(Issue #497) End-of-Year Review: The Six Ds


How does your 2019 retrospective set the stage for your 2020 journey?

In thirty days, we will be staring at another set of New Year’s Resolutions. Lofty expectations we set for that better version of ourselves, our teams, and our communities. Before we chart the course for our 2020 journey, we might do well to review what we have done and where we have been over the past eleven months.

Followers of this blog have read about my Six Fs of life , Seven Rs for purpose and growth, and Eight Success Tips.

As you, your team, and your community look to the coming year, consider The Six Ds for an End-of-the-Year Review.

  • Delve into what you have attempted to do; what you have accomplished; and where you have come up short. List these so all can see.
  • Describe each item. Once the list has been established (at least an initial list), make sure each item is specific. Make a list as to what, why, when, who, and how. No discussion or debate yet…just seek to paint a clear picture of what is on the list. Ask as many authentic questions as needed to gain clarity.
  • Discuss the above list with your team. What worked? What came up short? What resources were missing? What strengths helped? What challenges developed? At this point, all you want is understanding of what has transpired. It is not time yet to critically appraise the items.
  • Debate Once the list has been completed, open the floor for an evidence-based debate. Not a time for call-outs or political pyrotechnics. You needed reasoned give-and-take. For instance, why did certain challenges develop? Who was instrumental in moving the project forward? Where does the team or community need to do more work?
  • Digest. Once you have exhausted the above steps, take a recess. It could be for an hour, a day, a week, or whatever time period fits your team’s needs. Homework: Before you return, each member reviews the material and comes back with questions, clarifications, additions, and/or deletions.
  • Do it again. Keep refining your list until you have a consensus that your list accurately portrays what you accomplished this year, where you came up short, and where you want to go in 2020.


Video Recommendation for the week: Speak Truth to Power

In this brief (183 seconds) clip from a longer podcast episode, community activist and leader, Linda Lanier, shares how the reflective leader must “speak truth to power.” She helps us see and hear how the “unspeakable” needs to be spoken. Think of steps 3 and 4 above (Discuss and Debate).  Your team needs to speak exactly what it is or is not doing.  Unvarnished, yet clear.


Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

Stay tuned for my new book to be released in early 2020:
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. In the meantime, check out her blog.

And you can still order:

  • My latest 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.

©2019. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

Posted in accountability, assumptions, awareness, change management, Communication, Connection-Disconnection, consideration, conversation, core values, Life lessons | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

(Issue #496) Thankful for Civility.


Civility does not mean we always agree. It does mean, though,
that we accept each other’s humanity and dignity as a person.

On March 25, 2012, I wrote “Is Civility Part of Your DNA?”. Coincidentally, it was post #96 on this blog. Look at the title above, and you will note today’s post comes 400 weeks later.

During that time, I have done my best to keep the tone of this blog civil. I have not wanted to add to the call-out-culture of shaming, yelling, and political pyrotechnics.

I have written a number of times on this blog about civility. In March of 2012, I stated,

…Nutritious people are walking models of civility.  They touch us in such a wonderful manner.  It would seem that if we listened and respected more there would be less anger and hate in the world.  Call me naïve, but when one person takes an active and non-manipulating concern for another person—and then that behavior is reciprocated—it becomes pretty difficult to start shouting at one another.  Civility does not mean we all agree.  It does mean, though, that we accept each other’s humanity and dignity as a person.

Ask if our world has become more or less civil, and the answer will depend where one stands and what tribe is doing the answering.  (You could ask, has tribalism pushed us further from a civil society? Are we only civil to those within our group. Has loyalty become a prerequisite for civility?)


Video recommendation for the week:

And here is the video, I shared 400 weeks ago (in 2012). These wonderful souls had/have reminders for us. Let’s be thankful for the civility that does surround us—and what we do to practice civility. I am thankful for all the civil people I have had the opportunity to learn from during the past 400 weeks. I am grateful for their civil discourse and compassionate ways.


Homework. Who helps you grow? Whom do you help grow?

  1. List the names of (at least) two nutritious people in your life. What do they specifically do that makes them nutritious? Remember a nutritious person is one who is happy to see you, listens to you (really listens), and has no immediate plans for your betterment! They accept you and are civil to you.
  2. Take a moment today and write these people a short note of gratitude. Acknowledge their humanity with your note of gratitude for their specific acts of kindness. This is your thanksgiving to them.
  3. Time for some introspection. Answer this question: “Am I a nutritious person?” If you are, what do you do that makes you such. (Repeat those actions!) If you are not, what can you do to make those behaviors part of your daily DNA.

 Make it a week of civility, and HTRB has needed.

My latest book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on Amazon.  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 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.

©2019. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

Posted in accountability, assumptions, awareness, call-out culture, Civility, conversation, core values, Life lessons, resilience | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

(Issue #495) Just What I Needed


We all make a difference each day of our lives.
Some days, that difference packs more impact than you could imagine.

You just do not know.

Next month, I will share a year-long project I have undertaken for 2019. The short story: It involves demonstrating acts of gratitude to friends, family, and strangers. A way of tossing positive vibes into our universe.

Photo ©Steve Piscitelli. 2019

Besides what gratitude does for the giver, I am taken by the response I have received  from recipients of my gratitude to them.  In one way or another, their collective responses can be summed up in four words: Just What I Needed! Here are two examples.

  • One evening, a bartender (a recent recipient of a gratitude note) came to our booth. He thanked me, hugged me, and then with tears welling in his eyes, shared how the note came at the “right time.” He was struggling with some tough family issues, and he needed a lift.
  • A recent voicemail stated (in part), “Thank you so much for your nice note…. It came on a day when I desperately needed to hear something positive about me being on the planet.”

Besides recognizing the goodness in people, extending heartfelt gratitude may provide the emotional support a person or team needs to move them forward in a difficult time. What they desperately need to hear. At that very moment.

You just never know your I impact.  We all make a difference each day of our lives. Some days, that difference packs more impact than you could imagine. And it is what the planet needs to survive.


Video Recommendation for the week.

In this video, a gratitude researcher provides insights and concrete practices to cultivate gratitude.


Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

My latest book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on Amazon.  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.

©2019. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

Posted in amplifying, Appreciation, authenticity, awareness, Gratitude, Life lessons, resilience | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

(Issue #494) Communication: So Easy, Yet So Hard 


You have a story. It belongs to you. It is powerful.
How are you helping people understand it?

Listening is a difficult skill to master.  A lot of people shouting, “look at me” and “listen to my story!” Unfortunately, they have difficulty respecting others’ stories.

If we want people to listen to our story, we can help by making sure we do our part.

When we communicate, we transmit, share, and express ideas or thoughts. Clear communication allows us to understand (or, at least, move toward understanding with) our fellow beings. We have so many ways we can exchange and share from the “old fashioned” face-to-face conversation, to another “old” practice of a phone call, to “more modern” texting, emailing, tweeting, or posting.  So many ways to avoid confusion and advance forward movement.

Ironically, it appears to be growing more difficult to share honest and timely communication.  In a previous post, I made the point that if you don’t create clear communication, then others get to create the story. They get to create your story. It might be wrong. But with limited or incomplete input from you, they will construct a story from what you give them—and don’t give them.

And without your information, their “creation” may be fake news.  And you may have had a hand in that creation—by not providing needed narrative.

In short:

  • If you don’t respond to the email, they get to create the story.
  • If you don’t answer the text, they get to create the story.
  • If you post without background information, they get to create the story.
  • If you ignore a request, they get to create the story.
  • If you don’t follow through like you promised, they get to create the story.
  • If you bully and push your agenda without listening to others, they get to create the story.
  • If you [fill in the blank], they get to create the story.

You have a story. It belongs to you. It is powerful. When you speak, the people in front of you have an obligation to listen and respond appropriately and authentically.  And, you can help others understand that story. And that requires clear, honest, and timely communication on your part. They may not listen, but you are holding up your part of the agreement.

You get to create your story, if you desire. Or, perhaps, your limited communication provides the story you want.

In any event, you have choices to make about your level of communication.


Video Recommendation for the week.

Perhaps you have heard of ghosting.  Have you heard about ghosting in the workplace? As the person says at the end of this piece, “….remain professional and get back to people….”


Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

My latest book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on Amazon.  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.

©2019. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

Posted in awareness, branding, change management, Choice, collaboration, emotional intelligence, empathy, generativity, Integrity, Life lessons | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

(Issue #493) Mind Enema 


“Tell the negative committee that meets inside your head
to sit down and shut up.” -Ann Bradford

Back in the 1990s, my wife and I discovered the Tucson desert, and we met Herb the wrangler. He led us on horseback rides through the Sonoran Desert and into the foothills of the Rincon Mountains. While Herb had been wrangling for a number of years, Laurie and I were experiencing our first ranch experience.

One day, as we were leaving the coral and heading toward the trail for the day, Herb turned around in his saddle and shared why he liked the desert. For him, sitting in the saddle, walking through the sage brush and prickly pear cacti, with only the sound of the wind and the hooves of the horses in the air, provided solace and a time to be quiet. Or as Herb succinctly put it, this time was like “a mind enema.”

Laurie and I laughed—and we never forgot Herb’s words.

A mind enema.

A time away from distractions. Just person, horse, and nature.  A great time to empty the mind of clutter.  Kind of a walking meditation.  Being in the moment with the surroundings. Allowing our eyes to see, and noses to breathe. Feeling our butts in the saddles, our feet in the stirrups, and our hands with the reigns.

We just returned home yesterday from our latest trip to the ranch. Another opportunity to empty the mind. While Herb has ridden off to the coral in the sky, his words remain.  More so, the reminder in those words.

We totally disconnected from our usual world. No cell phone, no email, no computer, no newspapers, no television news, no business or work-related projects. A total mind enema.

We dedicated the week to ourselves; quiet recharge time.

I don’t know about  you, but when I detach—I mean turn off the digital distractions—I more clearly hear what is bouncing around in my head. Mostly, I hear unhelpful noise in the guise of “helpful words.”  Noise that is encouraged and feed by the endless stream of other people’s words.  For the week, I became more  aware of (reminded of) the power of words—to others and to yourself.  Everything sends a message. And often, we allow ourselves to speak ill thoughts to ourselves—and we let them limit us.

The time away allowed me to take words attributed to Ann Bradford to heart,

“Tell the negative committee that meets inside your head to sit down and shut up.

We have to be mindful of the message we send ourselves and, then, what messages we accept from others. At times, we need to tell those intrusive voices to “sit down and shut up.”

As you navigate the coming week and continue to write your autobiography, think how you can be a choice architect in your life and the lives of others.

And, I remember and thank Herb.


Video Recommendation for the week.

A quick video (115 seconds) juxtaposing some video with some video scenes “Mind Enema.”


Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

My latest book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on Amazon.  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.

©2019. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

 

Posted in awareness, Balance, fitness, inspiration, meditation, Reflection, Reflective practice, resilience | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

(Issue #492) Using Demonstrations for Teambuilding and Prioritization


Regardless of the topic, demonstrations can drive home a point
that may be lost in a lecture or in a reading.

My decades of teaching, speaking, and facilitating have reinforced that people need to connect with the speaker and the material. I have found that demonstrations drive points home in ways that thirty minutes of talking will not.  A hands-on exercise gets the audience involved—whether as participants or as observers. They engage more of their senses than listening to a lecture. An effective exercise encourages analysis, discussion, a bit of confusion, an ah-ah moment, and movement forward toward a goal

Here is a simple one I did with campus classes and national workshops.  You only need one prop: A bed sheet. I used a bed sheet made for a single bed. Here is what I did:

  1. Spread the sheet on the floor. Place a small “B” on one side and a small letter “T” on the other side.  Standing for “Bottom” and “Top” of sheet.  To start the demonstration, the “T” side should be topside.
  2. Before I sought volunteers, I let them know they would be moving, twisting, and bending. So, if they had back, hip, feet, or knee issues, they may want to sit and observe. (NOTE: In all the times I did this, no one ever fell or got injured.  Best to err on the side of caution and full disclosure, though. Participant beware.)  I asked for six volunteers to come to the front of the room.
  3. One volunteer stood in each of the corners of the sheet. The remaining two people stood on the long side of the sheet between the corner people (one each side). They could be arranged in any position.

4. At times I asked for one more volunteer to come forward. I typically called on the workshop organizer when possible and placed this person in the middle of the sheet. There were now seven people strategically placed along the side of the sheet.

5. All feet HAD to remain totally on the sheet at all times. That is, they could not have one foot on the sheet and one foot totally or partially off the sheet.

6. Their task: Without stepping off the sheet, they must turn the sheet upside down so that the top is on the bottom and the bottom is on the top. The “B” and “T” makes this easy to monitor. And, they must rotate the sheet 180 degrees. So, if the “T” was on the top and pointing to the left side of the room, when they finish the “B” will be on the top and pointing to the right side of the room.

7. I usually had a few spotters to stand around the outside of the sheet in the event someone lost balance as they moved around the sheet.

8. I typically gave the participants two minutes to complete the flip and turn. And, more times than not, they did it in less time.

9. I asked the participants  and the audience for insights. Here are just a few ah-ah moments:

    1. Someone emerges as a leader.
    2. More emerge as the followers.
    3. Collaboration is necessary.
    4. Coordination of movement helps collaboration and results.
    5. Listening is critical.
    6. Initial strategizing can save time.
    7. Move purposefully but not fearfully.
    8. Creativity can help.
    9. Laughter emerges and helps!

10. Once we exhausted observations and insights, the participants drew conclusions and related those to our topic at hand.


Video Recommendation for the week.

Regardless of the topic, demonstrations can drive home a point that may be lost in a lecture or in a reading.

While I do not have a video of me doing the sheet exercise above, watch this video (enjoyed with nearly 20,000 views) of a demonstration I did with my students to drive home the importance of prioritizing the non-negotiables items in their lives.  The visuals provide a powerful lesson that cannot be easily missed or forgotten.


 

Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

My latest book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on Amazon.  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 will be conducting (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.

©2019. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

Posted in awareness, Being REMARKABLE, effective teaching, public speaking, teaching and learning | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

(Issue #491) Premonitions and Weak Signals


“The point is obvious. There is more than one way to burn a book.
And the world is full of people running about with lit matches….”
-Ray Bradbury-

 Weak signals tell us that what had been best practices are about to end, or, at the least, morph into something transformative.  Think digital revolution as a for instance.

I recently thumbed through my copy of Ray Bradbury’s classic Fahrenheit 451. The book came out in 1953. At that time, our population was trying to understand one of the newest weak signals: the television.  In 1949, about 6,000 homes had TVs.  By the mid-fifties, about half the population was tuning in, and program formats were dramatically changing what had been best practice for broadcasting.

The television provided Bradbury with one opportunity to gaze into the future and guess what might become the newest practice. In fact, as I reread 451, I was taken by the number of technological “advancements” he incorporated into his future-oriented look of society: interactive TV, surround sound TV (mounted on multiple walls in a room), ear buds, ATMs, caller ID, robots, and fast driving cars.

 

And, he noted disturbing new (“promising”) in human interaction.

  • Book burning (allowed for “a new job of custodians of our peace and mind…official censors, judges, and executors….” p. 59)
  • Apathetic people with surface conversations (found throughout the book)
  • Indiscriminate and senseless killing (drive-bys; p. 128)
  • Limited in-depth reading (“The mind drinks less and less.” p. 57)
  • Distrust people who think (“…the word ‘intellectual,’ of course, became the swear word it deserved to be. You always dread the unfamiliar….” p. 58)
  • Mind numbing fire hosing of information that allows fosters thought control (“Cram them full of noncombustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information.” p. 61)

In a 2003 interview for the 50th anniversary edition of the book, Bradbury said, “I was interested in more than the political atmosphere. I was considering the whole social atmosphere: the impact of TV and radio and the lack of education. I could see the coming event of school teachers not teaching reading anymore. The less they taught, the more you wouldn’t need books.” (p. 182)

Are these premonitions still pertinent today? What is the role of education?  Have we gone beyond Bradbury’s weak signals to something more dire—or was his fiction just that, fiction?

In the “Coda” of the 2003 release of the book, he speaks about edits and criticisms that had been made to and about some of his works:

The point is obvious. There is more than one way to burn a book.
And the world is full of people running about with lit matches….
(p. 176)


Video Recommendation for the week.

Click on this video for a quick overview of the major themes of the book—and the ponderous questions that arise from those themes.  Were Bradbury’s premonitions accurate?


Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

My latest book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on Amazon.  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.

©2019. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

Posted in accountability, action, awareness, bullies, bureaucracy | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments