(#405) Communication or Statement?


Are we listening to others—and to ourselves?

One activist described communication as understanding someone else’s experience and presenting a point within that experience. “Even the most elementary grasp of the fundamental idea that one communicates within the experience of his audience—and gives full respect to the other’s values….” [Emphasis added]

How often is “communication” confused with “statement”?  Because I make a statement of my belief does not mean I am communicating. Think of a social media thread you may have followed where two or more disparate views present themselves.  How often is there an attempt at “communication”—sharing ideas and making efforts to connect with someone with a different perspective?  Rather than listen, question, listen, question, think, question, learn, question, how often does the rhetoric ramp up to yelling? (You know they are yelling, for example, by the multiple exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!!!!! When that fails we’ll see name calling or shift of attention.)

In the opening paragraph of this post, to make a point, I gave you two links to credit the words I cited. I did not state the name of the person or the book. If I had credited Saul Alinsky and his primer Rules for Radicals some readers may have stopped “listening” and formulated why they loved or hated those words. Based on a name, a reputation, or a publication.  Statements would flow about why he was the devil or the savior of community organization.

It’s easy to have a conversation when we speak with those with whom we agree. It becomes difficult when the other party or we believe nothing can be learned from our disagreements and continued conversation.

The fifth energy chakra—the Throat chakra—connects to clear voice; integrity of message. And it is associated with the sense of hearing.  To have a clear and authentic message, we need to hear what the other person/group/ideologues say. That requires listening, not statements.

Alinsky speaks of the Haves, the Have-Nots, and the Haves-Little but Want More.  The moral compass of each group can shift when we change positions. We see it in politics and history. One example shows Samuel Adams as a leading figure of the American Revolution, challenging the authority of the Haves (the British government in favor of the status quo). Adams was a revolutionary ideologue.  But in the 1790s when The Whiskey Rebellion (American citizens challenging the new American government) broke out in western Pennsylvania, he supported the American government’s (now in the position of Haves) suppression of the rebellion. Did he become an anti-revolutionary ideologue who now supported the new status quo?

Alinsky’s first rule: “One’s concern with the ethics of means and ends varies inversely with one’s personal interest in the issue.”

Are we listening to others—and to ourselves?

Video recommendation for the week:

Consider Celeste Headlee’s TED Talk about ten basic rules for effective conversation.

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

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

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, awareness, blame, change, Communication, Community, growth, Haters, ideologies, intentionality, Mindfulness, resilience, self-awareness, self-efficacy | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

(#404) Risk, Empty Spaces, and Self: Lessons from the Stage


“There is no failure in result; there is only failure in process.”

Sam Wasson’s Improv Nation: How We Made A Great American Art provides more than an improv history lesson. He deftly lays out a philosophy of life.  For all their talents and human frailties, these men and women lived life in the present moment. In fact, from an improv point of view, there is no other way to live life.  We must experience it, listen to it, step out of the comfort zone, enhance our partners, and embrace the story we create.

The following quotes were among the many that spoke to me. I have included a few personal reflections. I encourage you to do the same.

  • Director Mike Nichols about his improv partner, Elaine May “Elaine gave me myself.” (p. 87)
    • Who in your life helps to draw out yourself?
    • Who in your life allows you to be you?
    • Who in your life forces you to confront yourself?
    • In what ways do you allow others to embrace their own selves?
  • Paul Sills: “You can’t reject outside authority until you realize you have a self.” (128)
    • Again, how do we go about embracing our own selves and all they have to offer?
    • Do we allow others to dictate who we are and will be?
  • A common improv coaching imperative: “You have to get there together.” (98)
    • Think of your collaborative attempts. Are you getting there together or are you just engaging in collective monologues?
    • I recently heard a supervisor talk about how the team needed to collaborate. Unfortunately, a lot of what I heard included the pronoun “I.”

  • Gilda Radner: “…Be a child again for a little while, be naïve, have empty spaces that can be filled in. What’s so sad about so many grown-ups is they lose those spaces.” (178)
    • How can we nurture those empty spaces?
    • How can you help others nurture their empty spaces?
  • Bernie Sahlins: “Once you start worrying about your career you don’t want to take risks. Once you avoid risks you’re hemmed in.” (249)
    • If we don’t risk, can we grow? How can we find the empty spaces and be childlike?
  • Sigourney Weaver: “There’s this Second City theory that says if you help people around you to be good, you’ll also bring out the best in yourself.” (278)
    • When on stage a true improv artist will not deny his/her partner. Partners grow because of one another.

  • One of the master coaches of improv, Del Close: “There is no failure in result; there is only failure in process.” (318)
    • How often do we stop and dive deeper into the process—beyond the result?

How can we apply improv to life for good?

Video recommendation for the week:

Tina Fey offers basic improv advice that moves to the heart of true collaboration. A two-minute lesson with broad implications for life beyond the stage.

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

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

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 acceptance, amplifying, assumptions, authenticity, awareness, Being REMARKABLE, childlike, confidence, Mindfulness, risk-taking, Teaching, teaching and learning, vulnerability, wisdom, Words, Words and Action | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

(#403) Create Your Own Story Or Someone Else Will


It may be too late.

Perhaps you have witnessed it.  People in a leadership position who fail to communicate clearly and effectively. An organization experiences gut-wrenching turnover, service decline, loss of client base, and eroding collegiality.  The people charged with making decisions have not been forthcoming—or worse, they point fingers and double down on questionable (at best) courses of action.

In these situations, the leaders sacrifice direct and honest conversation. They move to circling the wagons. Communication becomes “brand-oriented” not “people-centric.”

They don’t get it.

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.

For instance, if you (the leader):

  • Lack transparency with your staff, they will create your story.
  • Refuse to acknowledge that the team and clients create the brand, they will create your story.
  • Attempt to isolate so-called non-team players, they will create your story.
  • Play it close to the vest and release cryptic information, they will create your story.
  • Reorganize without clear direction, reason, humanity, or explanation, they will create your story.
  • Provide incorrect information, they will create your story.
  • Refuse to listen to (or even allow) criticism and employee feedback, they will create your story.
  • Fail to prioritize effective and timely email or phone replies, they  will create your story.
  • Promise and do not deliver, they will create your story.
  • Read scripted remarks and refuse to take questions, they will create your story.
  • Fall back on “That’s how (not how) we do things around here,” they will create your story.
  • Provide vanilla answers, they will create your story.
  • Stonewall, they will create your story.
  • Lie, they will create your story
  • Bully, they will create your story.
  • Disrespect, they will create your story.
  • Attempt to reclaim your story, they have already created your story.

It may be too late.

Video recommendation for the week:

The above can also apply to personal relationships.  “Communication Breakdown” by Roy Orbison.

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

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

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 boundaries and limits, change management, collegiality, Communication, decision making, Excuses, Failure, Integrity, intentionality, leadership, Life lessons, resilience, responsibility, self-awareness, self-efficacy, self-regulatory behavior, workplace bullies | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

(#402) Over Your Head


The exceptional leaders take their moments of vulnerability
and build on them.

The most effective leaders I have collaborated with found themselves there more times than you might imagine. If you haven’t found yourself there yet, you will. At least, you will if you want to grow.

There” refers to the state of being over your head. Feeling like you have wadded into something you lack the wherewithal to handle.   It can be frightening. It tests—maybe even shakes—your confidence and determination to move forward. You question your skillset.  You feel vulnerable.

You might even say to yourself, “I had no idea it would be this rough. Geez, what in the world was I thinking.”

Ocean kayaking provides an instructive metaphor.  Standing on shore the waves do not look quite as challenging as when you paddle through them.  What appeared to be modest undulations while standing on the sand, feel like a tsunami when you find yourself being tossed every which way. The tools you brought with you are the same ones that worked well (really well!) in the past. You remember the paddle in your hands being much more effective on the river or the lake. But not today. You are over your head. And you might get (probably will get) tossed from the boat. Frustrated, battered, and with bruised ego, you drag yourself to shore.

The ineffective managers look to blame something or someone. They fail to make meaningful adjustments. Why should they, they could not be the problem! “My way is still the best way and we keep moving in that direction.” Rather than seek feedback and make corrections, they stubbornly move forward.  Unfortunately, depending on the situation, the upheaval may have dire consequences for all around.

The exceptional leaders take their moments of vulnerability and build on them. They ask for coaching. Recheck their equipment. Look at their compass. Take stock of what they have and what they need. Ask for critiques.  They may even backup, return to calmer waters, gain more experience, and return with renewed strength.

These leaders know they cannot go it alone. They need confidants and advisers.

To whom do you turn?

Video recommendation for the week:

Vulnerability does not equate with weakness.

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

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

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, assumptions, authenticity, awareness, Choice, coaching, collegiality, confidence, Life lessons, resilience, risk-taking, self-awareness, self-efficacy, vulnerability | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

(#401) Improv and Leadership


Incompetent and fear-based managers rely on rigid scripts.

Sam Wasson’s Improv Nation: How We Made a Great American Art provides lessons for transformational leadership.

As early Improv players experimented and developed the art form, they learned the power of two words: Yes, and.  When players adheres to this rule, they do not deny their stage partners. They enhance and enable. The partners deny their respective egos for the sake of the scene.

Wasson describes it like this:

Rule 1, the central tenet of agreement, would never be overturned. For the rule of “yes, and” is the rule that make cohabitation possible; it is improvisation’s peace treaty, its bill of rights…”Don’t deny” really worked.

“Yes, and” gets the players out of their heads and requires each person to listen, really listen, to the other people. They travel and “get there” together.

Extraordinary leaders understand the power of “Yes, and.”  That mindset allows for challenging assumptions and moving into the future. Reform-minded people can end up shackled to the past, mired in so-called “best practices.”

Incompetent and fear-based managers rely on rigid scripts.

Transformational leaders break the script and know how to connect with the people in front of them.

My former college entered a critical and exciting stage this past week. The District Board of Trustees has begun its search for a new president.  I have urged the Board to look for a transformational leader who is capable of authentic “Yes, and” conversations.

Building community one “yes, and” at a time.

Video recommendation for the week:

Can you engage in both convergent and divergent thinking?  As this video suggests, leaders might be predisposed to “edit too quickly.”

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

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

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 acceptance, Appropriate Behavior, Choice, Civility, collaboration, collegiality, Communication, effective meetings, generativity, growth, improv, professional development, resilience, self-awareness, self-regulatory behavior, Teaching, teaching and learning, vulnerability, wisdom, Words | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

(#400) Do We Live In A Post-Fact World?


Perhaps we live in a time when the question to ponder becomes,
“If a fact is offered and it is not ‘liked,’ is it a fact?”

Have we morphed into a post-fact world, as one source states, “in which virtually all authoritative information sources are called into question and challenged by contrary facts of dubious quality and provenance.”

Those who teach “information literacy” typically focus on four steps:

  1. Identifying what pertinent factual information is needed to complete a task.
  2. Understanding where to find that information—factual sources as well as location.
  3. Evaluating the information for soundness, accuracy, and currency.
  4. Organizing and using the information for a cogent and honest presentation.

Those steps use to represent a straight-forward teaching approach.

 

Classroom colleagues have shared that it has become increasingly more difficult to hold classroom conversations about controversial topics. Camps of opinion (which are not new) become bitterly hostile.  Anything (true or not) that does not connect to a person’s beliefs is subject to disagreement and virulent personal rants and attacks.

I always encouraged vigorous debate in classroom sessions. All sides welcomed, as long as three things were present:

  1. Civility and respect;
  2. A clearly stated fact, proposition, or thesis; and
  3. Support (read: facts) to buttress the fact, proposition, or thesis.

While some students attempted to use “If-it’s-my-opinion-it-can’t-be-wrong” argument, most made the effort to present evidence.

Have we moved to a place where instead of “truth” we settle for “truthiness”?  Can the “facts” be replaced with “alternative facts”? And who become the “fact checkers”? And do we trust them?

For teachers, a larger question looms.  How do you teach information literacy in a social media culture where thousands upon thousands (upon thousands) yell for your students’ attention each day?  Can the four steps of information literacy above still serve the needs of our current discourse? Do we need to add another step–or six? What are the weak signals for the classroom?

Do you remember the question, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, did it make a sound?”

Have we evolved/devolved to a time when the question to ponder has become, “If a fact is offered and no one ‘likes’ it, is it a fact?”

As some might say, sad, sad, very sad.

How do we combat this? Can we combat this? How do we train and coach teachers to do this so their students live in a truth-based world?

Your facts are welcomed.

Video recommendation for the week:

Stephen Colbert presents “truthiness.”

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

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

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 Appropriate Behavior, assumptions, authenticity, awareness, Choice, Civility, curiosity, focus, fortitude, Grit, information literacy, Integrity, Personal Wellbeing, Priority management, self-awareness, self-efficacy, Words | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

(#399) Inappropriate or Authentic?


Feedback is powerful.
Evaluated feedback carries more weight.

Not all feedback is created equally.

[Source unknown]

Back in August of 2013 I posted a photo of myself on my social media sites. I loved the look, the playfulness, the setting, and the message it sent. The photographer and I had fun with the shoot. The photo remains as my profile photo on LinkedIn.

Soon after the photo “went public” I received the following LinkedIn message from a “connection”:

This self-appointed monitor for all things professional was a speaker I had met over the years.  You will notice he referenced his article that, I guess, would guide me to proper photogenic and sartorial behavior.

I was struck by the word “inappropriate.”   Synonyms include “tasteless, unseemly, improper, and irrelevant.”

Hmm. A photo on a beach, with a button-down collared shirt, and dress slacks.

So, I waited for more feedback. Again, unsolicited. Maybe I had misread something.  The other responses I got did not indicate “inappropriate” as the bloviating critic had opined. My response:

Never heard from the photo police again.

Feedback is powerful. Evaluated feedback carries more weight. Understand why people critique as they do.

Understand why you do what you do. Is it authenticity, show, money, “likes,” or something else? Be honest and be transparent with yourself and those who depend on you for a service or product. What you portray will play a part in what you attract.

For instance, if an organization would not hire me to speak or write because of an open-collared shirt, then I more than likely do not want to collaborate with them. Isn’t it great we know that up front? No false image. Transparency.  As long as I understand that (I do) and can live with it (I can) and I am not hurting anyone (I’m not), then my path is not determined by you.  I create it.

Be true to yourself.

Video recommendation for the week:

Tom Petty sings it well. What is your personal brand going to be?

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

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

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 acceptance, amplifying, branding, Civility, courage, Critical Thinking, curiosity, feedback, Gratitude, self-awareness, self-efficacy, self-love | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment