(#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.


(#340) It’s Up To You

November 27, 2016

Treat your dreams like your property.
If you don’t protect them from theft and damage, who will?

I recently reacquainted myself with a bit of Casey Stengel wisdom. Stengel reportedly pointed across the field and said,

See that fellow over there? He’s twenty-years old and in ten years, he’ll be a star.
And, see that other fellow over there? He’s also twenty-years old. In ten years, he’ll be thirty.

Absolutely love that! And it speaks to what we do or do not do in our lives.  We all have dreams of one kind or another. They probably involve one of what I call the Five Fs: fitness, family, faith, finances, and function.

Do you know people who, rather than dreams, have fantasies?  They can articulate a wonderful story about where they want to be in a year, five years, or so.  When it comes to action, though, there is an obvious lack.   A company with a great mission statement on the wall needs to have complementary movement. Or else we just have meaningless words. Same for personal goals.  Don’t let anyone steal or derail your goals–and don’t do it to yourself. Treat your dreams like your property. If you don’t protect them from theft and damage, who will?

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

Last week at the gym, someone asked me about my experiences with shoulder surgery. (I’ve had rotator cuff surgery on both shoulders.) This particular person keeps himself in top-notch shape. He has a disciplined workout regimen.  Somewhere along the way, however, he has injured his shoulder to the point that he is in 24/7 discomfort and/or outright pain. He shared that he needed to do something—perhaps shoulder surgery.

“How long did it take you to recover?” he asked from his pigeon position on the mat.

“About four months to get back into my gym routine. And about 12 months for what I call a full recovery,” I shared.

He grimaced, as he was not sure he wanted to wait that long for a recovery.

If he does not do the surgery (or some other meaningful and healthy intervention) in four months he won’t have any relief. If he works with a healthcare professional, he has a better chance of feeling better.  In either case, he will be four months older. One scenario has him in pain (still). The other, sees him with a chance for being pain-free. His choice.

And, see that other fellow over there? He’s also twenty-years old.
In ten years, he’ll be thirty.

I remember years ago a fifty-something year old man asking what it would take to become a schoolteacher.  By the end of the conversation, he said that if he went back to school to pursue his dream, in the four or five years it would take to get his degree he would be nearly 60 years old.

“Hmm,” I asked, “how old will you be in four or five years if you don’t go for the degree?”

And, see that other fellow over there? He’s also twenty-years old.
In ten years, he’ll be thirty.

Take a little time today for yourself.  List one dream you have for each of the Five Fs? When do you want to reach each of those dreams? Start your action (even if very small steps) today.

Don’t beat yourself up if you come up short. Keep making forward movement.

It’s up to you.

And remember Stengel’s words.


Video recommendation for the week:

Pay attention to your vocabulary—especially what you use when talking to yourself.  Enjoy this short clip from a talk I delivered in Portland, Oregon in 2015.  Note: I present three de-motivating words. There is a fourth to add to the list: “later.”  It (“later”) has the potential to kill your movement forward.


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.


(#326) Where Is Your Focus Space?

August 21, 2016

It seems I do some of my best thinking when I am not in my workspace.

In her book Improv Wisdom: Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up Patricia Ryan Madson suggests that we pay attention to our “hot spots.” These places feel right for us and, for whatever reason, we have a clearer view of our world.  In these spaces, we have a better than average chance of pushing distractions aside and concentrating on the important stuff in our lives.

As Madson says, we “just show up.” We don’t over prepare. We step into the space and allow our creative juices to flow.

_____________________________________

“Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it.”
Soren Kierkegaard

_____________________________________

I think of these hot spots as unfocused spaces that allow me to focus.  That is, when I am feeling stuck (on a project, for instance) rather than force a narrowly framed decision, I find these focus spaces allow me to see broader and more creative options. I don’t force my thoughts. I allow the options to flow to me and open up a pathway for ideas to take root and begin to bloom.

Photo by Steve Piscitelli

Photo by Steve Piscitelli

When I jotted down my creative spaces I had an “aha moment.”

  • Doing yard work.
  • Drinking a cup of coffee in a cafe.
  • Having talk-time with my bride.
  • Meditating
  • Relaxing in a hotel room.
  • Sitting in my seat during a flight.
  • Waiting on a flight in the airport.
  • Walking, sitting, or biking on the beach
  • Walking with my canine companion, Roxie
  • Working in my home office
  • Working out in the gym.

With the exception of “working in my home office,” the other ten spaces actually remove me from my day-to-day work locations and routine actions. It seems I do some of my best thinking when I am not in my workspaces.  I’m not forcing myself. When I don’t force myself to focus, I seem to focus better. This sweet spot helps me stay resilient.

Video recommendation of the week:

So, maybe, if you’re feeling stuck or you’re having difficulties stimulating the creative juices, pay a visit to your non-work focus spot. Make a list of the top places where things seem to happen for you—where ideas appear and conundrums appear to become clearer.

When was the last time you visited your focus space?

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.


(#296) Not Us. Them.

January 24, 2016

“A building is not just about itself, but the place where it resides.”-Craig Dykers

Did you hear the one about the college president’s view of how to handle struggling students? Reportedly his suggestion was to “drown the bunnies.”

No, that’s not the setup for a bad joke.  According to a recent article in Inside Education that is what a college president said (though, the president says he can’t remember his exact language) when discussing ways to increase retention numbers for his institution. One such method put forth: Encourage those who might fail to withdraw early in the semester—and protect retention numbers for the institution.

Ambro/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Ambro/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Where does one even start with such a sentiment? Let’s hope in this case the president was incorrectly or inaccurately quoted. If not, is this what happens when the institutional management thinks they have become the institution?

Students bring their academic and non-academic challenges with them when they step on campus.  Any college is more than its bricks and mortar. The college is the community it serves.  Of course, not all students will be successful. Colleges (like community colleges) that have open admission policies agree to take on 100% of their applicants.  Some will not be successful–and many will. And it often takes longer than one or two semesters for students to find their footing and transition into the ethos of higher education.

The campus is not about the president, professors or custodians—it’s about the community. To be sure, all of those people (and more) make up the community.  We need transformational leaders and effective faculty.  But we need to examine the mission.  Has it come to be directed by and for retention numbers on an Excel spreadsheet rather than the human lives that cross the threshold each day?

I know first-hand that colleges across our great nation have a plethora of resources available for student success. Colleges like San Jacinto College have an interest in the student as a total person.  Florida State College at Jacksonville has a program  to steer students toward important resources during the critical first semester. Northern Virginia Community College “is committed to helping students reach their goals with a network of support services.”  And the list goes on and on around the nation.  These higher education institutions definitely see more than “bunnies” to be quickly dispatched.

A concomitant question: What admission criteria do colleges and universities use?

As presented on CBS News last week, according to a recent report titled “Turning the Tide,” colleges and universities are starting to review their admission criteria.  Traditional benchmarks (ACT/SAT, for instance) are being questioned for their efficacy. This conversation eventually connects to retention of students from one semester to the next.

cbs

Perhaps the unfortunate wording and/or sentiment of one college president may help to further the meaningful conversation about who the college admits, under what circumstances and with what promises for assistance and chances for success. Access without opportunity is hollow. What markers spot potential and which ones don’t?

I read the quote that opens this post in the February issue of Fast Company. The issue is the magazine’s 2016 leadership issue.  I believe it applies to our college campuses across the nation where our students depend on effective and meaningful leadership and teaching.

It’s not about us. It’s about them.

Make it a wonderfully successful 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.


(#291) Befriending Ourselves

December 20, 2015

Think of your favorite novels.  More than likely the protagonists
did not follow a straight line from the beginning to the end of the story.
Your life journey is the same. You are the hero of your story.

This past week, I reacquainted myself with a classic work by Pema Chodron. Nearly twenty years after its publication, The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving-Kindness still provides a timely reminder to “make friends with ourselves.”

Not in a self-indulging, selfie-stick kind of way.  Rather, in a healthy and mindful manner.

If you are one of those folks who can easily fall into the trap of beating yourself up ask yourself, “Why am I so hard on myself?”  “Is this helping me—and those around me?”

Give yourself a break.

chodron

Consider this.  Chodron maintains thatas soon as you begin to believe in something, then you can no longer see anything else. The truth you believe in and cling to makes you unavailable to hear anything new.” Take someone who is angry. She knows she is angry. She doesn’t like that she’s angry. She has been told by others that she needs to stop it. She sees it as a detriment. And she wants to suppress the anger. Chodron suggests a different perspective.

Someone who is very angry also has a lot of energy;
that energy is what’s so juicy about him or her…
The idea isn’t to try to get rid of your anger, but to make friends with it,
to see it clearly with precision and honesty, and also to see it with gentleness.
That means not judging yourself as a bad person,
but also not bolstering yourself up by saying,
“It’s good that I’m this way, it’s right that I’m this way. Other people are terrible,
and I’m right to be so angry at them all the time.”

Her words suggest a different mindset.

Note that she is not saying anger is good. Rather, the angry one needs to acknowledge the uncomfortable emotion, do what she can to understand it and confront it, and see how the energy attached that emotion can create (has created) positives in her life. We have to be willing to make friends with ourselves, Chodron urges. That includes all the parts—not just the parts we like.  All of our characteristics and traits have “a lot to teach us.”

We have to be willing to listen. Staying with the anger example, “making friends” with it involves “coming to know the anger and coming to know the self-deprecation” attached to it.

Video recommendation of the week:

Are we willing to turn our obstacles into bliss?

Think of your favorite novels.  More than likely the protagonists did not follow a straight line from the beginning to the end of the story. Their journeys probably looked more like a “W” with the downward sloping lines indicating barriers, obstacles, manipulations, catastrophes and challenges.  That’s what holds your interest in the story.  That’s what makes your hero, well, the hero!

And our own life journey is the same. We constantly face challenges—the downward sloping lines of our own “W.”  And we have encouraging times and high points of elation, too.

Chodron believes that

 Life is a whole journey of meeting your edge again and again.
That’s where you’re challenged; that’s where, if you’re a person who wants to live,
you start to ask yourself questions like, “Now, why am I so scared?
What is it that I don’t want to see? Why can’t I go any further than this?”

Individuals who are willing to wake up and make friends with themselves
are going to be very beneficial, because they can work with others,
they can hear what people are saying to them,
and they can come from the heart and be of use.

 We would help a friend or family member come to terms with a challenge be it with anger, self-esteem, or confidence. So why don’t we use our own Board of Directors to help us sort through things. Find mentors and wise counsel to assist as needed; to grow from the adversity; to become a better version of ourselves.

And why not befriend ourselves along the way, as well?

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) 2015. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

 


(#278) Common Goal-Achieving Challenges

September 20, 2015

Treat yourself with respect on the way to your goals.

Just about one year ago, I wrote a blog post titled “Motivation: What Gets You Going—And Keeps You Going?”  and I encouraged the readers to identify a motivational best practice that had helped them in the past—and that could be applied to a current dream.

Today, I’d like you to examine your goal achieving challenges. That is, what seems to stop you on your way from here to there?  What kills your momentum?  Take a few moments and write your top two or three goal roadblocks.

My top three goal challenges are

  1. ________________________________________________________________________
  2. ________________________________________________________________________
  3. ________________________________________________________________________
Image: Stuart Miles@ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: Stuart Miles@ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In an article for Mind Tools, Sarah Pavey outlined eight common goals-setting mistakes.  As I read her spot-on list, it was obvious (again) that goal setting, while commendable, needs to give way to goal achievement. Some of these mistakes can easily stop you before you even get started. Others can knock you off course during your journey.  Which of the following match up to your top three above?

You can sabotage yourself if your goals are:

  • Unrealistic. Is the goal realistic with your current skill set?
  • Unrealistic (part 2). Can the goal realistically be achieved within the timeframe you have stipulated?
  • Unbalanced. Do your goals give attention to just one or two areas of your multi-dimensional life (say, just work or social while ignoring physical, emotional and spiritual elements)?
  • Derailed by failure. Does a roadblock or two (or more) put you in a tailspin and move you from an achiever to a quitter?
  • Not Yours. Do you have passion for the goals you pursue—or do your goals “belong” to someone else who is telling you what you “should” do with your life?
  • Lacking Evaluation. Do you gather consistent feedback about your progress—and do you evaluate the feedback and learn from it?
  • Negatively worded. Do you focus on what you should not do or what you should eliminate rather than more positively looking at what you should do or add to your life?
  • Too many. Do you overwhelm yourself with far too many goals in far too short of a time period in far too many areas of your life?

Once you identify your challenge or challenges it’s time to take action.  One strategy is to apply my S.O.A.R. ™ model.

Identify one of the above challenges that apply to you. What one step can you take immediately to minimize or eliminate your goal challenge? Then do the following:

  1. Write the SPECIFIC step you can take. Use clear and precise language.
  2. What resources (people, things, time, money, and/or places for instance) will you need to ORGANIZE so that you can make the step above a reality?
  3. When and how will you take your ACTION?
  4. What is the REASON behind this particular goal and step? Why do you want to go in this direction?

Once you complete that, repeat steps 1 through 4 for the next challenge…and the next…and the next…until you reach your goal—while, at the same time, treating yourself with respect.

Video recommendation of the week:

Don’t let anything steal your passion. Least of all, don’t short-circuit your great intentions. Stay true to yourself.

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.

 


(#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?

2014-07-17 13.23.46

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.

 


%d bloggers like this: