One Apple A Day #670 – close the book

Over the weekend, I had a few conversations about the ending of things.  

We give a lot of attention to the beginning. We remember and celebrate the first moment of something; a relationship, a job, a project, life.

I feel we are not as good at dealing with the end.

I’ve been taught how to start something, but I can’t remember anyone teaching me how to end anything.

Though, the end of anything is a crucial moment. One that will have a defining impact on anything that will come after. 

The destination plays a vital role in giving meaning to a journey.

I see so many people, and I am one of them, doing their best to avoid the end. Sometimes running away, or ignoring it. But mostly just jumping on new things. And in doing so, they drag the unfinished old ones with them. 

But how can you live fully what you have in the present when part of your energy is spent carrying the past?

The end of everything is so important. There should be classes at school on how to properly end or deal with the closing of something. So we can take all the value from the experienced that we lived and use it to nurture the present and build the future.

“A wise man once said; When you come to the last page, close the book.” — Mr Wu from The Love Bug

I was this movie when I was a kid, and this scene at the very end is the only thing I remember. There are really lessons in the most unexpected places. The space on my desk is limited. So, if I don’t close a book when I get to the last page, after a while, I won’t have enough space to open a new one.

One Apple A Day #696 – the magic is in the question

Yesterday I was writing an article about “the daily question process” created by Marshall Goldsmith. It’s a straightforward yet powerful practice to improve ourselves based on a set of active questions answered every day. You can read how and why it works here from Goldsmith himself.

This morning, while I was meditating and creating space for the seed of this post to emerge, I had a small Aha moment when my thoughts went back to the daily question process. Goldsmith does not say anything about what he does with all the answers he collects. 

Every day he asks, or better he has someone asking him 32 active questions to which he answers with a yes or a no. That’s a massive amount of data, but he never talks about it when he describes the process.

All that really matters are the questions. Just by asking the right questions in the right way, we can trigger a series of constructive thoughts and nurture our self-awareness. The answers are merely incidental in this process. The thoughts and the emotions that the questions spark are the real gold in this process.

And as Goldsmith says in his post, “even the process of writing questions will help you better understand your own values and how you live or don’t live them on a daily basis.

One Apple A Day #695 – my little book of questions

A few weeks ago, I went to this coffee place nearby for the first time. It’s a lovely place, perfect for morning conversations. When I went to the till to pay, there was this little black book laying there over the counter. Quite thick, with a leather cover and the title “The book of answers” engraved in gold on the cover.

It’s a delightful book to play with. You probably know how it works. You think about a question, open it randomly and read the short answer on the page before you. 

Then, it’s up to you to decide what you want to do with the answer you get. You can laugh and dismiss it. Or you can take it as a sign.

To me, the best next step is to take the answer as an inspiration to an even better question.

“Creativity rarely begins with an answer.” — from The Way of Nowhere

I’ve been thinking about the magic of questions lately, and about how much, when I encounter a challenging one, I feel the pressure to find an answer. However, it is only when I let go of that urge to answer, and I stay with the question, carrying it with me and allowing for it to do its work, that magic happens.

So, I’ve decided to carry a small notebook with me. I’ll call it my little book of questions

One Apple A Day #694 – where is the energy coming from?

“It is therefore important to look at our own energy and the energy of those around us so we can discern its true source. It is cellular, arising from our excitement at meeting the challenges that life is gifting to us? Or is it adrenaline fuelled, a fight-or-flight response which is unsustainable in the medium or long terms and is in danger of undermining the health of the individual and the community?” – from The Way of Nowhere

Sustainability is too often seen from the perspective of resources. Do we earn enough to keep the business growing or do I make enough to sustain my family? 

We rarely approach sustainability from an energetic point of view. Maybe it’s because that same fear of not having enough resources triggers our adrenaline and gives us an energy boost. But how long can we sustain this energy fuelled mainly by adrenaline?

I’ve experienced this in the past. I remember being in a new and rising company, working hard and pushing for exponential results. The level of energy in the group was incredible. I remember the feeling of moving forward at ludicrous speed. 

Until I run out of steam. That same energy was consuming me until I had to leave. 

When I come across a new project or idea, I often feel the surge of energy triggered by my curiosity. In the past, I used to jump on board and ride whatever wave came in my way. 

I’m now learning to take a pause and check where that energy is coming from. Is it just the adrenaline for something new, or is it something deeper fired by a resonance with my essence?

One Apple A Day #693 – search the ember

It’s dawn, and the air is chilly.

We are not supposed to regroup before an hour. 

But I can hear the first early-riser getting out of their tents.

It’s a misty morning, the mountains around are hiding.

I walk to the middle of the open space, the place where the fire burns during the day. There are no flames, but I can see some embers pulsing under the ashes.

I’m not great with fire. But I love to watch how the other men can quickly start one. And I love to watch the flames dance. I just never been useful in starting a fire. 

Only now I’m here alone before those embers. And I swear, they are calling. So, I did as I saw others doing the day before. I put some new wood over the embers, and I start blowing. Gently.

With every blow, the ember comes alive and glow. Every time a bit more. Until all of a sudden, a flame bursts and the fire comes alive again.

 

Since that day, breathing life into a glowing ember became one of my favourite experiences. It’s magical how it happens.

Sometimes, our potential is like an ember, a faint light under the ashes. If we do nothing, it will go dark and cold. But if we breathe our being into it, the ember will start glowing again until it will burst into flame and irradiate our life.

One Apple A Day #692 – blame vs responsibility

Moving from “blame” to “responsibility” is one of those shifts that can turn a life upside down.
Yet, it is not an easy one.
In a way, blaming is like taking a painkiller.
When something or someone hurts me, I take my blame pills, and the pain fades. Nothing changes, I know. But the pain is gone, and I can keep going on with my life.
But the cause of the pain is still there. And anytime it comes back, I’ll need a higher dose of blaming to dull the pain.
To take responsibility means to look into the source of that pain and act to solve the cause. Unfortunately, often this can make the suffering even worse at the beginning.
I believe this is why blaming comes so easy. In particular, when we are the ones hurting ourselves.
I’ve always been good at this one.
Years of training in blaming myself for every little mistake, so I could relieve myself from the struggle to change.
Even now that I’ve learned the lesson, it’s easy to slip into the blaming mode.
So, this post is a note to self.
A way to remind me that to blame is to look back, so if I want to move forward, I have to take responsibility and do something.

One Apple A Day #691 – being creative is a habit

“The process of being innovative as an organization is a cultural thing; it’s a habit.” — Astro Teller

Yesterday, someone asked me how do I find something new to write about every morning. 

I’d love to say that it’s an innate talent and that ideas flow out of my head and my finger effortlessly. Or maybe that I have found a secret formula to access a wellspring of inspirations and ideas. 

The truth is that there are no secrets, and I don’t have any superpower.

Reality is less romantic. 

I just made a habit of looking for ideas and inspirations. 

Being creative is a habit that everybody can cultivate through intentional and deliberate practice.

When I began this project almost three years ago, it was only to improve my writing. Nothing else. No desires to share anything particular with the world. Just a pure writing practice. But, obviously, to write, I needed something to write about. So, without even noticing at the beginning, I began paying attention to just everything. Everything and everyone became a potential source of ideas for my writing.

Until it became a habit.

Sometimes, when I’m listening to something, I can hear my mind opening the drawer labelled “ideas for the morning writing” and save it for later.

So, that’s the “secret”; practice creativity every day until it becomes a habit.

One Apple A Day #690 – The universe whispers

“Intuition is really a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life, where the histories of all people are connected, and we are able to know everything, because it’s all written there.” — from The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho

Intuition is often described as a spiritual moment. Satori, eureka, illumination, a muse. Whatever you call it, it is a moment of connection when we suddenly know something as if it comes from the outside. For a brief moment, you tune into the frequency of the universe and capture a glimpse of its infinite knowledge. 

In my experience, however, the universe whispers. 

So, if you want to hear anything at all, you must silence the noise within and without you. 

Both the constant stream of information flooding your senses, and the relentless chatting of your mind. 

Only in silence, when your inner and outer field is clean, you can hear the universe whispering to your soul.

One Apple A Day #689 – breakthrough questions

I am a spiritual seeker. 

And my spiritual journey is also at the essence of what I do.

I believe that when we learn to surrender to our bigger who, we can move beyond the boundaries of our mind. We can source from the infinite creative potential of the universe. 

And here’s come the challenge.

Bringing words like “spirituality” or “consciousness” in business conversations is not an easy task. Yes, you can try to translate and frame them into the language of the business, but it’s easy to fall into old and tired ideas.

These are challenging times, everything happens at an incredible speed. Everything is connected, and the world is getting smaller and smaller.  Individuals and organisations are looking for new and different answers. But that it’s possible only if we ask new and different questions.

It’s not about framing my spiritual essence into the language of the business. It’s about bringing more of it. And to do that, I must raise the quality of my questions.

If I want better answers, more significant ideas, more disruptive breakthrough than I must ask bolder, more courageous and challenging questions.

“Breakthrough questions for unlocking our personal creativity. For creativity rarely begins with an answer. Breakthrough questions should therefore lead us into the unknown.” – The way of nowhere

One Apple A Day #688 – a thin line

For months I’ve been seeking the answer to an important personal question. But the answer eludes me. Even worst, the harder I try, the farther I feel from any clarity.

Being entirely honest, it’s not the first time. Many times in the past, I found myself lost in a quest for an answer or a solution. And too often, I got so entrenched in the problem that I couldn’t see any way out.

Ironically, most the time it is when I give up trying that the answer emerges.

With this awareness, at the turn of year, a voice in my head began saying “then why are still looking? Just stop trying and wait for the answer.

But, I’ve been there before, and there’s a caveat. 

A thin line that we must pay attention to.

The thin line separating the passive waiting for something from the active creation of space for something to emerge.

The universe is actively invested in our journey, so it tries to help, giving us signs and hints. But it does so using its own language.

So we must engage in learning the language of the universe. We must open up, expand our senses, actively listen and observe. And then act on the signs we read.

If we cross that thin line and we passively wait for the universe to speak our language, we may dry out in the wait.