(#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.

(#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.


(#217) What We Think We Become

July 20, 2014

Until she made the decision to start focusing on how her now created her later,
she lived a life of unfulfilled expectations.

Last week in Chicago, Liz Murray opened our conference with riveting revelations about her journey.  Liz’s story is chronicled in the powerful movie Homeless to Harvard. The daughter of drug addled parents, Liz moved from dysfunctional home to foster home to life with no home to Harvard graduate.  The story is gripping and illustrative.

On this night in Chicago, Liz focused on the theme that adversity is universal. The movie scenes I share with my students each semester emphasize what can happen when a person stops focusing on the adversity and starts moving toward what could be.

Me with Liz Murray at the Noel-Levitz Conference (July 2014)

Me with Liz Murray at the Noel-Levitz Conference (July 2014)

Liz told the audience that we all make a difference.  When she was just attempting to survive on the streets, she didn’t believe she could make a difference. She did dream of a better life but she did not know how to get there. Thus her life became one of “later.”

As she said, “I thought I had a ‘later.’ I thought I would see my mother one more time later; get a job later.” Her mom would say, “One day I’ll get sober.”  Which was another way of saying “later.”  And until she made the decision to start focusing on how now created later, she lived a life of unfulfilled expectations.  In fact, one could wonder if there were any expectations beyond the day-to-day struggle to survive.  I see this in so many of my students.

Let me share a few more of Liz’s nuggets from her talk:

  • “Lead with your heart and the rest will follow.” (She related that when she was in a group home, the staff were terrible to her and the other children. Power trips. They were not leading with their hearts.)
  • “People can’t give you what they don’t have.”
  • “People grow into the conversations you have about them.”
  • “Cynicism is the atrophy of your imagination and your heart.”

Liz knew there was a better life for her—she just did not know how to get from “a” to “b.”  Then on one day, after being rejected by alternative school after alternative school (mostly because of the way she interacted with the school interviewers; she rejected them before they could reject her) she made a decision NOT to go with her friends but to go to one more school interview. She could have just as easily given up and said, “What’s the use?” Well, something inside urged her to persevere. And she got into that school. And that began a cascade of positive and life altering events in her journey. What if she had said, “Oh, they will just reject me I’ll do it later” and she missed that opportunity?

On another powerful day in her life she did three things:

  1. Applied for welfare
  2. Interviewed to go to Harvard
  3. Interviewed for the New York Times scholarship.

The only one who turned her down was the welfare agency!

As I type this, the coffee cup I have beside me, coincidentally, boasts the message “What we think we become.”

2014-07-17 13.23.46

Video recommendation for the week:

Liz Murray, thank you for the inspiration.

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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