(#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.


(#294) Benefits Of Remaining A Continual Learner

January 10, 2016

It can help us fill in gaps between assumptions and realities.

A few months ago on this blog I posed the question, “Do we take time to experience what our customer, client, or student is experiencing?” Regardless of your profession or calling, do you remain a constant learner from the perspective of the people you are serving?

We have all heard (what can become) the cliché about the importance of “life-long learning.” At one level, that can mean staying current with reading, new trends, and updated content in your calling. Important for sure.

I’d like to dig down a little deeper on this; go beyond “staying current” by reading an article or two. Let’s move to learning from the perspective of the people you are serving.

Stephen Brookfield puts forth a simple reminder in his book Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher.

brookfield

Teachers need to remember what it is like to be a learner in a “foreign” (read: unknown; difficult; demanding; uninteresting to them) field.  One way for those of us in “front of the class” to stay in touch with our inner learner is to take a course in a “foreign” field. Perhaps a history instructor enrolls in a chemistry class or the English teacher signs up for Algebra.  I did this sort of learning when I participated in an 8-week improv workshop this past summer. I’m doing it now as I participate in an online writing Master Class by James Patterson.  Experiences such as these can bring us face-to-face with feelings of anxiety, boredom, irrelevance, and vulnerability—just like a student has to do when sitting in a required core class.   It can help us fill in gaps between assumptions and realities.

Ph.D. candidates may face the same feelings as they complete the required coursework for the degree. I know I did when I had to take M.Ed. and M.A. classes that I had absolutely zero interest in taking. I had to find ways to soldier through—and that kept me in touch with my students.

Video recommendation for the week:

Brookfield aptly points out that when teachers, in particular, take on the role of a student in an area/class in which they have no or limited skill/knowledge they will have a better chance of understanding the trepidation that their students have in front of them.

Maybe the college administrator teaches a full semester course (not just one or two sessions) to acquaint (or re-acquaint) herself with what it’s like to be the classroom teacher who has to, each semester, “learn” the dynamics of a particular class/group of students. This includes facing these students each class day of the semester and dealing with the human drama that comes in the door.  That is a lot different from reading the latest research about a pedagogical breakthrough.  And the experience can remind the administrator of the joys and frustrations of teaching.  A similar argument can be made for a teacher participating in an administrative training class.

I had a colleague who taught French. During the summer, he would immerse himself in learning a new language. I seem to remember Chinese was one summer’s undertaking. This could help the teacher see the perspective of an online student.

Another example. I have been regularly working with a trainer in the gym over the last eight months.  Each session, I’m a learner as I pay attention to form, reps, weight and sets. And each session I come up short on some routines; and I excel on others. I am reminded about the need to be fully present in the class (my training) and do my “homework” in between sessions.

Besides staying in touch with the student’s, client’s or customer’s perspective, I think this type of intentionality helps to build resilience. Placing oneself in a difficult or vulnerable to failure position (not unsafe or unhealthy), requires and develops a certain amount of flexibility.

Where can you become a neophyte over the coming months? How can you better understand the perspective of those you serve?

Make it a wonderful week—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.

 


(#279) Do You Have the Wisdom of a 5th Grader?

September 27, 2015

If we pay attention we often can find real nuggets of wisdom
from the young people around us.

You may have heard of or even remember watching Art Linkletter’s “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” It was a feature on his House Party show.  He’d “interview” kids (generally 10 and under)—and you can imagine the genuine, authentic, unfiltered and refreshing responses Linkletter received from his “panelists.” If we pay attention we often can find real nuggets of wisdom from the young people around us. Of course, we must listen.

My wife has been experiencing a health challenge of late and to help speed her recovery a dear teacher friend of ours enlisted the help of her fifth grade class.  She and her husband delivered a bag of carefully worded and creatively decorated hand-made get well cards to Laurie last week. (Thank you Cass and Tom!) The cards, addressed to “Mrs. Laurie,” contained short messages crafted in multi-colored crayons that would make Hallmark envious.

Each card held out positive thoughts and the importance of a great attitude. One simply stated, “You will tough it!” Another, cleverly created a get well wish from the letters of “Mrs. Laurie.”  While the card was for my bride, I have to say that this young student has reminders for all of us. Soak in this 5th grader’s wisdom:

Make life count

Rock it

Stay strong

Love life

Amazing woman

U can do it

Remember

Inspire

Everyone matters

Video recommendation for the week:

As Art Linkletter discovered decades ago, kids do say the dardest things

As you look to the week ahead, perhaps you can focus on one of the above nine powerful steps for purposeful and mindful living.

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.

 


(#277) Thriving in the Thin Place: Becoming Our Essential Selves

September 13, 2015

Thin places represent those spaces that help construct
(or maybe deconstruct) meaning in life.

Before recording any of my podcast episodes, I take time to help the guest and myself discover the direction we would like to see our conversation take. Last week I had that conversation with my October podcast guest.  (The episode is scheduled to be released on October 15, 2015.) During our discussion, my guest introduced me to the concept of “thin places.”

Thin places are not necessarily cardio classes or dieting seminars—though, for some, they may be.

One blogger describes thin places in this manner:

“The metaphor assumes a worldview in which heaven and earth are, in general,
separated by a considerable distance. But some places on earth seem to be thin in the sense that
the separation between heaven and earth is narrowed.”

View from my Cedar Key "office."

(Photo by Steve Piscitelli)

In a 2012 New York Times article “Where Heaven and Earth Come Closer,” Eric Weiner tells us that thin places are not necessarily connected to “religious” places (though, again, they can be). Rather, he says,

“Thin places relax us and they also transform us—or more accurately, unmask us. In thin places we become our more essential selves.” [Emphasis added]

The more I thought about it, the more I could not shake the thought of this Celtic tradition.

“Could,” I questioned myself, “my daily quest for inner peace, for resilience, for balance and well-being be my own search for thin places?” Those often elusive (almost ephemeral) spaces between what seems impossible to endure and that place of peace.

The more I thought about it, my thin places did not necessarily look the same.  An early morning gym workout can often be a place where I feel the separation between chaos and peace. The same for a bike ride on the beach.  Or a walk with my puppy, Roxie.

A few days ago, as I was attempting to work through a few discombobulations in my mind, I was particularly impatient on my walk with Roxie. I kept hurrying her along. At one point she just stopped and resisted moving any further with me. Roxie just sat there and stared at me.  In her canine way, she told me to “CHILL.”  As I thought about that moment a few hours later, it came to me that I indeed needed to catch my breath and “chill” if I wanted to handle (and thrive in) the days ahead.  For a fleeting moment, Roxie represented my thin place.

I have more to learn. At this point, thin places represent those spaces that help me construct (or maybe deconstruct) meaning in my life.  They assist in clarifying my boundaries and limits. They might not always exist in the same place. (For instance, there are times when I am on the beach and my mind is anything but restful and peaceful.) And they might just present themselves to me when and where I least expect them.

Video recommendation for the week:

As you experience your week ahead, be mindful of those thin places that will help you understand your more essential self. Those places that present a certain clarity. They might present themselves when you aren’t looking! It could be in front of a sacred shrine, in the presence of a sunrise or sweating through a yoga practice.

Or you just might find it in the face of a puppy.

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?

2014-07-17 13.23.46

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.

2015-08-01 09.11.49

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.

 

 


(#269) Yes And

July 19, 2015

It is interesting that we can point to others
as being intransigent in their thinking while we pat ourselves on the back
as possessing true critical thinking skills.

Collective monologues and confirmation bias will derail any potential for a meaningful conversation. When we bring our rigid/inflexible preconceived ideas and/or a predilection to hear ourselves speak, we disrespect the person in front of us and doom any hope for collaboration.

This week I took part in an exercise that underscored the importance of civility and dialogue.

I am participating (as a student) in an eight week improv workshop. Within the first few minutes of the first night, I learned that the foundational cornerstone for effective improvisation can be captured by two words: “Yes, and….”  As our instructor explained, “Yes, and” will not only inspire my partner(s), it helps to move a scene forward.

Image: David Castillo Dominici @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: David Castillo Dominici @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Yes, but…” and “No!” are scene killers. It stops the action.  To prove the point, we played out three improv scenes.  As I participated in each, I thought how these scenes play out beyond improv in the “real world” of the workplace and in relationships. Think of the times you have been in a scene-killing or scene-advancing situation.

  • Scene #1 = “NO!” No matter what my partner said, my job was to kill the idea. Grind it into the ground with no hope of resurrection. I would then offer my suggestion—to which my partner put a quick stake through its heart. Result?  We got nowhere. We degraded one another’s ideas. We did not listen. Each of us only wanted our way. No progress.
    • Beyond improv. Ever been in a situation (work or personal life) where your ideas were met with pure negativity? When no one listened or heard the positives of what you presented? Can you remember times when you did the same to others?  Without a doubt, this IS a scene killer.  It denigrates without a positive alternative. The toxicity simply states, “I’ve stopped listening.”
  • Scene #2 = “Well, I don’t know….if we have to….” The good news in this scene: We did not kill each other’s ideas. The not-so good news: We had very little enthusiasm for what the other person said. If not outright negative, we tended to be sarcastic and condescending.  While the scene did not die, the best we can say is that it limped along to a merciful end. Minimal progress.
    • Beyond improv. Imagine a date in which every suggestion you offer (the restaurant, the movie, and the time) is meet with, at best, considered indifference. Yuck!  This thinly veiled negativity will place a wet blanket on any evening.  The same for the staff meeting.  You know the people (you can see them in your mind’s eye right now). If not downright negative, they never show any encouragement or enthusiastic support for any idea.
Image: xedos4/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: xedos4/
FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  • Scene #3 = “Yes, and…!” You could feel the energy noticeably increase in the workshop when we shifted into this scene. No matter what our partners presented, we responded with an enthusiastic “YES!” that was then followed by “AND” this is why your idea has merit! Even if the other person was not totally sold on the idea, she would acknowledge it, embrace it, and offer how it could lead to an even better situation.  Very positive—and the scene kept building.  While we didn’t really know where the scene would go, we did know we would arrive together!
    • Beyond improv. True collaboration allows for brainstorming and question-storming. It is not code for blindly accepting every idea tossed before you. On the contrary, it acknowledges the other person—and then offers a “what if we also did….?” or “and that could allow us to ….” It is not a scene killer. It moves the scene to the next level. Respectful, civil, and considered.

Yes, this strategy can be very difficult in a situation in which you have a deep objection.  It is interesting, though, that we can point to others as being intransigent in their thinking while we pat ourselves on the back as possessing true critical thinking skills. As we move into the very long presidential campaign season, listen to the “debates.” (Does anyone really think any of these so-called debates are little more than collective monologues?)  Listen to your colleagues, partner and yourself this coming week.

Video Recommendation for the Week:

Just think how much we might get accomplished if we focused on “Yes, and….!”

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

I am venturing into the realm of podcasting.  Check out my first episode at “Powerful (Mindful) Preparation. Powerful Presentation.” Information on future podcasts can be found on my podcast page.

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.

 


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