(#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.


(#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.


%d bloggers like this: