(#369) About Kayaks And Perspective

June 18, 2017

If we focus on the possible negative, we get sucked into it.

Lessons. Everywhere, lessons present themselves.  And they remind us that we are always students. Lifelong learners. If we pay attention.

My latest education has come over the past few weeks courtesy of my new twelve-foot ocean kayak.

Previously, I had paddled in the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, the Florida Keys, and in North Florida inlets.  Let’s say my first week of ocean kayaking has gifted me some wonderful lessons.

  • Perspective. I spend time on the beach observing surfers and paddle boarders. I notice smooth water, small waves, and storm-tossed breakers. The appreciation for the conditions, though, changed when I walked my kayak into the ocean for the first time. The waves took on a very different perspective  atop of (and soon tossed from) my kayak seat.
    • Lesson. Until we dive into a project, we do not have a full appreciation of what to expect.  A new job might look perfect—until we report to work. Perhaps it’s criticizing a co-worker, government action, or the stance of a group different from ours.  Until we get into that water, we really don’t understand that perspective.

  • Respect and Fear. I have always had a deep respect for the ocean.  That is different from the fear I felt the first time I paddled beyond the breakers. I could feel myself tense up—which in turn led to poor body mechanics. Instead of attacking the waves, I stopped paddling–and eventually ended up in the water with the boat on top of me. (With a broken seat back and lost sunglasses, thank you very much!)
    • Lesson. Fear can lead to counter-productive actions. We start to focus on the thing we do NOT want to do. I once heard a race car driver’s advice on how NOT to hit the racetrack wall. Simply, he said, do NOT look at the wall. If we focus on the possible negative, we get sucked into it. My first day on the kayak I focused on the waves and not being tossed rather than focusing on the shore and gliding to a stop. I tensed up and face planted in the water.

  • Adrift. The first time I got beyond the breakers and to (relatively) smoother, less undulating water, I looked back and saw that I was further from shore than I had thought. The voice in my head cried, “What the hell are you doing out here? Way out here?”
    • Lesson. When we attempt something new, when we stretch ourselves, we might feel adrift. Like we have no anchor. We find ourselves treading unfamiliar waters. Some people quit. Some figure out how to persevere. Some look for reassurance and guidance.  In my case, I looked a little north and spied surfers and paddle boarders. I felt better knowing others were close by. They wouldn’t paddle my boat but just knowing others were in similar waters gave me a feeling of security. When you feel lost and adrift, look around for those who may be in similar waters. Collegiality can be a powerful motivator.
  • Coaching. I sought out a neighbor with experience to help me with kayaking technique.  From posture, to paddle stroke, to entering and leaving the surf, he has provided needed guidance. Simple ideas take root due to his repetition
    • Lesson.  There is no need to be an island.  Reach out for coaching.  A fresh set of eyes and a different perspective can help move you to a new level. (And do not forget gratitude. Bruce found a twelve-pack of his favorite beverage on his patio later that week.)
  • Daily Discipline. Each day I go out, I see improvement. I paddle further; spill less frequently; unload, load, and strap the kayak to the cart with more skill.  I now look at how the waves break on a particular day before lunging into the surf.  I am more aware. I still have a long way to paddle—and I have come a long way, as well.
    • Lesson. Whether you want to call it locus of control or self-efficacy, when you fall short, get up, fall again, get up again…ad nauseum….you learn, you grow, and move closer to a goal. If we fail to notice that we fail to notice—we hinder our movement forward.


Video recommendation for the week.

Sometimes laughing is the best way to soothe a bruised ego. With that in mind, my bride sent me this video link.  Even kayakers have a blooper reel.


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.


(#356) Are You Listening Or Adding To The Noise?

March 19, 2017

With a world full of noise, how can we fine-tune the needed listening skill?

This past week I facilitated a San Francisco workshop examining how colleges and universities envision and implement faculty development.  My session subtitle: What Important Questions Should We Be Asking?

While in the City by the Bay, I had the opportunity to talk with a person who has been instrumental in training thousands of higher education leaders around our nation.  What did he see as a critical skill for effective leadership? The ability to listen and then act.

In Meaningful: The Story of Ideas That Fly, Bernadette Jiwa reminds us “We don’t change the world by starting with our brilliant idea or dreams. We change the world by helping others to live their dreams.”

Ask questions and then wait for responses.  Understand what information you need. Then act.  All require listening. Often mentioned. Just as frequently ignored or drowned out by an overwhelming onslaught of information and misinformation.  With a world full of noise, how can we fine-tune the needed listening skill?

We have to distinguish and separate the noise from the non-noise in the world around us.  Shawn Achor provides an insightful rubric for doing just that.  Once we understand and apply the criteria for noise, we have a better chance of limiting its debilitating effects on the lives of colleagues, loved ones, and ourselves.

Ask yourself, Achor proposes, if what you attend to (or what you endlessly speak about) is unusable, untimely, hypothetical, or distracting.  More specifically,

  1. Unusable. Will the information you continuously “take in/give out” change your behavior? If not, you are probably wasting time.

*Example. You follow a particular news story—repeatedly.  The information remains the same (since the initial “news alert”). Nonetheless, you spend hours listening to talking heads give their interpretation. Or you constantly scan your smart phone for social media updates (other people’s agendas). Maybe you spend hours following celebrity stories or the latest intelligence on the NFL draft.  And…the information will have no effect on your behavior. Nothing changes. Noise.

  1. Untimely. Will you use the information, now? Will it more than likely change in the future when you might use it?

*Example.  You get a hurricane alert. It might make landfall in five days. At that point, you have useful information to notice and consider preparations.  However, if you stay glued to the weather channels endlessly for hours—with no updated information coming in—you need to ask what the benefit is other than getting more worried about something that you cannot control and that is still a long way from happening.  And, in the case of a weather forecast, it will likely change a number of times.  Noise.

  1. Hypothetical. Do we focus on what “could be” rather than what “is”?

*Example. I am not picking on the weather prognosticators (really) but do you base plans on the predictions—that may very well be inaccurate.  One of my podcast guests, Neil Dixon (February 2017), has an answer to the meteorological hypothetical.  When the forecast calls for 80% rain, he makes a golf tee time. Why? Because there is 20% for sunshine.  Think about economic forecasts.  How accurate? How often? Noise.

  1. Distracting. Does the information deter you or stop movement toward your goals?

*Example. Your goals relate to your career, relationships, health, finances, intellectual development, emotional stability, and spiritual wellbeing.  How much of the onslaught of information you get hit with (and allow yourself to be hit with) relate to those goals? How much gets in the way of goal achievement?  Noise.

This week consider where, when, and how you can eliminate noise. Listen to your goals and move in those directions.


Video recommendation for the week:

In this TED talk, Julian Treasure suggests five strategies to fine-tune our 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.

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.


(#342) Let’s Review

December 11, 2016

This week spend some time looking in your rear view mirror. 

In a few weeks, the calendar turns to 2017.  For some, it will be “good riddance” to 2016. Others will have fond memories and gratitude of the past twelve months.  And then there will be the innumerable New Year’s Resolutions that will be broken before January turns to February.

 Photo SteSt

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

If you follow this blog with any regularity, you have read my thoughts about the importance of goals. I have shared strategies and urged you to stretch yourself. Above all, I encourage you to believe in who you are and who you can become.  None of us has to be a finished project. Look to the future and all it holds.  Be a cheerleader for your future—and find others who will push and pull you along toward your dreams.

This week spend some time looking in your rear view mirror.  Do you know how you have spent this year? I mean, do you really know what you have done with your time on your way to your goals?

We have often heard that “experience is the best teacher.”  In reality, “evaluated experience” will be a better teacher.  We have to take time to reflect not on just what we have done, but also on why we have done what we have done.

Photo by Steve Piscitelli

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

Here is an illuminating practice I started doing five years ago. During the last week of December, I conduct a 52-week review of my life.

  • I print out the previous 52 weeks of my calendar.  All my personal appointments and my professional opportunities.  Everything. I color-code my calendar appointments during the year so that I can easily see categories and projects (like: writing, program development, program rehearsal, program delivery, house projects, community connections, meetings with friends, dates with my bride, and so on). If you want to save a tree, forego the printing and review your e-calendar from your phone, tablet, or laptop. Caution: If you do this e-review, shut off your incoming messages. You really want to have undivided attention on this process. You are worth it!
  • I typically go to a local beach coffee shop, find a quiet corner, and start my 52-week review. You can do this any place. I suggest a place where you can focus and have some “you time.”
  • I make notes about which activities got most of my attention, which ones did not get much time on the calendar, and what did not appear to make it into my life.

Every time I do this, I learn something about myself.  While I know in the broad terms how I use my time, this exercise helps with specifics.  One year, I “learned” (really, became more aware of) what was NOT there on the calendar.  Or at least, what was NOT there ENOUGH times.  I found that important things like lunch with friends was not as prevalent as I had thought.  And while my wife and I spend quite a bit of time together, I felt like we could have done more special things.

Photo c) Steve Piscitelli

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

The exercise, in short, re-emphasizes the importance of balance and integration in life for me. It helps me clearly see where I have been on the journey for the past year. And it holds my feet to the fire. Have I been authentic to myself? What stories have I been telling myself—and what stories have I been living?

Before we can adequately plan, we need to have a firm understanding of where we have been.  We do not need to bog down in what ifs. Just an objective view of the journey so we can better prepare for the next part of the road.


Video recommendation for the week:

Sometimes goal setting can become a passive activity.  We list a number of goals and then we see what happens.  In this video, I suggest that rather than “wait for” we “work for” our goals. Start working for 2017 with your 52-week review of 2016.


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

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).

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) 2016. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#341) Drop And Leave

December 4, 2016

I have witnessed people play a disappointing game of
“drop and leave” with their goals and dreams.

Have you ever looked at your desk and wondered, “How in the world did it get in this condition?”  What with books, papers, empty cups, and last week’s mail, things tend to pile up.  Wait, what’s that over there? A half-eaten sandwich? From last week? Oh, my!  If not your desk, maybe you see your kitchen counter or the garage.

My mother gets the credit for instilling discipline early in my life.  She taught me that it would be easier to keep up—plug away—a little at a time rather than have to play an overwhelming game of catch up. You know, clean up your room each day and you will not be looking at a time-consuming unpleasant chore at the end of the week when you want to be outside playing with your friends.  Invest five minutes along the way and save an hour down the road. (Thanks, Mom!)

When we drop and leave now, we can end up with one hell of a mess that just compounds. We eventually have to return later and pick it all up.

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli.

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli.

I ask that you consider applying the same discipline to your dreams.  Last week, this blog proposed when it comes to our goals and dreams what we accomplish rests with us. Don’t beat yourself up if you come up short. Understand why, and just keep making forward movement.

I have seen people, though, end up playing a disappointing game of “drop and leave” with their goals and dreams.

“Oh, I didn’t get to the gym this week—or last week, or the week before—but I’ll get there.” Or, “I know we need to meet with a financial adviser for our retirement plans. But, heck, we got lots of time.  We’ll get it done soon enough.”

Hmm.

Last week, I also suggested that you list a personal goal for each of my Five Fs (fitness, family, faith, finances, and function). Did you do it? Or did you say, “I’ll leave it be for now and get to it tomorrow.” Tomorrow becomes next week. Next week turns into next year. And so on.

Great intentions end up in overwhelming piles that we may never get to in a timely fashion, if at all.  Are you dropping and leaving until tomorrow?

Whether you call it procrastination, postponing, ignoring, or dropping and leaving, remember today is the tomorrow you created yesterday.

How does it look to you?


Video recommendation for the week:

This short video, while “old,” still packs a powerfully simple message.  What do you do or not do about getting your stuff done?


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

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).

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) 2016. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#340) It’s Up To You

November 27, 2016

Treat your dreams like your property.
If you don’t protect them from theft and damage, who will?

I recently reacquainted myself with a bit of Casey Stengel wisdom. Stengel reportedly pointed across the field and said,

See that fellow over there? He’s twenty-years old and in ten years, he’ll be a star.
And, see that other fellow over there? He’s also twenty-years old. In ten years, he’ll be thirty.

Absolutely love that! And it speaks to what we do or do not do in our lives.  We all have dreams of one kind or another. They probably involve one of what I call the Five Fs: fitness, family, faith, finances, and function.

Do you know people who, rather than dreams, have fantasies?  They can articulate a wonderful story about where they want to be in a year, five years, or so.  When it comes to action, though, there is an obvious lack.   A company with a great mission statement on the wall needs to have complementary movement. Or else we just have meaningless words. Same for personal goals.  Don’t let anyone steal or derail your goals–and don’t do it to yourself. Treat your dreams like your property. If you don’t protect them from theft and damage, who will?

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

Last week at the gym, someone asked me about my experiences with shoulder surgery. (I’ve had rotator cuff surgery on both shoulders.) This particular person keeps himself in top-notch shape. He has a disciplined workout regimen.  Somewhere along the way, however, he has injured his shoulder to the point that he is in 24/7 discomfort and/or outright pain. He shared that he needed to do something—perhaps shoulder surgery.

“How long did it take you to recover?” he asked from his pigeon position on the mat.

“About four months to get back into my gym routine. And about 12 months for what I call a full recovery,” I shared.

He grimaced, as he was not sure he wanted to wait that long for a recovery.

If he does not do the surgery (or some other meaningful and healthy intervention) in four months he won’t have any relief. If he works with a healthcare professional, he has a better chance of feeling better.  In either case, he will be four months older. One scenario has him in pain (still). The other, sees him with a chance for being pain-free. His choice.

And, see that other fellow over there? He’s also twenty-years old.
In ten years, he’ll be thirty.

I remember years ago a fifty-something year old man asking what it would take to become a schoolteacher.  By the end of the conversation, he said that if he went back to school to pursue his dream, in the four or five years it would take to get his degree he would be nearly 60 years old.

“Hmm,” I asked, “how old will you be in four or five years if you don’t go for the degree?”

And, see that other fellow over there? He’s also twenty-years old.
In ten years, he’ll be thirty.

Take a little time today for yourself.  List one dream you have for each of the Five Fs? When do you want to reach each of those dreams? Start your action (even if very small steps) today.

Don’t beat yourself up if you come up short. Keep making forward movement.

It’s up to you.

And remember Stengel’s words.


Video recommendation for the week:

Pay attention to your vocabulary—especially what you use when talking to yourself.  Enjoy this short clip from a talk I delivered in Portland, Oregon in 2015.  Note: I present three de-motivating words. There is a fourth to add to the list: “later.”  It (“later”) has the potential to kill your movement forward.


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

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).

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) 2016. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#290) Life Fitness and Mental Discipline

December 13, 2015

How do you walk around in something you were born with and
not know anything about it or not be aware of what affects it?
Charles Bailey

With December invariably come thoughts of New Year’s Resolutions—and just as inevitably, the breaking of those resolutions. Many of us will start with the desire to be in good shape, better shape, or best shape.  But something happens on the way to that better version of ourselves. Many will give up. Two of the perennially broken resolutions are to lose weight and get fit.

The reasons vary from unrealistic expectations (we overwhelm ourselves) to lack of action (we underwhelm ourselves). I call it “Big Intentions—Minimal Action.”  As I wrote on this blog three years ago:

If you lack discipline and the work ethic to make your dreams come true…
the lack of action will create its own reality.
But there are a number of strategies that we can all use to help us identify our goals,
take action, and enjoy the reality we want to create.

[Photo provided by Charles Bailey]

[Photo provided by Charles Bailey]

If physical fitness is part of life fitness, why do many of us “fall off the fitness wagon”? On Tuesday of this coming week (December 15, 2015), I will explore this further during Episode #9 of my podcast series on growth and resilience.  My guest, personal trainer and competitive power lifter Charles Bailey, will provide insights from nearly 30 years working with people on their life fitness goals. He reminds us that we all live multi-dimensional lives and for that reason it’s difficult to consider “physical” conditioning without also considering other dimensions like the emotional, social, and occupational components of our lives.  And that requires awareness and discipline.

But how many of us stop and think about these fitness components? As Charles said during the recording of our session, “How do you walk around in something you were born with and not know anything about it or not be aware of what affects it?”

steve and charles

Below you will find a few nuggets from my time with Charles. We dig down on each of these (and more) in our lively and thought-provoking conversation.

  • Don’t overwhelm yourself. Be realistic with your goals and timing.
  • If you use a trainer, “audition” him or her before engaging him or her for your fitness regimen. Charles provides a few key characteristics and qualities to look for in a trainer. (BTW: Charles is my current trainer in the gym. No, I’m not going to be a power lifter. I just want to be a fit version of myself.)
  • A trainer needs to pay attention to the client—and the client needs to pay attention to the trainer. Do you know what to look for during the first session and beyond?
  • Know your current fitness level and where you want to go. Consult your doctor/healthcare professional as needed to make sure you embark on and stay on a healthy and safe fitness program.  Take in as much accurate and appropriate information as you can. Do you have an awareness about your current fitness; understand the assumptions behind your fitness goals; and map out and carry out a smart action plan?
  • How big is your “need” to be in better shape? This will be part of your drive—and may well determine if you stay true to your fitness goals.
  • Proper nutrition is a major part of one’s overall fitness level.
  • If you have started a fitness program in the past, and then fell off the wagon, do you know how to minimize that from occurring again? How can your goals remain sustainable?

Fitness depends on mental discipline.  It’s not so much about how we measure up to the person next to us in the weight room.  It is more about understanding our goals, smartly planning to reach those goals, and then taking wise and consistent action.

I developed a five-component model for success that I used with my students and with audiences around the nation: P.R.I.D.E. ™ It fits our discussion about your fitness level.

 

[You also can access the video by clicking here.]

In short, when and if you consider a fitness program, understand why you are doing it; surround yourself with appropriate and healthy resources; stay focused and disciplined; and strengthen your resilience along the way.

Please click into the free podcast (again, it goes live on December 15, 2015).  Whether you work with a trainer or not, and whether you agree with Charles’ philosophy or not, you will hear information worth considering and evaluating to help you make the best choices for your growth and resilience.

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

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

You can find my podcast series at Growth and Resilience (http://stevepiscitelli.com/video-media/podcasts). 

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.

 


(#279) Do You Have the Wisdom of a 5th Grader?

September 27, 2015

If we pay attention we often can find real nuggets of wisdom
from the young people around us.

You may have heard of or even remember watching Art Linkletter’s “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” It was a feature on his House Party show.  He’d “interview” kids (generally 10 and under)—and you can imagine the genuine, authentic, unfiltered and refreshing responses Linkletter received from his “panelists.” If we pay attention we often can find real nuggets of wisdom from the young people around us. Of course, we must listen.

My wife has been experiencing a health challenge of late and to help speed her recovery a dear teacher friend of ours enlisted the help of her fifth grade class.  She and her husband delivered a bag of carefully worded and creatively decorated hand-made get well cards to Laurie last week. (Thank you Cass and Tom!) The cards, addressed to “Mrs. Laurie,” contained short messages crafted in multi-colored crayons that would make Hallmark envious.

Each card held out positive thoughts and the importance of a great attitude. One simply stated, “You will tough it!” Another, cleverly created a get well wish from the letters of “Mrs. Laurie.”  While the card was for my bride, I have to say that this young student has reminders for all of us. Soak in this 5th grader’s wisdom:

Make life count

Rock it

Stay strong

Love life

Amazing woman

U can do it

Remember

Inspire

Everyone matters

Video recommendation for the week:

As Art Linkletter discovered decades ago, kids do say the dardest things

As you look to the week ahead, perhaps you can focus on one of the above nine powerful steps for purposeful and mindful living.

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

You can find my podcast series at Growth and Resilience (http://stevepiscitelli.com/video-media/podcasts). 

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.

 


%d bloggers like this: