(Issue #538) The Package And The Person


Maybe if we focus on the person,
we may come to see the packaging in a different light.

“They’re nice but, you know, they belong to that political party.”
“She’s a retired teacher. So cheerful. Just don’t understand how she could support that candidate.”
“Don’t talk to them. They don’t look like us.”
“Did you see that t-shirt? Didn’t know they cheered for that football team. Makes no sense.”
“You go to what church? OMG!”

We’ve all heard variations of the above. Probably with a lot stronger language. We find ourselves captured by the labels. Race. Sexual orientation. Spirituality beliefs. Political affiliations. Sports team allegiance. Neighborhood choice. Types of cars or trucks we drive (!). On and on.

Example: Two (of the, what would you say, bazillion?) labels in political diatribes: socialist and fascist.  The descriptors are thrown around with little regard to meaning—actual definition. They become shorthand to slam a person of the other political party. Little thought given to the continuum on which they lie. Rather than attempt to understand the person or group, we toss a label. Draw the line. Easy.

And prone to error as the labels miss the nuances, the similarities between two (supposed) contrary ideas that could never share (so the reasoning goes) a thought or value.

The packaging becomes more important than the person in this context. An easy way to avoid critical thinking  and remain “loyal” to our tribe.

An episode of Schitt’s Creek highlighted this using wine as a metaphor. Daniel tells Stevie that he is “Into the Wine. Not the Label.”

Into the person. Not what we call him.

Into the character. Not what moniker is placed upon her.

Into the totality of one’s life. Not that her preferences may differ from ours.

Into the Person. Not the Package.

Of course, when the person’s life, his totality of actions and interactions IS consistent with the packaging, then we can have a different conversation.  Until then…maybe if we focus on the person, we may come to see the packaging in a different light.


Video recommendation for the week:

From Schitt’s Creek, Season 1, Episode 10.


Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

My new book has been released.
eBook ($2.99) Paperback ($9.99). Click here.

Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.

Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story.
Click here for more information about the book.

In the meantime, check out her blog.

And you can still order:

  • My book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
  • Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. I conducted (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®.

You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

©2020. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

 

Posted in Life lessons | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

(Issue #537) Critical Thinking Revisited


Critical thinking is not only looking for information that supports
what we want to hear, see, or believe. It helps us see the fallacies in our assumptions.

A few of the student success textbooks I wrote for Pearson Education focused on the RED Model for critical thinking. When followed, this simple model helps us process information in an accurate and rational manner based on facts.

First, let’s define two concepts. As I wrote in my Choices for College Success book in 2015:

  1. Assumptions.  An assumption is an inference, an opinion, or a belief about (among other things) a person, place, or philosophical position.  Whether it is a wild accusation heard during political campaigns, differing expectations of a supervisor and employee, or a misunderstanding between two friends, an assumption can get us into big trouble if not verified or fact checked. We must separate fact from fiction.
  2. Confirmation Bias. This happens when we lean toward or agree with only information that confirms already held personal beliefs. We tend to overlook or dismiss anything that may challenge or disprove our opinion. Hard to have an honest and meaningful fact check if any contrary information or source is eliminated.

Now for the model*.

Recognize Assumptions. When we assume we accept something as accurate—with or without proof. When we critically think we have to make sure we identify all that we accept as fact. The critical thinker is willing to say, “I may believe in this position (fact, source, person) but I need to challenge the assumption.  Example: Our nation’s intelligence community engages in Red Team Analysis whereby they purposefully take a role that rebuts initial assumptions.

Evaluate Information. To challenge assumptions we need to gather information. Then, we need to examine the information. Is it wide-ranging? Or does it only come from certain sources that confirm the assumptions and biases we have?  This step requires one to use information literacy skills.

Draw Conclusions. You have objectively separated fact from fiction and analyzed the information in front of you. You have identified confirmation biases. You draw a conclusion even if it goes counter to your original assumptions because the evidence dictates such a conclusion.

Critical thinking requires careful reflection and analysis.  It reflects the ability to go counter to original assumptions if the information leads in that direction. It helps build a reasoned and sound case for a position in which we believe.

Critical thinking is not only looking for information that supports what we want to hear, see, or believe. It helps us see the fallacies in our assumptions.

(*Note: Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal, Forms A/B (WGCTA). Copyright © 2007 NCS Pearson, Inc. All rights reserved. “Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal” is a trademark,  in the US and/or other countries, of Pearson Education, Inc. or its affiliates(s).)

Video recommendation for the week:

Digging into the archives. Here is quick overview of the model.


Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

My new book has been released.
eBook ($2.99) Paperback ($9.99). Click here.

Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.

Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story.
Click here for more information about the book.

In the meantime, check out her blog.

And you can still order:

  • My book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
  • Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. I conducted (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®.

You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

©2020. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

Posted in Life lessons | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

(Issue #536) Inspirational Hatchling


It did not let a force bigger than itself keep it from its goal. It did not quit.
A lesson taught. A lesson learned.
~Roxie~

In 2019, Roxie (my canine companion) and I came across a lone sea turtle hatchling inching its way to the ocean. Roxie would later share that story in her book.

Lone Sea Turtle Hatchling Crawling to the Ocean. ©Steve Piscitelli. 2020

A few days ago, about an hour or so after sunrise, I came across another such intrepid creature. Alone and pulling itself toward the pounding surf. Impressive. Inspirational.


Video recommendation #1 for the week:

As the hatchling inches forward toward the surf…More in the 2nd video below.


I realize there is an instinct that is drawing the hatchling to the sea. Still, watching such a small being take on such an immense challenge makes me shake my head in disbelief and appreciation.  When it got pushed back by incoming waves, it did not quit. It did not return to its starting point. No, it reoriented and continued toward its goal. Determined, the little creature made it into the water. A hoped-for future in an overwhelming environment.

I thought of Roxie and part of her tale of the hatchling(Story #45):

….Why do some beings move forward in spite of what seem to be overwhelming odds, while others shrug and give up? Odd, isn’t it, something so small can have such a lasting impact on so many who appear to be so much larger. It did not let a force bigger than itself keep it from its goal. It did not quit.

A lesson taught. A lesson learned.

It’s not always about how big you are—or how big you are not.  A great deal depends on your determination, motivation, desire, and discipline. Why do you think some beings are able to move forward in spite of what seem to be overwhelming odds? In fact, they may never even start moving forward.
They sit there defeated, never knowing what they could have been
if they only stepped forward. How do you keep going when the odds seem against you? What specific strategies do you use? Is there someone, like the little turtle, who inspires you to move when the going is difficult?….

It was the message I needed to see on that particular day.

Pass it along to someone who might need a nudge of inspiration.


Video recommendation#2 for the week:

The surf hits and turns the little one around. He reorients.  He will make it to the ocean.


Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

My new book has been released.
eBook ($2.99) Paperback ($9.99). Click here.

Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.

Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story.
Click here for more information about the book.

In the meantime, check out her blog.

And you can still order:

  • My book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
  • Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. I conducted (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®.

You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

©2020. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

 

Posted in Goals, growth, Life lessons, resilience | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

(Issue #535) Conveying Your Story


In their story lies their strength for a better future. The same for you.

[For those who follow my blog, you know I end each blog post with a video recommendation.  Don’t miss this week’s video.  I reached into the archives and share with you my conversation with one of the courageous Little Rock Nine students as she conveys her story—or at least a piece of it.]

Stories, when told in a compelling fashion, capture attention. They get an important message across to the other people in the room, on the video call, or reading a social media post.  The teller, however, needs more than a tale to convey and an audience. She needs a structure, or as Bernadette Jiwa says, a scaffold. More specifically, she writes and speaks about The 5Cs of the Story Scaffold.

  1. Context (or backstory for the person)
  2. Catalyst (or event that changes in the person’s world)
  3. Complication (or obstacle that creates a choice for the person)
  4. Change (or transformation to address the obstacle)
  5. Consequence (or resolution that changes the person’s worldview)

Photo by Steve Piscitelli. ©2019

An example I saw often while teaching in the community college system involved older “non-traditional” students coming back to school to change the trajectory of their lives.

  1. Context. They had worked in a particular field for years, for example.
  2. Catalyst.  A layoff or economic recession created the need for a new skill, training, or direction.
  3. Complication. I often worked with students at the community college level who first had to work their way through preparatory classes before they could get to the major area of concentration. Many needed financial assistance.
  4. Change. They attended tutoring sessions, applied for grants and scholarships, or sought career guidance with a student affairs counselor.
  5. Consequence. Certification or graduation.

I always found their stories (their life journeys) powerful and motivating. The obstacles (Complications) they overcame on a daily basis were inspirational. They knew they needed to transform (Change) their behaviors in order to achieve their dreams (Consequence).

Another example.

Let’s use the Reconstruction Era of United States History to demonstrate this model.

  1. Context. The immediate post-Civil War era (1865-1877) saw the ratification of the 13th Amendment (end slavery), the 14th Amendment (citizenship and equal protection of the law), and the 15th Amendment (voting rights). Federal troops were in place until states in the South ratified the amendments.
  2. Catalyst. Federal troops were removed from the last of the Southern states in 1877.
  3. Complication. Jim Crow laws were passed that effectively abrogated the three Reconstruction Amendments (noted above). Black Americans were denied rights and faced discrimination, arrest, and death.
  4. Change. The discriminatory laws were in affect for about a century. The modern Civil Rights Movement leaders paved the way to challenge/expose the marginalization (at the least) of African-American citizens. Brown v. Board of Education (1954) changed the landscape and dialogue. The movement grew and caught the attention of the nation. Marches, sit-ins, and protests mobilized citizens for change.
  5. Consequence. Civil Rights legislation was passed.

Now, given the recent marches regarding social injustice and racism, you could make the argument for a new story where the consequence of the previous story (Civil Rights legislation passed) has become the context for the current story. And the rest of the scaffold continues to build in this story.

We all have stories that demonstrate our resolve. They helped shape your life.  Think about how your story scaffold can help someone else see the light—a new way. Help them see their potential by assisting them to see their own story. In their story lies their strength for a better future. The same for you.


Video recommendation for the week:

While in Little Rock, Arkansas a few years ago I had the opportunity to meet Minnie Jean Brown Trickey. She was one of the Little Rock Nine (1957).  Listen to her compelling story.

Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

My new book has been released.
eBook ($2.99) Paperback ($9.99). Click here.

Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.

Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story.
Click here for more information about the book.

In the meantime, check out her blog.

And you can still order:

  • My book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
  • Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. I conducted (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®.

You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

©2020. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

 

Posted in Life lessons | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

(Issue #534) Physically Distant Yet Socially Connected


As you, your family, and community practice physical distancing,
how are you nourishing the appropriate
social connections vital to your wellbeing?

We have been inundated with an updated vocabulary this year. Not necessarily new words. The context has changed.

I came across a social media post (thank you, Njeri!) that reminded me how we can become desensitized to words. We accept them as the new normal (there’s one of those updated context concepts). We become immune to their meaning.  We may even mix meanings and interchange labels.

Like, social distancing and physical distancing. We hear these and we probably envision six feet of separation, masks, and avoiding crowded places. But according to an article in Johns Hopkins Medicine (July 15, 2015), there is a difference between the two that came about early in the pandemic here in the USA.

The article states,

“The practice of social distancing means staying home and away from others as much as possible to help prevent spreading of COVID-19. The practice of social distancing encourages the use of things such as online video and phone communication instead of in-person contact.  As communities reopen and people are more often in public, the term ‘physical distancing’ (instead of social distancing) is being used to reinforce the need to stay at least 6 feet from others, as well as wearing face masks.  Historically, social distancing was also used interchangeably to indicate physical distancing.  However, social distancing is a strategy distinct from the physical distancing behavior.”  [emphasis added]

Six of one; half-dozen of the other. Maybe.  But still it gives pause for thought.  While it is prudent to maintain our physical separation and practice proper hygiene practices, we would do well to remember that we also thrive on/depend on social connections.

Think Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  The first two levels address our needs for sustenance and safety. We could argue that practicing physical distancing falls here.

Level three of Maslow’s theory addresses belonging, love, intimacy, and friends. Or in other words, social connections. If we were to quarantine or isolate, we would/could socially distance ourselves from other people. Over a prolonged period of time that could have a negative effect.  Our challenge has become to stay socially connected while physically distancing.

Another social media post shared, “The mental health issues related to our lockdown and the pandemic are especially hard for people with depression.” There are organizations in place to lend an ear and coping strategies.

As you, your family, and community practice physical distancing, how are you nourishing the appropriate social connections vital to your wellbeing?

Until next week, may you remain safe, physically distant, and socially connected.


Video recommendation for the week:

Listen to Mental Health Counselor Eileen Crawford explain how one community Developed programming to help residents socially connect and thrive. (NOTE: This is a smaller clip of a longer podcast.)


Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

My new book has been released.
eBook ($2.99) Paperback ($9.99). Click here.

Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.

Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story.
Click here for more information about the book.

In the meantime, check out her blog.

And you can still order:

  • My book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
  • Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. I conducted (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®.

You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

©2020. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

Posted in Life lessons | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

(Issue #533) Find Your Wave: Ride The Crest


If I do not get into the water, I cannot ride the wave.
And if I do not ride the wave
I will never experience the exhilaration and view from the crest.

 Ocean waves long have been the subject of quotes and metaphors.

Last week I heard an aging rock star describe one uber successful phase of his career as “riding the crest.” Things were clicking for him as the wave carried higher and further. It felt like nothing could stop his forward movement.

Photo by Steve Piscitelli ©2020

That got me thinking.  In order to ride the crest, don’t we have to first find the wave? When we find the wave, we then need to ride it and angle  for the crest. At times we might become overwhelmed by the waves and tossed. Or we might ride the wave yet not reach the crest. We then wait for another one to come. Another one always comes.

I asked a surfer friend for some words that capture the power of waves and crests. He told me, “We surfers look for the crest (lip of the wave) and stay right in front of it or within it as it throws out (going for the tube).  We can’t overpower it. So we truly go with the flow, the motion of the ocean.” (Thanks, Tim!)

Photo by Steve Piscitelli ©2020

I have never been on a surfboard, so I can’t speak to that experience. I do ocean kayaking and have had a fair amount of recent experiences with waves going out from shore and returning. More times than not, I have rolled the kayak coming to shore. I did not in those times ride the wave or adjust to glide into shore. I often fought it or let it overwhelm me.  I did not, as mentioned above, go with the flow.

It’s a metaphor for life. At times, an ocean of turbulence surrounds you. Ride the crest? Hell, you do your best just to keep your head above the crashing waves! In order to ride the crest, you have to find the wave knowing that it has the capability to overpower. Or you can quit and paddle into the safety of the shore where you become a spectator. And there have been days on my kayak when I took that route. I needed to catch my breath. I was no match for the motion in the ocean on that day at that time.

Photo by Steve Piscitelli. ©2020

Waves represent opportunities. They come in different shapes and sizes. Some are ripples. Others may appear to be 64 feet tall.  Some days the waves tell me to “leave the dinghy at the dock”—today is not the day to hitch a ride. And that is OK as long as it does not become an excuse to never wade into the waters again.

If I do not get into the water, I cannot ride the wave. And if I do not ride the wave I will never experience the exhilaration and view from the crest.


Video recommendation for the week:

Six people. Six stories. Six waves. Six Crests. 


Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

My new book has been released.
eBook ($2.99) Paperback ($9.99). Click here.

Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.

Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story.
Click here for more information about the book.

In the meantime, check out her blog.

And you can still order:

  • My book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
  • Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. I conducted (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®.

You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

©2020. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

 

Posted in awareness, Life lessons, resilience | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

(Issue #532) For What It’s Worth


Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong.
-Stephen Stills-

 What consequences evolve when lines drawn in the sand become immovable walls?

We could say the walls reflect the non-negotiable values that people stand up for and believe. A moral code.  Opposing walls are built with their non-negotiables to protect and shout out their moral code. Each wall fortified to never be breached, challenged, or deconstructed in light of new evidence. No bridges allowed.

Photo by ©Steve Piscitelli.

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines an ideologue as “an often blindly partisan advocate or adherent of a particular ideology.” The chance for conversation is minimized or totally shut down.

One writer puts it like this:

I’ve come to believe that listening requires a suspension of certainty –
at least long enough to hear what the other person is saying
and attempt to empathize with  where they are coming from.
It also requires some curiosity about perspectives different from our own.

While certainty can help us navigate our journey and stand up for justice, challenges exist.  Certainty leads to a lack of curiosity. Certainty leads to confirmation bias. Certainty shuts down collaboration across different spectrums. Certainty creates walls.

Photo by Steve Piscitelli

Certainty can lead to dichotomous thinking that shuts down conversation, and at its darkest, yields vitriol, hate, and lack of community.

If one side is always right and the other sides always wrong, how do we get to the stage of curiosity, listening, growth, and change? Where does the opening in the wall occur? Or does an open door become equated with weakness never to be tolerated?

For what it’s worth, if we suspend certainty and listen with the intent to hear, we all might learn. As Buffalo Springfield sang decades ago, “Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong.”


Video recommendation for the week:

Buffalo Springfield performs “For What It’s Worth”


Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

My new book has been released.
eBook ($2.99) Paperback ($9.99). Click here.

Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.

Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story.
Click here for more information about the book.

In the meantime, check out her blog.

And you can still order:

  • My book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
  • Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. I conducted (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®.

You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

©2020. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

 

Posted in Life lessons | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

(Issue #531) Questioning Normal


What is it? What was it? Will it return?
And maybe more importantly, should it return as it was?

During the last four months, certain words and phrases have become commonplace references. Like:

  • Abundance of caution
  • Crazy times
  • Essential
  • Flattening the curve
  • The curve
  • The numbers today
  • Uncertain
  • Unprecedented

One of the words that we hear often is normal. As in,

  • When we return to normal.
  • Will we return to normal?
  • Waiting for the new normal.

A recent article by Rachel Khong poses the following:

Was normal ever good?
Or was normal actually complacency and negligence?

In other words, question the notion of normal. What is it? What was it? Will it return? And maybe more importantly, should it return as it was?

This does not make light of any of the hardships and tragedies that have occurred and affected/traumatized people over the course of the pandemic. I feel certain that (at some level) nurses, for one, would like to go back to what normal was before their hospitals lacked beds, resources, and PPEs to protect themselves and by extension their patients and loved ones.  For those who have lost wages, jobs, housing, investments, and healthcare, a return to what was normal might mean a place to sleep, food on the table, and a doctor’s visit. For the families who have lost loved ones, a new normal may never present itself.

Hard to argue with any of that. And I am not.  Life has been upended. No question.

The two questions Khong presented (above) take us in another direction.  Especially her second question. Does normal become an escape route for complacency and negligence?

Can comfortable sabotage our growth?

Are we tempted to hang on to a status quo that may not have been working for us any longer?  Do we avoid the heavy lifting of community-improvement because, after all, “normal” seemed “rather good” for a long time?  Why don’t we just tweak this or that for a new normal?

Do our goals represent a sense of complacency and negligence to address hard issues? Do you work with a community organization that keeps on doing the same thing meeting after meeting, month after month, year after year because that has become the normal? After all, the consensus may be, that’s how we do things around here, fella!

Or do you challenge the normal with new habits that confront staid ways and encourage growth?

How does your future look—and what needs to be done to get there?


Video recommendation for the week:

Bill Gates’ view on returning to a “normal life.”


Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

My new book has been released.
eBook ($2.99) Paperback ($9.99). Click here.

Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.

Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story.
Click here for more information about the book.

In the meantime, check out her blog.

And you can still order:

  • My book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
  • Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. I conducted (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®.

You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

©2020. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

 

Posted in Life lessons | 3 Comments

(Issue #530) The Lesson of the Handyman


Getting your stuff done!

This blog has addressed the topic of procrastination.  Whether in the boardroom, faculty room, classroom, church hall, town hall, or community center, it can derail plans, goals, and dreams.  We do well to remind ourselves that we don’t wait for a goal—we work for the goal.

This week, a handyman reminded me of this truism. Or, I should say, the lack of a handyman.

I am not a handyman-type.  I can do basic home maintenance but not much more. I do stay on top of what needs to be done in our home and on our property.  If I find some wood rot, I fix it. Same for a leaky toilet or hot tub maintenance. If a problem arises that is too much for my meager skills, I call someone.  Because of this, we have never watched a small problem grow into a large and expensive one. My wife and I have been fortunate over our years as homeowners to have had some skilled and dependable handymen and craftsmen come to our assistance.

Recently, we found ourselves in the position of needing a new “go-to” handyman. Let’s say it has been a hit or miss journey. One good experience, one almost good experience, and three misses. As I deal with those frustrations (and continue to build a list of contractors/handymen-women to interview), I am thankful that I learned along the way (from past handymen) to stay on top of repairs and renovations. Not just think about repairs. Not just cogitate on a renovation. Act on those ideas.

We did not kick the can down the road with an excuse of “That wood rot can wait. It’s not that bad.”  We stayed on it. We fixed it. And thus, it helps keep our home in good shape.  We didn’t think of repairing it. We repaired it.

That proves prescient now as we look for a new handyman/woman in what is proving to be a drawn out process.

And it is a metaphor for goal achievement. No matter how small or seemingly insignificant, what can you do today to advance your plans?

Example: You want to write a book but you don’t have a publisher. So…you wait. And nothing happens. As Hugh Prather said, “If the desire to write a book is not accompanied by the actual writing, then the desire is not to write.”

Our handyman hiccups do not mean we do not need the service. It means we need to continue our search. And we must continue our work and get our stuff done.

Just like our goals.


Video recommendation for the week:

An oldie but a goodie. Are you getting your stuff done?


Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

My new book has been released.
eBook ($2.99) Paperback ($9.99). Click here.

Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.

Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story.
Click here for more information about the book.

In the meantime, check out her blog.

And you can still order:

  • My book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
  • Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. I conducted (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®.

You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

©2020. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

 

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(Issue #529) Time to Revisit Our Big BUTs


Recognize which BUT is taking control.
Then kiss your BUT goodbye!

I have written on this blog before about excuses and how they can derail our plans and dreams. (See here, here, and here for instance.)

For this week’s blog, let’s revisit the Top Ten Big BUTs—with an addition.

Yes, our BUTs have continued to grow.

Eleven BUTs that have the potential to keep your life and any group you attempt to lead in neutral–or maybe slip into reverse.  After a while, the BUTs become noise. Obstacles to any meaningful progress.

The first step is to recognize (be aware of) how your BUT is taking control.  Then make the decision to kiss your BUT goodbye! And, if your organizational management problem is due to the Big BUTs in charge, it might be time to consider a leadership change. Effective leaders listen and learn. If you hear a lot of BUTs, question the listening and learning that is going on. Probably negligible.

Frank Lloyd Wright claimed, “An expert is a man who stops thinking because he knows.” And a big BUT is a powerful block to clear and progressive thinking.

Top Big BUTs

  • The I-Know-Better-Than-You BUT. Have you ever been in a meeting when you were asked for ideas and suggestions? You and your colleagues offered them. And then the leader (poor manager?) had to tell you all why those would never work. “That’s not a bad idea BUT we first must do this.” OR “OK. BUT that will never work.”  Can you say no conversation and lack of collaboration. None. At. All.

  • The Fearful BUT. This can be a paralyzing BUT.  The fear factors can be many.  The economy, opinions of people, lack of confidence, a desire to remain “in charge,” attempting a new project, and lack of support (financial, social, or occupational) can cause fear to raise its head.
  • The Fatal Resignation BUT. This BUT plays out for people who have convinced themselves that their life (or the organizational life) “is what it is” and nothing will ever change. You know, let’s just keep doing what we’ve been doing because to make a change would require rewriting our autobiography–and we are quite comfortable with our autobiography, thank you!
  • The Whiny BUT.  This can end up being a close cousin to the Fatal Resignation BUT.  “I would do it BUT, you don’t understand what I go through.” Or “Easy for you to do what you want. I would, too, BUT everyone is against me.”  Yes, we don’t live in another person’s skin. And yes, we don’t know what they have to live with. And no, this does not make light of difficult situations.  The point is, if all we do is whine about the adversity we face nothing will change. Think of a major decision confronting your organization. Is this BUT prancing around to stop forward movement?
  • The Self-Serving BUT.  This person will move forward BUT only if you do something for him or her. Action is predicated on what the payback will be.

  • The Time BUT.  Many of my former students had a lot on their plates.  Between child care, transportation challenges, work, relationship issues, and adjusting to college expectations, they could easily fall into this trap. “I would work with a tutor in the Success Center BUT I just don’t have the time.”  The problem, though, is not time. It is priority management.  Don’t blame time. Review your priorities.
  • The Blaming BUT. We have all heard this cognitive trap. “It’s not my fault!  I would have been on time BUT the traffic on that bridge is always backed up.”  Really? If it is always backed up, then why don’t you leave earlier? “I would BUT I can’t get up in time.”  Why don’t you go to bed earlier? “I have tried BUT you just don’t understand!” (See Whiny BUT and/or Fatalistic Resignation BUT above.)
  • The Rationalizing BUT.  This person has a reason why she is not doing what she knows she needs to do–or what she says she would like to do.  Her intentions might be great.  She has difficulty translating intentions into action.  “I know I should lose ten pounds BUT I am under a lot of stress now. I’ll do it later.” This person is always waiting for the perfect situation to present itself.   (See Fear BUT, Time BUT, and Money BUT.)

Photo by Steve Piscitelli.

  • The Lying BUT.This person has no intention of moving forward or changing or doing what he says he will do.  He can use any of the other nine BUTs on this list as a way to cover his true intentions.
  • The Money BUT. This can be closely tied with the Rationalizing BUT.  “I would start my exercise program today BUT I don’t have the money for gym membership.” Maybe you could just begin walking around the neighborhood? “I would BUT I need a good pair of walking shoes.”  (See Rationalizing BUT.)
  • The Lazy BUT. This is pretty basic.  Pick any of the BUTs above, strip away the reasoning and get to the core: This person is not motivated to change. The couch is comfortable. The jeans are not that  tight.  I don’t like my job BUT it is just too much trouble to go back to school or look for other employment.

Video recommendation for the week:

Effective leaders know they have to let go of their BUTs and lead. Here are five characteristics real leaders I worked with exhibited. And I very seldom witnessed them clinging to their BUTs.


Which BUTs are affecting your life, your organization, your progress, and your dreams?  What can you do about that today?

Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

My new book has been released.
eBook ($2.99) Paperback ($9.99). Click here.

Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.

Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story.
Click here for more information about the book.

In the meantime, check out her blog.

And you can still order:

  • My book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
  • Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. I conducted (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®.

You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

©2020. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

Posted in Life lessons | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment