(#439) Are You Paying Attention to the People in Front of You?


Collaboration does not come from telling, yelling, or selling people.
It comes from considered conversation.

Four quotes that remind us to pay attention to the people sitting at the table.

“Who are these people and what do they want?”—Jim Young Kim, physician, anthropologist, President of the World Bank

  • When we sit down with a group, we must make a consistent effort to understand the people who sit with us in the room. “Who” can refer to demographics, relationships, needs, challenges, skills, strengths, talents, and/or experiences with the task at hand. “What” they need is determined by them—not by us.  The what may change with conversation.  The who helps us understand more clearly the what.  Are we paying attention?

“Your theology determines your anthropology. And your anthropology—how you see humans—determines your sociology…We have to understand that ‘different’ doesn’t mean ‘deficient’.”—Reverend Jeremiah Wright

  • The way we look at people—our assumptions and experiences—determine the way we interact with these people. Are we paying attention?

“You must participate in the play. You must get out of the director’s role of telling everybody what to do and how to behave and who can be on stage. You must say… ‘We’re in this together.’ … Lean into the light.”—Barry Lopez, author

  • When we allow for an equal say from all participants, and respectfully listen to those sentiments, we come to understand what we share and where we differ. True, someone must lead. A good leader, though, understands that transformational leadership enables the followers to speak and grow. Each of us provides opportunities for the other to lean into the light.  Are we paying attention?

“…Franklin Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln would not have succeeded as commander-in-chief if they hadn’t first succeeded as teachers in chief.”—Susan Jacoby, author

  • Sometimes the people at the table do not understand the nuances of the issue at hand. Considered conversation requires that we enlighten the participants. Opposition can be due to a lack of understanding, which can lead to fear or reticence about moving forward. Are we paying attention?


Video Recommendation of the Week:

I have used the Marshmallow Challenge in classrooms and national workshops–and always with success.  It shows the importance of collaboration–and the disadvantage of wasting time jockeying for power.  Research has found that our kindergarten students perform well compared to business school grads(!).  Enjoy this short TED video.


For more about community building and sustainability,
look for my new book, Community as a Safe Place to Land, due out the beginning of 2019. More information to come.

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

For information about and to order my most recent book, Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here. A few colleges and one state-wide agency have adopted it for training and coaching purposes. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.

The paperback price on Amazon is now $14.99 and the Kindle version stands at $5.99. Consider it for a faculty orientation or a mentoring program. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

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).

© 2018. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

Posted in Life lessons | Leave a comment

(#438) You May Not be the Gift in the Room


Effective collaboration rests on the ability to share the stage.

In the early 1990s, the public high school where I taught created a committee called the “Shared Decision-Making Committee.”  I was tapped as its first chair.  The stated mission of the group was for administrators and teachers to collaborate and come to shared visions and decisions about the direction of the school.

Early in the process, I remember a somewhat cynical (and prescient) comment circulating amongst the teachers. “We meet, and the administration shares its decisions with the teachers. That is their version of shared decision making.”

Have you ever been part of a group attempting to establish a “shared vision”?  An attempt to get a group to agree on a common purpose and journey toward that purpose by the group?

Challenging work.

What I have experienced, more times than not, are good intentions that go off the rails quickly. You see, everyone comes to the table intent on “sharing his or her vision.” Collective monologues ensue.

Effective collaboration rests on the ability to share the stage.  If we walk into the meeting with the idea that we alone (or, at least, above all others) have THE gift that the group needs to move forward, we do not help move the group along. What we do, in that situation, is deny the group members the ability to share their gifts. Gifts which can move the team members toward a collective vision.

Simple thought for your next meeting: You are not the gift in the room. The other people bring gifts. Accept, work with, authentically discuss, and appreciate them.


Video Recommendation of the Week:

When we deny others, we may find ourselves on a committee of one speaking to ourselves. Just ask Sheldon Cooper.


For more about community building and sustainability,
look formy new book, Community as a Safe Place to Land,
due out the beginning of 2019. More information to come.


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

For information about and to order my most recent book, Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here. A few colleges and one state-wide agency have adopted it for training and coaching purposes. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.

The paperback price on Amazon is now $14.99 and the Kindle version stands at $5.99. Consider it for a faculty orientation or a mentoring program. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

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) 2018. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

Posted in accountability, amplifying, authenticity, Being REMARKABLE, Being selfish, Choice, Civility, collaboration, collegiality, Communication, Critical Thinking, decision making, Life lessons | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

(#437) Your Meeting Deserves a K.I.S.S.


Keep It Simple and Short

Do an internet search for “effective meetings” and you will find a few suggestions. About 185 million.

Is there a “secret sauce” for an effective meeting? A few questions to consider as you plan your next gathering:

  1. Is a physical meeting necessary—or can it be done virtually?
  2. Why are you meeting?
  3. Are the right people invited?
  4. What makes these the right people?
  5. Do the attendees know what is expected of them in the meeting? (See #2.)
  6. Is there a stated and respected start and end time?
  7. Will you stand or sit?
  8. How will you keep the meeting moving and focused?
  9. Who will oversee the meeting? (Is it always the same person?)
  10. Will there be structured and unstructured time?
  11. How often will you meet? Suggestion: Don’t equate number of meetings with effectiveness of meetings.  Focus on results. More meetings or the number of meetings or the frequency of meetings should not be the target. With social media tools you might be able to meet less frequently and be more effective.  It’s what you do between the meetings that counts.
  12. Have you considered background music as people enter the room? It could establish a more energetic atmosphere.

Keep the agenda straightforward and simple. Something like this might work for you:

  • What DID WE DO since the last meeting regarding our mission?
    *Group members can share things like research, contacts, follow-through on previous meeting items?
  • What DO WE DO today?
    *Members bring items to the table.
    *Members inform the organizer prior to the meeting—unless your group is comfortable with surprise items. Who will keep “pop-up” items from sabotaging the meeting’s purpose? How will you keep members on topic and what will you do if they drift into a “stream of consciousness” that fails to advance the purpose of the gathering?
  • What WILL WE DO for the next meeting?
    *Assignments going forward.

Video Recommendation of the Week:

Meeting about meetings? Hmm.


For more about community building and sustainability,
look for my new book, Community as a Safe Place to Land, due out the beginning of 2019. More information to come.


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

For information about and to order my most recent book, Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here. A few colleges and one state-wide agency have adopted it for training and coaching purposes. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.

The paperback price on Amazon is now $14.99 and the Kindle version stands at $5.99. Consider it for a faculty orientation or a mentoring program. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

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) 2018. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

Posted in accountability, action, assumptions, awareness, effective meetings, leadership, Life lessons | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

(#436) Facing the Worst. Preparing for the Best.


Once the conversation started, no one was going to stop it.


Two NOTES to my readers:

  1. Tomorrow, October 1, begins Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This week’s blog post honors the month, those with (and who have had) breast cancer, the caregivers, and the activists who do all they can on behalf of those touched by breast cancer.  This post, also, will appear in my forthcoming book Community as a Safe Place to Land (due to be released in January 2019).
  2. On October 15, 2018, you will be able to hear my full podcast with Bobbi de Cordova-Hanks and Jeannie Blaylock. They share their passion—their mission—on behalf of breast cancer awareness. At the end of this post you can link to a brief snippet from that podcast episode.

Connected people create, nurture, and sustain the best resource a community has to offer.  And, those relationships play a pivotal role in establishing, bolstering, and  sustaining resilience.  That is the story from the perspectives of two Jacksonville, Florida community activists. They have been advocates for countless women facing a breast cancer diagnosis.  One as a breast cancer survivor and both as organizers/voices for breast cancer awareness. They became key community players helping people embrace their agency—their power to control their destinies.

Bobbi de Cordova-Hanks was enjoying life as a bass guitar player, magazine editor, and newlywed, when she got the news in 1986 that she had breast cancer.  As she relates in the book she and her husband wrote, Tears of Joy, the doctor seemed to use every word but “cancer.”  Bobbi said, at the time,  there was a stigma to the “C” word. The Big C.  It seemed that to utter the word was the same as proclaiming a death sentence. No one wanted to talk about.

Well, almost no one. Bobbi did in 1988 when she formed the support group “Bosom Buddies.”  Likewise, a woman very much in the public eye, created another pathway for agency.

Jeannie Blaylock, co-anchor of the evening news for First Coast News (Channel 12) in Jacksonville, Florida, was not a cancer survivor. Nor was she living with a diagnosis. She was grappling, however, with the sudden and tragic death of her twenty-nine-year-old friend to breast cancer. In 1993, Jeannie used her visibility as a news reporter to shed light on the topic. She initiated “Buddy Check 12,” encouraging women to connect and remind one another, on the 12th of each month, to conduct a breast self-exam. With her persistence the station aired segments showing actual models conducting breast exams in the shower, lying down, and sitting up.  This was unheard of for the time and market. And most definitely needed.  The first night, the station received 234 calls from women.  A door had been opened.

 

Jeannie remembers speaking with a woman, who in hushed tones on the phone, said she did not know how to tell her husband. She feared he would divorce her. While speaking, the women hurriedly hung up saying, “Oh, no, he just came home. I have to go.”

Meanwhile, by 1993, Bobbi was formally a “survivor” and her “Bosom Buddies” was steadily gaining momentum.  Starting with just three women in the initial support group, the organization had served more than 7,000 by 2018.

I asked Bobbi, “How did you survive the diagnosis, the treatment, and at least at the time (1980s), the social and workplace stigma of breast cancer?”

The first thing she had to do was recognize the situation was bigger than herself; bigger than anything she had ever tackled in her life. She prayed. “When I was given a death sentence, I had to go to someone upstairs.”

She, also, found humor in an otherwise dark situation.  “I told myself that I was too busy to die. And, after all, no other woman can wear my jewelry!”

She asked her doctors hard questions and demanded clear and pointed answers. She stood up for herself and her husband. When patients are diagnosed with cancer, Bobbi said, “Everyone around them, also, has been diagnosed with cancer.”  That includes the caregivers. It’s a community.  She had something greater than herself to live for.

She came to understand the importance of the mind/body connection and of the difference that emotional support can make to newly-diagnosed women. In her book, she shared that she “desperately needed other women to talk to, especially those who had been diagnosed with breast cancer and lived to talk about it. I felt like cancer was a death sentence. Now, I know it’s a life sentence.” She came to focus on seven words: “Facing the worst. Preparing for the best.”

“Bosom Buddies” gave women a forum to share stories and learn from the survivors. “What? You too? I thought I was the only one,” summed up the feeling when they learned they were not alone on this journey. No stigma involved. Friendships were born, and they helped grow resilience.

Like Bobbi’s experience, Jeannie Blaylock found that “Buddy Check 12” gave “permission.” Once the conversation started, no one was going to stop it. The women, she said, “had—and have—guts, spunk.” In hearing other people’s stories, they began to hear the “echo of a voice” of their story. They would not be denied and would not give up.  Cancer was not about what could not be done. It was about what they would do.

“Buddy Check 12” has become a national, intergenerational, and international movement.  This growing breast cancer education and support program has developed legs over a quarter of a century.  These are people, according to Jeannie, who are “staying alive for themselves and for the people they love.”

Bobbi says that she and the thousands she has worked with remain proud to be survivors. They are victors, not victims.

“It’s beyond surviving. It’s thriving,” she told me. “While a little humor goes a long way when you’re wearing a prosthesis the size of a 38 double D, I needed more.”  She made a choice to connect with a support group. “That connection made me feel alive again,” she said. “What a wonderful feeling….”

Relationships. That matter. Resilience.

Video Recommendation of the Week:

Listen to Bobbi speak about the power of sharing, caring, and thriving within a community. The full podcast will “go live” on October 15, 2018.


For more about community building and sustainability,
look for my new book, Community as a Safe Place to Land, due out the beginning of 2019. More information to come.


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

For information about and to order my most recent book, Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here. A few colleges and one state-wide agency have adopted it for training and coaching purposes. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.

The paperback price on Amazon is now $14.99 and the Kindle version stands at $5.99. Consider it for a faculty orientation or a mentoring program. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

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) 2018. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

Posted in amplifying, Appropriate Behavior, authenticity, awareness, change, Choice, Community, courage, focus, fortitude, Friendship, generativity, Gratitude, growth, inspiration, Integrity, Life lessons, Passion, resilience | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

(#435) Community Requires Respectful Communication


You better think.

A few of the reviewers for my forthcoming book, Community as a Safe Place to Land, noted that a community will be hard pressed to exist without respectful communication.

Respectful.

Indicative of politeness or deference.

Communication.

Communication consists of more than talking, posting, tweeting, yelling, and insulting. It requires and exchange of information.

Exchange.

Exchange is more than returning something.  It implies a reciprocity. You give something; you receive something. It implies a relationship of sorts. Listening. Speaking. Listening some more.

Earlier this year I wrote,

When leaders do not authentically share the organization’s story with their employees, the employees will create the story.
Worse, the leader loses authority/power/control and influence.

This dynamic goes beyond the workplace.  For instance, when:

  • A citizen sends an email about a community issue to a local government official and there is zero response, the citizen gets to create the story—and share it with others.
  • A customer sends a concern to a company’s “Contact Us” link and receives no response, that customer gets to create the story—and share it with others.
  • A community committee member takes time to share thoughtful and civil ideas and questions with other members and receives no reply or acknowledgement, that member gets to create the story—and share it with others.
  • An organization’s leadership asks for input and then the input is ignored, the folks supplying the unacknowledged thoughts get to create the story—and share it with others.

Conversely, when there is a response, a different story is created due to the communication.  We might not like the message but at least when an earnest and timely attempt has been made to respectfully communicate, the relationship remains in tact. When can continue the exchange.

It’s not rocket science.  If someone takes the time to reach out to you or your organization, make sure that person receives a considered response. Engage in an exchange. If you don’t, have you considered the consequences? Do you really want to relinquish the storyline?

Respect.

Think about it.


Video Recommendation of the Week:

Aretha Franklin (and the Blues Brothers in this video) remind us to “Think.”  As she sings, “It don’t take too much IQ to see what you’re doing to me. You better think! ….You need me, and I need you. Without each other, there  ain’t nothin’….”


For more about community building and sustainability,
look for my new book, Community as a Safe Place to Land,
due out the beginning of 2019. More information to come.

Posted in accountability, amplifying, Appreciation, Appropriate Behavior, authenticity, awareness, Choice, Civility, collegiality, Communication, Community, community development, listening | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

(#434) Wisdom


The opportunities to appreciate wisdom exist all around us.
Are we mindful? Are we paying attention.

Several years ago, on this blog, I wrote the following:

  • Wisdom does NOT necessarily come with knowledge. I know a lot of “educated” people who do foolish things on a regular basis.
  • Wisdom does NOT necessarily come with age. I have met some wise young students.
  • Wisdom is not bought with money nor does it come from hanging around the “pretty people” (whomever they may be).
  • Wisdom is NOT conferred with power. Election to political office does not wisdom make.
  • Wisdom knows that power is NOT the same thing as authority.
  • Wisdom DOES come from experience—and learning from that experience.
  • Wisdom DOES show when one responds to a situation rather than reacts to a situation.
  • Wisdom IS recognizing that my “solution” is one possible solution—but it is NOT necessarily THE solution.

These words came back to me as read a soon-to-be-released book by a friend of ours. The Reverend Billy Hester of the Asbury Memorial United Methodist Church (Savannah, Georgia) honored me with a request to serve as one of the book’s reviewers. Within the first few pages, WOW! Wisdom sets the stage with this pearl of wisdom about wisdom:

“The longer we live, and the more experiences we have,
the more opportunities we have to gain wisdom.
But in order to achieve this, we need to be observant
and to be open to learning.”

Wisdom surrounds us. It might even attempt to embrace us. We must have awareness, though, in order to appreciate it. We need to get out of the past and not be paralyzed by an unknown future. Distractions will rob us of appreciating our journey.  And if we miss the present, we miss what others have to offer us.

This is not rocket science. You know that wisdom can come from the cashier, mechanic, life guard, patient, sanitation worker, shoeshine man at the airport, stranger on the street, sunrise walker on the beach, surfer, yoga instructor, quiet time in nature, and even from our pets.  Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of the power in “just being.”

The opportunities to appreciate wisdom exist all around us. Are we mindful? Are we paying attention. (Billy’s book, WOW! Wisdom is scheduled for release in early November, 2018. More information will be posted on BillyHesterBooks.com.)


Video Recommendation of the Week:

This Andrew Zuckerman trailer has powerful reminders about what wisdom means. What does it mean to you?


For more about community building and sustainability,
look for my new book due out the beginning of 2019.
More information to come.

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

For information about and to order my most recent book, Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here. A few colleges and one state-wide agency have adopted it for training and coaching purposes. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.

The paperback price on Amazon is now $14.99 and the Kindle version stands at $5.99. Consider it for a faculty orientation or a mentoring program. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

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) 2018. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


Posted in assumptions, authenticity, awareness, curiosity, Life lessons, vulnerability, wellbeing, wisdom | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

(#433) Verifying Truth


You won’t find a step that says evaluate a source based on
what “my group believes” or “who tweeted the most” or
“how much I dislike a source.”

 2012:

Maybe it is the heat of the political campaign season. The ads, debates, robocalls, and the talking (screaming?) heads on television have reinforced the importance of being information literate.   I am again reminded that study skills go beyond the classroom. They are life skills.  If we are not able to distinguish fact from fiction in what we hear, see, and read then we are in for a long political season.

2016:

Not only must we determine whether accurate information has been presented, we need to pay more attention to the source of the information. Source evaluation requires understanding bias, scope, depth, and background of a source.

2018:

Do we live in a post-fact world?


In the half-dozen years that have passed since my first quote above, you could make the argument we have not made much progress with information literacy. There appears to be more yelling, less verifying, and increased tribalism.  When we get caught up in “us, good” and “them, bad” it becomes difficult to have considered and collaborative conversation about what is and is not accurate.


Video Recommendation of the Week:

Look at this brief video I shot in the campus library.  Yes, the location might seem a bit “historical.” Still, pay attention to the four basic steps for considering information.  You won’t find a step that says evaluate a source based on what “my group believes” or “who tweeted the most” or “how much I dislike a source.”

 


For more about community building and sustainability,
look for my new book due out the beginning of 2019.
More information to come.

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

For information about and to order my most recent book, Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here. A few colleges and one state-wide agency have adopted it for training and coaching purposes. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.

The paperback price on Amazon is now $14.99 and the Kindle version stands at $5.99. Consider it for a faculty orientation or a mentoring program. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

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) 2018. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


 

Posted in assumptions, bias, Civility, Communication, Community, confirmation bias, Critical Thinking, information literacy, Life lessons, opinion, truth | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment