(#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.


(#356) Are You Listening Or Adding To The Noise?

March 19, 2017

With a world full of noise, how can we fine-tune the needed listening skill?

This past week I facilitated a San Francisco workshop examining how colleges and universities envision and implement faculty development.  My session subtitle: What Important Questions Should We Be Asking?

While in the City by the Bay, I had the opportunity to talk with a person who has been instrumental in training thousands of higher education leaders around our nation.  What did he see as a critical skill for effective leadership? The ability to listen and then act.

In Meaningful: The Story of Ideas That Fly, Bernadette Jiwa reminds us “We don’t change the world by starting with our brilliant idea or dreams. We change the world by helping others to live their dreams.”

Ask questions and then wait for responses.  Understand what information you need. Then act.  All require listening. Often mentioned. Just as frequently ignored or drowned out by an overwhelming onslaught of information and misinformation.  With a world full of noise, how can we fine-tune the needed listening skill?

We have to distinguish and separate the noise from the non-noise in the world around us.  Shawn Achor provides an insightful rubric for doing just that.  Once we understand and apply the criteria for noise, we have a better chance of limiting its debilitating effects on the lives of colleagues, loved ones, and ourselves.

Ask yourself, Achor proposes, if what you attend to (or what you endlessly speak about) is unusable, untimely, hypothetical, or distracting.  More specifically,

  1. Unusable. Will the information you continuously “take in/give out” change your behavior? If not, you are probably wasting time.

*Example. You follow a particular news story—repeatedly.  The information remains the same (since the initial “news alert”). Nonetheless, you spend hours listening to talking heads give their interpretation. Or you constantly scan your smart phone for social media updates (other people’s agendas). Maybe you spend hours following celebrity stories or the latest intelligence on the NFL draft.  And…the information will have no effect on your behavior. Nothing changes. Noise.

  1. Untimely. Will you use the information, now? Will it more than likely change in the future when you might use it?

*Example.  You get a hurricane alert. It might make landfall in five days. At that point, you have useful information to notice and consider preparations.  However, if you stay glued to the weather channels endlessly for hours—with no updated information coming in—you need to ask what the benefit is other than getting more worried about something that you cannot control and that is still a long way from happening.  And, in the case of a weather forecast, it will likely change a number of times.  Noise.

  1. Hypothetical. Do we focus on what “could be” rather than what “is”?

*Example. I am not picking on the weather prognosticators (really) but do you base plans on the predictions—that may very well be inaccurate.  One of my podcast guests, Neil Dixon (February 2017), has an answer to the meteorological hypothetical.  When the forecast calls for 80% rain, he makes a golf tee time. Why? Because there is 20% for sunshine.  Think about economic forecasts.  How accurate? How often? Noise.

  1. Distracting. Does the information deter you or stop movement toward your goals?

*Example. Your goals relate to your career, relationships, health, finances, intellectual development, emotional stability, and spiritual wellbeing.  How much of the onslaught of information you get hit with (and allow yourself to be hit with) relate to those goals? How much gets in the way of goal achievement?  Noise.

This week consider where, when, and how you can eliminate noise. Listen to your goals and move in those directions.


Video recommendation for the week:

In this TED talk, Julian Treasure suggests five strategies to fine-tune our listening.


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

For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

Check out my latest podcasts at The Growth and Resilience Network™
(http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

Check out my website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#328) Waiting For A Life Guard?

September 4, 2016

What have you been fearful of leaping into—but would really like to experience?
What are you curious about doing or exploring?

As I type this week’s blog post, Hurricane Hermine is about to make a Florida landfall.  Beaches and residents brace for the impact. In some areas, the beaches moved from red flag warnings to “closed.”  The lifeguards have left the beach.

Photo by Steve Piscitelli

Photo by Steve Piscitelli

In spite of the warnings and the dangers, a few intrepid surfers will paddle out in search of the perfect wave. The danger and risk seem secondary to the thrill, challenge, and exhilaration of catching a storm-tossed set and riding them to shore.

While I’m not recommending anything quite that dangerous for you, I do see a metaphor worth tossing out for your consideration.

Think of a time when you wanted to move into what may have seemed like dangerous waters. Perhaps you considered a career shift. Maybe you got real close to asking someone for a date. Did you want to stand up in a meeting and explain why you disagreed with a corporate initiative?

Whatever the situation you may have found yourself in, you so wanted to step out—but you didn’t dare wade into what you saw as rough and dangerous waters.  You did not risk. You played it safe and watched from the shore. Without a lifeguard in her chair for possible rescue, you decided to wait for calmer weather.

Next time you find yourself hoping to make (to you) a risky move, consider a strategy that the Heath brothers describe in their book Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work.

Consider an “ooch.”

To “ooch” is to take small steps. Kind of like dipping your toe into the water. Rather than dive into the unknown and dangerous waters, wade in slowly.  Be wary of the rip currents. Get your footing and test your assumptions.

I encouraged my students and, now, workshop participants to practice the Two-Minute Drill.  If a goal seems too lofty or too forbidding, break it down into the smallest steps possible. What can you do in just two-minutes that will get you closer to your goal?  That is a form of toe dipping.  It keeps you moving in the direction of your goal. It gets you off the sand and into the water. And since you remain close to shore, you may not feel the need for a lifeguard.  You feel a bit surer about wading forth.

What have you been fearful of leaping into—but would really like to experience?  What are you curious about doing or exploring? How can you “ooch” this week, test the waters, make adjustments, and take a calculated risk? What can you do in two minutes to test the waters?


Video recommendation of the week:

Remember hoping to get to a goal is wonderful fuel. But you will need to do more—even if in small safe steps.


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.

 


(#315) Play Your Song, Now

June 5, 2016

What song lives in you?

I had the opportunity to listen to Kai Kight speak this past week in Austin, Texas. He titled his thoughts “Composing Your World.” Using his violin and stories from his journey, he poignantly drove home two oft-repeated life lessons.

Image: dan/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: dan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

1. Don’t regret what might have been. Kai related how years ago his mother, with tears in her eyes, told him of her breast cancer diagnosis. The tears were not tears of fear, not tears for the unknown or the chemo treatments that lay ahead. No, they were, Kai told the audience, tears for the past. Tears for experiences not lived.
2. Play your song. Kai is an accomplished violinist. He can masterfully play the masters. But as he developed his craft he remained restless. He wanted to play his own music. Every opportunity he had, he would construct his own pattern of notes and melodies. These excited him. The scripted music that his conductor led the orchestra through did not juice him.

Video recommendation of the week.

Kai’s metaphor gives us a another powerful reminder to use our precious time to construct and live a life of meaning. Rather than shedding tears for an unfulfilled past, embrace the promising present, play your song, and think of the wonderful opportunities in front of you.

A number of years ago I delivered a breakfast keynote to a group of realtors. As the audience finished their meal, I encouraged them to evaluate their lives and consider being “responsibly selfish.” That is, I challenged them to take care of their needs. Get to the gym, pick up the musical instrument they always wanted to learn to play, write that novel that was inside of them, or make the difference they can in their communities. Live their authentic lives.

I remember how one person in the audience got upset with my message and later sent me an email stating that “selfish” is easy but not good.  For me, that is where “responsibly” comes in. Think of it as an “investment” in yourself. It’s not license to ignore responsibilities, go into debt because “I deserve [fill in the blank],” or lead a hedonistic lifestyle for the sake of meaningless pleasures.

We all have responsibilities to tend to (children, business, partners, financial obligations, and our own health and well-being for instance). AND we have an opportunity (obligation?) to experience our lives, embrace the present, and create our own songs.

What notes are inside of you? What song can you share with the world to make it a better place and you a more complete person?

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.


(#304) Random Thoughts On Overload, Gratitude And Connectedness

March 20, 2016

But wouldn’t it be a shame if we create such unforgiving filters
that the positive, the joy and the connections never make it through?

Overload.  We hear a lot about information overload. People bemoan social media as a culprit of over stimulation, time wasting, and a privacy invasion. As if we have no control over what we click and view. How much of the overload is self-imposed?  Or have we simply lost the ability or the desire to engage our filters? If we aren’t in touch then, “OMG! FOMO!”

Gratitude.  This past week I celebrated my birthday with the help of my wife, friends, former students, and colleagues across the nation. I was reminded of the gratitude I have for all of these people who have entered my life at many junctures over the past six decades—and who have decided to stay in touch. Yes, some of them may have simply hit a pre=populated “Happy birthday!” message. Nonetheless, they still took the time to hold a positive thought on my behalf. I am grateful for that.

Years ago, I would have received cards in my mailbox, phone calls, and perhaps lunch or dinner with those close by.  The physical cards I receive have dwindled to a small few. Phone calls still come in. But the biggest change comes by way of social media.

Image: pisitphoto@FreeDigitalPhots.com

Image: pisitphoto@FreeDigitalPhots.com

Connectedness.  A few friends dug deep into their treasure trove of old photos and posted old (as in 40+ years ago) of me. A student from more than 30 years ago posted an in-action-classroom photo of me (shot unbeknownst to me in the days when cameras were named Minolta rather than Android).  All were a hoot. A flood of memories came back. We laughed. And more comments were posted. It was fun and added to the happiness of the day.

Clay Shirky’s book Cognitive Surplus (2010) pointed out that one of the great takeaways of social media is that the “motivation to share is the driver; technology is just the enabler.” So often social media is equated with egomaniacal posts, rants, or out-and-out ugliness.  We can lose sight of the power of social media to connect and create positive consequences.

Some studies have shown that social media can help shut-ins achieve a sense of connectedness that they might not have otherwise enjoyed.  Recent research looking at “happy brains” points out that

“Humans have a negativity bias, a tendency to focus on threats.
But this research suggests that people may be able to compensate for it….”

In a small way, the couple hundred or so posts and “likes” I received during my birthday may very well have helped my amygdala to continue searching for the positive, uplifting events and people in my life.

The naysayers of social media will grouse about such postings. Yes, there may be possible downsides. You have to create the filters you are comfortable with. But wouldn’t it be a shame if we create such unforgiving filters that the positive, the joy and the connections never make it through?

Video recommendation of the week: Clay Shirky asks us to consider if we suffer from information overload or filter failure.

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.

 


(#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.

 

 


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