(#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.


(#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.


(#348) Repair The Bucket. Fill The Bucket.

January 22, 2017

Who can help you? Who can you help?

Do you sometimes just get tired?  Feel like you are getting nowhere fast? Might even believe you are moving backwards?

A friend reminded me of a powerful visual. This woman is the caregiver for a family member who recently has experienced significant health challenges. My friend, who has always been a ray of sunlight for those around her (read: positive, upbeat, whimsical, witty, a joyous person) told me she had hit the wall. She felt like a dark cloud had swallowed her up.

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

In short, her resilience—for a moment—failed her. She felt crushed by the worry. She had run out of fuel. Nothing was left.

Think of resilience like the water in a bucket.  At times, we lose water. Other times, we add.  When we lose water, envision picking up a ladle and spooning a bit more water back into your bucket.

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

But maybe the bucket springs a leak. You  lose a bit more water than usual.  You find a way to patch the bucket, stop the leaking, spoon in replacement water, and continue onward.

Consider the water as a metaphor for your energy, your resilience, your ability to cope. When you (the bucket, the vessel) are challenged repeatedly, you may start to show wear. Perhaps you spring a second “leak.” Then more hardship—and more leaks.  You do what you have always done. You pick up the pace and pick up the pace and pick up the pace of shoveling in more, more, and more water (fuel or resilience)—until you can no longer do it.  You’re spent.

Like the person with a bucket springing more and more leaks, at some point you cannot physically or emotionally keep up. No matter how fast you ladle, the number and size of the bucket holes overtake your good efforts.

Exhausted, you drop the ladle, and the bucket runs dry. You are at a loss. You know the bucket (you) needs repair but you no longer have the energy, or at least the amount of energy you need to repair and refill. You have difficulty taking care of yourself.

A few blog posts back, I spoke of The Six Fs of our lives.  When one area—the family member’s health for my friend above—begins to crumble under strain and stress, what other area can help you regain your balance (and repair the bucket, and regain your resilient self)?  For my friend, it was a friend of hers who made a suggestion which lead to an action which brought about relief (for all involved).  To be sure, there are still significant challenges (the bucket, after all, has experienced lots of strain) but my resilient friend has been able to catch her breath and begin to see the light from within the darkness.

Six Fs (Steve Piscitelli)

Six Fs (Steve Piscitelli)

Perhaps you feel like that straining bucket. Maybe you don’t, but someone close to you seems to be springing leaks faster than he or she can plug them.

When we are resilient, we tend to bounce back and adapt.  Grit, another oft-used concept, looks at our perseverance to continue onward.  My friend not only bounced back, she moved forward.  Will her bucket run low again? Probably. Will yours? Probably.

Think of a particularly difficult or challenging situation you have in front of you this coming week. What can you do to help you regain your strength and desire to move forward (plug the bucket)? And, what can you do to move forward (begin to refill that bucket) and move toward the goal?

Who can help you? Who can you help?


Video recommendation for the week:

How can we help our children build their resilience skills? What lessons present themselves for adults?


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

55031146_high-resolution-front-cover_6597771-1For 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.


(#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.


(#342) Let’s Review

December 11, 2016

This week spend some time looking in your rear view mirror. 

In a few weeks, the calendar turns to 2017.  For some, it will be “good riddance” to 2016. Others will have fond memories and gratitude of the past twelve months.  And then there will be the innumerable New Year’s Resolutions that will be broken before January turns to February.

 Photo SteSt

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

If you follow this blog with any regularity, you have read my thoughts about the importance of goals. I have shared strategies and urged you to stretch yourself. Above all, I encourage you to believe in who you are and who you can become.  None of us has to be a finished project. Look to the future and all it holds.  Be a cheerleader for your future—and find others who will push and pull you along toward your dreams.

This week spend some time looking in your rear view mirror.  Do you know how you have spent this year? I mean, do you really know what you have done with your time on your way to your goals?

We have often heard that “experience is the best teacher.”  In reality, “evaluated experience” will be a better teacher.  We have to take time to reflect not on just what we have done, but also on why we have done what we have done.

Photo by Steve Piscitelli

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

Here is an illuminating practice I started doing five years ago. During the last week of December, I conduct a 52-week review of my life.

  • I print out the previous 52 weeks of my calendar.  All my personal appointments and my professional opportunities.  Everything. I color-code my calendar appointments during the year so that I can easily see categories and projects (like: writing, program development, program rehearsal, program delivery, house projects, community connections, meetings with friends, dates with my bride, and so on). If you want to save a tree, forego the printing and review your e-calendar from your phone, tablet, or laptop. Caution: If you do this e-review, shut off your incoming messages. You really want to have undivided attention on this process. You are worth it!
  • I typically go to a local beach coffee shop, find a quiet corner, and start my 52-week review. You can do this any place. I suggest a place where you can focus and have some “you time.”
  • I make notes about which activities got most of my attention, which ones did not get much time on the calendar, and what did not appear to make it into my life.

Every time I do this, I learn something about myself.  While I know in the broad terms how I use my time, this exercise helps with specifics.  One year, I “learned” (really, became more aware of) what was NOT there on the calendar.  Or at least, what was NOT there ENOUGH times.  I found that important things like lunch with friends was not as prevalent as I had thought.  And while my wife and I spend quite a bit of time together, I felt like we could have done more special things.

Photo c) Steve Piscitelli

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

The exercise, in short, re-emphasizes the importance of balance and integration in life for me. It helps me clearly see where I have been on the journey for the past year. And it holds my feet to the fire. Have I been authentic to myself? What stories have I been telling myself—and what stories have I been living?

Before we can adequately plan, we need to have a firm understanding of where we have been.  We do not need to bog down in what ifs. Just an objective view of the journey so we can better prepare for the next part of the road.


Video recommendation for the week:

Sometimes goal setting can become a passive activity.  We list a number of goals and then we see what happens.  In this video, I suggest that rather than “wait for” we “work for” our goals. Start working for 2017 with your 52-week review of 2016.


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.


(#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.


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