(#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.


(#363) A Resiliency Group: Collaboration, Creativity, Caring, and Collegiality

May 7, 2017

Rather than waiting for (or blaming) “them” to do something,
get creative and start a resiliency movement yourself.

During my undergraduate years at Jacksonville University, I spent a fair number of hours in the campus library. On the second floor (as I remember), there were a few study rooms.  Here a student could isolate himself for quiet. I recall some of these rooms having a typewriter for those needing to hammer out a term paper. Quiet time.

When I taught at Florida State College at Jacksonville, the library had quiet rooms for students to study or practice for presentations.  These study groups helped students understand concepts, share ideas, review notes, and encourage one another during exam preparation. Collaborative growth and development.

The image of students pulling all-nighters notwithstanding, some campuses now provide nap zones and nap stations.  A rested student is a better-prepared student the thinking goes.

When I visited Zappos headquarters last month, I met the “Zappos Mayor” (Tony Ferrara). In follow-up emails, I asked the “Mayor” about the Zappos nap room.  Where there any metrics on its use and success?

Photo by Steve Piscitelli

“Yes, we do have a nap room here at Zappos for those folks that may need a little power nap during their break or lunch times. In addition to the nap room, we have several miscellaneous benefits here at Zappos …. We don’t provide these extras specifically for the purpose of quantifying their results. We provide them as part of building and maintaining culture through employee engagement.   For example, we don’t monitor who uses the nap rooms at all. They’re there for the benefit and convenience of team members, not for analyzing metrics.”


Video recommendation for the week.

Arianna Huffington promotes the power of rested employees.  As she states in this clip, the workplace “pays people for their judgment not their stamina.”


More than likely, your workplace does not have a nap room.  The culture and the leadership may not support such a departure from the industrial work model.  OK. What can you do to promote wellbeing?

Rather than waiting for (or blaming) “them” to do something, get creative and start a movement yourself.  Consider your own “resilience group.”  Create a critical mass for a “resilience movement.”  It could start over a cup of coffee or a walk around the campus during lunch.

It does not have to be a venting group. In fact, since it is a resilience group, you may want to focus on positives. What is working in your workplace and how can you create more of it?

Start with a group of co-workers you can trust, talk with, and share ideas; people who understand your experiences. You function as a collegial support group. You might find that you need to bring in a facilitator at some point to bring your “movement” to a higher level.

At times, just having co-workers acknowledge that they hear our concerns, and maybe share those concerns, is the shot of energy we need. Great start. But what action will you take beyond the words?  What will your collective resiliency plan look like? When will you start?

Collaboration.  Caring.  Collegiality. No need to be an island.

It’s worth consideration.

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.


(#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.


(#320) No Need To Be An Island

July 10, 2016

Regardless of your calling or situation, collaboration and communication
are powerful forces. There is no need to be an island.*

One aspect of teaching that I enjoyed was that each time I entered the room with my students, I could close the door and “do my thing!”

One of the greatest challenges of teaching was that each time I entered the room with my students, I could close the door and “do my thing!”

You see, the freedom to “do our thing” and be creative and “spin our magic” can come with a price. If we do not remain mindful we can, over time, become isolated.  We can easily get lulled into the mindset that we are an island, separate from our colleagues.  And we can lose the power and strength of what a united teaching and learning community can bring to us.

When Tony Hsieh moved the Zappos headquarter to Las Vegas, he limited the number of entrances and exists for the building. This, he believed, would better orchestrate a flow that encourages “collisions,” serendipity and progress between and amongst employees.

Photo by Steve Piscitelli (c)

Photo by Steve Piscitelli (c)

We lose that serendipity in our calling when we choose to wall ourselves off from our colleagues. This self-imposed isolation could have untold negative repercussions on our teaching, student learning, and on our personal and collegial resilience.  And the same can hold for any other calling or life endeavor.

You have a great deal to share with your colleagues. And they have a great deal to share with you.  Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski (Coach ‘K’) of Duke said successful teams play like a fist. The individual fingers represent communication, trust, collective responsibility, care and pride.

One of the principles of student success calls for students to learn about and use appropriate resources for their growth and development.  In isolation, they may well flounder. With collaboration, they have a better chance to succeed.

A couple may have difficulties figuring out why they have “lost the spark.” Without outside assistance they may struggle to find the real issues challenging their relationship.

I purchased a new camera this week. As the cliché goes, I don’t know what I don’t know about cameras. So, part of my research included me reaching out to friends with photographic experience.

At my former college, I was fortunate to have the opportunity (along with a colleague who was a counselor with student services) to develop and deliver a workshop series that looked at student challenges.  We brought faculty and advisors together to share insights and strategies.

I find it interesting that so many people willingly share intimate experiences and tribulations with their “friends” in the social media public space but will not walk to the office next to them to seek feedback from colleagues sharing the same workspace challenges.

Regardless of your calling or situation, collaboration and communication are powerful forces.

There is no need to be an island.

Video recommendation of the week. Clay Shirky and his view of collaboration.

[*NOTE: This post draws excerpts from my forthcoming book to promote collegial conversations and resilience.  Stay tuned for more information in the months to come.]

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.

 


(#283) Inspiration and the Potential to Make a Difference

October 25, 2015

While the interactions may “just happen,”
turning them into meaningful moments takes mindfulness.

This past week I had the opportunity to sit down with reporter Matt Soergel of The Florida Times Union to record an episode for the Growth and Resilience Network (GRN) podcast channel. Using his journalistic experience as our starting point, we examined the strategies that have kept him “stay fresh” for more than 30 years on the job.  How has he continually come up with a diversity of positive features for his readers?

Matt Soergel and Steve Piscitelli

Matt and Steve

While you will have to listen to the podcast (to be released on November 15) to hear his expert articulation based on his evaluated experiences, I wanted to share with you the most powerful takeaway (in my words) from my time with Matt:

Every interaction we have each day (on or off the job) has the potential to make a positive difference.  Think about that.  Each “hello,” nod of the head in the hallway, or encounter at the coffee shop holds the opportunity to leave a positive mark on someone.  And these human connections also have the potential to inspire us to new levels of growth and resilience.  Why wait for our boss or a job assignment to inspire us? We can do that for ourselves each day.

While the interactions may “just happen,” turning them into meaningful moments takes mindfulness. It requires curiosity—are we curious enough to open the lines of communication with someone we meet, even if for a brief moment to explore our commonalities and differences? Do we pay attention to the ideas and opportunities that surround us? Do we trust that there is potential for growth in each interaction?  And do we treat each opportunity with respect—do we treat the other people with integrity.

Think of your workspace. What did you do last week to make a positive difference? Where is your spot this week for making a difference in someone else’s life?

Video recommendation for the week:

Leo Buscaglia says it well.

Enter this week with your eyes wide open for the inspiration you may receive—and the inspiration you may present to someone else. Don’t wait. Act today.

[Video link: https://youtu.be/4Tth7BSQgt8]

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.

 


(#281) Collisions for Collaboration or Crashes of Confusion?

October 11, 2015

Whether talking about the college classroom or the corporate boardroom, conscientious nurturing of authentic relationships improves the chances for effective communication, meaningful connections and powerful creation.

A major work published in 1991 on effective college teaching emphasized the importance of reciprocity, cooperation and connections in the teaching and learning environment.

Professor Emeritus Joe Cuseo often refers to the importance of personal validation and social interaction as critical ingredients in the student success mix.

My former dean, Dr. John Wall, emphasized the importance of developing rapport with students.

On my list of the “7 Rs for Success” the first spot is occupied by “relationships.”

In a major study (1999), Gallup surveyed more than 80,000 employees to identify those dimensions that continually mark the great places to work.  Of the twelve dimensions they discovered in their research, I noted at least five that focused on connectedness with at least one other person on the team.

Do you see the connection in the above?  Without a doubt effective collaboration continually appears as the keystone for success. Whether talking about the college classroom or the corporate boardroom, conscientious building of authentic relationships improves the chances for effective communication and meaningful creation.

2015-10-09 07.23.22

I had the opportunity to experience this basic teaching truism this past Friday in Portland, Oregon.  I had the honor to deliver the keynote address to the Portland Community College-Dual Credit Symposium.  In the audience were hundreds of high school faculty who taught high school courses that also allowed their students to earn college credit (hence, “dual credit).  College faculty (who serve as mentors and liaisons between the high schools and college) joined in the event as well.

2015-10-09 06.45.10

While my emphasis in the keynote focused on non-academic factors of student success, my underlying theme was collaboration.  I challenged the audience to identify the bright spots and not-so-bright spots of their collaborative arrangements.  In a massive program that touches the lives of thousands of students in more than fifty area high schools each year, it is critical that open lines of communication exist.  And, as I mentioned to them, this has to go beyond an occasional email blast. There has to be a concerted and sincere effort to create opportunities for communication and creation.  In such a large operation, it can become easy to focus on checking off bureaucratic checklists—and miss real opportunities to collaborate.

Tony Hsieh speaks about the importance of “encouraging collisions to maximize serendipity.” Collisions, in this metaphor, provide opportunities for personal and workplace growth and recognition. This is what our transformational leaders do.

Unfortunately, often poor managers orchestrate crashes not collisions.

Video recommendation for the week:

In the following video presentation, Hsieh explains one of his new projects that focuses on ROC—return on community.  (Hsieh speaks of collisions specifically beginning at 11 minutes into the video.)

Tony Schwartz of The Energy Project states, “Any organization that fails to build a robust learning program for its employees–not just to increase their skills but also to develop them as human beings–ought to expect that its people won’t get better at their jobs over time and may well get worse.”

And the October (2015) issue of Fast Company magazine highlighted (pp. 68-70) four apps that give the leaders yet another  opportunity to gauge the mood and connection of their employees to the workplace culture:

  • Niko Niko
  • Culture Amp
  • Round Pegg
  • Mood Ring

What is the conversation in your work space–and what are the consequences?

How does your workplace foster collisions for collaboration rather than crashes of confusion?

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.


(#257) Sunsets and Sunrises

April 26, 2015

“You are where I was. And I am where you will be.”

This week represents a major life demarcation for me.  After 33 years of classroom teaching, I will be retiring from my college. I am not retiring, however, from my calling to education.

For me, so-called retirement represents a time of re-purposing, renewing, re-calibrating, re-energizing and resilience.

I will still provide targeted facilitation programs nationwide (I am working on engagements for 2016) and work on a diversity of writing projects (textbook development, two novels, and one screenplay).  I will be even more involved in higher education than I had been—just on a different level and schedule.

Video recommendation for the week:

As I get ready to lock up my office door and head down the hallway for one final time this coming week, I want to say thank you to all of my colleagues for the years of camaraderie, friendship, and mentoring.  And I want to share a few parting thoughts.

  • When Derek Jeter announced his retirement from the New York Yankees last year, he said, “I have gotten the very most out of my life playing baseball, and I have absolutely no regrets. Now it is time for the next chapter. I have new dreams and aspirations, and I want new challenges.”
  • I feel the same way. Now is my time to move to the next chapter.  I have gotten so much from teaching students for the last three-plus decades.  I have learned even more from those same students and my colleagues.  And it is time to dig deeper in other parts of life.
  • I was told a few years back by someone in the publishing industry that if I were not in the classroom that I would lose credibility in the publishing or educational world.  I do NOT believe that for a moment.  With reflection and application, those 33 years of experience will geometrically expand.
  • A dear mentor many years ago reminded me that our lives can be roughly divided into three parts. The first third is about knowing. The second third about doing. And the last third is about being.  I am looking forward to taking much more time to reflect on what I have accomplished—and what I still can do for students and my colleagues across this nation.

   Rather than a time of sunset, the sun is most definitely rising.

Image by: Steve Piscitelli

Image by: Steve Piscitelli

  • A long time ago I read that the three important components in life are people, place, and purpose.  When we are with people we love, in a place we love, pursuing a purpose we love, we have a better chance of leading a fulfilled and contented life.  I found that purpose in the classrooms, in the hallways, and around the campus.  Even the trying times–especially the trying times–helped make me who I am.
  • What I have really loved about teaching was that it allowed me to take and make the opportunities to constantly re-discover myself. Rediscover my purpose. I urge my colleagues to do the same; constantly rediscover.  Forget about flying under the radar. Forget about perfection. Just go out and do it.  Do it and make sure you are living the life and the purpose you are intended to live.  Continue to make a difference for your students and your community.
  • And finally, I remember what an octogenarian shared with me one morning as he was—interestingly enough—going through his morning workout at the gym.  “You are where I was. And I am where you will be.”

We all travel the journey. The sun rises and sets each day. And then rises again.

We can learn from one another. Thank you for allowing me to learn from you.

Until we meet online or somewhere around this great nation, may your sunsets be beautiful and your sunrises glorious.

Make it a great life. And H.T.R.B. as needed.

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

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).

Information on my book, Choices for College Success (3rd ed.), can be found at Pearson Education.

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

 


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