one of those experiences represents a dot on your lifeline. We have gathered thousands of those dots on our journey. And we will gather thousands more. What, however, do we do with those dots?

A colleague of mine from California wonders if we spend too much time collecting dots and not enough time connecting those dots.

Are the dots in our lives meaningful? Do we savor and appreciate them? Do we discern? Or do we just collect?

I used to challenge my students to pause often and examine what they were doing with their education and experiences.  Why were they doing what they were doing?  Did their goals involve building a transcript or constructing and living a meaningful and worthwhile life?

Take a moment this week and reflect on the dots.


Video recommendation for the week.

Sting sings, “How fragile we are. How fragile we are.”

A reminder to appreciate.

Hug your life.


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.

 


(#356) Are You Listening Or Adding To The Noise?

March 19, 2017

With a world full of noise, how can we fine-tune the needed listening skill?

This past week I facilitated a San Francisco workshop examining how colleges and universities envision and implement faculty development.  My session subtitle: What Important Questions Should We Be Asking?

While in the City by the Bay, I had the opportunity to talk with a person who has been instrumental in training thousands of higher education leaders around our nation.  What did he see as a critical skill for effective leadership? The ability to listen and then act.

In Meaningful: The Story of Ideas That Fly, Bernadette Jiwa reminds us “We don’t change the world by starting with our brilliant idea or dreams. We change the world by helping others to live their dreams.”

Ask questions and then wait for responses.  Understand what information you need. Then act.  All require listening. Often mentioned. Just as frequently ignored or drowned out by an overwhelming onslaught of information and misinformation.  With a world full of noise, how can we fine-tune the needed listening skill?

We have to distinguish and separate the noise from the non-noise in the world around us.  Shawn Achor provides an insightful rubric for doing just that.  Once we understand and apply the criteria for noise, we have a better chance of limiting its debilitating effects on the lives of colleagues, loved ones, and ourselves.

Ask yourself, Achor proposes, if what you attend to (or what you endlessly speak about) is unusable, untimely, hypothetical, or distracting.  More specifically,

  1. Unusable. Will the information you continuously “take in/give out” change your behavior? If not, you are probably wasting time.

*Example. You follow a particular news story—repeatedly.  The information remains the same (since the initial “news alert”). Nonetheless, you spend hours listening to talking heads give their interpretation. Or you constantly scan your smart phone for social media updates (other people’s agendas). Maybe you spend hours following celebrity stories or the latest intelligence on the NFL draft.  And…the information will have no effect on your behavior. Nothing changes. Noise.

  1. Untimely. Will you use the information, now? Will it more than likely change in the future when you might use it?

*Example.  You get a hurricane alert. It might make landfall in five days. At that point, you have useful information to notice and consider preparations.  However, if you stay glued to the weather channels endlessly for hours—with no updated information coming in—you need to ask what the benefit is other than getting more worried about something that you cannot control and that is still a long way from happening.  And, in the case of a weather forecast, it will likely change a number of times.  Noise.

  1. Hypothetical. Do we focus on what “could be” rather than what “is”?

*Example. I am not picking on the weather prognosticators (really) but do you base plans on the predictions—that may very well be inaccurate.  One of my podcast guests, Neil Dixon (February 2017), has an answer to the meteorological hypothetical.  When the forecast calls for 80% rain, he makes a golf tee time. Why? Because there is 20% for sunshine.  Think about economic forecasts.  How accurate? How often? Noise.

  1. Distracting. Does the information deter you or stop movement toward your goals?

*Example. Your goals relate to your career, relationships, health, finances, intellectual development, emotional stability, and spiritual wellbeing.  How much of the onslaught of information you get hit with (and allow yourself to be hit with) relate to those goals? How much gets in the way of goal achievement?  Noise.

This week consider where, when, and how you can eliminate noise. Listen to your goals and move in those directions.


Video recommendation for the week:

In this TED talk, Julian Treasure suggests five strategies to fine-tune our listening.


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.


(#355) Go-Go or No-Go?

March 12, 2017

Do you allow people into your head who would not invite into your home?

Angelina Ahrendts’ (Senior VP @ Apple) letter to her daughters this week offers the following advice:

…Stay in your lane…the path will illuminate itself
so long as you stay present,
open to the signs, and follow your passions.
It’s all related.

Be true to yourself. Be mindful. Be open.

Not only do we need to be present when it comes to our passions and curiosity, we have to be mindful of who we allow on the journey.  Three “types” can have widely disparate influences (if you allow it) on your path.  You may have read about them and encountered them yourself.

The No-Goes. These folks will get in your way, attempt to block you, and tell you things can’t be done like you envision them. They may want to control you. Maybe they fear your progress bodes ill for them. Or they may be fearful and reticent types, always remaining in their self-defined narrow limits. They seem to hold their breath a lot.

The Slow-Goes. The slow-goes won’t out-and-out block you, but they remain so tentative they get in your way.  They may not throw obstacles at you like their stifling cousins the No-Goes, but that wet blanket they toss around your shoulders slows your momentum nonetheless. Happy to plod along, our slow-go friends don’t make much progress; kind of stuck in 2nd gear.  While they don’t hold their breath, you may see them hyperventilating often.

The Go-Goes. Consider these the early adopters of life, its wonders, and ever-present opportunities. They innovate for themselves and for others.  They thrive on movement, experimentation, and evaluated feedback. They risk vulnerability and failure. They breathe deeply and live life.

Caution: Not every No-Go or Slow-Go should be considered an antagonist to shun or anchor to cast off.  At times, each can provide valuable and prudent counsel. A trusted mentor, a wise friend, and thoughtful family members may well have needed perspective you lack.  Listen, however, with all of your senses. Consider carefully.

And we have to understand our role with others.  That is, do we serve as No-Goes, Slow-Goes, or Go-Goes for other people’s aspirations?  Do we help or hinder? Do we encourage or suffocate?

One woman at our gym, for example, constantly provides negative commentary—whether you want it or not—about how dangerous this or that group of people will be for our nation.  Her jaw appears clenched and her eyes remain vigilant and wide-open as if scouring the floor for the soon-to-arrive saber toothed tiger that will enter the front door and devour her.  She shares a constant stream of negativity. A definite No-Go from the perspective of holding an educational or enlightening conversation. Perhaps you know similar people.  Maybe you have that tendency.

Do you want these people on your journey?

In his latest book, Before Happiness, Shawn Achor points out that our brains process millions upon millions of bits of information each day. We only attend to a miniscule fraction of these stimuli. His research shows, however, that we usually attend to the same kind of information and ignore the alternatives or contradictory data. You know, like the people who no matter how sunny it is will always be focused on that one cloud on the horizon. Where we see brightness they see potential—nay, impending—doom.  We have a choice.

This week, pay attention to your goals. Be mindful of who you let influence your travels. Or as I have heard, why would we let someone into our mind who we would not even allow into our home?


Video recommendation for the week:

Sometimes we “no-go” ourselves because of fear.  As this TEDx talk reminds us, it might not be as scary as it looks.  Where is the edge of your comfort zone?


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.


(#351) Show Don’t Tell

February 12, 2017

Saying it doesn’t make it so…too much talking mutes the story. 

The teacher becomes the student—again.

This past week, I received a full manuscript review and critique of (what will eventually become) my first novel.  The reviewer—a student of mine from thirty some-odd years ago—did a masterful job of pointing out the challenges as well as a few bright spots.

As I read and reread her critique, one of my writing offenses fell in the category of “Show Don’t Tell.” In other words, my characters and narrator did a lot of talking when they should have been taking action to move the story forward.  Or a character would label something as “desolate” or “beautiful” but not fully paint the picture. Saying something is “desolate” does not have the same punch as painting a picture of desolation for the reader. Saying it does not make it so.

My manuscript reviewer said this (“show don’t tell”) rears its head with many novelists (at least, I guess, the ones who struggle to grab the attention of the readers).

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

I thought back to the times I worked with students and their essay writing.  Often, they would “tell” me that something was “major,” “critical,” “important,” or “sensational” but would fall short on proving or “showing” how the descriptor was apt.  They failed to support their assertions with detail.

In short, too much talking mutes the story—whether that story is an essay, a book, a memo, or a policy initiative.

I can see a lesson here beyond academic or novel writing.  Think about how we might encounter or be guilty of using “show don’t tell” in our lives.  We either think we are clear or do not know how to paint a picture for the audience.  Our dialogue ends up muting the point. What we say or do not say stands in the way of making powerful connections.

For example:

Around the house.  My wife and I plan on building and planting a raised-box garden in our backyard. We read about how to do it. We said that we would “put it in the backyard.” But until we actually drove some stakes into the ground, all we had were words, little action. The stakes provided a visual of where the garden will eventually stand. It “showed” us location, sunlight, actual size, and potential challenges and assets.

In the gym.  Ever work with a trainer in the gym? Do you want one who will tell you about each piece of equipment but nothing else? Or would you get more from a trainer if she “showed” you how to use specific equipment to target muscle groups important to you?

Learning with video.  An effective “How To” video does more than just tell you what to do. It will “show” and label steps for you. It provides a vivid description.

At work.  A boss who wants a healthier workplace has to do more than provide information (written or spoken) that exalts the importance of diet, exercise, sleep, and downtime.  He has to “show” it by modeling appropriate action.  (Don’t tell me to disconnect when I go home—and then expect me immediately to respond to a late-night email.)

In music. Think of your favorite songwriter. Maybe a particular song paints vivid imagery for you.  Chances are the bard “showed” you an emotion or action rather than just told you.

You might be able to transform your leadership skills when you “show” the power of what you want your team to do rather than just telling them.

Think of the impact of this for you and your goals. A simple goal statement (in writing or in your head) might be a great start—but is it powerful enough to drive you forward? Have you created the imagery of what the goal will look like?

Do you have “show and action” in your plan—or is it just talk?


Video recommendation for the week:

Maybe I should asked these young people for help developing my characters!  Notice how they tell what to do and then “show” it.  To the head of the class!


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.


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