(#366) Why Not You?

May 28, 2017

Speaking and writing does not belong to some elite group of individuals.

Have you considered publishing or speaking to broaden the powerful impact and reach you already have on those around you? It could be for a small local audience or something larger. You might do it for money—or for the sheer passion you have for a particular topic.

Later today (May 28, 2017), I will have the opportunity to facilitate a workshop at the annual NISOD Conference in Austin, Texas.  I will pose a simple question, “Why not you?” If you don’t share your talents, who will?

I hope to encourage participants to consider sharing their accumulated wisdom through publishing and/or speaking. I will be talking to college professors, advisers, and administrations. But whether you manage a retail store, teach students, serve customers in a restaurant, nurse patients in a hospital, coach a little league team, manage a household, or lead your community, you have experiences to share.  Speaking and writing does not belong to some elite group of individuals.

Take a moment today, and consider all that you have to offer with respect to your accumulated wisdom.

To be sure, just because you want to write or speak, does not necessarily mean you should write or speak.  And just as assuredly, not everyone has the talent or temperament for speaking and writing.

Before you brush aside the idea, though, consider what you have that others may be interested in learning.  From parenting, to surfing, to gardening, to home renovation, to mentoring young minds, you make a difference in your world. Here are a few questions to help you sort through your thoughts to share your wisdom. I encourage you to work through these with someone who will give you trusted feedback.

  • WHY do I want to publish and/or speak? Is it for ego, profit, passion, or the need to share an important lesson?
  • WHO cares about my work—and why should they? Huge question! If you decide to speak or publish, who will be interested enough to listen?
  • WHERE do I find opportunities? Local community organizations? Regional and national conferences? Letters to the editor? The community newspaper? A national magazine? Self-publishing?
  • HOW do I develop a supportive learning community of associates to help me develop your writing and speaking talents? And, how can I help others to find their voices?

When we start examining these types of professional and personal growth opportunities and questions, we identify and clarify our inner desires, strengths, and challenges. And we increase our chances to connect and form collaborative, supportive networks, and create community.

Rather than saying, “I’m not a writer or speaker” I hope you will consider (and act upon) “Hey, I can write and speak, too…just never thought about it.” Find a mentor to help you begin your journey.

In fact, you may find yourself saying, “Hell, yeah, that is for me!”


Video recommendation for the week.

Your story has power!


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.


(#354) What Can You Really Control?

March 5, 2017

Perhaps understanding and accepting the uncertainty
will allow you to see additional choices and paths to success.

Last week seven words focused my attention.

Are you afraid to ad-lib your life?

Do you have to script each moment as you attempt to control each outcome (professional or personal) of your day? Unfortunately, too often I attempt to do that. And I exhaust myself!  The good news: I am aware.  I am a work in progress.

Scripting allows me the illusion of control. More so, it feeds my need to control. I create an urgency that commands (and commends!) me to orchestrate every step of the journey with the intent to control all outcomes.  And it drives me to distraction.

We have to recognize that we do have control over our thoughts, words, and actions. Think of a goal you reached.  It originated with a thought, you put it to words, and you took action. To a certain degree, you maintained control over the goal process. But you really could not control the outcome.  So many other factors came into play.

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Before any presentation, I take responsibility for the preparation process:  my words, visuals, mode of presentation, research, my handouts, speech patterns, and mannerisms.  I hope that my rehearsal and attention to detail will produce a certain outcome for the audience.

The reality remains that I cannot control the audience outcome.  Sure, I can say with a bit of certitude that certain demonstrations will invariably produce this result or that.  But I have no control over who walks into the room that day. Or what they have just experienced in their personal lives.

At times, I torture myself with whether or not a flight will be on time or a connection through Atlanta gives me enough time to dash to the next concourse.  No matter how meticulously I plan the itinerary, I have zero control over delays.  Yes, I can attempt to minimize the chances for delays. But I have zip for influence.  On days that I accept that certainty, I feel more relaxed.

When my wife went through chemotherapy, initially and naively I attempted to control the situation. I quickly discovered (what my wife already knew) that I could not control the dropping of her blood counts. In fact, those blood counts became a certainty throughout treatment that neither of us could do much to control. I had to learn how to handle that and the entire process. Once I did, I became a better partner for that journey.

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There will always be uncertainty. For my own wellbeing, I have to accept (embrace?) that ambivalence. Whether it is an audience reaction, the success of a podcast, the on-time arrival of a connecting flight, or the sales of a book, there is only so much Stevie can do.  When I lose that perspective, I go into a downward spiral of stress. And I am not much good to anyone, least of all myself.

You may have worked for a boss who attempted to control everything—every little step and process—of your day.  How did you feel? Maybe you are that dominating boss. How’s that working for your health and those you lead? (Do you really think your employees awaken each morning, stretch their arms over their heads, and say, “Gee, I can’t wait to get to work so my supervisor can attempt to control every step of my day, belittle me, and browbeat me. I am so motivated!”)

When it comes to the need to control, consider addressing the underlying issues at hand. What is it you really need? Can you get beyond answers like, “I need to meet my quarterly numbers”?  What are the underlying motivations for a control obsession?

Understanding and accepting the uncertainty may allow you to see additional choices and paths to success. And, by chance, you may be able to ad-lib a bit of your day.


Video recommendation for the week:

Times of change can lead us to control what semblance of an old order we can lasso. That is not change management. That resembles someone attempting to manage disappointment.  An older video of mine reminds us that when it comes to change we have a four-step process. You will notice that control does not factor into the equation.

logo-island


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.


(#321) The Nudge: Everything Sends A Message

July 17, 2016

We take chances, we fail, we learn, we grow,
and we move forward.

 Listening to a TED Radio Hour (June 24, 2016 show) piece reminded me of the power of words and self-talk.  The theme of the show was that to change habits or make changes sometimes all we need is a gentle nudge in the correct direction.  The form of that nudge is critical.  More specifically, how the nudge is presented will have an impact on results.

One of the interview guests, Carol Dweck, noted researcher and Stanford University psychologist, pointed to her research on mindsets.  She emphasized that when we want to encourage (nudge) people to improve and continue to grow we need to pay attention to our words and actions. Sounds simple but the subtleties are immense. Leaders, parents, and teachers would do well to remember that everything we say and do sends a message.

For instance, she cautions that we need to praise the effort not the intellect of a student or employee.  Praising the intellect can (according to her research) cause a person to avoid risks. Why? Because if I fail then what does that say about my intellect that I’ve been praised for? So, I take the less vulnerable route and listen to that little voice on my shoulder that advises me to remain perfect and not bring question to my intellect.  This, Dweck says, is the stuff of “fixed mindsets.”

Image: amenic181 @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: amenic181 @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

She found that when we praise the process (the strategy, the grit, or the progress) that nurtures growth mindsets. We take chances, we fail, we learn, we grow, and we move forward.

Early this week I was speaking to a community activist who shared her dismay with the obsession in Florida with testing school children.  Everything is about the test and getting the right answers to the test.  Either your right or your wrong—and the consequences can be immense for our children.

Rather than marking something “wrong,” Dweck suggested using the words “Not Yet.”  It does not excuse the error. It actually points out the error—but with hope for a better future the next time the problem or task is attempted. Positive and powerful rather than demoralizing and demeaning.

Think of the impact on leaders and employees when we focus on a “Not Yet” as opposed to a dismissive response to an error. Such a mindful approach helps our capabilities to grow.  This is not fuzzy talk saying we have unlimited capabilities. Rather, this approach helps us to better know our capabilities.

Video recommendation of the week.  In this short clip, Professor and Author, Richard Thaler, connect the notion of the nudge with being a “choice architect.”

Don’t forget the power of words—to others and to yourself.  Everything sends a message. What message do we send ourselves….and what messages do we accept from others? How can you be a choice architect in your life and the lives of others?

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 podcast (about ex-offenders and resilience).  You can find my podcast series at The Growth and Resilience Network (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.

 


(#294) Benefits Of Remaining A Continual Learner

January 10, 2016

It can help us fill in gaps between assumptions and realities.

A few months ago on this blog I posed the question, “Do we take time to experience what our customer, client, or student is experiencing?” Regardless of your profession or calling, do you remain a constant learner from the perspective of the people you are serving?

We have all heard (what can become) the cliché about the importance of “life-long learning.” At one level, that can mean staying current with reading, new trends, and updated content in your calling. Important for sure.

I’d like to dig down a little deeper on this; go beyond “staying current” by reading an article or two. Let’s move to learning from the perspective of the people you are serving.

Stephen Brookfield puts forth a simple reminder in his book Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher.

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Teachers need to remember what it is like to be a learner in a “foreign” (read: unknown; difficult; demanding; uninteresting to them) field.  One way for those of us in “front of the class” to stay in touch with our inner learner is to take a course in a “foreign” field. Perhaps a history instructor enrolls in a chemistry class or the English teacher signs up for Algebra.  I did this sort of learning when I participated in an 8-week improv workshop this past summer. I’m doing it now as I participate in an online writing Master Class by James Patterson.  Experiences such as these can bring us face-to-face with feelings of anxiety, boredom, irrelevance, and vulnerability—just like a student has to do when sitting in a required core class.   It can help us fill in gaps between assumptions and realities.

Ph.D. candidates may face the same feelings as they complete the required coursework for the degree. I know I did when I had to take M.Ed. and M.A. classes that I had absolutely zero interest in taking. I had to find ways to soldier through—and that kept me in touch with my students.

Video recommendation for the week:

Brookfield aptly points out that when teachers, in particular, take on the role of a student in an area/class in which they have no or limited skill/knowledge they will have a better chance of understanding the trepidation that their students have in front of them.

Maybe the college administrator teaches a full semester course (not just one or two sessions) to acquaint (or re-acquaint) herself with what it’s like to be the classroom teacher who has to, each semester, “learn” the dynamics of a particular class/group of students. This includes facing these students each class day of the semester and dealing with the human drama that comes in the door.  That is a lot different from reading the latest research about a pedagogical breakthrough.  And the experience can remind the administrator of the joys and frustrations of teaching.  A similar argument can be made for a teacher participating in an administrative training class.

I had a colleague who taught French. During the summer, he would immerse himself in learning a new language. I seem to remember Chinese was one summer’s undertaking. This could help the teacher see the perspective of an online student.

Another example. I have been regularly working with a trainer in the gym over the last eight months.  Each session, I’m a learner as I pay attention to form, reps, weight and sets. And each session I come up short on some routines; and I excel on others. I am reminded about the need to be fully present in the class (my training) and do my “homework” in between sessions.

Besides staying in touch with the student’s, client’s or customer’s perspective, I think this type of intentionality helps to build resilience. Placing oneself in a difficult or vulnerable to failure position (not unsafe or unhealthy), requires and develops a certain amount of flexibility.

Where can you become a neophyte over the coming months? How can you better understand the perspective of those you serve?

Make it a wonderful week—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.

 


(#276) Mistakes, Disappointments, Curiosity and Growth

September 6, 2015

When we choose not to dare because we might “risk feeling disappointed”
we end up “choosing to live disappointed.”

Nearly thirty years ago I made a huge professional mistake.  At that time I decided to make a career move from classroom teaching to an administrative slot at a university. Within three days in the new position I knew without a doubt that I had made a colossal mistake. Within three months I resigned the position.

To some observers, it looked like a mind-numbing, stupid and personal failure.  I still remember an encounter when I returned to the classroom the following year. A “colleague” announced in the teacher’s lounge that Piscitelli just couldn’t hack it out there.

Hmm.

That would have been true if I had allowed that disappointment to become an excuse to never risk again.  If I had followed that path, that would have been a failure.

About five years later I made, what appeared to be, another professional misdirection. And again, what seemed a mistake/failure/bone-headed move proved to be anything but. Lost in the forest of doubt and regret.

Image by moggara12 @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by moggara12 @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Another “colossal mistake”—that ended up being one of the biggest, best, and brightest decisions I ever made.

Each of these “failures” made it possible for me to stretch and become someone better than I had been.  Without each of the two decisions (above) I doubt I would have had the opportunities to become an author, speaker, facilitator, and college professor. Each “misstep” led to a series of valuable lessons and opportunities in my life.

Not too shabby for someone who supposedly couldn’t “hack it.”

Don’t let fear of failure stop you. Don’t let the naysayers tell you what you can and cannot do.

Brené Brown, in her new book Rising Strong, reminds us that when we choose not to dare because we might “risk feeling disappointed” we end up “choosing to live disappointed.” How many people do you know who choose to “settle”? Is that the life you want?

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In the workplace, transformational leaders understand this as well. They give their people room to breathe and, yes, make mistakes—and grow. I had a coffee conversation this week with a person who appears to be a wonderfully gifted (upper) manager in her field. Unfortunately for her and her organization, she has been stymied by gate-keeper after gate-keeper.  Her transactional leader doesn’t appear to provide much in the way of trust or growth opportunities. This employee suffers, the organization suffers, and the people it serves will suffer. No doubt in my mind.

Seth Godin refers this as “Don’t touch it, you might break it.”  The great leaders encourage touching! And if it breaks, we will fix it together.


Video recommendation for the week:

Make no mistake (pun intended), each of my decisions (above) and their immediate consequences felt like the end of the world. Prime time for beating myself up.  And while I did more of that than anyone else did to me, I had to move through the disappointment. As Al Seibert said in The Resiliency Advantage, we can cope or we can crumble.”


Consider Dan Nevins.  He faced unbelievable hardships and odds. “Disappointment” really is much too mild of a descriptor for his journey. And most definitely, he is not a failure. What an inspiration!  Check out his story.

And so can you be an inspiration as you move forward.

In her book Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better, Pema Chiron reminds us that when things just don’t work for us, we “could get curious about what is going on.”  Mistakes, James Joyce said, are “the portals of discovery.

What dream or circumstance do you have that fills you with a bit (or a lot) of trepidation?  What causes the reticence? What little (or big) step can you do this week that will put you in the mindset of “What if I did this?” YES, you might fail and be disappointed. AND think of the exhilaration awaiting you with the chance and the potential for change. Either way, you learn and grow.

Put the energy vampires aside. Don’t let “perfection” and “disappointment” rule.  You have so much more to offer yourself and those around you.

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.

 


(#266) Challenging the Status Quo

June 28, 2015

We have to remember what we learned in our formative years:
“Know what battles to pick.”
Great advice unless you never seem to choose a battle.

I was recently asked what kind of advice I would give to the new generation of educators and students. My advice was (and still is) simple and straightforward,

Pay attention to the difference you can make.
Challenge the status quo (that includes your own status quo).
Don’t settle for the easy way.
Either you create your story—or you let someone else create it for you.

This past week I had the opportunity to catch up with a student I taught nearly 30 years ago. She related a story about how a boss of hers, while conducting a staff meeting, was less than civil to say the least. While all of her compatriots quietly sat and squirmed a bit, my former student stood up and calmly challenged the boorish behavior. As she told the story, I beamed. She did not need my approval—but I could not have been prouder.

Stuart Miles @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Stuart Miles @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Far too many times I have witnessed otherwise smart and insightful adults sit on their hands rather than challenge a wrong-headed workplace/career-related situation. Why do people fail to take action in situations clearly calling for action? Here is what I have seen and heard for years.

  • “I won’t be here long. This job is just a placeholder until I get my big break and move on.”
    • Did you ever consider you may never get that big break? The job you planned on keeping for no more than a year or two ends up being yours for five years or more. I’ve seen people like this wake up one morning, ten years later, with kids in school and a mortgage. Guess what? They are not going any place. And, like it or not, they have created a less than savory workplace environment for themselves and their co-workers by their inaction over the years. The story they are living is the story they have created.
  • “Did you see what they did to Suzy down the hall? I’ll fly under the radar, thank you.”
    • Poor managers use fear to control and (they think) motivate their workers. How long do you plan to fly low? See #1 above.
  • “If I don’t rock the boat, I’ll be safe.”
    • Hmm, again. A few waves just might make the boat a bit safer for everyone. Like my former student above, a well-directed and civil challenge might catch attention and, if not change things for the better right away, might at least put the perpetrator on notice.
  • “I will do anything to make sure I am seen as a team player so that I can continue to move up the organization’sladder. At the very least, I’ll be able to keep my job.”
    • Really? I’ve seen people sell their souls for the job. Then once they have been used up by the transactional leadership, they are downsized or otherwise unceremoniously dismissed. One day they wake up without a job, and without a soul.

Speaking up is not always easy. It takes courage and articulation skills. Some of you are born leaders, ready to take the lead. Many others, not so much. I get that. Even the quiet ones amongst us, however, can quietly support those who are out front pushing for change. If, for reasons that apply to your situation in life, you choose to remain silent, then at least recognize the potential consequences of that choice.

Yes, we have to remember what we learned in our formative years: “Know what battles to pick.” Great advice unless you never seem to choose a battle. As Edmund Burke reportedly admonished, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men [and women] to do nothing.”

What can you challenge this week? Nothing large. Nothing outlandish. Nothing dangerous. Nothing stupid. Nothing boorish. Just a well-calculated step to find a more humane and thoughtful way to make a meaningful change for yourself, your family, your workplace, and/or your community. Consider a mentor, coach, adviser or counselor to help you sort things out and move along the best path.

Little steps create the journey. No steps create a journey of another kind.

Video recommendation for the week:

Sara Bareilles wonders what would happen if we say what we want to say.

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

I am venturing into the realm of podcasting. Check out my first one “Powerful (Mindful) Preparation. Powerful Presentation.”

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 and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (both in their third edition) are published by Pearson Education.

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

 


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