(#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.


(#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.


(#317) Finding Your Passion Is Just The Beginning

June 19, 2016

Once we discover what we feel is our passion
(or at least, our interest that could become a passion),
the work has only begun. 

One day in class, a thirty-something student raised her hand to ask a question about my professional journey. She was a conscientious student who was searching and attempting to zero in on her life’s passion.  She wondered, “How long did it take you to get to where you are, professor?” I reflected for a moment, thinking of my writing, teaching and speaking careers. “Oh,” I said, “about thirty years and I still have a lot to learn.”

I could literally see the her shoulders slump, her face scrunch up and her head lower and shake ever so slightly from side to side.

She knew she would have to work. Just not quite that long.

In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth debunks the notion that passion is something that comes to us like a bolt from the blue, a sudden revelation that changes our life’s trajectory; and that once discovered we have it made. She states that science has proven that “passion for your work is a little bit discovery, followed by a lot of development, and then a lifetime of deepening.” (p. 103)  I think my student knew about the discovery; had a bit of understanding about the development; but little clue about the deepening. And anecdotally, I don’t think her case is that unique.

Image: dan/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: dan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The discovery part of the passion process comes from Brailling the world. Exploration, discovery, curiosity and interactions.  It’s not a one and done that we will discover with simple introspection Duckworth contends.   This is where “play” can be very beneficial. It allows us to dabble, have fun and sort through experiences.  (I’m not sure we will find our life’s passion/interests by being glued to “breaking news alerts” which are, basically, somebody else telling us what they discovered and why we should care about it.) We have to find our own agenda.

Once we discover what we feel is our passion (or at least, our interest that could become a passion), the work has only begun.  We have to develop it.  Like a talent or skill, we need to engage in, as Duckworth calls it, “a proactive period of interest development.”  We have to stoke the curiosity. When we continue to read, listen, observe, and participate we gather more information. The interest deepens—or we might discover this isn’t what we really want. And the process begins anew.

The final piece of the passion journey, according to Duckworth, comes in the form of having “encouraging supporters…who provide ongoing stimulation and information” about our passion.  This feedback is critical.  I’ve written often on this blog about the importance of relationships.  Duckworth affirms the importance of supportive networks.

The student who asked about my journey had enrolled herself in college to find her way.  Her question of me represented one small piece of her journey—a slice of her discovery path. Her physical reactions to length of time required to polish the passion indicated another benchmark on her journey: she would need grit to persevere and reach her long-term goal.

Video recommendation of the week.

If you have not viewed Duckworth’s popular TED Talk, I’d recommend it. Below you will find a short interview where she hits broadly on the idea of perseverance.

Where do you stand in the discovery, development, and deepening cycles? How do you (or could you) play the role of supportive network for someone who is in the discovery or development mode? Do you encourage the process and joy of play (for others and yourself) when it comes to the discovery phase?  How do you stay curious? What have you done today to deepen your passion? Are your goals, in fact, Hell, Yeah goals that inspire you to enjoy the journey of work and learning?

Stay curious about your development and growth, my friend.

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

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

You can find my podcast series at The Growth and Resilience Network (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) 2016. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

 


(#315) Play Your Song, Now

June 5, 2016

What song lives in you?

I had the opportunity to listen to Kai Kight speak this past week in Austin, Texas. He titled his thoughts “Composing Your World.” Using his violin and stories from his journey, he poignantly drove home two oft-repeated life lessons.

Image: dan/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: dan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

1. Don’t regret what might have been. Kai related how years ago his mother, with tears in her eyes, told him of her breast cancer diagnosis. The tears were not tears of fear, not tears for the unknown or the chemo treatments that lay ahead. No, they were, Kai told the audience, tears for the past. Tears for experiences not lived.
2. Play your song. Kai is an accomplished violinist. He can masterfully play the masters. But as he developed his craft he remained restless. He wanted to play his own music. Every opportunity he had, he would construct his own pattern of notes and melodies. These excited him. The scripted music that his conductor led the orchestra through did not juice him.

Video recommendation of the week.

Kai’s metaphor gives us a another powerful reminder to use our precious time to construct and live a life of meaning. Rather than shedding tears for an unfulfilled past, embrace the promising present, play your song, and think of the wonderful opportunities in front of you.

A number of years ago I delivered a breakfast keynote to a group of realtors. As the audience finished their meal, I encouraged them to evaluate their lives and consider being “responsibly selfish.” That is, I challenged them to take care of their needs. Get to the gym, pick up the musical instrument they always wanted to learn to play, write that novel that was inside of them, or make the difference they can in their communities. Live their authentic lives.

I remember how one person in the audience got upset with my message and later sent me an email stating that “selfish” is easy but not good.  For me, that is where “responsibly” comes in. Think of it as an “investment” in yourself. It’s not license to ignore responsibilities, go into debt because “I deserve [fill in the blank],” or lead a hedonistic lifestyle for the sake of meaningless pleasures.

We all have responsibilities to tend to (children, business, partners, financial obligations, and our own health and well-being for instance). AND we have an opportunity (obligation?) to experience our lives, embrace the present, and create our own songs.

What notes are inside of you? What song can you share with the world to make it a better place and you a more complete person?

Make it an inspiring week as you pursue your authentic “hell, yeah!” goals.—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) 2016. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#301) Authenticity: What Does It Look Like For You?

February 28, 2016

As you live your life
Please take my cue
To thine own self be true

In a TEDx talk, psychologist Maria Sirois states, “When we are authentic all of the parts get to exist.”

All of our parts get to exist.

Often, though, some of those parts might be denied. Regretfully denied.

In a previous post on this blog, I suggested we all take time to give our goals a second R.E.A.D. to make sure the goals we set really stand for and represent what we truly want to do and who we are in this life.  We would do well to make sure the goals allow for Relationships that matter; for Excitement in our lives; for our Authenticity to shine; and for us to make a Difference in our world.

If our goals pass the second R.E.A.D. we then have a better chance to live our own authentic lives not the scripts expected of us by others.

Arvind Balaraman@FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The article “The 5 Biggest Regrets People Have Before They Die” makes the point that the common deathbed regrets did not include absent titles, unearned degrees, pretty looks or adulated celebrity. As I review the regret list below (according to work done by a hospice nurse), I thought about how things might have been different for these people if earlier in their lives they had given their paths a second R.E.A.D.

  1. “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
    *This speaks to Authenticity–living your life according to your healthy and ethical standards; not succumbing to group-think or doing what someone else considers to be the correct path for you to follow. Because it is good for him or her does not mean it is good for you.
  2. “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”
    *Are you creating a life or a resume? If the resume takes precedence, then how Excited are you about it? When you look at the journey you travel, does it create a positive Difference in the world around you?
  3. “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.”
    *Do you speak up? Or do you follow the expectations to go along and get along? When we are not Authentic to ourselves, we need to ask why. First that requires an awareness that something is amiss. Remember, being authentic does not mean we have to be butt-holes about it. Yes, self-expression can be scary—and it can be liberating.  It will create consequences.
  4. “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”
    *Genuine and healthy Relationships can help keep us grounded. They can help us stay in touch with our authentic selves.
  5. “I wish that I had let myself be happier.”
    *Do we stay on the proverbial treadmill out of expectation or because we want to? Do our goals bring Excitement to our lives?

There are stories we tell ourselves and there are stories we live. What is the gap between the two? Do your stories represent you as your authentic self?  Do they allow your whole being to be authentic? What adjustments or tweaks need to be made to continue to live your already authentic life or to live a more authentic life? What incremental steps can you take today?

The bridge in one of my songs (“Love My Life”) from my second CD (Find Your Happy Place!) simple sings

As you live your life
Please take my cue
To thine own self be true

Video recommendation of the week:  Dr. Maria Sirois speaks about the authentic self in this TEDx Talk.

Make it an inspiring week as you pursue your authentic “hell, yeah!” goals.—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) 2016. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

 


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