(#364) Your Legacy

May 14, 2017

Whatever you build, destroy, hand down, create, or undo will be your legacy.

Legacy: Something handed down from one generation to the next; from one person or group to another. Whether for good or ill someone or some entity passed something along. It can include a memory, an accomplishment, a deed, a message, a financial donation, or a physical resource.

A sports team, for instance, that wins a championship creates a legacy. No matter what follows, the team will always have the title of champion for that particular year.  I find it odd when I hear people say something like, “The Chicago Cubs will defend their championship this year.”

One defends something he or she may lose. The Cubs can NEVER lose the 2016 championship they won.  They may not repeat as champs, but they will always be 2016 World Series champions. No one can remove that distinction.

Every so often, I hear a report that so-and-so’s legacy will be eliminated.  I am not sure how that can happen.  The handoff occurred.  You cannot “unhand” it down.  If someone changes or eliminates a program or service, that becomes the legacy of the eliminator.  The person who created it will ALWAYS have the legacy of the creation.  Someone else can amend or end it but the previous act stands as part of history.

What you do today, tomorrow, or in ten years becomes part of your legacy. One experience, one dot, one moment, and one day at a time. You (and with whomever you collaborate) create a legacy. You can add texture and color to it. You cannot un-create it.

Whatever you build, destroy, hand down, create, or undo will be your legacy. What will your legacy be?


Video recommendation for the week.

Building and meaning of legacies. Check this view.


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.


(#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.

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“Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it.”
Soren Kierkegaard

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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.


(#283) Inspiration and the Potential to Make a Difference

October 25, 2015

While the interactions may “just happen,”
turning them into meaningful moments takes mindfulness.

This past week I had the opportunity to sit down with reporter Matt Soergel of The Florida Times Union to record an episode for the Growth and Resilience Network (GRN) podcast channel. Using his journalistic experience as our starting point, we examined the strategies that have kept him “stay fresh” for more than 30 years on the job.  How has he continually come up with a diversity of positive features for his readers?

Matt Soergel and Steve Piscitelli

Matt and Steve

While you will have to listen to the podcast (to be released on November 15) to hear his expert articulation based on his evaluated experiences, I wanted to share with you the most powerful takeaway (in my words) from my time with Matt:

Every interaction we have each day (on or off the job) has the potential to make a positive difference.  Think about that.  Each “hello,” nod of the head in the hallway, or encounter at the coffee shop holds the opportunity to leave a positive mark on someone.  And these human connections also have the potential to inspire us to new levels of growth and resilience.  Why wait for our boss or a job assignment to inspire us? We can do that for ourselves each day.

While the interactions may “just happen,” turning them into meaningful moments takes mindfulness. It requires curiosity—are we curious enough to open the lines of communication with someone we meet, even if for a brief moment to explore our commonalities and differences? Do we pay attention to the ideas and opportunities that surround us? Do we trust that there is potential for growth in each interaction?  And do we treat each opportunity with respect—do we treat the other people with integrity.

Think of your workspace. What did you do last week to make a positive difference? Where is your spot this week for making a difference in someone else’s life?

Video recommendation for the week:

Leo Buscaglia says it well.

Enter this week with your eyes wide open for the inspiration you may receive—and the inspiration you may present to someone else. Don’t wait. Act today.

[Video link: https://youtu.be/4Tth7BSQgt8]

Make it a wonderful week—H.T.R.B. as needed.

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.

 


(#276) Mistakes, Disappointments, Curiosity and Growth

September 6, 2015

When we choose not to dare because we might “risk feeling disappointed”
we end up “choosing to live disappointed.”

Nearly thirty years ago I made a huge professional mistake.  At that time I decided to make a career move from classroom teaching to an administrative slot at a university. Within three days in the new position I knew without a doubt that I had made a colossal mistake. Within three months I resigned the position.

To some observers, it looked like a mind-numbing, stupid and personal failure.  I still remember an encounter when I returned to the classroom the following year. A “colleague” announced in the teacher’s lounge that Piscitelli just couldn’t hack it out there.

Hmm.

That would have been true if I had allowed that disappointment to become an excuse to never risk again.  If I had followed that path, that would have been a failure.

About five years later I made, what appeared to be, another professional misdirection. And again, what seemed a mistake/failure/bone-headed move proved to be anything but. Lost in the forest of doubt and regret.

Image by moggara12 @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by moggara12 @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Another “colossal mistake”—that ended up being one of the biggest, best, and brightest decisions I ever made.

Each of these “failures” made it possible for me to stretch and become someone better than I had been.  Without each of the two decisions (above) I doubt I would have had the opportunities to become an author, speaker, facilitator, and college professor. Each “misstep” led to a series of valuable lessons and opportunities in my life.

Not too shabby for someone who supposedly couldn’t “hack it.”

Don’t let fear of failure stop you. Don’t let the naysayers tell you what you can and cannot do.

Brené Brown, in her new book Rising Strong, reminds us that when we choose not to dare because we might “risk feeling disappointed” we end up “choosing to live disappointed.” How many people do you know who choose to “settle”? Is that the life you want?

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In the workplace, transformational leaders understand this as well. They give their people room to breathe and, yes, make mistakes—and grow. I had a coffee conversation this week with a person who appears to be a wonderfully gifted (upper) manager in her field. Unfortunately for her and her organization, she has been stymied by gate-keeper after gate-keeper.  Her transactional leader doesn’t appear to provide much in the way of trust or growth opportunities. This employee suffers, the organization suffers, and the people it serves will suffer. No doubt in my mind.

Seth Godin refers this as “Don’t touch it, you might break it.”  The great leaders encourage touching! And if it breaks, we will fix it together.


Video recommendation for the week:

Make no mistake (pun intended), each of my decisions (above) and their immediate consequences felt like the end of the world. Prime time for beating myself up.  And while I did more of that than anyone else did to me, I had to move through the disappointment. As Al Seibert said in The Resiliency Advantage, we can cope or we can crumble.”


Consider Dan Nevins.  He faced unbelievable hardships and odds. “Disappointment” really is much too mild of a descriptor for his journey. And most definitely, he is not a failure. What an inspiration!  Check out his story.

And so can you be an inspiration as you move forward.

In her book Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better, Pema Chiron reminds us that when things just don’t work for us, we “could get curious about what is going on.”  Mistakes, James Joyce said, are “the portals of discovery.

What dream or circumstance do you have that fills you with a bit (or a lot) of trepidation?  What causes the reticence? What little (or big) step can you do this week that will put you in the mindset of “What if I did this?” YES, you might fail and be disappointed. AND think of the exhilaration awaiting you with the chance and the potential for change. Either way, you learn and grow.

Put the energy vampires aside. Don’t let “perfection” and “disappointment” rule.  You have so much more to offer yourself and those around you.

Make it a wonderful week—H.T.R.B. as needed.

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.

 


(#271) Comfort Zone

August 2, 2015

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
-Neale Donald Walsch-

Meet Roxie, a 14-week old rescue puppy, who arrived in our lives a few days ago. And like our previous companion, Buddy, she immediately began teaching us.

2015-07-30 14.17.36

As Roxie gets familiar with her new environment she continually retreats to two areas—two comfort zones.  Whether it’s her crate with chew toys or her comfy stuffed cushion by my desk, she feels solace in each area.  She ventures out to explore a room; tentatively looking this way and that. And then, returns to one of her comfort zones.  Outside she stakes claim to her new yard…and then back to the comfort zones to catch her breath.  With each venture outside the zone, she gains more confidence and a bounce in her step.

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She reminded me that we all have comfort zones. Those areas of refuge can provide shelter from life’s storms and give us pause to reflect on what we are doing and where we are going.  A comfort zone can help us gain awareness and begin to recognize and challenge assumptions as we make plans for future action.

Comfort zones, also, can stymie our growth. Consider what would happen to Roxie if she never left her crate or got off her comfy dog couch. She’d miss a whole world of adventure and growth opportunities.  She would never really stretch and strengthen her legs. She would never find her potential. Each time she steps out she increases her vulnerability and her chances for development and a fuller life. Roxie, like us, has to assess the risk of each move or non-move.

2015-08-01 09.47.36

Thanks to Roxie, two comfort zone lessons emerge.

  1. POSITIVE. Comfort zones provide shelter and opportunities to breathe. When the world has become too crazy to handle, we can retreat from the stresses that, at times, beat us down. They can rejuvenate us.
  2. NOT-SO-POSITIVE. A comfort zone, however, can become a crutch and excuse not to venture out, not to risk, and not to grow. As author Neale Donald Walsch has said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

Video recommendation for the week:

Carol Dweck makes a case for challenge over comfort.

As you approach the coming week consider your comfort zones. Be grateful you have these places where you can de-stress and catch your breath.  And consider what steps you can take to venture a bit further from their confines so you can embrace new adventures and growth opportunities.

Make it a wonderful week—H.T.R.B. as needed.

Click to find my podcast series on 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.

 

 


(#266) Challenging the Status Quo

June 28, 2015

We have to remember what we learned in our formative years:
“Know what battles to pick.”
Great advice unless you never seem to choose a battle.

I was recently asked what kind of advice I would give to the new generation of educators and students. My advice was (and still is) simple and straightforward,

Pay attention to the difference you can make.
Challenge the status quo (that includes your own status quo).
Don’t settle for the easy way.
Either you create your story—or you let someone else create it for you.

This past week I had the opportunity to catch up with a student I taught nearly 30 years ago. She related a story about how a boss of hers, while conducting a staff meeting, was less than civil to say the least. While all of her compatriots quietly sat and squirmed a bit, my former student stood up and calmly challenged the boorish behavior. As she told the story, I beamed. She did not need my approval—but I could not have been prouder.

Stuart Miles @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Stuart Miles @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Far too many times I have witnessed otherwise smart and insightful adults sit on their hands rather than challenge a wrong-headed workplace/career-related situation. Why do people fail to take action in situations clearly calling for action? Here is what I have seen and heard for years.

  • “I won’t be here long. This job is just a placeholder until I get my big break and move on.”
    • Did you ever consider you may never get that big break? The job you planned on keeping for no more than a year or two ends up being yours for five years or more. I’ve seen people like this wake up one morning, ten years later, with kids in school and a mortgage. Guess what? They are not going any place. And, like it or not, they have created a less than savory workplace environment for themselves and their co-workers by their inaction over the years. The story they are living is the story they have created.
  • “Did you see what they did to Suzy down the hall? I’ll fly under the radar, thank you.”
    • Poor managers use fear to control and (they think) motivate their workers. How long do you plan to fly low? See #1 above.
  • “If I don’t rock the boat, I’ll be safe.”
    • Hmm, again. A few waves just might make the boat a bit safer for everyone. Like my former student above, a well-directed and civil challenge might catch attention and, if not change things for the better right away, might at least put the perpetrator on notice.
  • “I will do anything to make sure I am seen as a team player so that I can continue to move up the organization’sladder. At the very least, I’ll be able to keep my job.”
    • Really? I’ve seen people sell their souls for the job. Then once they have been used up by the transactional leadership, they are downsized or otherwise unceremoniously dismissed. One day they wake up without a job, and without a soul.

Speaking up is not always easy. It takes courage and articulation skills. Some of you are born leaders, ready to take the lead. Many others, not so much. I get that. Even the quiet ones amongst us, however, can quietly support those who are out front pushing for change. If, for reasons that apply to your situation in life, you choose to remain silent, then at least recognize the potential consequences of that choice.

Yes, we have to remember what we learned in our formative years: “Know what battles to pick.” Great advice unless you never seem to choose a battle. As Edmund Burke reportedly admonished, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men [and women] to do nothing.”

What can you challenge this week? Nothing large. Nothing outlandish. Nothing dangerous. Nothing stupid. Nothing boorish. Just a well-calculated step to find a more humane and thoughtful way to make a meaningful change for yourself, your family, your workplace, and/or your community. Consider a mentor, coach, adviser or counselor to help you sort things out and move along the best path.

Little steps create the journey. No steps create a journey of another kind.

Video recommendation for the week:

Sara Bareilles wonders what would happen if we say what we want to say.

Make it a wonderful week—H.T.R.B. as needed.

I am venturing into the realm of podcasting. Check out my first one “Powerful (Mindful) Preparation. Powerful Presentation.”

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 and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (both in their third edition) are published by Pearson Education.

(c) 2015. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

 


(#263) Retreat or Stay-Treat? Treat Yourself!

June 7, 2015

What can you do if you want a retreat but can’t quite swing
getting away from your daily routines for three or four days? 

I’ve often read about personal growth retreats. You know, those that offer a chance to reconnect with or discover one’s soul and life-purpose.  Purposes of such mind-body retreats generally include strategies to empty the mind, detox the body, stimulate mindfulness, establish an exercise regimen, practice meditation, and/or to simply rest.

I have participated in professional retreats. These are the kinds that typically have a goal such as team building, creativity, strategic planning or problem solving.

As I write this week’s blog post, I am sitting in Cedar Key, Florida conducting my own personal/solo retreat.  This trip developed not so much for me to find myself as it was to devote uninterrupted time to a special and long-delayed project.

View from my Cedar Key "office."

Cedar Key, FL. (Photo by Steve Piscitelli)

Short back story: Fourteen years ago I completed a draft for what would have been my first novel.  I had sent it to a professional critique service.  And then I got distracted by other professional obligations. The draft has been on the shelf since then.  Until this week.

My wife and I mapped out a time when I could steal away by myself and dig back into the manuscript.  The result was four days in this sleeping little fishing village on the Gulf of Mexico. A quiet room hanging out over the water was the perfect place to create my retreat.

It turned out to be a wonderfully exciting, energizing and productive experience. If you ever consider such an investment in yourself, consider these thoughts/strategies/lessons.  A retreat can allow you to:

  1. Detox from the daily distractions of social media, email and household chores/routine. It can be really easy to let something around the house (the lawn, a project in the garage, a household chore, other people, a walk to the beach) to distract attention. While I worked on the manuscript, I turned off the email, phone, and news.  I took control of my environment.
  2. Empty your mind and move to a single-minded focus on whatever project (in this case, my writing) you choose to embrace.
  3. Stay mindful about what you want to accomplish with your days away.
  4. Establish a new routine of working. Prior to the retreat (in a few books) I had been reading about “ultradian rhythms” and playing with the concept at home. The retreat allowed me to further experiment with it. Think of a 90-minute work sprint followed by anywhere from a 30 to 60-minute break. Followed by another work session sprint; and another break; followed by one or two more (at most) sessions. I accomplished a great deal in about 4.5 to 6 hours per day of work. It was not a grind of 24/7 exhaustion.

Video recommendation for the week:

I am fully aware that not everyone has this opportunity to go away for a few days.  So what can you do if you want a retreat but can’t quite swing getting away from your daily routines for three or four days?

Well, I’m reminded of people who take “stay-cations”. My wife and I have done these.  Even though you are not “officially” away from home, you still create the atmosphere of being away.

Instead of RE-treat, why not think “STAY-Treat”?  How might you be able to restructure a retreat within your home environment? Start small and build.  For instance:

  1. Clearly establish a goal. Whether away or at home you can still do this. What do you want to accomplish by the end of your Stay-Treat? Write it down.
  2. Adjust your usual routine. Consider the ultradian rhythm mentioned above. If you can’t do four “sprints” in one day, start with one.
  3. Turn off the phone, TV and emails. Focus on your one task. The Facebook posts will still be there waiting for you.
  4. Do something different when it comes to meals. Nothing big; nothing expensive. But consider something out of your usual routine.
  5. Where will you conduct the Stay-Treat? Your home office? The back patio? Choose an area and make it your “office.”
My Cedar Key "office" for four days.

My Cedar Key “office” for four days.

It will take planning. You and your project/goal deserve it.

Make it a wonderful week—H.T.R.B. as needed.

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).

Information on my newest book, Choices for College Success (3rd ed.), can be found at Pearson Education.

(c) 2015. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

 


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