(#369) About Kayaks And Perspective

June 18, 2017

If we focus on the possible negative, we get sucked into it.

Lessons. Everywhere, lessons present themselves.  And they remind us that we are always students. Lifelong learners. If we pay attention.

My latest education has come over the past few weeks courtesy of my new twelve-foot ocean kayak.

Previously, I had paddled in the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, the Florida Keys, and in North Florida inlets.  Let’s say my first week of ocean kayaking has gifted me some wonderful lessons.

  • Perspective. I spend time on the beach observing surfers and paddle boarders. I notice smooth water, small waves, and storm-tossed breakers. The appreciation for the conditions, though, changed when I walked my kayak into the ocean for the first time. The waves took on a very different perspective  atop of (and soon tossed from) my kayak seat.
    • Lesson. Until we dive into a project, we do not have a full appreciation of what to expect.  A new job might look perfect—until we report to work. Perhaps it’s criticizing a co-worker, government action, or the stance of a group different from ours.  Until we get into that water, we really don’t understand that perspective.

  • Respect and Fear. I have always had a deep respect for the ocean.  That is different from the fear I felt the first time I paddled beyond the breakers. I could feel myself tense up—which in turn led to poor body mechanics. Instead of attacking the waves, I stopped paddling–and eventually ended up in the water with the boat on top of me. (With a broken seat back and lost sunglasses, thank you very much!)
    • Lesson. Fear can lead to counter-productive actions. We start to focus on the thing we do NOT want to do. I once heard a race car driver’s advice on how NOT to hit the racetrack wall. Simply, he said, do NOT look at the wall. If we focus on the possible negative, we get sucked into it. My first day on the kayak I focused on the waves and not being tossed rather than focusing on the shore and gliding to a stop. I tensed up and face planted in the water.

  • Adrift. The first time I got beyond the breakers and to (relatively) smoother, less undulating water, I looked back and saw that I was further from shore than I had thought. The voice in my head cried, “What the hell are you doing out here? Way out here?”
    • Lesson. When we attempt something new, when we stretch ourselves, we might feel adrift. Like we have no anchor. We find ourselves treading unfamiliar waters. Some people quit. Some figure out how to persevere. Some look for reassurance and guidance.  In my case, I looked a little north and spied surfers and paddle boarders. I felt better knowing others were close by. They wouldn’t paddle my boat but just knowing others were in similar waters gave me a feeling of security. When you feel lost and adrift, look around for those who may be in similar waters. Collegiality can be a powerful motivator.
  • Coaching. I sought out a neighbor with experience to help me with kayaking technique.  From posture, to paddle stroke, to entering and leaving the surf, he has provided needed guidance. Simple ideas take root due to his repetition
    • Lesson.  There is no need to be an island.  Reach out for coaching.  A fresh set of eyes and a different perspective can help move you to a new level. (And do not forget gratitude. Bruce found a twelve-pack of his favorite beverage on his patio later that week.)
  • Daily Discipline. Each day I go out, I see improvement. I paddle further; spill less frequently; unload, load, and strap the kayak to the cart with more skill.  I now look at how the waves break on a particular day before lunging into the surf.  I am more aware. I still have a long way to paddle—and I have come a long way, as well.
    • Lesson. Whether you want to call it locus of control or self-efficacy, when you fall short, get up, fall again, get up again…ad nauseum….you learn, you grow, and move closer to a goal. If we fail to notice that we fail to notice—we hinder our movement forward.


Video recommendation for the week.

Sometimes laughing is the best way to soothe a bruised ego. With that in mind, my bride sent me this video link.  Even kayakers have a blooper reel.


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.


(#357) Perspective

March 26, 2017

Our attention will determine our interpretation.

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

 

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

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

How about this view?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Video recommendation for the week.

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


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

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

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

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

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

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

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

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


(#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.


(#350) Regrets? Choices And Lessons.

February 5, 2017

A culmination of all those choices. Some small.
Some large. All help create the person you are becoming.

Would you, if you could, go back in time and change the choices that you made?  I know.  A wide open question and open to lots of interpretation. (I’m not thinking about those 1970’s leisure suits you might have bought…though I can remember that red crushed faux velvet suit I wore in 1974.  Insert hand against forehead here!)

In response to an earlier blog post, a friend shared a Mercyme music video with me last week. (I have posted it in the Video Recommendation section below.) The songwriter is writing a letter to his younger self. At one point he considers, “Even though I love this crazy life, sometimes I wish it were a smoother ride….”

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

While there have been some rough, tumultuous, and gut-wrenching times, I don’t think I would change my choices. Yes, some of the stuff was a real pain in the posterior. Sure, if I had the “power” to go back, I would be tempted to take back an ill-advised word, change a self-congratulatory action, or rethink an ill-conceived plan.  And while I might wish I had had more tact, diplomacy, and grace, I am willing to concede that all of those choices for good or bad made me who I am today.

I own the choices. I look at their culmination in the mirror each day.

I have had failures to be sure. As cliché as it sounds, they helped me grow.

Again, Mercyme sings it this way to the younger self:

…Or do I go deep

And try to change

The choices that you’ll make

‘Cause they’re choices

That made me….

Regrets? That’s a question each person has to answer. I do not make light of traumatic situations you may have faced or currently confront.  Consider, however, your overall life journey. The people you have touched. The differences you have made and the legacy you will leave (and build each day).  A culmination of all those choices. Some small. Some large. All help create the person you are becoming. Don’t be too quick to dismiss any of them. This does not excuse inappropriate behavior. It does look for lessons, though.

John Milton observed that “the mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

I titled a song on my second CD, “Love My Life.”  And old man speaks to a young person and shares:

Listen to what I say

Life’s too short to throw away

It’s filled with many threats

And too many do regret the life they’ve lived

But I choose to live my life instead.


Enjoy the entire recording by clicking below. (c) Steve Piscitelli. 2010. All rights reserved.


Video recommendation for the week:

Mercyme’s Dear Younger Me.


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.


(#346) Video Outtakes: Finding Humor And Moving Forward

January 8, 2017

Enjoy three-minutes-and-fifty-one-seconds of my miscues.
And consider how each miscue you make can strengthen you and maybe help someone else. Don’t be ruled by fear of failure.

President Theodore Roosevelt had a way with words. Growing up as a spindly and sickly child, “Teddy” would become an adult exuding energy, purpose, confidence, and resilience. Whatever your view of his politics, his fortitude stands out.

Nearly three decades ago, as I was navigating a major life transition, I gravitated to one of his quotes:

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

The quote reminded me of the importance of not allowing the fear of failure to rule my decisions.

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

This week’s blog does not purport to be as heady or profound as our former Rough Ridding president. Nor am I discounting the disconcerting reality of life traumas.

But at times, a bit of humor can remind us to lighten up. Especially when we stumble.  Such was the case recently as I recorded forty-two videos to accompany my newly released book Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island.

My wife, bless her soul, served as the videographer.  We actually shot each video twice. Once as a “draft” to see how they looked. The second time was the final shoot.  So, in reality, we shot eighty-four videos over a four-month period.  (Did I mention how much I love my wife’s patience?)

And each video had a number of “do-overs” due to errors on my part, environment interference, or technical glitches.  I decided to gather up some of those clips and put them into one video of outtakes.  More than three minutes of my mistakes and frustration. And each time I watch it, I howl with delight.  I have to admit, there were times during the video sessions that I felt like giving up. For a variety of reasons, I’m glad I didn’t.

Again, Teddy Roosevelt said, “It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.”

Or as Anthony Burgess is reported to have said, “Laugh and world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone.”

So, enjoy three-minutes-and-fifty-one-seconds of my miscues. And consider how each miscue you make and encounter can strengthen you and maybe help someone else.


Video recommendation for the week:

So, you think it’s easy to make videos?


Make it an inspiring week, a wonderful holiday season, and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about 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.


(#341) Drop And Leave

December 4, 2016

I have witnessed people play a disappointing game of
“drop and leave” with their goals and dreams.

Have you ever looked at your desk and wondered, “How in the world did it get in this condition?”  What with books, papers, empty cups, and last week’s mail, things tend to pile up.  Wait, what’s that over there? A half-eaten sandwich? From last week? Oh, my!  If not your desk, maybe you see your kitchen counter or the garage.

My mother gets the credit for instilling discipline early in my life.  She taught me that it would be easier to keep up—plug away—a little at a time rather than have to play an overwhelming game of catch up. You know, clean up your room each day and you will not be looking at a time-consuming unpleasant chore at the end of the week when you want to be outside playing with your friends.  Invest five minutes along the way and save an hour down the road. (Thanks, Mom!)

When we drop and leave now, we can end up with one hell of a mess that just compounds. We eventually have to return later and pick it all up.

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli.

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli.

I ask that you consider applying the same discipline to your dreams.  Last week, this blog proposed when it comes to our goals and dreams what we accomplish rests with us. Don’t beat yourself up if you come up short. Understand why, and just keep making forward movement.

I have seen people, though, end up playing a disappointing game of “drop and leave” with their goals and dreams.

“Oh, I didn’t get to the gym this week—or last week, or the week before—but I’ll get there.” Or, “I know we need to meet with a financial adviser for our retirement plans. But, heck, we got lots of time.  We’ll get it done soon enough.”

Hmm.

Last week, I also suggested that you list a personal goal for each of my Five Fs (fitness, family, faith, finances, and function). Did you do it? Or did you say, “I’ll leave it be for now and get to it tomorrow.” Tomorrow becomes next week. Next week turns into next year. And so on.

Great intentions end up in overwhelming piles that we may never get to in a timely fashion, if at all.  Are you dropping and leaving until tomorrow?

Whether you call it procrastination, postponing, ignoring, or dropping and leaving, remember today is the tomorrow you created yesterday.

How does it look to you?


Video recommendation for the week:

This short video, while “old,” still packs a powerfully simple message.  What do you do or not do about getting your stuff done?


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.


(#339) Learning From The Low Vibrations

November 20, 2016

At times, we find ourselves caught up in the low-vibrations of negativity and defeatism.
Draw on the strength within, around, and above.

Nine words. As I read my editor’s comments and reread my entire manuscript, nine of my words jumped from the page.

This particular part of my soon-to-be-released book about teaching, learning, and resilience, encourages readers to reflect on their personal and/or professional journey and think of:

  1. The challenges (and maybe even hardships) they have encountered, experienced, and endured.
  2. Their mistakes, miscues, and meanderings.
  3. Their accomplishments, achievements, and attainments.
Photo by Steve Piscitelli

Photo by Steve Piscitelli

Regardless of your particular calling, take a moment today and do the same for yourself. Your journey holds power.  At times, we find ourselves caught up in the low-vibrations of negativity and defeatism. Some of that comes from those around us; some originates within ourselves. We make mistakes, lose direction, and maybe, worse yet, abandon hope for our dreams.  We doubt our movement forward.

A friend of mine shared her insight about those low vibrations: they can cause a lot of unwanted and non-productive noise in our lives. If we let them. The first step out of that noise is to do what my friend did—become aware of the noise and its source.  Then, do something to eliminate (or, at least muffle) the noise.

Milton Berle reportedly said, “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”  Well, in your case, if the path ahead is not clear, maybe it’s time to create the path.

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

As you consider your week ahead and your movement forward on your continuous (and eventful) journey, ask yourself what you can learn from all of those moments you have encountered, experienced, and endured. You may feel like you have accumulated more mistakes, miscues, and meanderings than you would like to remember. All encounters (the low vibrations included), however, have helped make you who you are. And have contributed to your accomplishments, achievements, and attainments.

All of us have so much within ourselves to move to our next level. Whatever and wherever that may be. Draw on the strength within, around, and above.


Video/song recommendation for the week:

Josh Groban and “You Raise Me Up.”


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.


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