(#365) Listening For Stories Of Inspiration

May 21, 2017

Inspiration from a woman who did not let circumstance
dictate her outcome.

[Note to my readers: Today’s post marks the beginning of the eighth year of this weekly blog.  Thank you for following, sharing, and commenting.]

Stories. They surround us. Some have the power to illustrate, instruct, and inspire.

Minutes before I delivered my commencement address to the Florida State College at Jacksonville Class of 2017, I had a front row (literally) seat for a young woman’s touching story about her journey.

Lyse Medina, the FSCJ Kent Campus Student Government Association President, delivered a 4½ minute description of her journey as an immigrant, a daughter, a student, a leader, and a person with heart and determination.

Her tale is one of perseverance and resilience. “My past did not define me, but it did lead me to where I am today,” she told the nearly ten thousand people before us.


Video recommendation for the week.

Rather than tell you about Lyse’s speech, listen to it. Learn and grow from it. Her story in her words. A reminder of the importance of community colleges in our society. And a powerful dose of inspiration from a young woman who did not let circumstances dictate her outcomes. She envisioned her dreams and she will continue to define her journey. I am glad to have met and learned from her.

My appreciation to FSCJ for sharing the video and to Lyse for allowing me to share it with you. Note: The video should start with her introduction. If it does not, move to minute 52 for Lyse.


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

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

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network™ (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

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

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


(#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.


(#356) Are You Listening Or Adding To The Noise?

March 19, 2017

With a world full of noise, how can we fine-tune the needed listening skill?

This past week I facilitated a San Francisco workshop examining how colleges and universities envision and implement faculty development.  My session subtitle: What Important Questions Should We Be Asking?

While in the City by the Bay, I had the opportunity to talk with a person who has been instrumental in training thousands of higher education leaders around our nation.  What did he see as a critical skill for effective leadership? The ability to listen and then act.

In Meaningful: The Story of Ideas That Fly, Bernadette Jiwa reminds us “We don’t change the world by starting with our brilliant idea or dreams. We change the world by helping others to live their dreams.”

Ask questions and then wait for responses.  Understand what information you need. Then act.  All require listening. Often mentioned. Just as frequently ignored or drowned out by an overwhelming onslaught of information and misinformation.  With a world full of noise, how can we fine-tune the needed listening skill?

We have to distinguish and separate the noise from the non-noise in the world around us.  Shawn Achor provides an insightful rubric for doing just that.  Once we understand and apply the criteria for noise, we have a better chance of limiting its debilitating effects on the lives of colleagues, loved ones, and ourselves.

Ask yourself, Achor proposes, if what you attend to (or what you endlessly speak about) is unusable, untimely, hypothetical, or distracting.  More specifically,

  1. Unusable. Will the information you continuously “take in/give out” change your behavior? If not, you are probably wasting time.

*Example. You follow a particular news story—repeatedly.  The information remains the same (since the initial “news alert”). Nonetheless, you spend hours listening to talking heads give their interpretation. Or you constantly scan your smart phone for social media updates (other people’s agendas). Maybe you spend hours following celebrity stories or the latest intelligence on the NFL draft.  And…the information will have no effect on your behavior. Nothing changes. Noise.

  1. Untimely. Will you use the information, now? Will it more than likely change in the future when you might use it?

*Example.  You get a hurricane alert. It might make landfall in five days. At that point, you have useful information to notice and consider preparations.  However, if you stay glued to the weather channels endlessly for hours—with no updated information coming in—you need to ask what the benefit is other than getting more worried about something that you cannot control and that is still a long way from happening.  And, in the case of a weather forecast, it will likely change a number of times.  Noise.

  1. Hypothetical. Do we focus on what “could be” rather than what “is”?

*Example. I am not picking on the weather prognosticators (really) but do you base plans on the predictions—that may very well be inaccurate.  One of my podcast guests, Neil Dixon (February 2017), has an answer to the meteorological hypothetical.  When the forecast calls for 80% rain, he makes a golf tee time. Why? Because there is 20% for sunshine.  Think about economic forecasts.  How accurate? How often? Noise.

  1. Distracting. Does the information deter you or stop movement toward your goals?

*Example. Your goals relate to your career, relationships, health, finances, intellectual development, emotional stability, and spiritual wellbeing.  How much of the onslaught of information you get hit with (and allow yourself to be hit with) relate to those goals? How much gets in the way of goal achievement?  Noise.

This week consider where, when, and how you can eliminate noise. Listen to your goals and move in those directions.


Video recommendation for the week:

In this TED talk, Julian Treasure suggests five strategies to fine-tune our listening.


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.


(#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.


(#338) Do Not Underestimate The Power Of “Place”

November 13, 2016

How would you feel if you found out you could never come back to your “place”?

On our sunrise beach walks, Roxie (The Wonder Pup) and I invariably connect with a few Atlantic Beach neighbors on the morning sands.  We exchange pleasantries. Roxie gets her ears scratched. And we all enjoy the dawning of the day.  It’s a peaceful and consistent time.

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

A few days ago, we stopped to say hello to one of the beach morning crew.  When I asked how she was doing, her eyes immediately filled with tears.

She shared that she and her family would have to relocate by year’s end.  She waved her arm toward the ocean and softly said that she loved where she lived and would miss it—a lot. Just the thought of leaving this peaceful and energizing place moved her emotionally.

Her reaction reminded me of the power of place in our lives.  Place, for me, represents where we feel at home; where we enjoy a sense of security, vitality, and connection.  At times, we might take the place (or places) in our lives for granted. We get caught up in the busy-ness of life and forget to simply be for a few moments and enjoy the environment that can be life sustaining.

With that in mind, mentally take note of the top-five places in your life. Perhaps you think of the backyard fire pit, the park, your road bike, the volleyball court, a formal structure of worship, your mediation room, your office, the gym, or just about any place that brings you a sense of peace.  A place that you love to be.  For some, the place may not be geographic as it is located within.

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

Consider what connects this particular place to your inner self?  When was the last time you were in this happy place? When will you go back? When you are in your place, do you savor the moment and disconnect from “life out there” while you reconnect with yourself? How would you feel if you found out you could never come back to your place?

Perhaps you already understand the power of place. If so, do you have a friend who is encountering a challenging time and could benefit from connection or reconnection with a special location?

When we are able to be with people we love, pursuing a purpose we love, in a place we love, we have found a sweet spot. A place of solace that allows us time to breathe.


Video/song recommendation for the week:

Jimmy Buffet reminds us of the power of place with his song “Tin Cup Chalice.” Oh, “I wanna be there.”


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.


(#332) 100 Years of Resilience

October 2, 2016

“Life is not about me, it’s about others.”
-Frances Bartlett Kinne-

It is 1917 and Oregon beats Pennsylvania (14-0) in the Rose Bowl.  German U-boats stalk international waters. The US Supreme Court upholds the 8-hour workday for railroad workers.  The United States officially enters World War I. Babe Ruth plays for the Red Sox—and pitches Boston to a victory over the New York Yankees.

And, a little girl was born to proud parents in Iowa.  She would grow into a woman whose influence, graciousness, and concern for others would leave a meaningful impact around the world.  We would come to know this young Iowa girl as Dr. Frances Bartlett Kinne.

My introduction to Dr. Kinne came when I entered Jacksonville University as a young college freshman in August of 1971. At the time, she served as the college’s Dean of Fine Arts. Little did I know the reach and powerful influence she had and would have on so many people.

Last week, I had the opportunity to catch up with this young-at-heart-and-in-mind centenarian to record a podcast conversation for The Growth and Resilience Network™.  (You can listen to the episode on November 15, 2016.)

Steve with Dr. Kinne

Steve with Dr. Kinne

Never did I think forty-five years ago that I would be sitting in her den listening and learning quite literally at the foot of a master. A master of music, education, and human relationships. And so much more.

I heard powerful wisdom humbly presented.

img_0718

She attributes her growth as an individual directly to her parents. In her autobiography Iowa Girl: The President Wears A Dress, she states,

“My parents always taught me to be independent,
and I had a general optimism about my capacity to live
unhampered
by doubt, hesitation or fear.”

A few of the lessons that jump from that quote:

  • The importance of family;
  • The significance of role models; and
  • The power of self-confidence and optimism.

Dr. Kinne’s life resonates with optimism, grit, and resilience. Her life personified a lesson from her father, “Life is a journey, not a guided tour.”  We have to seize (and many times, make) our opportunities as we move through life. Not just to add to our resume but, rather, to embrace a greater purpose beyond listing the things we accomplish.

During our conversation, she did not want to dwell on her “accomplishments.”  Rather, she told me, “My job is to help others. Life is not about me, it’s about others.”

I thought of how many people reverse that last sentence and live by “Life is not about others, it’s about me!”  You know the folks. Those who remind you at every turn just how great or renowned they are.

For Dr. Kinne, it cannot be about that. It has to be about the people in front of her. She treats them as if they are the thought leaders, the pioneers, the all-stars. She wants to help pave the way for them.  Effective teachers intuitively know this. Transformational leaders live it.  Dr. Kinne is both.

I asked her to leave our listeners with a Call-to-Action. What would she suggest we consider doing and being in order to live a life of resilience and service to others? She answered by turning the spotlight from her to me. She talked about openness and the power of thinking about others.

Inscription by Dr. Kinne for Steve.

Book inscription by Dr. Kinne for Steve.

When I had arrived at her home early that afternoon, I found her sitting in her parlor speaking with a former student—one of the thousands that still stay connected with this “Iowa Girl” who has made such a lasting impact on our world.

As we get ready for the day, week, and years ahead, we would all do well to remember her sage teaching (by way of her father): Life is a journey, not a guided tour. What legacy will we leave?


Video recommendation for the week:

Enjoy a little bit of the musical talent of this gifted and classically trained pianist. And mark your calendar to tune in to our podcast on November 15, 2016.


Thank you, Dr. Kinne.

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/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.

 

 


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