(#368) Fake, Illegitimate Or Incomplete Information?

June 11, 2017

Just because you find a lot of information does not mean
you have found accurate or credible information

If, as famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright claimed, “An expert is a man who stops thinking because he knows,” then can we say the same for a person who claims one source of information as the fount of all legitimacy and contrary accounts to be illegitimate or “fake”? Has she stopped discerning because she “knows” what is legitimate and what is fake?

More than five years ago, I shot a quick video (see below) outlining four basic considerations when considering information to address an issue or task?

  1. What information do you need for the task at hand?
  2. Where will you find that information?
  3. How will you evaluate the information you find for accuracy and legitimacy?
  4. How will you organize and use the information for your audience?

Can we grow as individuals if we filter what we read, hear, and see through one source (or a number of like-minded sources)?  Are we motivated to grow–or just “be right” even in the face of confounding information?

Do we care?

A friend shared two stories this week.  I doubt they are apocryphal.

  • A neighbor asked my friend where she got her news. My friend rattled off a list of seven or eight sources. Out of hand, the neighbor dismissed the entire list as thoroughly “illegitimate.” When asked what her source of information was, the neighbor mentioned one source. Just one source. It was, according to her, legitimate. End of story. (See numbers two and three, above.)
  • My friend has found the same situation in her college classroom.  No matter the topic,  two camps emerge. Diametrically opposed. Refusing to listen and discuss with the other. Each considering their source(s) of information legitimate and the others’ suspect at the least and fake at the worst.

Is this a sign of intellectual laziness? A lack of critical thinking? Or is this sort of thing nothing new—just magnified because everyone can have a social media platform where we surround ourselves with “likes” and “shares” and then block opposing viewpoints?  (I still remember my mother often warning me (more than fifty years ago) not to speak about politics or religion.) It does seem like today’s volume, as well as the personal vitriol, has been cranked up considerably.

I offered a suggestion to my friend.

  1. Pick two sources of news that generally disagree on issues and stances.
  2. Find one current news story on which both of these sources present a similar account of the issue or event.
  3. Print both stories without any attribution (nothing that would identify the sources).
  4. Ask your friend (or students) to identify the “illegitimate source” based solely on the content presented. If both stories are drawing the same conclusion then how can the argument hold that a particular source is always illegitimate?

Perhaps you could do it as well to at least start a rational conversation. Start with common ground and move from there.


Video recommendation for the week.

Just because you find information does not mean you have credible information.


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.


(#358) “I Don’t Want To Burn Out”

April 2, 2017

How can we raise our awareness, question our assumptions,
and create meaningful actions for improvement?

One researcher found that 29% of American employees say they thrive in their jobs (or 71% do not thrive).  A study out of the Stanford Business School noted ten factors that may be killing you in your workplace. Another source explains that “burnout syndrome” can manifest in three forms: overload, boredom, and worn-out.

What causes burnout? Does the individual hold responsibility? Do poor managers create it? Do we see out-of-work place factors (like family-work integration or financial considerations) creating in-workplace stressors? All of the above? Something else?

One of the early scenarios of my new book gives the reader a chance to confront the issue of burnout straight on and consider coping strategies. While I wrote the scenario specifically for college and university faculty, I believe you can apply it to other professions. Take out the reference to “faculty” and insert your occupation, for example.

You may work in the ideal environment where burnout is minimal to non-existent. If so, I would like to learn about what makes it so. Leave a comment on this blog.

For those who either deal with burnout personally (as an employee or manager) or work/live with someone in a slow burnout, I offer the text of my Scenario #6: “I Don’t Want To Burnout” below. Following the scenario, you will find reflection questions to serve as conversation starters about burnout and strategies to deal with it.  How can you recognize warnings of stress and burnout? What steps can you take to address these issues?


Video recommendation for the week.

Let me set the stage with a quick 57-second video.

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


The Scenario:

Professor Johnson decided to clear a space in her calendar to attend a series of on-campus reflective practice discussions. Even though this is her first semester as a full-time faculty member, her faculty mentor suggested she consider this workshop. “It will provide you with strategies to become more aware of what and why you do what you do in the classroom.”

At the initial meeting, the workshop facilitator asked the participants why they had signed up for these reflective practice sessions. Professor Johnson was prepared to say jokingly that her mentor made her do it—but as she listened to her more senior colleagues share their reasons, she came to a different and more sobering realization.

Of the nine faculty members participating in this workshop, two said they were present because they had burned out and had lost their passion for teaching. They hoped this might help rekindle their spirits. Four other colleagues said they were in the process of a slow burnout. They were experiencing difficulty connecting with their students as they once had done. They could sense they were losing patience with their students and colleagues. Each said it had become tougher to find meaning in their work.

Professor Johnson took in each of these genuine responses. When her turn came around, she simply stated, “I don’t want to burn out. That is why I am here. I want to learn from you what to do and what not to do.”

Reflect on This

  • What causes burnout?
  • Can we avoid burnout?
  • If Professor Johnson came to you and asked you for strategies to avoid burnout, what would be your top two or three strategies?
  • What resources are available at your institution to help faculty avoid or at least recognize burnout?

Like our professor in the above scenario, recognition can (and needs to) generate questions about why we find ourselves in such situations. How can we raise our awareness, question our assumptions, and create meaningful actions for improvement?

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.


(#357) Perspective

March 26, 2017

Our attention will determine our interpretation.

What thoughts and feelings come to mind when you see the photo below?

 

Now, same question as you expand the view and context of the photo?

Hmm. Marriages performed juxtaposed with a bedpan–with a prickly little cactus.

How about this view?

My, my. Marriages performed connected to a bedpan with a smirking vulture (with beads, no less) standing guard.

When I first saw the scene (in Cedar Key, Florida), my eyes were immediately drawn to the vulture. “Is this an art gallery or second-hand shop?”   As my eyes drifted to the right, I saw the sign.  I said to Laurie, “I’ve got to have a photo of that. It’s priceless.”

It was not until later in the day that I spied the bedpan. I laughed at what I had missed and another spin on the message popped into my mind.

A scene, situation, or dilemma takes on different meanings depending on where our gaze falls.  Our attention will determine our interpretation.

We have to understand perspective if we want a clear (or clearer) picture of a situation at hand.

One definition of perspective requires “seeing all relevant data in a meaningful relationship.”

It’s something to consider with collaboration and relationships. Do we narrowly frame a situation and thus miss opportunities? Do we start with answers and, consequently, miss the important questions?  Do we think of moving the spotlight or adjusting the focus so we go a little off-center?

We all have to be aware of our cognitive traps. This week, consider moving the spotlight a little. Whether you find a smirking vulture or not, your shifting perspective could help you better understand what you need to do in a perplexing situation.


Video recommendation for the week.

Do you believe what you perceive you receive?  Consider this perspective!


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).

All photos taken by Steve Piscitelli. (c) 2017.

(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.


(#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.


(#343) Reflect, Remove, And Replace: Focus On The Space

December 18, 2016

All of us have experienced times when one or more of the
slices, sectors, segments, or spaces of our lives no longer seem to serve us.

All of us are multi-dimensional beings.  One wellbeing model divides our lives into six dimensions. When one dimension goes off the rails, it affects the others.

6-dimensions

Or you could label the dimensions as follows:

Six Fs (Steve Piscitelli)

Model Two: Six Fs (Steve Piscitelli)

The two models do have overlap.  Each slice of the Six Fs model actually holds the six dimensions from Model One. For instance, within the family dimension of our lives we can find social relationships, emotional needs, physical demands, occupational expectations, intellectual stimulation, and spiritual engagement.  And so on for each of the other dimensions.

Regardless of the model you subscribe to, the reality remains that all of us have experienced times when one or more of the slices, sectors, segments, or spaces of our lives just do not seem to be working any longer. Something no longer serves us, no longer sustains our wellbeing. Once aware of the culprit, we then go about attempting to remove it.  But, what do we do once we have completed that surgery?

Once we identify what no longer nourishes us (and might even be debilitating us), we need to consider what to bring in as a replacement?

Or more simply: Once we make space in a particular dimension of life, what can we fill that space with that will nourish and serve us? What can we add to our lives that will help us lead (more of) a life of meaning, purpose, and virtue?

Or maybe, once we make the space, it might be beneficial to leave the space be for the time being. Not fill it for the sake of filling it.  Be mindful about what we focus on.  Reflect on the space. Just be.

As you look toward 2017, maybe you can use this strategy of removing, replacing, and reflecting as you consider your personal goals.  For instance, using my Six Fs Model above:

  • Fitness
    • What is no longer serving you well when it comes to your fitness (physical or emotional)? What can you (do you need to) eliminate from your life because it no longer serves and nourishes you?
    • Once you have made this space, with what can you fill it? What new virtuous habit can you build that will serve and nourish yourself?
  • Friends
    • What/Who is no longer serving you well when it comes to your friends? What can you (do you need to) eliminate from your life because it no longer serves and nourishes you? This does not have to mean you are walking away from your friends! (It could.) Or you could identify a habit you have that is no longer sustaining your social circle.
    • Once you have made this space, with what can you fill it? What new habit or social relationship can you build that will serve and nourish those around you and yourself?
Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

  • Family
    • What is no longer serving you well when it comes to your family relationships? What can you (do you need to) eliminate from your life because it no longer serves and nourishes you? This does not have to mean you are walking away from your family! You could identify a habit you have that is no longer serving your family unit.
    • Once you have made this space, with what can you fill it? What new virtuous habit can you build that will serve and nourish yourself and your family unit?
  • Function
    • What is no longer serving you well when it comes to your purpose? What can you (do you need to) eliminate from your life because it no longer serves and nourishes your purpose—who you are? What have you been doing that denies who you are?
    • Once you have made this space, with what can you fill it? What new virtuous habit can you build that will serve and nourish yourself?
  • Finances
    • What is no longer serving you well when it comes to your financial picture? What can you (do you need to) eliminate from your life because it no longer serves and nourishes your financial security? What have you been doing that jeopardizes your financial future?
    • Once you have made this space, with what can you fill it? What new virtuous habit can you build that will serve and nourish your financial future?
  •  Faith
    • What is no longer serving you well when it comes to your spirituality? What can you (do you need to) eliminate from your life because it no longer spiritually serves and nourishes you?
    • Once you have made this space, with what can you fill it? What new virtuous habit can you build that will serve and nourish yourself?

Be mindful of the spaces in your life. All the slices make a whole you.


Video recommendation for the week:

Listen to davidji discuss what he calls The Five Realms. He provides a brief explanation of each and then provides a few examples of how to identify where we might be able to free up some space.


NOTE: Next week I will publish and post my annual Blogger’s Retrospective. Give it a look as I list all of the year’s posts along with the top five posts from 2016 and my top five from the inception of the blog in 2010.

Make it an inspiring week, a wonderful holiday season, and H.T.R.B. as needed.  I will see you in 2017.

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).

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.


(#342) Let’s Review

December 11, 2016

This week spend some time looking in your rear view mirror. 

In a few weeks, the calendar turns to 2017.  For some, it will be “good riddance” to 2016. Others will have fond memories and gratitude of the past twelve months.  And then there will be the innumerable New Year’s Resolutions that will be broken before January turns to February.

 Photo SteSt

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

If you follow this blog with any regularity, you have read my thoughts about the importance of goals. I have shared strategies and urged you to stretch yourself. Above all, I encourage you to believe in who you are and who you can become.  None of us has to be a finished project. Look to the future and all it holds.  Be a cheerleader for your future—and find others who will push and pull you along toward your dreams.

This week spend some time looking in your rear view mirror.  Do you know how you have spent this year? I mean, do you really know what you have done with your time on your way to your goals?

We have often heard that “experience is the best teacher.”  In reality, “evaluated experience” will be a better teacher.  We have to take time to reflect not on just what we have done, but also on why we have done what we have done.

Photo by Steve Piscitelli

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

Here is an illuminating practice I started doing five years ago. During the last week of December, I conduct a 52-week review of my life.

  • I print out the previous 52 weeks of my calendar.  All my personal appointments and my professional opportunities.  Everything. I color-code my calendar appointments during the year so that I can easily see categories and projects (like: writing, program development, program rehearsal, program delivery, house projects, community connections, meetings with friends, dates with my bride, and so on). If you want to save a tree, forego the printing and review your e-calendar from your phone, tablet, or laptop. Caution: If you do this e-review, shut off your incoming messages. You really want to have undivided attention on this process. You are worth it!
  • I typically go to a local beach coffee shop, find a quiet corner, and start my 52-week review. You can do this any place. I suggest a place where you can focus and have some “you time.”
  • I make notes about which activities got most of my attention, which ones did not get much time on the calendar, and what did not appear to make it into my life.

Every time I do this, I learn something about myself.  While I know in the broad terms how I use my time, this exercise helps with specifics.  One year, I “learned” (really, became more aware of) what was NOT there on the calendar.  Or at least, what was NOT there ENOUGH times.  I found that important things like lunch with friends was not as prevalent as I had thought.  And while my wife and I spend quite a bit of time together, I felt like we could have done more special things.

Photo c) Steve Piscitelli

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

The exercise, in short, re-emphasizes the importance of balance and integration in life for me. It helps me clearly see where I have been on the journey for the past year. 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?

Before we can adequately plan, we need to have a firm understanding of where we have been.  We do not need to bog down in what ifs. Just an objective view of the journey so we can better prepare for the next part of the road.


Video recommendation for the week:

Sometimes goal setting can become a passive activity.  We list a number of goals and then we see what happens.  In this video, I suggest that rather than “wait for” we “work for” our goals. Start working for 2017 with your 52-week review of 2016.


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

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).

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.


%d bloggers like this: