(#369) About Kayaks And Perspective

June 18, 2017

If we focus on the possible negative, we get sucked into it.

Lessons. Everywhere, lessons present themselves.  And they remind us that we are always students. Lifelong learners. If we pay attention.

My latest education has come over the past few weeks courtesy of my new twelve-foot ocean kayak.

Previously, I had paddled in the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, the Florida Keys, and in North Florida inlets.  Let’s say my first week of ocean kayaking has gifted me some wonderful lessons.

  • Perspective. I spend time on the beach observing surfers and paddle boarders. I notice smooth water, small waves, and storm-tossed breakers. The appreciation for the conditions, though, changed when I walked my kayak into the ocean for the first time. The waves took on a very different perspective  atop of (and soon tossed from) my kayak seat.
    • Lesson. Until we dive into a project, we do not have a full appreciation of what to expect.  A new job might look perfect—until we report to work. Perhaps it’s criticizing a co-worker, government action, or the stance of a group different from ours.  Until we get into that water, we really don’t understand that perspective.

  • Respect and Fear. I have always had a deep respect for the ocean.  That is different from the fear I felt the first time I paddled beyond the breakers. I could feel myself tense up—which in turn led to poor body mechanics. Instead of attacking the waves, I stopped paddling–and eventually ended up in the water with the boat on top of me. (With a broken seat back and lost sunglasses, thank you very much!)
    • Lesson. Fear can lead to counter-productive actions. We start to focus on the thing we do NOT want to do. I once heard a race car driver’s advice on how NOT to hit the racetrack wall. Simply, he said, do NOT look at the wall. If we focus on the possible negative, we get sucked into it. My first day on the kayak I focused on the waves and not being tossed rather than focusing on the shore and gliding to a stop. I tensed up and face planted in the water.

  • Adrift. The first time I got beyond the breakers and to (relatively) smoother, less undulating water, I looked back and saw that I was further from shore than I had thought. The voice in my head cried, “What the hell are you doing out here? Way out here?”
    • Lesson. When we attempt something new, when we stretch ourselves, we might feel adrift. Like we have no anchor. We find ourselves treading unfamiliar waters. Some people quit. Some figure out how to persevere. Some look for reassurance and guidance.  In my case, I looked a little north and spied surfers and paddle boarders. I felt better knowing others were close by. They wouldn’t paddle my boat but just knowing others were in similar waters gave me a feeling of security. When you feel lost and adrift, look around for those who may be in similar waters. Collegiality can be a powerful motivator.
  • Coaching. I sought out a neighbor with experience to help me with kayaking technique.  From posture, to paddle stroke, to entering and leaving the surf, he has provided needed guidance. Simple ideas take root due to his repetition
    • Lesson.  There is no need to be an island.  Reach out for coaching.  A fresh set of eyes and a different perspective can help move you to a new level. (And do not forget gratitude. Bruce found a twelve-pack of his favorite beverage on his patio later that week.)
  • Daily Discipline. Each day I go out, I see improvement. I paddle further; spill less frequently; unload, load, and strap the kayak to the cart with more skill.  I now look at how the waves break on a particular day before lunging into the surf.  I am more aware. I still have a long way to paddle—and I have come a long way, as well.
    • Lesson. Whether you want to call it locus of control or self-efficacy, when you fall short, get up, fall again, get up again…ad nauseum….you learn, you grow, and move closer to a goal. If we fail to notice that we fail to notice—we hinder our movement forward.


Video recommendation for the week.

Sometimes laughing is the best way to soothe a bruised ego. With that in mind, my bride sent me this video link.  Even kayakers have a blooper reel.


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.


(#365) Listening For Stories Of Inspiration

May 21, 2017

Inspiration from a woman who did not let circumstance
dictate her outcome.

[Note to my readers: Today’s post marks the beginning of the eighth year of this weekly blog.  Thank you for following, sharing, and commenting.]

Stories. They surround us. Some have the power to illustrate, instruct, and inspire.

Minutes before I delivered my commencement address to the Florida State College at Jacksonville Class of 2017, I had a front row (literally) seat for a young woman’s touching story about her journey.

Lyse Medina, the FSCJ Kent Campus Student Government Association President, delivered a 4½ minute description of her journey as an immigrant, a daughter, a student, a leader, and a person with heart and determination.

Her tale is one of perseverance and resilience. “My past did not define me, but it did lead me to where I am today,” she told the nearly ten thousand people before us.


Video recommendation for the week.

Rather than tell you about Lyse’s speech, listen to it. Learn and grow from it. Her story in her words. A reminder of the importance of community colleges in our society. And a powerful dose of inspiration from a young woman who did not let circumstances dictate her outcomes. She envisioned her dreams and she will continue to define her journey. I am glad to have met and learned from her.

My appreciation to FSCJ for sharing the video and to Lyse for allowing me to share it with you. Note: The video should start with her introduction. If it does not, move to minute 52 for Lyse.


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.


(#361) Where’s My Trophy?

April 23, 2017

How would you develop a meaningful and effective employee recognition program?
What represents “average” and what looks like “excellent” at your workplace?

Transformational leaders understand the importance of timely, authentic, and meaningful employee recognition.   The leader knows her people and what best motivates them. (For instance, accolades must resonate with the different generational mindsets that may be in the work setting.  Boomers may crave financial reward and titles, while millennials favor flexibility benefits.)

Even though the All Stars generally standout, there will be shortsighted, why-not-me workplace citizens who have difficulty recognizing and acknowledging the good work of others. What’s a leader to do in order to connect with all team members?

One of the last scenarios in my new book gives readers the opportunity to grapple with the best way to recognize employee efforts.  While I wrote the scenario specifically for college and university faculty, you can apply it to other professions. Take out the reference to “faculty” and insert your occupation or job title, for example.  Instead of “department chair,” use “manager” or “supervisor.”

Whether we talk about faculty, corporate managers, dockworkers, or administrative assistants recognizing them for a “job well done” seems like commonsense to overall personnel development.

Your work environment may adeptly understand and expertly execute employee recognition. If so, I would like to learn about your system. Leave a comment on this blog.


Video recommendation for the week.

Let me set the stage for the scenario.

For more hands-on introductory videos, visit my video playlist.


As you and your colleagues grapple with this scenario, consider if Professor Hadit works in an environment where everyone believes he or she is excellent. If that is the case, then hasn’t “excellent” in that environment actually become “average”? Excellent indicates far above the average. What represents average and what looks like excellent at your workplace?

The scenario:

“Got a moment?” asked Professor Hadit as he stood at his colleague’s office door.

“Sure, come on in, Don. Have a seat.” Professor Binder pointed to the seat at the side of his desk. Both professors taught in the English department on their campus. Don Hadit it was the current department chair. He had been in that position for two years.

“Not sure where to start, Ann, other than this is the stereotypical case of doing what I thought was right only to catch grief from every direction. Remember the campus meeting we had last week with the campus president?”

“Yeah,” replied Ann. “I thought it went well. Very positive. Especially the recognition of the ‘all-stars’ in each of the departments. Finally, nice to see faculty recognized for what they do well.”

“Well, there’s the rub,” said Don with a sigh. “We, the department chairs, were asked to pass along the names of some of our faculty who have done something well over the last semester. We could only give four or five names. The president wanted to reach out and thank those folks. So, I did that. Thought it was a good idea, too. Unfortunately, my phone has not stopped ringing, the email inbox keeps dinging, and there have been a few unpleasant conversations—or should I say diatribes—in my office.”

“I don’t understand,” offered a confused-looking Ann. “About positive recognition?”

“Yeah. It seems people got very upset—I mean red-in-the-face mad—that they weren’t recognized. Some went as far as to tell me why the people I chose were not deserving of such recognition. I’m flabbergasted. Feeling a bit blindsided. Even had one person claim the only reason you were recognized is because we are friends outside of campus. Gee. Since I observe every teacher in this department and conduct thorough evaluations, I thought I was in the best place to be objective.”

Ann raised her eyebrows and blew a slow breath.

“I’m not sure how to rebound from this one. Frankly, I’m mad as hell. Got any thoughts?” asked Professor Hadit as he slumped into the chair and stared straight ahead at the wall. “I feel like we’re stuck in a place where everyone has to get a trophy!”

Reflect on This

  • If you were in Professor Hadit’s position, would you have proceeded any differently when asked by the campus president for a few of the “All Stars” in your department? Briefly explain.
  • How does your workplace recognize its All Stars? How should it recognize the All Stars?

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.


(#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.

 


(#353) Change Management

February 26, 2017

We all are in the change management business.

Did you know that about 500,000 jobs exist in the “change management” field? Titles like, “Culture Change Manager…Change Management Analyst…Change Management Lead…Change Management Specialist….”

Who knew?

As I prepare for two corporate programs—one in Las Vegas and one here in Florida—that scrutinize the topic of “change management,” two questions guide my thinking.

  1. Haven’t we been managing change at one level or another for a long time? After all, Heraclitus offered more than two centuries ago, “Change is the only constant in life.”
  2. Since change is not new, then what is new about it in the current context and—why should we care?

We could make an argument that to every generation the change it faces is monumental, huge, and precedent busting. No one has ever faced anything like it before or will again.  Or, at least so they think in the moment—their moment.

Photo by Steve Piscitelli

Photo by Steve Piscitelli

Maybe the change involved technology (assembly line), government (the Constitutional Convention), women’s rights (suffrage amendment), equal access (Brown v. Board of Education), aviation (the Wright Brothers) or education (Title IX). You can name many more.

One measure used by economic historians to measure the rate of change looks at how long it takes 50% of the households to adopt the change. By that standard, it took electricity and TV about twenty-eight years.  Radio, television, and the Internet, less than a decade.

Again, Heraclitus told us that, “Everything changes and nothing stands still.”

Bottom line, we all are in the change management business. Whether we hold responsibility for workplace productivity, renovating our home, or handling a healthcare crisis, change faces us. If we think that we will drown in change, know that we have been through it before and will confront it again.

Everyone thinks of changing the world,
but no one thinks of changing himself.
― Leo Tolstoy—

The first thing to do is consider what change we need to consider. The CEO may look at change as it relates to technology, rapidity, different generational attitudes, uncertainty, institutional culture, and/or sustainability.

I would suggest, at the least, we need to understand the professional and personal perspective from which to address change. When we talk about change, what do we expect those we lead and ourselves to do? Consider this short list as you move forward with change management in your life. What do you want to do as it relates to change? Do you want to

  • Accept it?
  • Anticipate it?
  • Cause it?
  • Control it?
  • Follow it?
  • Ignore/resist it?
  • Slow/speed it?
  • Understand it?
  • Question it?
  • Do something else?

Some choices move us forward. Others, not.

“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” 
― George Bernard Shaw


Video recommendation for the week:

Change will happen. So, what do you do with the change resistors? Click here for one strategy.


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.

55031146_high-resolution-front-cover_6597771-1

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.


(#349) A Tangled Mess

January 29, 2017

We could ignore the tangles and hope they go away on their own.
What is the healthiest and safest manner to help us stop going in circles, loosen up, and prosper?

Ever had to deal with a root-bound plant? You know the kind. When you gently remove it from the pot for transplanting, you find the soil enveloped by the root system.  Plants in this condition need attention to survive.  If the tangle is minimum, you might be able to gently massage the root ball with your fingers to loosen it up.  At other times, when the root’s streamers are many and tightly wound, you may need to use a knife to cut through the tangle.

While the “violence” may shock the plant, it has a better chance for survival after this intervention.  As one planting blog states, “The only alternative is planting it root bound, and no root bound plant can thrive. It will be hard to water and it will live a short, sad life, always sickly and constrained, if it makes it at all.”

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

Sometimes we might feel like that plant. All tangled up with the challenges of daily life. One tangle might come from work, another from our social circle, and still another emerges from our emotional state. We could ignore the tangles and hope they go away on their own.

They probably won’t. They will overtake our wellbeing. Perhaps we need an “intervention” of sorts. And while I’m NOT suggesting we “take a knife to the ball,” the level of the intervention will depend upon the severity of the tangle. Just how tied up in knots are we. The first step is awareness, followed by a questioning of assumptions.

If we want to thrive, we cannot ignore our challenges. And we must not subject ourselves to continual self-flagellation. Just like our root-challenged plant that has been sliced and manipulated, we also need some loving care. Like a massage, understanding words from caring friends and family (and ourselves), improved diet, uplifting readings, quiet time, a visit to a therapist, or whatever provides healthy solace and movement toward improvement.


Video recommendation for the week:

Continuing with this week’s metaphor, this video provides a quick 67-second strategy for dealing with root bound plants. As the horticulturist says, if we do not deal with the problem, the plant will wither. Listen to his words. They provide something to consider as we encounter challenges.  What is the healthiest and safest manner to help us to stop going in circles, loosen up, and prosper?


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.


(#347) Clues At The Tip Of My Nose

January 15, 2017

The little child had returned to remind and reassure me
to believe in my abilities and myself.

A few months ago, I sat on a balcony three stories above the Gulf of Mexico in Key Largo, Florida.  The pre-sunrise morning had a calming stillness about it.  As I sat alone, I listened to a guided meditation.

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

One of the suggestions during the practice asked me to imagine looking in the window of my childhood home and describe the scene.  How old was I? What was I doing? How did I look? And, how did I feel looking at “little Steve”? On the other side of the window, I saw my younger self, sitting there.

On that balcony, with my eyes closed, I saw this unfold in my mind’s eye, at the tip of my nose. I distinctly remember experiencing a flood of emotions. Some happy. Some not so joyful. At one point of the meditation, young Steve, turned toward the window and looked at his older self, staring at him from the outside. As I looked into his eyes, little Steve looked hopeful, fearful, joyful, and tearful.  He appeared to need reassuring.  What would it be like on the other side of that window his eyes seemed to ask?

A few days ago, during my morning meditation, a host of random thoughts attempted to crowd into my bid for peace in the gap. All at once, I experienced a blur—kind of a fast-motion video—at the tip of my nose. As I focused, the image slowed down. I saw faces of smiling innocent little children pass by. Finally, there was little Steve again. Looking me straight in the eye. Why was he back? Had he ever left?

I searched for a message—what was the little person looking for?

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

At the time, I had been grappling with a few major decisions and challenges. More so than normal (for me), I had been feeling a bit anxious about the next steps. When I thought about my younger self, I remembered all of the times little Steve felt anxious about the future—sometimes, just about the next day. Back then, I found a way forward. At times with help from those near me and, at other times, by my own grit. (Though, at the time, I had no idea what “grit” or “resilience” meant.)

So, maybe, the little child I saw at the tip of my nose that morning had returned to remind and reassure me to believe in my abilities and myself. In his child-like way, he knew I was the one needing reassurance.  He had my back and he reminded me of all I learned years earlier about courage, fortitude, and appreciation for myself.

You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe,
deserve your love and affection.
– Buddha –


Video recommendation for the week:

Enjoy this video reminder of what children can teach us…if we only pay attention.  While I cannot speak about the book promoted in the video (I have not read it), the video packs a lot into a brief few minutes.  Enjoy.


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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