(#387) Lessons from Elementary School


Adults, are we listening?

Three lessons from elementary school this week.

(1) Mrs. Hullender teaches 1st grade at the Atlantic Beach Elementary School. Last Tuesday I had the opportunity to visit her classroom during a mini leadership conference.  That’s right. 1st grade students learning about leadership, writing goals, reviewing their goals, sharing their goals, and answering questions about their goals. Impressive.

On Wednesday, I visited a 3rd grade class. The students and their teacher, Mrs. Farinella, proudly spoke about “goals, goals, and leadership roles.”  One student walked me through her notebook tracking her goals for the school year.  She showed me her goals poster hung in the hallway with pride. One of the goals had her thinking about college—and what she would be doing ten years after college.  Perhaps these kids need to help adults set financial and wealth management goals!

(2) The students and the teachers amazed me with their energy and sense of direction. Consider Mrs. Hullender’s classroom for a moment.  Personalized notes. Word lists. Art. Student names. Photos. Drawings. Manipulatives. Listening (reflecting) areas. Personalized name plates. Books. Technology. And so much more.  In fact, all of the teachers take pride in developing their rooms and creating environments that encourage teaching and learning.  I taught middle school, high school, and college.  I’m not sure I could have kept pace with these amazing, creative, and resourceful teachers. I wonder if the average community member understands the time, effort, thought, and (teacher) money that goes into creating an engaging and interactive classroom for elementary school students. It takes more than just “showing up” for class.

(3) Among the many learning aids, reminders, and enticements in Mrs. Hullender’s room you will spy a multicolored sign with six different reinforcement messages. From top to bottom, the messages read

  • You’re Awesome
  • Way to Go
  • Ready to Learn
  • Slow Down
  • Don’t Give Up
  • Think About It

It appears that at the beginning of each day, the student names (on clothespins) all start at Ready to Learn. (Isn’t that the option we all have each day we awaken? What do we do with that gift?) Depending on what they do, the student markers move up and/or down the scale. In this way students receive feedback about their actions creating consequences for not only themselves but for those around them. Leaders learning about leadership on a daily basis.

I’d bet you know people who deserve to spend a bit of time in the “Think About It” level.  Just watch the news and you will find plenty of candidates.

Set and monitor your goals.  Create excitement. Everyday provides opportunities to grow.  Lessons we can all live and grow by today, tomorrow, and the rest of our lives. Lessons from 1st and 3rd Grade.

Thank you Mrs. Hullender and Mrs. Farinella.  Our world needs more people like you and your students.


Video recommendation of the week.

More lessons. This time from 5th Graders at ABE.  These young leaders took time to share what it means to be a leader.  In this short clip from the longer podcast, they share lessons about stress reduction.

Again, adults, are we listening?


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

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

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network™ (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

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

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

Posted in accountability, action, Being REMARKABLE, Goals, Gratitude, habits, happiness, initiative, inspiration, Teaching, teaching and learning | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

(#386) The Paddle Out


Sometimes we have to plow through rough water to find our happy places.

The first part of each ocean kayak adventure involves the paddle out. Before I can enjoy the smoother ocean waters, I have to get through the breakers coming to shore.

I have learned the best way for me to stay afloat is to lean forward into the incoming waves and keep paddling.  At times, I need to shift my direction a bit to better navigate the swells. If I stop paddling, lean back in the seat, or fail to adjust my direction, I increase my chances of rolling and being dumped into the water.

To keep moving toward my destination I have to lean in, maintain momentum, and shift as needed.

The same for our goals.

Once we set our goals, we have to take action.  We have to move forward.  We must begin paddling.  We will run into obstacles.

Shift happens.

How we handle the shift creates consequences.


Video recommendation of the week.

You will notice in this video that after I navigate three waves crashing into the bow I seem to finally be beyond the breakers and in the calm waters I sought.  However, after a few moments a fourth—bigger wave—appears.

I see it as another part of the metaphor. Obstacles can appear at any time. While, like the waves in this video, the challenges may be small, they will continue to come. How we handle them determines our outcome. Will we let them interfere with reaching our happy place?


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

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

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network™ (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

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

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

Posted in accountability, Failure, Goals, Grit, growth, resilience | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

(#385) Don’t Let Anyone Discount Your Agenda


Your agenda is important.
Your issues, trials, tribulations, strife, successes,
collaborations, family, friends,
and resilience mean something to you and to others.

Last week I saw a Tweet that read, “Please don’t bring your agenda today. Bring your love, prayers, heart and support to those who have been hurt and are hurting.”

The first part of the tweet, for some reason, stayed with me.  “Please don’t bring your agenda today.”  I assume only the best intentions by the tweeter.  Something, though, kept bringing me back to those words.

I remembered a conversation I had (nearly 40 years ago) with a chaplain. On that day I had sought Bob’s counsel about an issue that was bothering me. I remember saying to him that I felt a bit silly talking to him about such a small issue.  (And since I have absolutely no recollection of the issue I brought—I’m sure it was small.)

I said, as a way of apologizing for taking his time, something to the effect of, “Isn’t there a verse in the Bible that speaks about feeling bad for yourself because you have no shoes. Until you see someone with no feet. Then you recognize how insignificant your issue is.”

I do remember that Bob responded something to effect of, “Yes, that may be true. But those shoeless feet, they are still your feet.”

In essence, he told me not to short-sell my agenda.

While others may (and do) suffer far more than you, you still can have pain at the same time.  It’s not about comparatory suffering. It’s not about being cavalier about others. It’s not about shining the spotlight on you for a self-congratulatory, self-centered me-me-me moment.  No, I’m talking about paying attention to your core needs that resonate with your core values. This is not about selfishness.  It is more about your life, relationships, growth, and resilience. You can still have empathy and continue to care and advocate for yourself.

Regardless of what happens in the world today, your world continues. Your agenda (your list of things to be done) does not disappear.  Your issues, trials, tribulations, strife, successes, collaborations, family, friends, and resilience mean something to you and to others.  Your children. Your community. Your healthcare insurance. Your significant other(s). Your debt. Your food insecurity. Your suffering loved one. Your savings account. Your community activism. Your ….

This past week I attended a celebration of life for an area musician/businessman/family man/friend.  The church was SRO. The celebration was not about the agendas of people in the seats. It was about our friend who had left us far too early—and about all he had accomplished. However, after the service there were long hugs, warm kisses, and meaningful conversations about appreciating life to its fullest.  About appreciating all of our lives.  The celebration became an exclamation point for us, the living.  Our agendas moving forward.

Don’t let anyone discount your agenda.

Video recommendation of the week.

Are you “full of yourself”?

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

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

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network™ (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

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

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

Posted in Appreciation, awareness, Being selfish, Choice, Civility, core values, Discipline, emotional intelligence, empathy, fortitude, Friendship, Gratitude, growth, resilience | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

(#384) Without Relationships What Do You Have?


These bureaucrats failed to establish a basic, meaningful, and
respectful relationship with us.

My latest appearance on The Morning Show (TV 4) in Jacksonville, FL explored a strategy to examine life goals: The Second R.E.A.D. The video of the week clip below provides the details for the strategy (Relationships. Enthusiasm. Authenticity. Difference).

Both on and off camera, Bruce Hamilton (The Morning Show anchor) and I agreed that RELATIONSHIPS remain the key ingredient for success.

A friend posted a Facebook comment about the TV segment:  “It’s always about relationships! Yes. It’s the heart of everything. Without that, you have…?”

Let’s complete that thought. Without relationships you have…

  • Collective monologues
  • Poor to no communication
  • Lack of soul
  • Mindless motion without consideration
  • Inertia
  • People doing a job (poorly) rather than pursuing a calling
  • Mind-numbing chatter
  • Mind-numbing silence
  • Misdirection
  • Indifference
  • Disconnection
  • Separation

The past few months I’ve been involved in a life-sucking series of emails with bureaucrats from one organization. They proved to be excellent at avoiding questions, holding hard to questionable procedures, failing to respond in a timely manner, and engaging in self-congratulatory behavior. Soulless. I don’t blame the bureaucracy. I blame the people and what passes for management.

These bureaucrats failed to establish a basic, meaningful, and respectful relationship with us.

Relationships build connections. Connections bring about growth and progress.

When the relationship is disrespected, trust is lost. Community suffers. “No” becomes the mantra.

I once heard something to the effect that when one person has a good experience, she will tell another about it.  When she has a bad experience, she will share that with ten people.

Guess what? In the age of social media, that number has dramatically increased.

Remember the situation of the broken guitar and United Airlines? More than 17 MILLION views.  Maybe it’s time for me to write a new song about another set of bureaucrats who, in this case, broke a relationship. Hmm….

It really does not have to be that way.


Video recommendation of the week.

Pay attention to the discussion about Relationships at the beginning and toward the end of the clip. Filmed September 27, 2017 at the WJXT studios in Jacksonville, Florida.


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

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

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network™ (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

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

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

Posted in assumptions, awareness, collegiality, Communication, Life lessons, Relationship, relevance, resilience, respect | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

(#383) Creating Direction


While simple dichotomies may be deceptively simplistic,
they can provide a starting point for conversation and movement.

Each day we have the opportunity to provide light or darkness. We provide direction or obfuscation.

With every decision and interaction, we can choose various paths.

Among the many paths in front of us, we can create the paths of:

  • Authenticity or Arrogance
  • Brother/sisterhood or Bigotry
  • Compassion or Cruelty
  • Development or Destruction
  • Enlightenment or Embarrassment
  • Friend or Foe
  • Graciousness or Grumpiness
  • Helpfulness or Hindrance
  • Humility or Hubris
  • Involvement or Indifference
  • Joyfulness or Jadedness
  • Kaizen or Kerfuffle
  • Listener or Loudmouth
  • Mindfulness or Mindlessness
  • Nurturing or Negativity
  • Openness or Obstruction
  • Practicality or Pontification
  • Quiet or Quarrelsome
  • Risk or Risk-adverse
  • Strength or Stressor
  • Tolerance or Terror
  • Unity or Upheaval
  • Vigor or Vapidness
  • Wisdom or Whining
  • Xenial or Xenophobic
  • Yays or Yelling
  • Zest or Zap


Video recommendation of the week.

Our choices reflect our experiences and accumulated wisdom.


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

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

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network® (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

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

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

Posted in Appropriate Behavior, assumptions, authenticity, awareness, Being REMARKABLE, change, Community, community development, dignity, fortitude, Friendship, generativity, Gratitude, Life lessons, listening, Personal Wellbeing, potential, practicality, respect | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

(#382) We All Live Downstream


Does your community resemble a collection of isolated islands?
Maybe you can be the bridge builder for a movement to unite.

Hurricane Irma reminded us again of the power of community.  Times of emergency bring people together. Whether by reaching out on social media, sending emails, knocking on the neighbor’s door, or helping with post-storm cleanup, such times remind us of the importance of connection.

As I walked around Atlantic Beach after the storm I thought of a sign I spied will visiting Boulder, Colorado earlier this year.

Keep it clean ‘cause we’re all downstream.

While the sign references the need for stewardship over our waterways, I find it a poignant metaphor for community.  What we do affects our neighbors. We all live “downstream” in one way or another.

If one house’s drainage culvert is not kept clear of debris, it will have an impact on the neighbors’ property. If I don’t trim and properly maintain a tree in my yard, it may have an impact (literally) on a neighbor’s house.  When you help a neighbor scoop up some yard debris, you assist the entire block in getting back to normal.

Earlier this summer, I created an email and phone contact list/group for the neighbors on our street. Not a particularly big deal. But one did not exist.  Three months later, it allowed us to stay in contact during and after the hurricane.

Another reminder that there is no need to be an island.

Think of your community. Maybe it’s a high-rise condo or a sprawling suburban neighborhood. How do people act to improve the lives of others? How do you wish they would act? Same questions for you.  The individual fingers are more powerful when acting in concert as a fist.

Does your community resemble a collection of isolated islands? Maybe you can be the bridge builder for a movement to unite. Start small. Maybe a neighborhood brunch or happy hour.


Video recommendation of the week.

Derek Sivers reminds us of the power of a movement—and how to start a movement. As he tells us, sometimes it just takes a lone nut to create the movement.


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

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

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network™ (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

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

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

Posted in collaboration, Communication, Community, community development, resilience | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

(#381) Before and After the Conversation


Conversation presupposes an interaction between two or more people.
Synergy can develop with due consideration.
Collaboration can result in movement for improvement.

Ever notice how what passes for conversation usually is anything but conversation.  Look around and you will observe lots of monologues.  Everyone talks, few listen. And fewer seem to appreciate what others have to say. Rather than listen, we formulate our response before the person finishes her thought.

Digital connection is not the same as conversation.  “Mansplaining” does not count either.

If you want to build community, you need true conversation.  But do we know how to converse anymore?


Video recommendation for the week.

In this TED Talk, you will hear ten simple suggestions (yet often ignored or forgotten) for true conversation. Sad, isn’t it, that these basic practices of civility have been lost. Maybe they are no longer taught.


Think of The Three Cs

Conversation benefits if we focus on what comes before and what follows.

  • Consideration. Before we start talking, stop and think.  Reflect on the issue at hand. Don’t immediately put your opinions on the table. Listen. Be present and respectful.
  • Conversation. Once you have been able to consider the issue, the facts, the opinions, the options, and the unanswered questions, you can begin to have a respectful and meaningful dialogue. No collective monologues or harangues allowed. You and your team can work on the vision. This creates to pathways and builds bridges.
  • Collaboration. With the thought and talk given their due, you can now engage in the work of doing what needs to be done.

Conversation presupposes an interaction between two or more people. Synergy can develop with due consideration. Collaboration can result in movement for improvement.

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

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

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network™ (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

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

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

Posted in collaboration, Communication, Community, consideration, conversation, Life lessons | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments