(#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.

(#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.


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
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.



(#199) Retirement? Let’s Rename It

March 16, 2014

Whenever “retirement” comes for me, I know it will not
be a work stoppage or a forgetting of the past but rather a
grand anticipation and embrace of what the future holds.

At the beginning of this calendar year, I received an email from my employer’s human resources department reminding me that this is the year I will hit my retirement age.  Not that I needed a reminder; and not that I have not been planning for this for decades. But the email still made me stop and think.

Wow!  Retirement.  As cliché as it sounds, it really does seem like just yesterday that I started teaching at Stanton College Preparatory School.  And whether I leave the classroom this year or in five years, there is a bigger point I have been considering for most of the previous decade: What will retirement look like for me?  Besides the financial end (which is huge and will have an impact on what I write below), what will my day-to-day activities look like?

For starters, I don’t like the word retirement.  At least not in the sense that it came to take on with earlier generations.  Retirement always seemed like a cessation of work; sitting back and doing whatever leisure activity the retiree wanted to do.  And I had heard that such a retirement—one lacking a real and sustainable purpose in life—could actually shorten lifespan.  I recently heard that successful retirees chase after more than a golf ball or a secluded beach. Retirement is not the opposite of work–at least not in my eyes.

Photo: Steve Piscitelli

Steve Piscitelli

An article in The Wall Street Journal reported on a study that suggested a purposeful retirement accounted for significantly better cognitive functioning.  A retiree who is a regular at my gym always says, “Motion is the lotion.”  He simply means that if a person stays active, he/she will have a better chance of a more limber body and mind—one that will continue to carry him/her forward to enjoy life.

Whenever “retirement” comes for me, I know it will not be a work stoppage or a forgetting of the past but rather a grand anticipation and embrace of what the future holds.  I have loved (and still do) classroom teaching. When I walk off campus for the last time, I will not be walking away from anything.  All those years will have prepared me for what lies ahead. And I have been preparing for quite a while–financially, professionally, and personally. It is not something I want to consider for the first time when I wake up in the post-working world life.

A much younger colleague recently asked me, “Well, what will you do when you retire?”

Image: jscreationzs/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: jscreationzs/

Below is my shortlist of what I will do. The interesting point for me is that as I review the list, each one of those actions is something I have attempted to do during my “working years” with varying degrees of success.  A retired professor told me that even though he remains busy with professional activities, retirement has allowed him the time to truly reflect on all that he has read and done during the so-called “working years.”  And it has made him a more effective post-working world professional.

Life has a way of firing-hosing us over the years. The so-called retirement years provide a great opportunity to reflect and synthesize those experiences. And then give back to our community in new ways.

With that mindset, maybe we should not think about retiring. Here are a few thoughts—and I would be interested in yours as well. Consider:

  • Reflecting
  • Reinventing
  • Repurposing
  • Recalibrating
  • Refreshing
  • Redesigning
  • Renewing
  • Reinvesting (beyond dollars and sense)

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) 2014. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

(#175) What Legacy Are You Creating?

September 29, 2013

Each of us creates a story –our story. Our thoughts become
our words which influence our actions. The sum of our actions creates
our destiny—our legacy.

The September 23, 2013 issue of Sports Illustrated carried a cover story on Mariano Rivera.  Rivera—known as Mo to baseball fans—is the unparalleled closer for the New York Yankee pitching staff.  After 23 years in professional baseball, Mo is retiring.


As I read the article I kept thinking of one word: “legacy.”  His teammates and opposing players to a person had nothing but great things to say.  Beyond platitudes and catch phrases, the words had reverence and respect. This man has built a solid career on disciplined work, ethical behavior, and mentoring of young players.

Video recommendation for the week:

On the last night he pitched in Yankee Stadium, the love was palpable on the field and in the stands.  The fans knew they were in the presence of greatness.  Mo did not need to showboat, pound his chest, pull out his shirt or otherwise call attention to himself.  He simply did the best job each night for his team. He has created and will leave an enduring legacy of class and athleticism.

Years ago, when I taught high school psychology, I remember explaining the concept of “generativity”. Erik Erikson said it was the drive, in the later years of life, to leave something to the next generation.  In short, to make a difference; leave a positive mark.

Each of us creates a story –our story. The story is not created by one event, one day, or one year. Your story, my story—all of our stories—are the sum of the small yet consistent choices we make and do each day.  Our thoughts become our words which influence our actions. The sum of our actions creates our destiny—our legacy.

In many ways I feel so fortunate to be in a calling that allows me the opportunity to leave a mark each day in the classroom, on campus and around the nation. The sum of all those actions is still to be determined.

Thoughts, words, actions, destiny, and legacy.

What legacy are you creating?

Choose well. Live well. Be well—and H.T.R.B. as needed!

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. Please share it (and any of the archived posts on this site) with friends and colleagues. You also can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. If you get a chance, visit my Facebook page and join in–or start–a conversation (www.facebook.com/stevepiscitelli).  If you have suggestions for future posts, leave a comment. Make it a wonderful week!

Check out my upcoming webinars for October.  Click here to register now for the webinar.  Or go to my website for registration information.  My October titles: (1) Student Motivation: Practical Strategies that Will Increase Engagement, Learning and Retention; and (2) Priority Management: An Action Plan for Managing Work and Life (complementary webinar). Both of these webinars are part of the Innovative Educators’ webinar series.

(c) 2013. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

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