(#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.


(#362) Small Acts of Gratitude

April 30, 2017

“Silent gratitude is not much use to anyone.”
– Gertrude Stein –

Saying “thank you.” Giving a cheerful “good morning!” Expressing appreciation. Providing a hug, emotionally if not physically.  Each of these requires a tiny investment of energy.  The result compounds in ways we may not anticipate.

I have been spending time lately listening to my podcast episodes and reacquainting myself with the wonderful insights of my guests.  After I re-listen to an episode, I take a few minutes to send an email thanking the guest for his/her contributions to the community.  Literally, the email takes about 180 seconds to create and “send.”

The goal is simple: recognition and validation of a person. A small act.

Almost to a person, their responses (which I was not expecting) said something along the lines of “you don’t know how much your email means to me.”  One individual was having a particularly rough week (which I had no way of knowing).  The email told me, “Thanks for the email…appreciate the little things in life!”

Five years ago, I dedicated myself to a year a gratitude. You can read about here.  I committed myself to a simple daily discipline—and it continues to give back to others.  (I still have people, to whom I sent a gratitude note, share that they have kept and cherish my handwritten note.)

Think of the small acts of kindness done for you—and that you do for others.  It does not take much effort to say thank you or recognize a job-well-done.

Thank you for reading and sharing my blog. Thank you for the gratitude you share with your community.

Thank you.

P.S.  A few hours after I wrote this blog post, I received an unexpected “Thank You Note” from a friend. She simply wanted to thank me for being in her life.  A card that I will tuck away in my gratitude file.

Nice.

Thank you!


Video recommendation for the week.

I have shared this video before.  It never gets old because it helps us connect with one another on a personal, meaningful, and authentic level.


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.


(#355) Go-Go or No-Go?

March 12, 2017

Do you allow people into your head who would not invite into your home?

Angelina Ahrendts’ (Senior VP @ Apple) letter to her daughters this week offers the following advice:

…Stay in your lane…the path will illuminate itself
so long as you stay present,
open to the signs, and follow your passions.
It’s all related.

Be true to yourself. Be mindful. Be open.

Not only do we need to be present when it comes to our passions and curiosity, we have to be mindful of who we allow on the journey.  Three “types” can have widely disparate influences (if you allow it) on your path.  You may have read about them and encountered them yourself.

The No-Goes. These folks will get in your way, attempt to block you, and tell you things can’t be done like you envision them. They may want to control you. Maybe they fear your progress bodes ill for them. Or they may be fearful and reticent types, always remaining in their self-defined narrow limits. They seem to hold their breath a lot.

The Slow-Goes. The slow-goes won’t out-and-out block you, but they remain so tentative they get in your way.  They may not throw obstacles at you like their stifling cousins the No-Goes, but that wet blanket they toss around your shoulders slows your momentum nonetheless. Happy to plod along, our slow-go friends don’t make much progress; kind of stuck in 2nd gear.  While they don’t hold their breath, you may see them hyperventilating often.

The Go-Goes. Consider these the early adopters of life, its wonders, and ever-present opportunities. They innovate for themselves and for others.  They thrive on movement, experimentation, and evaluated feedback. They risk vulnerability and failure. They breathe deeply and live life.

Caution: Not every No-Go or Slow-Go should be considered an antagonist to shun or anchor to cast off.  At times, each can provide valuable and prudent counsel. A trusted mentor, a wise friend, and thoughtful family members may well have needed perspective you lack.  Listen, however, with all of your senses. Consider carefully.

And we have to understand our role with others.  That is, do we serve as No-Goes, Slow-Goes, or Go-Goes for other people’s aspirations?  Do we help or hinder? Do we encourage or suffocate?

One woman at our gym, for example, constantly provides negative commentary—whether you want it or not—about how dangerous this or that group of people will be for our nation.  Her jaw appears clenched and her eyes remain vigilant and wide-open as if scouring the floor for the soon-to-arrive saber toothed tiger that will enter the front door and devour her.  She shares a constant stream of negativity. A definite No-Go from the perspective of holding an educational or enlightening conversation. Perhaps you know similar people.  Maybe you have that tendency.

Do you want these people on your journey?

In his latest book, Before Happiness, Shawn Achor points out that our brains process millions upon millions of bits of information each day. We only attend to a miniscule fraction of these stimuli. His research shows, however, that we usually attend to the same kind of information and ignore the alternatives or contradictory data. You know, like the people who no matter how sunny it is will always be focused on that one cloud on the horizon. Where we see brightness they see potential—nay, impending—doom.  We have a choice.

This week, pay attention to your goals. Be mindful of who you let influence your travels. Or as I have heard, why would we let someone into our mind who we would not even allow into our home?


Video recommendation for the week:

Sometimes we “no-go” ourselves because of fear.  As this TEDx talk reminds us, it might not be as scary as it looks.  Where is the edge of your comfort zone?


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

For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

Check out my latest podcasts at The Growth and Resilience Network™
(http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

Check out my website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#347) Clues At The Tip Of My Nose

January 15, 2017

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

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

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

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

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

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

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

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

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

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

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


Video recommendation for the week:

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


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

For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

Check out my latest podcasts at The Growth and Resilience Network™
(http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

Check out my website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff?  (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#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.


(#299) The First Forty Years

February 14, 2016

If you held me down to provide the “secret sauce,”
I’d say it is simply giving each other space.

40th Anniversary Rings

This week’s blog posting has a more personal indulgence than past posts. Hopefully, in keeping with the theme of this blog, you will see the connection to growth and resilience.  Valentine’s Day is not just another holiday on the calendar for me. It our wedding anniversary. And February 14, 2016 marks our 40th year.  Forty years!  Amazing to think of that number. It seems like it belongs to someone else—someone much, much, much older! Where did the time go?  My wife and I agree that it has gone by in a blink.

Scan_Pic0003

Photo: Barkley Geib

A little background.  My wife Laurie (Hoppi) and I met on a blind date during my senior year in college.  (Wednesday, January 21, 1975 to be exact). We went to a Jacksonville University Dolphin basketball game at the old Jacksonville Coliseum. Three months after our introduction, I graduated and started a career.

Spring of 1975

Spring of 1975

One month after that, Hoppi moved to Jacksonville.  Nine months after that we were married. The year was 1976.

Photo: Barkley Geib

Photo: Barkley Geib

Historical context.  It’s really difficult for either of us to forget our anniversary date.  The day is a holiday and the year saw our nation celebrating its bicentennial. For those readers who might have a bit of difficulty remembering that year, here is a (very) little time capsule:

  • Pittsburgh beat Dallas in Super Bowl X.
  • A new figure on the national political scene won the Democratic Caucus in Iowa—and eventually the presidency.
  • The Toronto Blue Jays baseball team came into existence.
  • Apple Computer Company was created by Jobs and Wozniak.
  • The New York Yankees were swept by the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series.
  • NBC replaced the peacock logo (remember that logo?).
  • Ted Turner purchased the Atlanta Braves for $12 million (not sure that would even pay for the salary of a “star” in 2016).
  • Laverne and Shirley premiered.
  • The minimum wage hit $2.35.
  • Bruce Jenner won the Olympic decathlon.
  • The number one Billboard song on February 14, 1976: “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover” (Not sure that was a good omen for a wedding day! But I digress.)
(Above from http://www.timelines.ws/20thcent/1976.HTML;
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Billboard_Hot_100_number-one_singles_of_1976)

Secret Sauce?  But obviously for this 22-year old couple, the big news was our wedding—and the beginning of a life-long adventure.

People have asked us about the “secret” to 40 years of marriage.  I never like those types of questions. The answers usually sound so freakin’ pompous and self-serving.  For us, there is no secret; no formula. We have had our difficulties like all others.

PISCITELLI002

Heck, truth be told, we didn’t know what we were getting into.  We didn’t have a checklist of what we wanted or were looking for.  But, if you held me down to provide a “secret,” I’d say it is simply giving each other space.  That “secret sauce” was there in 1976. Still present today.  Heck, who else would go to a wedding with someone who looked like he had stepped out of Miami Vice? (See above photo sometime in the 1980s. Sonny Crockett anyone?)

We have encouraged each other, supported each other, and challenged each other along these four decades.  We have NEVER “kept score.” You know, the kind of relationship you might hear something like, “Well, I did such and such last week…so you have to do such and such this week.”

We did share—and I think more than we really knew at the time—a value structure about the things that really mattered. Trust. Respect. Laughter.  Simplicity. Work and play ethic. That has been huge as we moved through–and continue to move through–life. Growth and resilience were nurtured.

Amsterdam circa 1983

Amsterdam circa 1983

But mostly the reason for our success and longevity is that I “married up”!  I’ve said this often. I hit the jackpot.  Cliché? Guilty!  But if there is such a thing, I married an old soul.  Hoppi lets so many things roll off her back—while I fuss and fume.  We’ve had our share of challenges and disagreements—and, again, she had the winning attitude.

One card I got her (on our 35th anniversary) pretty much summed it up: “Of course I love you. Who else would put up with all my crap?”  She is amazing.

Video recommendations for the week:

So, happy anniversary to my (and many people’s) inspiration.  I’ll leave with two songs. Billy Joel’s “You’re My Home” was our wedding song. (The wedding reception band we hired was named Sounds Interesting.)

And Alan Jackson simply captures the range of experiences over time.

When you spend more than two-thirds of your life with one person, it is healthy to remember all the good times and the not-so good times that made us stronger and increasingly resilient.  And the many, many good times to still come.  I love you, Hoppi!

Oahu circa 1985

Oahu circa 1985

Savannah 2015

Savannah, Georgia 2015

Make it a spectacular week as you grab for each moment.—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.

 


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