(#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.


(#339) Learning From The Low Vibrations

November 20, 2016

At times, we find ourselves caught up in the low-vibrations of negativity and defeatism.
Draw on the strength within, around, and above.

Nine words. As I read my editor’s comments and reread my entire manuscript, nine of my words jumped from the page.

This particular part of my soon-to-be-released book about teaching, learning, and resilience, encourages readers to reflect on their personal and/or professional journey and think of:

  1. The challenges (and maybe even hardships) they have encountered, experienced, and endured.
  2. Their mistakes, miscues, and meanderings.
  3. Their accomplishments, achievements, and attainments.
Photo by Steve Piscitelli

Photo by Steve Piscitelli

Regardless of your particular calling, take a moment today and do the same for yourself. Your journey holds power.  At times, we find ourselves caught up in the low-vibrations of negativity and defeatism. Some of that comes from those around us; some originates within ourselves. We make mistakes, lose direction, and maybe, worse yet, abandon hope for our dreams.  We doubt our movement forward.

A friend of mine shared her insight about those low vibrations: they can cause a lot of unwanted and non-productive noise in our lives. If we let them. The first step out of that noise is to do what my friend did—become aware of the noise and its source.  Then, do something to eliminate (or, at least muffle) the noise.

Milton Berle reportedly said, “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”  Well, in your case, if the path ahead is not clear, maybe it’s time to create the path.

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

As you consider your week ahead and your movement forward on your continuous (and eventful) journey, ask yourself what you can learn from all of those moments you have encountered, experienced, and endured. You may feel like you have accumulated more mistakes, miscues, and meanderings than you would like to remember. All encounters (the low vibrations included), however, have helped make you who you are. And have contributed to your accomplishments, achievements, and attainments.

All of us have so much within ourselves to move to our next level. Whatever and wherever that may be. Draw on the strength within, around, and above.


Video/song recommendation for the week:

Josh Groban and “You Raise Me Up.”


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.


(#317) Finding Your Passion Is Just The Beginning

June 19, 2016

Once we discover what we feel is our passion
(or at least, our interest that could become a passion),
the work has only begun. 

One day in class, a thirty-something student raised her hand to ask a question about my professional journey. She was a conscientious student who was searching and attempting to zero in on her life’s passion.  She wondered, “How long did it take you to get to where you are, professor?” I reflected for a moment, thinking of my writing, teaching and speaking careers. “Oh,” I said, “about thirty years and I still have a lot to learn.”

I could literally see the her shoulders slump, her face scrunch up and her head lower and shake ever so slightly from side to side.

She knew she would have to work. Just not quite that long.

In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth debunks the notion that passion is something that comes to us like a bolt from the blue, a sudden revelation that changes our life’s trajectory; and that once discovered we have it made. She states that science has proven that “passion for your work is a little bit discovery, followed by a lot of development, and then a lifetime of deepening.” (p. 103)  I think my student knew about the discovery; had a bit of understanding about the development; but little clue about the deepening. And anecdotally, I don’t think her case is that unique.

Image: dan/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: dan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The discovery part of the passion process comes from Brailling the world. Exploration, discovery, curiosity and interactions.  It’s not a one and done that we will discover with simple introspection Duckworth contends.   This is where “play” can be very beneficial. It allows us to dabble, have fun and sort through experiences.  (I’m not sure we will find our life’s passion/interests by being glued to “breaking news alerts” which are, basically, somebody else telling us what they discovered and why we should care about it.) We have to find our own agenda.

Once we discover what we feel is our passion (or at least, our interest that could become a passion), the work has only begun.  We have to develop it.  Like a talent or skill, we need to engage in, as Duckworth calls it, “a proactive period of interest development.”  We have to stoke the curiosity. When we continue to read, listen, observe, and participate we gather more information. The interest deepens—or we might discover this isn’t what we really want. And the process begins anew.

The final piece of the passion journey, according to Duckworth, comes in the form of having “encouraging supporters…who provide ongoing stimulation and information” about our passion.  This feedback is critical.  I’ve written often on this blog about the importance of relationships.  Duckworth affirms the importance of supportive networks.

The student who asked about my journey had enrolled herself in college to find her way.  Her question of me represented one small piece of her journey—a slice of her discovery path. Her physical reactions to length of time required to polish the passion indicated another benchmark on her journey: she would need grit to persevere and reach her long-term goal.

Video recommendation of the week.

If you have not viewed Duckworth’s popular TED Talk, I’d recommend it. Below you will find a short interview where she hits broadly on the idea of perseverance.

Where do you stand in the discovery, development, and deepening cycles? How do you (or could you) play the role of supportive network for someone who is in the discovery or development mode? Do you encourage the process and joy of play (for others and yourself) when it comes to the discovery phase?  How do you stay curious? What have you done today to deepen your passion? Are your goals, in fact, Hell, Yeah goals that inspire you to enjoy the journey of work and learning?

Stay curious about your development and growth, my friend.

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

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

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.

 


(#316) Process, Trust, And Organizational Growth: An Optimistic Approach

June 12, 2016

Trust is what teams, students, teachers, employees and leaders
need in order to challenge the process on the way to a better answer.  

Earlier this week I stumbled upon some notes from a meeting I attended more than two years ago. The tile: “Conversations about Solutions.”  My colleagues and I were discussing various student challenges and possible solutions.   My jottings revealed a real plussing/amplifying session—not a collective monologue of gripes. We were pitching not bitching.

That day we focused on the fact that so many of our students came to us looking for “the right answer” instead of searching for an understanding about the process.  Unfortunately, this oft-stated complaint about our educational system highlights the emphasis placed on minutiae and following the leader, rather than on reflection and process.

Coincidentally, I recently watched a TED Talk by Astro Teller of X (formerly Google X).    He used two related metaphors to describe how he and his colleagues tackle issues of importance: Moonshots and The Factory.

Moonshots represent their ideas—big and audacious visions about how the future can be different. The Factory is where they do the messy work of both “harnessing enthusiastic optimism” and working “to kill our project today.”

Image: khunaspix@FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: khunaspix@FreeDigitalPhotos.net

At first it sounded contradictory and negative to me. On one hand Teller and his team would come up with wonderful ideas and with the other carve them up. Actually, it is an enlightened and positive approach to teamwork, solutions, and process.

Teller and his colleagues wanted and needed to know about the Achilles heel of their thinking up front before they got too far along in the process.  More than just looking for “the right answer,” they wanted to be sure to expose as many obstacles as possible; know what lies ahead from the get-go.

Contrast that with the ineffective manager who presents an idea (many times dictated from above) to a committee under the guise of “let’s have a discussion.” Unfortunately, anyone who disagrees or comes up with authentic concerns gets tagged as “not a team player.”  No plussing allowed. Forget about amplifying. Forget about the messiness of exposing an Achilles Heel. You end up with people moving lockstep toward the dictated “right answer” and the process be damned.

Back to Teller and his cronies.  They don’t see exposing flaws as a negative or that the moonshot on the drawing table is dead.  The exposed (possible) flaws allow for deeper conversation and a more profound product. Or, if needed, postponing or ending the project.

A personal example. I am at the point now with a book manuscript where I need to/want to have deep and reflective feedback.  Not meaningless compliments. I need authentic and honest feedback. Toward that end I’ve sent my work to nearly two dozen experts and practitioners around the nation for their considered critiques.  This manuscript is my current “moonshot” and I need to engage in the messy work of revision before I put it out there in the marketplace.  It’s the process that makes the final product, not the final product that dictates the process. I trust in the people I have solicited for input.

Maslow identified security as the second level of his famous hierarchy of needs.  For security we need trust. And trust is what teams, students, teachers, employees, and leaders need in order to challenge the process on the way to a better answer.  True, a math problem may only have one correct answer, but shouldn’t we at least embrace the eloquence of the process?  Who knows maybe that will set the stage for embracing the messiness of creativity and teamwork on the way to another product.  As one of my colleagues once said, “Let’s get the thinking better.”

Author Brené Brown recently stated, “We need cultures that support the idea that vulnerability is courage and also the birthplace of trust, innovation, learning, risk-taking, and having tough conversations.”

Video recommendation of the week.

Again, Teller of X: “Being audacious and working on big risky things makes people inherently uncomfortable…Enthusiastic skepticism is not the enemy of boundless optimism. It’s optimism’s perfect partner.”

Make it an inspiring week as you pursue your authentic “hell, yeah!” goals.—H.T.R.B. as needed.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

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.

 


(#303) Give Your All Stars the Spotlight

March 13, 2016

Find a way to let your colleagues share what
they are proud of and how they do it.

At times, the execution of appropriate recognition can move from the sublime to the ridiculous.  I remember years ago sitting in a school auditorium during a student awards assembly that dragged on and on and on.  It seemed everyone got an award for something.  I remember a colleague turning to me and wondering when we would start calling people in from the streets for special recognition.

You probably have seen or heard of endless compliments and praise given for even the tiniest deeds (or misdeeds). Everyone is special and everything deserves special recognition.

Social media sites give “badges.”

Ridiculous? Possibly. I don’t think it’s sublime.

On the other extreme we can find the total lack of recognition. There are managers (definitely not leaders) who don’t take the time or don’t see the need to give a shout-out to their people.  Ridiculous—and worse.

Every workplace has All Stars. I don’t mean the egocentric-look-at-me-strut All Stars. I mean those who go about their calling with meaning, authenticity, and caring.  They make a difference in their work space and for the people they work for or with in that space. They lead the way. How do we recognize these folks—and share their strategies and achievements? How do we recognize these folks?

Photo: Steve Piscitelli

Photo: Steve Piscitelli

When I have the chance to work with an audience, I have the fortunate opportunity to stand in front of an auditorium full of people and “show my stuff.” I, also, like to share that opportunity with the audience in front of me. Each time I do it I am amazed (but not surprised) at what happens. Take my recent keynote on reflective practice to the faculty at Wake Technical Community College.

The organizers of the event requested I end my presentation with a fifteen minute Q + A.  I suggested to make it a Q + A + S session. Question + Answer + Sharing. I would gladly entertain any questions the audience had and I would also open the floor to the audience to share how they already incorporate reflective practice strategies in their classes. What occurred was energizing and validating. In the fifteen minutes (that could have easily gone longer), everyone who stood up in the audience shared their bright spots. Proud and full of energy they had the spotlight in front of their colleagues.  Unscripted. Unrehearsed. Unabashed. Proud! They represented the All Stars in that room.

David Castillo Dominici @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

David Castillo Dominici @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I have done this elsewhere as part of training programs. Department Chairs identified their All Stars. I then incorporated them into a small piece of the program. In an upcoming program for a corporate audience I will facilitate a similar exchange.

Leaders can set aside time for their All Stars to deliver an Ignite Session. Five minutes. Quick. Poignant. Team member affirming. Team building. I saw students do this effectively at a faculty convocation in Virginia.

And if you work for a manager rather than a true leader—someone who does not get the importance of this type of genuine and authentic recognition and professional development-then do it yourself. Hold teaching circles, clearness committees, or Ignite Sessions. Tony Hsieh of Zappos speaks of encouraging collisions to foster innovation.

Video recommendation of the week: Tony Hsieh encourages “collisions” to spark innovation.

Find a way to let your colleagues share what they are proud of and how they do it. They want to hear from you as well. Time for you and your colleagues to shine and grow.

Now, that’s sublime.

Make it an inspiring week as you pursue your authentic “hell, yeah!” goals.—H.T.R.B. as needed.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

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) 2016. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#302) Show Muscles

March 6, 2016

We can end up doing things that look good, feel good, or make a splash
while ignoring the support system behind each of those choices.

My trainer, Charles, recently introduced me to a new (for me) exercise in the gym.  The Multi-Hip Extension machine allows me to focus on important muscles that help support posture, lower back, stability, tone, and leg strength.  I now do 200 reps four or five times per week. I have noticed increased flexibility and improved strength.

Charles reminded me that these exercises do not work muscles that we normally see—or at the very least, they are not what he termed “show muscles.”

“Show muscles” typically get a lot of emphasis in the gym. Biceps and pectorals come to mind.  These are what others will see when a tank top is worn for emphasis and, well, show. Same for quads or well-defined calves. When developed they “show” well in shorts, skirts, or high heels. Nothing particularly wrong with that,

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic                                     @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Often,though, the “support muscles” do not get enough attention.  And if you ignore the “support muscles” long enough it will become difficult for the “show muscles” to continue to show off! As I understand the concept, a strong and well-developed bicep will do better (be healthier/stronger/toned so to speak) with attention paid to the opposing triceps. Pecs benefit from strong back muscle groups. Quads get help from healthy hamstrings.

And there are a host of smaller and deeper muscles that further help the “show muscles” prosper. I think of the rotator cuff muscles I have had repaired in both shoulders. These are critical to my movement and fitness even though I don’t necessarily see such muscles.

As I thought more and more about this label of “show muscles” I thought of applicability in so many other parts of our lives.  We can end up doing things that look good, feel good, or make a splash while ignoring the support system behind each of those choices.  At some point, we have to pay the piper.  Consider a few examples:

1.  A few days ago, I washed my car and put the type of spray protection on the tires that make them shine. The vehicle looked great for an impending road trip. This was the “show muscle.” The next day, when I started the car I noticed a slight hesitation. It was, I thought, a warning of a weakening battery (the “support muscle”).  An hour later I had the results of a diagnostic test that showed the batter was OK—and while it could last 6 months, it may die in a few days.  I decided to beef up my “support muscle”—bought a new battery.  Better, I thought, for my car to look good and be moving on my trip than to look good and broken down on the side of the road.

2. How about the “show muscle” of expensive clothes, jewelry and other consumer items?  Is the “support muscle” of wealth building (the disciplined, unseen and sacrificial offerings made for savings and retirement) getting attention?

3. Houses can have “show muscles.” Great curb appeal. People ooh and ah as they drive by.   Unfortunately, the “support muscles” of regular maintenance—regular caulking, painting, and wood repair that might not be very sexy—may not get as much attention as the “show muscles.”  Who really notices that? No one does, until critters and moisture start undermining the structure and appearance (the “show muscles”) of the house.

4.  The person who sacrifices mightily to climb the promotional ladder at work may be going for the “show muscle”—the title, prestige, power and/or money.  In the meantime, what toll taken has been exacted on the “support muscles” of relationships and personal well-being? Is he or she even aware of the physical and emotional impact? As Charles, my trainer, reminded my listeners on a recent podcast, “How do you walk around in something you were born with and  not know anything about it or not be aware of what affects it?” 

Video recommendation of the week: This week’s spotlight turns to one of my podcast episodes about fitness and discipline.

 

6. Turn on your PC or open your tablet and all sorts of “show muscles” appear right there on the home screen.  We dig in and start using all of these great conveniences.  But what happens when we receive a notice to update our anti-virus program or install the latest OS? We tend to ignore these “support muscles” until a more convenient time or wait until the computer shuts down on its own.   (Yep, I’m guilty.)

7. My blog posts, podcasts, live events, and writing projects can fall into the category of “show muscle.”  Nothing wrong with being proud and continuing to make a difference in lives. That is great!   However, I need to pause and think of all the “support muscles” that allow me to show my stuff. A short list of “support muscle” gratitude looks like this:

· the computer tech who designed and put my computer together
· the IT people who help me at every live stage event
· the people who take the time to reach out and engage me to come to their campus or corporation
· the people in production who made my books look good (“show muscle”!) on the bookshelves
· the marketing and sales reps who sell my books
· my colleagues who inspire me
· my wife who inspires me more than all others, and
· my car that recently got me to Raleigh, N.C. for a speaking engagement this week…see #1 above.

And I can go on and on with the metaphor. You can think of even more.  Your Call-to-Action for this week is to give thanks for and be proud of those “show muscles.” Then make sure your “support muscles” get their due consideration. Those “support muscles,” after all, keep those “show muscles” strutting their stuff!

Make it an inspiring week as you pursue your authentic “hell, yeah!” goals.—
H.T.R.B. as needed.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

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) 2016. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

 

 


(#301) Authenticity: What Does It Look Like For You?

February 28, 2016

As you live your life
Please take my cue
To thine own self be true

In a TEDx talk, psychologist Maria Sirois states, “When we are authentic all of the parts get to exist.”

All of our parts get to exist.

Often, though, some of those parts might be denied. Regretfully denied.

In a previous post on this blog, I suggested we all take time to give our goals a second R.E.A.D. to make sure the goals we set really stand for and represent what we truly want to do and who we are in this life.  We would do well to make sure the goals allow for Relationships that matter; for Excitement in our lives; for our Authenticity to shine; and for us to make a Difference in our world.

If our goals pass the second R.E.A.D. we then have a better chance to live our own authentic lives not the scripts expected of us by others.

Arvind Balaraman@FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The article “The 5 Biggest Regrets People Have Before They Die” makes the point that the common deathbed regrets did not include absent titles, unearned degrees, pretty looks or adulated celebrity. As I review the regret list below (according to work done by a hospice nurse), I thought about how things might have been different for these people if earlier in their lives they had given their paths a second R.E.A.D.

  1. “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
    *This speaks to Authenticity–living your life according to your healthy and ethical standards; not succumbing to group-think or doing what someone else considers to be the correct path for you to follow. Because it is good for him or her does not mean it is good for you.
  2. “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”
    *Are you creating a life or a resume? If the resume takes precedence, then how Excited are you about it? When you look at the journey you travel, does it create a positive Difference in the world around you?
  3. “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.”
    *Do you speak up? Or do you follow the expectations to go along and get along? When we are not Authentic to ourselves, we need to ask why. First that requires an awareness that something is amiss. Remember, being authentic does not mean we have to be butt-holes about it. Yes, self-expression can be scary—and it can be liberating.  It will create consequences.
  4. “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”
    *Genuine and healthy Relationships can help keep us grounded. They can help us stay in touch with our authentic selves.
  5. “I wish that I had let myself be happier.”
    *Do we stay on the proverbial treadmill out of expectation or because we want to? Do our goals bring Excitement to our lives?

There are stories we tell ourselves and there are stories we live. What is the gap between the two? Do your stories represent you as your authentic self?  Do they allow your whole being to be authentic? What adjustments or tweaks need to be made to continue to live your already authentic life or to live a more authentic life? What incremental steps can you take today?

The bridge in one of my songs (“Love My Life”) from my second CD (Find Your Happy Place!) simple sings

As you live your life
Please take my cue
To thine own self be true

Video recommendation of the week:  Dr. Maria Sirois speaks about the authentic self in this TEDx Talk.

Make it an inspiring week as you pursue your authentic “hell, yeah!” goals.—H.T.R.B. as needed.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

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) 2016. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

 


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