(#366) Why Not You?

May 28, 2017

Speaking and writing does not belong to some elite group of individuals.

Have you considered publishing or speaking to broaden the powerful impact and reach you already have on those around you? It could be for a small local audience or something larger. You might do it for money—or for the sheer passion you have for a particular topic.

Later today (May 28, 2017), I will have the opportunity to facilitate a workshop at the annual NISOD Conference in Austin, Texas.  I will pose a simple question, “Why not you?” If you don’t share your talents, who will?

I hope to encourage participants to consider sharing their accumulated wisdom through publishing and/or speaking. I will be talking to college professors, advisers, and administrations. But whether you manage a retail store, teach students, serve customers in a restaurant, nurse patients in a hospital, coach a little league team, manage a household, or lead your community, you have experiences to share.  Speaking and writing does not belong to some elite group of individuals.

Take a moment today, and consider all that you have to offer with respect to your accumulated wisdom.

To be sure, just because you want to write or speak, does not necessarily mean you should write or speak.  And just as assuredly, not everyone has the talent or temperament for speaking and writing.

Before you brush aside the idea, though, consider what you have that others may be interested in learning.  From parenting, to surfing, to gardening, to home renovation, to mentoring young minds, you make a difference in your world. Here are a few questions to help you sort through your thoughts to share your wisdom. I encourage you to work through these with someone who will give you trusted feedback.

  • WHY do I want to publish and/or speak? Is it for ego, profit, passion, or the need to share an important lesson?
  • WHO cares about my work—and why should they? Huge question! If you decide to speak or publish, who will be interested enough to listen?
  • WHERE do I find opportunities? Local community organizations? Regional and national conferences? Letters to the editor? The community newspaper? A national magazine? Self-publishing?
  • HOW do I develop a supportive learning community of associates to help me develop your writing and speaking talents? And, how can I help others to find their voices?

When we start examining these types of professional and personal growth opportunities and questions, we identify and clarify our inner desires, strengths, and challenges. And we increase our chances to connect and form collaborative, supportive networks, and create community.

Rather than saying, “I’m not a writer or speaker” I hope you will consider (and act upon) “Hey, I can write and speak, too…just never thought about it.” Find a mentor to help you begin your journey.

In fact, you may find yourself saying, “Hell, yeah, that is for me!”


Video recommendation for the week.

Your story has power!


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.


(#355) Go-Go or No-Go?

March 12, 2017

Do you allow people into your head who would not invite into your home?

Angelina Ahrendts’ (Senior VP @ Apple) letter to her daughters this week offers the following advice:

…Stay in your lane…the path will illuminate itself
so long as you stay present,
open to the signs, and follow your passions.
It’s all related.

Be true to yourself. Be mindful. Be open.

Not only do we need to be present when it comes to our passions and curiosity, we have to be mindful of who we allow on the journey.  Three “types” can have widely disparate influences (if you allow it) on your path.  You may have read about them and encountered them yourself.

The No-Goes. These folks will get in your way, attempt to block you, and tell you things can’t be done like you envision them. They may want to control you. Maybe they fear your progress bodes ill for them. Or they may be fearful and reticent types, always remaining in their self-defined narrow limits. They seem to hold their breath a lot.

The Slow-Goes. The slow-goes won’t out-and-out block you, but they remain so tentative they get in your way.  They may not throw obstacles at you like their stifling cousins the No-Goes, but that wet blanket they toss around your shoulders slows your momentum nonetheless. Happy to plod along, our slow-go friends don’t make much progress; kind of stuck in 2nd gear.  While they don’t hold their breath, you may see them hyperventilating often.

The Go-Goes. Consider these the early adopters of life, its wonders, and ever-present opportunities. They innovate for themselves and for others.  They thrive on movement, experimentation, and evaluated feedback. They risk vulnerability and failure. They breathe deeply and live life.

Caution: Not every No-Go or Slow-Go should be considered an antagonist to shun or anchor to cast off.  At times, each can provide valuable and prudent counsel. A trusted mentor, a wise friend, and thoughtful family members may well have needed perspective you lack.  Listen, however, with all of your senses. Consider carefully.

And we have to understand our role with others.  That is, do we serve as No-Goes, Slow-Goes, or Go-Goes for other people’s aspirations?  Do we help or hinder? Do we encourage or suffocate?

One woman at our gym, for example, constantly provides negative commentary—whether you want it or not—about how dangerous this or that group of people will be for our nation.  Her jaw appears clenched and her eyes remain vigilant and wide-open as if scouring the floor for the soon-to-arrive saber toothed tiger that will enter the front door and devour her.  She shares a constant stream of negativity. A definite No-Go from the perspective of holding an educational or enlightening conversation. Perhaps you know similar people.  Maybe you have that tendency.

Do you want these people on your journey?

In his latest book, Before Happiness, Shawn Achor points out that our brains process millions upon millions of bits of information each day. We only attend to a miniscule fraction of these stimuli. His research shows, however, that we usually attend to the same kind of information and ignore the alternatives or contradictory data. You know, like the people who no matter how sunny it is will always be focused on that one cloud on the horizon. Where we see brightness they see potential—nay, impending—doom.  We have a choice.

This week, pay attention to your goals. Be mindful of who you let influence your travels. Or as I have heard, why would we let someone into our mind who we would not even allow into our home?


Video recommendation for the week:

Sometimes we “no-go” ourselves because of fear.  As this TEDx talk reminds us, it might not be as scary as it looks.  Where is the edge of your comfort zone?


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.

Check out my latest podcasts at The Growth and Resilience Network™
(http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

Check out my website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars  (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.


(#347) Clues At The Tip Of My Nose

January 15, 2017

The little child had returned to remind and reassure me
to believe in my abilities and myself.

A few months ago, I sat on a balcony three stories above the Gulf of Mexico in Key Largo, Florida.  The pre-sunrise morning had a calming stillness about it.  As I sat alone, I listened to a guided meditation.

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

One of the suggestions during the practice asked me to imagine looking in the window of my childhood home and describe the scene.  How old was I? What was I doing? How did I look? And, how did I feel looking at “little Steve”? On the other side of the window, I saw my younger self, sitting there.

On that balcony, with my eyes closed, I saw this unfold in my mind’s eye, at the tip of my nose. I distinctly remember experiencing a flood of emotions. Some happy. Some not so joyful. At one point of the meditation, young Steve, turned toward the window and looked at his older self, staring at him from the outside. As I looked into his eyes, little Steve looked hopeful, fearful, joyful, and tearful.  He appeared to need reassuring.  What would it be like on the other side of that window his eyes seemed to ask?

A few days ago, during my morning meditation, a host of random thoughts attempted to crowd into my bid for peace in the gap. All at once, I experienced a blur—kind of a fast-motion video—at the tip of my nose. As I focused, the image slowed down. I saw faces of smiling innocent little children pass by. Finally, there was little Steve again. Looking me straight in the eye. Why was he back? Had he ever left?

I searched for a message—what was the little person looking for?

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

At the time, I had been grappling with a few major decisions and challenges. More so than normal (for me), I had been feeling a bit anxious about the next steps. When I thought about my younger self, I remembered all of the times little Steve felt anxious about the future—sometimes, just about the next day. Back then, I found a way forward. At times with help from those near me and, at other times, by my own grit. (Though, at the time, I had no idea what “grit” or “resilience” meant.)

So, maybe, the little child I saw at the tip of my nose that morning had returned to remind and reassure me to believe in my abilities and myself. In his child-like way, he knew I was the one needing reassurance.  He had my back and he reminded me of all I learned years earlier about courage, fortitude, and appreciation for myself.

You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe,
deserve your love and affection.
– Buddha –


Video recommendation for the week:

Enjoy this video reminder of what children can teach us…if we only pay attention.  While I cannot speak about the book promoted in the video (I have not read it), the video packs a lot into a brief few minutes.  Enjoy.


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.

Check out my latest podcasts at The Growth and Resilience Network™
(http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

Check out my website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars  (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.


(#346) Video Outtakes: Finding Humor And Moving Forward

January 8, 2017

Enjoy three-minutes-and-fifty-one-seconds of my miscues.
And consider how each miscue you make can strengthen you and maybe help someone else. Don’t be ruled by fear of failure.

President Theodore Roosevelt had a way with words. Growing up as a spindly and sickly child, “Teddy” would become an adult exuding energy, purpose, confidence, and resilience. Whatever your view of his politics, his fortitude stands out.

Nearly three decades ago, as I was navigating a major life transition, I gravitated to one of his quotes:

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

The quote reminded me of the importance of not allowing the fear of failure to rule my decisions.

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

This week’s blog does not purport to be as heady or profound as our former Rough Ridding president. Nor am I discounting the disconcerting reality of life traumas.

But at times, a bit of humor can remind us to lighten up. Especially when we stumble.  Such was the case recently as I recorded forty-two videos to accompany my newly released book Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island.

My wife, bless her soul, served as the videographer.  We actually shot each video twice. Once as a “draft” to see how they looked. The second time was the final shoot.  So, in reality, we shot eighty-four videos over a four-month period.  (Did I mention how much I love my wife’s patience?)

And each video had a number of “do-overs” due to errors on my part, environment interference, or technical glitches.  I decided to gather up some of those clips and put them into one video of outtakes.  More than three minutes of my mistakes and frustration. And each time I watch it, I howl with delight.  I have to admit, there were times during the video sessions that I felt like giving up. For a variety of reasons, I’m glad I didn’t.

Again, Teddy Roosevelt said, “It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.”

Or as Anthony Burgess is reported to have said, “Laugh and world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone.”

So, enjoy three-minutes-and-fifty-one-seconds of my miscues. And consider how each miscue you make and encounter can strengthen you and maybe help someone else.


Video recommendation for the week:

So, you think it’s easy to make videos?


Make it an inspiring week, a wonderful holiday season, and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about 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.

Check out my latest podcasts at The Growth and Resilience Network™
(http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

Check out my website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars  (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.


(#267) You Get to Create the Path

July 5, 2015

We are all artists painting our own lives.

While facilitating a Texas faculty resilience workshop, I presented the following R.D. Laing quote to the audience:

The range of what we think and do
Is limited by what we fail to notice
And because we fail to notice
That we fail to notice
There is little we can do
To change
Until we notice
How failing to notice
Shapes our thoughts and deeds.

Photo by Steve Piscitelli

Photo by Steve Piscitelli

The group reflected for a few minutes and then shared their thoughts about what the words meant to them. One audience member shared the following:

Three words came to my mind: blind spots, blinders, and blinking.
We just chose not to see, or we are just incapable of seeing what is right in front of us.
We work around the edges, on purpose, or … we don’t know what to look for…
And then what I have experienced with my students, as well as faculty, is the speed of change.
If you blink it’s gone! …With such a rapid avalanche of information it is really hard to notice anything ….”

 Author and psychologist Dan Gilbert conducted a study that found people tend to have an “ease for remembering and a difficulty for imagining.”

Failing to notice. Blind spots, blinders, and blinking. Difficulty imagining.

We need to remind ourselves that our path forward is not necessarily the same path we have taken before or the one the latest book-of-the-month suggests we follow.

Image by moggara12 @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by moggara12 @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

No, our way has to be discovered and lived our way.  We get to create the path.  We must take the steps.

Poet Antonio Machado poignantly observed, “Travelers, there is no path, paths are made by walking.”

Mentors and coaches can help us sort things out. They can help provide or sharpen needed tools for the road. You and I, though, will need to take the steps and use the tools—or invent or re-purpose our own implements to help us move forward. The trainer in the gym can point out the equipment and show us proper form but we have to do the work. We have to take the steps.

Author Steven Pressfield muses that “The artist enters the Void and comes back with something.”

We are all artists painting our own lives. Perhaps in the Void that frustrates and scares us there already exists the path for us to travel. But to find it we need to recognize—by stripping away our blinders and blind spots—what holds us back.

Again, from Machado,

Mankind owns four things
That are no good at sea:
Rudder, anchor, oars,
And the fear of going down.

Video recommendation for the week:

 What is your dream? What is inside you?

What have you been failing to notice? What one thing can you do this week—no matter how small—that will help you create your path?

Make it a wonderful week—H.T.R.B. as needed.

I am venturing into the realm of podcasting. Check out my first one “Powerful (Mindful) Preparation. Powerful Presentation.”

Check out my website (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/programs.html) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/webinars).

My books Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition) are published by Pearson Education.

(c) 2015. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

 


(#233) Feed the Butterflies

November 9, 2014

The day I stop getting a little bit anxious before addressing a group
is the day that I need to stop speaking.

This past week I had the pleasure to speak to 1,000 educators at the annual Moran Lecture Series in Hobbs, New Mexico.  Although I did my usual “rehearse-aholic” preparations, I found the butterflies particularly active in the 30 minutes prior to the event kickoff.

Sitting in the backstage dressing room, the little butterflies could have easily been mistaken for elephants stampeding through my innards.

Tydings Auditorium Hobbs, New Mexico

Tydings Auditorium
Hobbs, New Mexico

As usual though, those little Monarchs simmered down. And they helped to keep my focused.

Actually, I go looking for them before each presentation.

Whether the audience is a 1,000 or 10, I ALWAYS get butterflies.  For me, that remains a positive. They give me an edge, keep me alert, and let me know that I still care about what I do.  The day I stop getting a little bit anxious before addressing a group is the day that I need to stop speaking.

For some folks, though, the butterflies create massive anxiety, dread, and a loss of confidence.  The following eight strategies have helped me tame my butterflies. Adapt as necessary for your situations.

Video recommendation for the week:

  1. Rehearse. If you want to feel more confident, you need to know your material, props and technology. Don’t “go on” if you are not prepared.  It’s insult to the audience.
  2. Walk-through. Whenever possible do a walk-through of the venue.  Know what it looks like from the stage (front of the room) and what the audience will see from their seats. Consider a virtual walk-through before you even get to the venue.  As I readied myself for the Hobbs talk, I found the venue (Tydings Auditorium) online and then found a video of someone giving a talk from the stage I would occupy.  In this manner I was fairly well prepared when I walked into the auditorium.  No big surprises about the room.
  3. Tech check. During my walk-through I do a tech check. Video, sound, projector, microphone, and lighting.

    Image: Arvind Balaraman/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    Image: Arvind Balaraman/
    FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  4. Meet and greet. Before I start speaking, I always find it calming to meet members of the audience, shake hands and exchange a welcome. In large groups, it’s impossible to connect with each person but the mere fact that I am out and about lets the other audience members see me.  I find it disarming (in a good way) for me and them.
  5. Nourished and hydrated. I know what my body needs (light snack and water) and does not need (ice and carbs) right before an engagement.
  6. Quiet moment. In larger venues, a dressing room can provide an oasis of solitude.  Most of the time you won’t have that luxury.  So a walk down a quiet hallway, a moment in the restroom, or simply closing your eyes can provide the solitude needed.
  7. Kind eyeballs. This is something I learned from reading and listening to the late Leo Buscaglia. Once I get in front of the group, I scan the audience for those folks who are looking at me. I notice the dancing and gleaming eyes. While I speak to my entire audience, initially such kind eyeballs can put me at ease.
  8. Structure. The first few minutes of any presentation are critical.  This is where you will lose, gain, or at least buy some time from the audience.  Do/present something that catches attention.  It could be a pertinent story, a funny video (very short), or a demonstration with a member of the audience.  This, of course, requires planning and rehearsal.  See #1 above.

Understand that butterflies are a speaker’s friend.  Nurture yours. Let them guide you.

Make it a wonderful week—H.T.R.B. as needed.

Check out my website (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/programs.html) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars  (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/webinars).

Information on my newest book, Choices for College Success (3rd ed.), can be found at Pearson Education.

(c) 2014. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

 

 


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