(#365) Listening For Stories Of Inspiration

May 21, 2017

Inspiration from a woman who did not let circumstance
dictate her outcome.

[Note to my readers: Today’s post marks the beginning of the eighth year of this weekly blog.  Thank you for following, sharing, and commenting.]

Stories. They surround us. Some have the power to illustrate, instruct, and inspire.

Minutes before I delivered my commencement address to the Florida State College at Jacksonville Class of 2017, I had a front row (literally) seat for a young woman’s touching story about her journey.

Lyse Medina, the FSCJ Kent Campus Student Government Association President, delivered a 4½ minute description of her journey as an immigrant, a daughter, a student, a leader, and a person with heart and determination.

Her tale is one of perseverance and resilience. “My past did not define me, but it did lead me to where I am today,” she told the nearly ten thousand people before us.


Video recommendation for the week.

Rather than tell you about Lyse’s speech, listen to it. Learn and grow from it. Her story in her words. A reminder of the importance of community colleges in our society. And a powerful dose of inspiration from a young woman who did not let circumstances dictate her outcomes. She envisioned her dreams and she will continue to define her journey. I am glad to have met and learned from her.

My appreciation to FSCJ for sharing the video and to Lyse for allowing me to share it with you. Note: The video should start with her introduction. If it does not, move to minute 52 for Lyse.


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.


(#179) Stop, Reflect, Evaluate

October 27, 2013

 Do you want someone else or something else to determine where you will end up?
Is your growth intentional?

 We just passed the halfway point of the semester on campus.  Midterm exams have come and gone. Although students receive continual updates on their progress, the midterm provides a natural check-in point.

For the last few years I have sent my students a midterm email encouraging them to reflect on where their actions have taken them.  I would like to share this semester’s email with you (below).

As you read it, may I suggest you apply it to yourself? All of us need to take time to stop, reflect and evaluate.  If we want to grow, we must understand where we have been, what we are doing, where we are headed, and how we plan to move along the journey.  Our growth has to be intentional.

—————–

Hi, scholars,

 With the completion of this week of classes, you can now look back on half of your semester. You have completed 8 weeks.  Please do the following at this point:

 *   Stop–Find 5 or 10 minutes and get away by yourself. A quiet room; the campus library or cafeteria; your car; a quiet park; the beach; or even the bus….someplace that you do not have to talk with anyone else.  Just time for you.

*   Reflect–Consider your dream–the reason you say you are in college. Perhaps it is closer than ever–or maybe it feels further away than ever.  Remember why the dream is important to you; why you want to do it/reach it.  Has anything changed in your life that causes you to look at the dream in a different manner?

*   Evaluate–Are you doing what you need to do to get to your dream? Have you successfully identified the non-negotiable and negotiable items on your priority list?  Are you letting other things or other people get in the way of your dreams?  Are you making choices that are sabotaging your dreams? Are you satisfied with the progress you are making?  What can you do to stay on track–or get back on track?

Image: tiverylucky/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: tiverylucky/
FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 *   Ask–3 questions of yourself:

     *   What should I STOP doing?

    *   What should I KEEP doing?

    *   What should I START doing?

 *   Mentor–Find someone who can be of assistance; someone with the wisdom who can help you get closer to your dream.  Perhaps YOU can, also, mentor someone who needs your advice.

*   Commit–Once you know what you want to do–DO IT!  Remember, don’t “try” to do it. “Try” is an excuse.  Action will get you to your dreams.

You have traveled a long way this term. Do you want someone else or something else to determine where you will end up? Be proud of your efforts; be proud of your commitment; be proud of the work you will do in the weeks ahead. 


Video recommendation for the week:

See the dream…your dream…and move toward it.   Here is a short video for you to ponder:


It’s an honor to work with you….See you in class, scholars!

—————————

And, it is an honor to have you read and share my blog.  Thank you!

Choose well. Live well. Be well—and H.T.R.B. as needed!

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. Please share it (and any of the archived posts on this site) with friends and colleagues. You also can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. If you get a chance, visit my Facebook page and join in–or start–a conversation (www.facebook.com/stevepiscitelli).  If you have suggestions for future posts, leave a comment. Make it a wonderful week!

Check out my upcoming November webinar on student retention.  Click here to register now for the webinar.  Or go to my website for registration information.  This webinar is part of the Innovative Educators’ webinar series.

(c) 2013. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#170) Do You Let People Should On You?

August 25, 2013

Some of the wisest and most effective mentors I have had,
simply made themselves available. These people—true mentors—will help you
discover and define yourself.

[Note: Information on a free music download toward the end of this post. Enjoy!]

Mentors have had a huge impact on my life. In teaching, publishing, and workshop facilitation, I have been fortunate to learn from masters.  I am always suggesting students find a mentor. The power of such a relationship cannot be overstated.  These people—true mentors—will help you discover and define yourself.

Image: dan/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: dan/
FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Having said that, please beware of false prophets—the self-appointed life coaches who believe their job is to correct your course.  However well-meaning, they could end up getting in your way. Just like that little person sitting on your shoulder who constantly tells you to play it safe, not do this, and avoid that. They believe they know what is best for you, and they seldom miss an opportunity to bloviate and pontificate.  You know the ones.

Ben Franklin reminded us that “Wise men don’t need advice. Fools won’t take it.”

Some of the wisest and most effective mentors I have had, simply made themselves available. They did not come to me with a list of things I needed to change. They never attempted to mold me into a mini-them. Even when my actions were not how they would approach a situation, they helped me define my journey. Very seldom have I heard my mentors say, “Steve you should do it this way.”

In other words, they recognized my ability—and need—to make my choices, examine my mistakes, and celebrate my triumphs.  They truly were guides whispering in my ear, not someone yelling into a bullhorn telling me I did not measure up to their view of the world.

In short, they did not should on me.

Free Music Download

The you-should-do-this-people of the world inspired my song, I’m Gonna Should On You!  As a gift to you, you can have a free download of the song by going to http://stevepiscitelli.com/Downloads/music-downloads.html. When prompted, type in the password should. This offer will be available until September 1, 2013.   Turn up the speakers and enjoy the song.


Video recommendation for the week:

I will leave you today with a short message from Stedman Graham. I asked him to deliver a message to my classroom scholars. The message is simple—know who you are. Define yourself.

(YouTube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufKqiAv5D1E)


Choose well. Live well. Be well—and H.T.R.B. as needed!

On Friday, September 13, I will offer my next webinar. The topic: Supporting Our Adjunct Faculty: The Forgotten Teachers of Academia.   Take advantage of this complementary offering.  Click here to register now for the webinar.  Or go to my website for registration information. 

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. Please share it (and any of the archived posts on this site) with friends and colleagues. You also can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. If you get a chance, visit my Facebook page and join in–or start–a conversation (www.facebook.com/stevepiscitelli).  If you have suggestions for future posts, leave a comment. Make it a wonderful week!

 ©2013. Steve Piscitelli

 


(#167) Standout or Get Left Behind

August 4, 2013

What can you do this week to become the go-to person, the linchpin—
the difference maker—in the lives of others, and by so doing,
make a huge difference in your life?

linchpinLast week I read (devoured) Seth Godin’s provocative book, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?   The basic gist: If you report to work each day and do everything you can to fit in, blend in, and play it safe—it’s not very safe.  In fact, Godin argues, the cogs of society make themselves more expendable each day they choose to do nothing than what is expected.   We’ve been brainwashed by “a system where people are terrified to step outside of their lives.” So they do everything to play it safe and “meet spec.” The problem is that when we “meet spec” there is no way to be remarkable and standout. The best we can hope for is to be standardized–just like everyone else. And when we are standardized, why would an organization need to keep us around?

Image: sheelamohan/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: sheelamohan/
FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Over the course of the last four decades I (like many others) have had to endure drones, cogs and automatons of the work world. You know, these are the people who have never found a rule they do not like. The more boxes they can check off on a clipboard, the happier they are.  They lack curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking skills. Nothing is gray. Everything is black or white (can never be both in their minds.)  They are doing everything by the book. Corporate-speak is all important. Faceless and emotionless people remaining “on point” at all costs.  Hardly, if ever, an individual thought.  Meeting spec., playing it safe, and making themselves dispensable.

Image: digitalart/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: digitalart/
FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Godin believes the rules have changed in the new economy. The cogs are the ones who are easily replaced.  He urges that you (me) develop skills that make us indispensable.  True, everyone can be replaced. The indispensable ones, though, become tougher to replicate.  They have chosen to stand out for the good of those they serve. They know how to establish and maintain meaningful relationships. Their work becomes art! They have passion and they make things happen for themselves and the people they work with each day.

Godin asks us to imagine a school with the following sign hanging over the front door:

 We train factory workers of tomorrow.
Our graduates are very good at following instructions.
And we teach the power of consumption as an aid for social approval.
(p. 42)

Oh, my!  Are we doing that?  Am I doing that?  Good time for a gut check.


Video recommendation for the week:

The people who break out and look at work as an opportunity (instead of an obligation) are the linchpins of the world.  That is what we need to mentor and encourage, says Godin. And we all have gifts that will help us rise above the “play-it-safe” setting.  There are seven contributions (gifts) that all linchpins make to their surroundings.  As you read this list, who comes to your mind? Do YOU come to your mind?  The linchpins of our world:

  • Provide a unique experience/connection between your organization and those you serve
  • Deliver their service/product with creativity
  • Manage, juggle and effectively pull together complex projects
  • Lead the people they serve
  • Inspire their colleagues
  • Have a deep knowledge/understanding about their areas
  • Possess a unique talent.   (p. 218)

Many times what holds us back is little more than our own unsubstantiated fears.  Godin refers to it as the Lizard Brain that constantly throws obstacles in our way. We believe the lizard and then “mortgage an entire irreplaceable day of our life for a few bucks.”

What can you do this week in your life to become the go-to person, the linchpin, the difference maker, in the lives of others, and by so doing, making a huge difference in your life?

 “Every day is a new chance to choose.” Ishita Gupta.

 Choose well. Live well. Be well—and H.T.R.B. as needed!

Tomorrow, August 5, I will offer my next webinar. The topic: “It Takes More than Academics to Succeed in College.”   Take advantage of this complementary offering.  Click here to register now for the webinar.  Or go to my website for registration information. 

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. Please share it (and any of the archived posts on this site) with friends and colleagues. You also can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. If you get a chance, visit my Facebook page and join in–or start–a conversation (www.facebook.com/stevepiscitelli).  If you have suggestions for future posts, leave a comment. Make it a wonderful week!

 ©2013. Steve Piscitelli


(#164) Nurturing the Optimal Experience for Students and Employees

July 14, 2013

The only thing we are truly sure of is what is in the present.
As Leo Buscaglia said years ago, “Yesterday is a canceled check;
tomorrow is a
promissory note; today is the only cash you have
– so spend it wisely.”

 In his book Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi delineates five characteristics that promote optimal experience for children and, thus, have a lasting impact on how the children develop (p. 88-89).

  • Clarity. Goals and expectations are clearly stated.
  • Centering.  The parents stay grounded in the present with what the child is doing. They are not, for instance, focused on what college their kindergartener will be going to in 12 years. Savor the moment. Feedback is powerfully important.
  • Choice. Parents allow, and the child has internalized, that options exist for them. Life is not regimented in all aspects, shapes and forms.  A sense of self-efficacy is nurtured.
  • flowCommitment. An atmosphere of trust allows the child to stretch boundaries such that the child can commit to the experience at hand (enjoy the present; in the flow) and not focus on “What happens if I fail? How will I look to others? Will my parents still love me?”
  • Challenge. The parents present opportunities for the child to stretch and, yes, even fail. They aren’t always there to “protect” them from failure. Feedback comes in many forms.

As I read, I thought how each of these characteristics goes beyond family rearing practices.  They go to the heart or what creates optimal experiences in the workplace and classroom environments. Effective leaders help to create these conditions. Consider:

  • Clarity.  The mission is clear. Goals understood. Expectations stated. The teacher and students have goals and expectations. The supervisor and employee have the same. They need to be articulated with clear communication.
  • Centering.  While the classroom and workplace is goal oriented (what are we wanting to accomplish?), there remains a clear connection to the present.  Savor the experience in front of us. The only thing we are truly sure of is what is in the present. As Leo Buscaglia said years ago, “Yesterday is a canceled check; tomorrow is a promissory note; today is the only cash you have – so spend it wisely.” This present will create our future. Embrace it.
  • Choice. As a teacher, I set out the expectations for the course. Students (with encouragement and coaching) establish their course goals.  Life is about choices—and consequences. Possibilities always exist. In the workplace, supervisors understand
    the need to allow their employees to explore and experiment.  This does not just happen; it has to be nurtured over time.
  • Commitment. Effective teachers and workplace supervisors create an environment for experimentation.  A lock-step “this-is-how-we-do-things-around-here” mentality gives way to a “what-better-options-may-exist” mindset.
  • Challenge. When the previous four characteristics exist, it becomes easier to create and maintain an atmosphere that stretches our students and employees.  They are not fearful of how it affects an arbitrary grade or a once-a-year performance evaluation.  They understand that if they aren’t failing, they aren’t stretching.

Video recommendation for the week:

What is “flow“?


What can you do this week to encourage these five characteristics for those you coach and mentor? I’d love to learn from you.

Enjoy your week—and H.T.R.B. as needed!

On July 15, I will offer my next webinar. The topic: Fostering Civility and Nurturing an Attitude of Gratitude.   Take advantage of this complementary offering.  Click here to register now for the webinar.  Or go to my website for registration information. 

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. Please share it (and any of the archived posts on this site) along to friends and colleagues. You also can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. If you get a chance, visit my Facebook page and join in–or start–a conversation (www.facebook.com/stevepiscitelli).  If you have suggestions for future posts, leave a comment. Make it a wonderful week!

 ©2013. Steve Piscitelli


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