(#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.


(#354) What Can You Really Control?

March 5, 2017

Perhaps understanding and accepting the uncertainty
will allow you to see additional choices and paths to success.

Last week seven words focused my attention.

Are you afraid to ad-lib your life?

Do you have to script each moment as you attempt to control each outcome (professional or personal) of your day? Unfortunately, too often I attempt to do that. And I exhaust myself!  The good news: I am aware.  I am a work in progress.

Scripting allows me the illusion of control. More so, it feeds my need to control. I create an urgency that commands (and commends!) me to orchestrate every step of the journey with the intent to control all outcomes.  And it drives me to distraction.

We have to recognize that we do have control over our thoughts, words, and actions. Think of a goal you reached.  It originated with a thought, you put it to words, and you took action. To a certain degree, you maintained control over the goal process. But you really could not control the outcome.  So many other factors came into play.

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Before any presentation, I take responsibility for the preparation process:  my words, visuals, mode of presentation, research, my handouts, speech patterns, and mannerisms.  I hope that my rehearsal and attention to detail will produce a certain outcome for the audience.

The reality remains that I cannot control the audience outcome.  Sure, I can say with a bit of certitude that certain demonstrations will invariably produce this result or that.  But I have no control over who walks into the room that day. Or what they have just experienced in their personal lives.

At times, I torture myself with whether or not a flight will be on time or a connection through Atlanta gives me enough time to dash to the next concourse.  No matter how meticulously I plan the itinerary, I have zero control over delays.  Yes, I can attempt to minimize the chances for delays. But I have zip for influence.  On days that I accept that certainty, I feel more relaxed.

When my wife went through chemotherapy, initially and naively I attempted to control the situation. I quickly discovered (what my wife already knew) that I could not control the dropping of her blood counts. In fact, those blood counts became a certainty throughout treatment that neither of us could do much to control. I had to learn how to handle that and the entire process. Once I did, I became a better partner for that journey.

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There will always be uncertainty. For my own wellbeing, I have to accept (embrace?) that ambivalence. Whether it is an audience reaction, the success of a podcast, the on-time arrival of a connecting flight, or the sales of a book, there is only so much Stevie can do.  When I lose that perspective, I go into a downward spiral of stress. And I am not much good to anyone, least of all myself.

You may have worked for a boss who attempted to control everything—every little step and process—of your day.  How did you feel? Maybe you are that dominating boss. How’s that working for your health and those you lead? (Do you really think your employees awaken each morning, stretch their arms over their heads, and say, “Gee, I can’t wait to get to work so my supervisor can attempt to control every step of my day, belittle me, and browbeat me. I am so motivated!”)

When it comes to the need to control, consider addressing the underlying issues at hand. What is it you really need? Can you get beyond answers like, “I need to meet my quarterly numbers”?  What are the underlying motivations for a control obsession?

Understanding and accepting the uncertainty may allow you to see additional choices and paths to success. And, by chance, you may be able to ad-lib a bit of your day.


Video recommendation for the week:

Times of change can lead us to control what semblance of an old order we can lasso. That is not change management. That resembles someone attempting to manage disappointment.  An older video of mine reminds us that when it comes to change we have a four-step process. You will notice that control does not factor into the equation.

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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.


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