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.

One Apple A Day #687 – a wrong map

Somewhere in Patagonia, January 8th, 2017

Here we are, standing at a crossroad. It has been a long and intense day. We already drove for about 500 km alternating tarmac and gravel. We surely enjoyed more the second one, but it requires more attention, and some tiredness is creeping in.

We’ve been standing here for a few minutes, the engine on. The complete absence of any form of human presence but us is becoming familiar. It’s only us, the signs saying that we should go left staying on the asphalt road. Our map saying that we should go right, on the gravel route. We’ve been following the Ruta40 since the very beginning of our journey. This road is the reason why we are here.

The sign says the Ruta40 is the one on the left. A long straight line of tarmac disappearing in the horizon. However, the map that we brought with us from Italy tells another story. In our map, the Ruta40 is the one going right. A white road disappearing after a few meters behind the brow. 

The shadows are getting longer and longer, and we have to make a choice if we want to get somewhere before it gets dark. The only hint we have to find our next destination, Tonchi’s farm, is to look for an old abandoned horse carriage on the side of the Ruta40. But which one is the right Ruta40?

We have no clues, but we know one thing; we love the gravel.

So, this is it. 

We decide to follow our map.

Two hours later we are almost regretting our choice. Outside is dark, cold and wind. And most of all, there is nothing and nobody anywhere to be seen. 

We are already planning the best way to spend the night in our truck when we see it. The old abandoned horse carriage.

We found it. 

***

What happened next is another story.

Only later we discovered that our map was an old one. To make the Ruta40 straighter and more comfortable to drive, the government swapped the name with another road. So the old and white Ruta40 got a new name. Our map was wrong and no more correct. Yet, it took us exactly where we wanted to go.

That day I learned that If you have clarity of intention, sometimes even a wrong map can lead you to the right place.

One Apple A Day #686 – Bring on the mess

Sometimes life is messy. Looking at my experience, I should probably say “most of the time”.
There is natural messiness in the world and in human beings.
And it can be scary. This mess is what makes things unpredictable, and our brain doesn’t like unpredictability.
As an efficient prediction machine, the human brain is continuously ingesting and analyzing information from the surrounding to infer what will happen next.

I realized how much energy I spent trying to figure out things, to find the right place for all the pieces. To create a reasonable order so I can make sense of things and give peace to my rational mind.

Sometimes it’s a fascinating and rewarding process. I love when I can create a frame through which I can read reality and act on my understanding. It’s like finding a map so I can go straight to the treasure.

Other times, however, it is exhausting. It becomes an endless effort to fit everything until I reach a point when I even forget what I was trying o achieve and why. In the meanwhile, I’m not doing any step forward.

So, I’ve decided to embrace the mess. Once we accept that life is messy and we can’t figure out everything in advance, we can move forward and maybe discover treasures that we didn’t know exist.

So, bring on the mess and let’s have fun.

“Randomness is not just inevitable; it is part of the beauty of life.” – Ed Catmull

One Apple A Day #685 – Innocence Inc.

Yesterday I was going through my old notes, and I found some excerpts I saved from the book Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull. 

It’s a book packed with inspirations and insights on how to nurture creativity, as the title suggests. But also on how to grow an incredibly successful team and company. 

The most fascinating aspect for me, however, is the story of Ed Catmull himself. The story of an incredibly talented engineer with no or little specific background in management who became a successful leader, leading hundreds of people, managing millions of dollars and dealing with the complexity of giant like Disney.

Yesterday, when I was reflecting on his journey, I had a sudden flash. Maybe the secret of his incredible success was precisely in not knowing how to be a manager and leader. Because he didn’t know what was right or wrong, what works and what doesn’t, what was possible and what not from previous studies or experiences, he had to create his unique way forward. With the innocence of a kid, he had to make sense of everything that was happening. Mostly through experiments and intuition. With the courage of an explorer, he had to take the plunge into what was, for him, uncharted territory.

I had a similar feeling reading Steve Jobs biography. 

In a way, they didn’t follow the rules because they didn’t know the rules of the game. They were just themselves.

Now we study them to understand how they did it so we can learn from them and do the same. But maybe the most important lessons is to let go of what we know and reconnect with the innocence of our inner kid.

One Apple A Day #684 – awareness as a tuner

The best communicators learn to align their intentions with their impact.

I found this sentence a few days ago on Conversational Intelligence by Judith E. Glaser. Since then, I’ve been pondering about this alignment between intentions and impact. 

Using Judith words; “While intention is what someone wants to make happen or plans to accomplish, the impact involves the quality of the experience from the perspective of the receiver—and that impact may not correspond with what the communicator intended.

So, I do align these two things? In particular, knowing that the impact of my communication is not something I have control over. Or do I?

My understanding is that to tune intention and impact, I must work on my awareness. 

First of all, I must be aware of my true intentions. Often there is a gap between the stated intentions and true ones underlying my words and actions. I don’t know you, but I can be very good at deceiving myself. So, working on awareness and being fully aware of my intention is half of the work.

Then I must also be aware of the other. I must learn to read the signs in the people and the environment I want to connect and communicate with. Only by becoming aware of both of them, intentions and impact, I can create the alignment needed to build trust.