On this page, you can find my collection of (almost) daily posts. It started as a 90 days project to cure my laziness in writing — One Apple A Day keeps the laziness away — and it then became a vital ingredient of my daily practices. There are no predefined topics. Just the pleasure of daily writing practice. The project started as a Tumblr blog. You can find the first 412 posts over there.
I woke up with the words from an article I read yesterday still whispering in my mind. I thought those would be a perfect input for my daily apple. I was already savouring the idea of pondering on and playing around those words.
Before beginning my writing practice, I did some stretching, I drank some water, and I sat to meditate. Following my morning ritual, I picked a BeTheChange card to ease my way into a deeper level of reflection.
It was the card saying “Power + Love”.
For the third morning in a row, the same card came up.
What does this card keep telling me that I am not seeing?
So, I was there, still on the outside but with quite a chaos on the inside.
I tried to focus on what I wanted to write about but those two words, power and love, kept coming back.
Then I had a flash. A memory from my school years. Power is also a word used in physics. It has something to do with change and time. Immediately after, other words from a book I read last summer surfaced in my mind.
I didn’t know what to do with those flashes when I opened my eyes. So, I rushed to my laptop and did a quick search.
“In physics, power is the rate of doing work or of transferring heat, i.e. the amount of energy transferred or converted per unit time. As a physical concept, power requires both a change in the physical system and a specified time in which the change occurs.” – from Wikipedia
So, the way I’ve decided to read it, my power is my ability to infuse energy into a system to change it within a specified time.
What about love? Using Rupert Spira words, “Love is the experience of that oneness of being.“
So, if we are one, to change someone or something, it means to change me.
The words I wanted to write about at the beginning were about leadership. The words in the card I picked reminded me that leadership begins with my ability to love and infuse energy in my own change.
This morning I was reflecting on Self-leadership. Lately, this word has been the topic of a few conversations, in particular within the context of organizations. It looks like there is a demand for more self-leadership, but what that does really mean? How do people with a high level of self-leadership show up in their private and professional lives? Am I expressing my self-leadership?
Bryant and Kazan, in their book titled “Self-Leadership: How to Become a More Successful, Efficient, and Effective Leader from the Inside Out” provides the following definition.
Self-leadership is having a developed sense of who you are, what you can do, where you are going coupled with the ability to influence your communication, emotions and behaviours on the way to getting there.
To me, self-leadership is about alignment. I feel I am a leader of myself when I am fully in tune with my essence. When my actions, my words, my thoughts are coherent with who I am. And while I’m writing this, I realize that this alignment is also what I recognize in the great leaders that I admire.
So know, Lao-Tsu words sound more potent than ever.
“Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”
P.S. Quite a fascinating number for today’s post. The (in)famous Number of the Beast, also known as The devil’s number. Out of curiosity, I did a quick search and discover that there are people who are so fearful of this number that they created a word for this phobia; hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia. If you read up to here, I guess you don’t have that!
“Gratitude arises from paying attention, from being awake in the presence of everything that lives within and without and beside us.”
Since last week, when I read these words from the poem ‘GRATITUDE‘ by David Whyte, I knew that I wanted to write something. When I woke up with these words in mind, I thought that today was the day even I didn’t have a clear idea of what wanted to emerge.
Then this morning I picked a BeTheChange card for my meditation, and it says “Dare to let of control“.
Gratitude and letting go of control.
Is there a connection?
While I was sitting in silence with this question, a memory came back. A late-summer conversation on the seashore. In that conversation, I realise that if I can replace control with care, I can make my actions exponentially more powerful.
“Care” is the word I was looking for. Because paying attention, being present to everything is a form of caring.
Gratitude is the attitude I need to nurture to shift from control to care.
P.S. for some reasons, I wrote this post yesterday as I do every morning but I forgot to publish it! So, here it is.
“Do you have the patience to wait
till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
till the right action arises by itself?
The Master doesn’t seek fulfilment.
Not seeking, not expecting,
she is present, and can welcome all things.” — Lao-Tzu
A friend sent me this a few days ago, and these words have been working within me since then.
There are moments in life where we feel as if we are swimming in muddy water. We can’t see clearly, and the more we move, the more the water becomes murky. It looks like everything we do, everything we say makes things worst. At the point that we begin wondering if there is a way out at all.
“Do you have the patience to wait
till your mud settles and the water is clear?”
To stop and wait seems counterintuitive. Yet, it’s only when you stop moving and agitating the water, that the mud starts to settle.
What does it mean to stay still in your situation? What would happen if you do nothing and say nothing for a while?
“Can you remain unmoving
till the right action arises by itself?”
This is the tricky part for me. Because when you stop moving and the mud starts to settle, impatience grows. The more the water becomes clear, the more the desire to see through, to get the answer raises.
It is then that your inner strength is tested.
Can you resist the desire to act and wait for the right action to emerge?
How will you recognize it?
A good sign is the feeling of detachment from the outcome. When you’re not focused on anything but the present moment, that’s when the eyes of intuition will show you the way.
Sometimes I dig too much.
I think in part it’s because I’m naturally a reflective person, and in part for the work I do. I study ways to help people remove their limiting beliefs and unearth their true selves. So, I think it’s natural to do the same thing on myself. To ask me the challenging questions.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work so well.
Sometimes I just get trap into an inquiry spiral that leads to more confusion and can be exhausting.
I was sitting there meditating on this, and a few thoughts came to my mind.
The first one was a quote from Liminal Thinking by Dave Gray, a book that I love.
“If you’re part of the system you want to change, you’re part of the problem.”
I believe it also works if you replace the verb “change” with “understand”. It’s hard to understand something from the inside.
The second thought is a trick that art teachers use to train the observation capabilities of new artists. They ask the students to focus on the negative spaces around the object they are required to draw and not on the object itself. This is because in drawing an object, the artist knows what that object is supposed to look like. She has a mental model in her head that keeps her from drawing precisely what her eyes see. Hence, when asked to paint everything but the object itself, the proportions are easier to get right. The observation is not conditioned by the mental models.
The last one was the voice of my friend Stefano telling me that “I need to unload the bow every now and then otherwise, the tension will break it.“
Not sure how these three thoughts are connected, but my time for this writing practice is gone, and I definitely need breakfast.
To protect something or someone we love is noble.
However, when this word came out in a recent conversation, the first emotion that I felt was fear, not love.
To protect means to keep safe from harm, something or someone.
So, it is an act motivated by fear. But fear is the opposite of love.
So now I’m torn.
Can we love and protect at the same time?
If we spend our energy to protect something, we won’t have much left to infuse into that same thing and make it grow and thrive.
If we go all in, infusing all the love we can to make it grow and thrive, we may become blind to the risks around us.
I know, probably I’m just overthinking as I often do. But these thoughts have been spinning in my head since yesterday, and I need to let them out, so I can clear up my mind and move ahead with my day.
That’s one of the purposes of this writing practice.
Plus, I pick my Be The Change card, and it says “Standing in the intersection, leading from the space in-between“.
So, I’ll stay in the intersection between love and protection, and lead my day from there.
To be fully present in the moment it’s one of the purest and highest manifestations of trust.
Being able to predict the future is a fundamental survival skill. Human beings have been refining this ability since their appearance on Earth. It is in our DNA. We are endlessly analyzing our surroundings and predicting, or least trying to predict, what will happen next. We want to be sure to avoid anything that can bring us harm and, on the other side, repeat what gives us pleasure.
Yet, somehow predicting is like walking forward while looking back. We compare the situation with our memories to guess what may happen next, what will or will not work. Prediction is driven by our need for safety. It is, in the end, a reflection of fear.
To be present in the moment, without knowing what will happen and without trying to predict what’s next, requires trust.
Trust in it’s purest form. Trust in ourselves and in our infinite potential. Trust that whatever the future holds, we will thrive in it.
Yesterday, I did some trekking with a friend. We walked for a few hours on an unexpectedly steep trail.
As always, I’m amazed by the amount of learning and discovery that a walk in nature can unlock.
Anyway, we left early in the morning with plenty of enthusiasm. I’ve been looking forward to this for quite a while.
The first meters has been effortless. My legs were fine, my heart beating normal, and my breathing relaxed.
One kilometre, two kilometres. All good, we were walking in a beautiful autumn scenario within the woods, the mountains immersed in the November mist.
2,999 meters and I feel good.
Un meter later, fatigue arrived. Like a little shock running through the thigh, a bump in my heartbeat, the breath a little louder.
From that moment, the walk shifted and became tougher and tougher until we finished our excursion and came back to the car.
Would you say that the reason for the fatigue was the meter 3,000? That if would skip that meter, I would have any problem and maybe walk easily for hours?
I’m sure you won’t say that. Obviously, fatigue was just manifesting at that point but has been building up in all the meters before.
Yet, how many time in life, we focus on one event and forget the journey that led to that moment?
We think some people become successful overnight ignoring the years of hard work they put in to get there.
Something or something falls apart for what looks like a small push, and we overlook the long trail of small cracks that have been manifesting for a long time.
“Breakthrough moments are often the result of many previous actions, which build up the potential required to unleash a major change.” – James Clear
That’s why it’s essential to take care of your habits. Being aware that the journey to the top is a long one and every single step matters.
“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.” ― Rumi
Maybe it’s because it has been raining for days.
Or maybe because I’ve been thinking and talking about belonging and identity.
Anyway, these beautiful words from Rumi appeared in my awareness. And when I read them, I think that it’s not one or the other for me.
I am both.
I am the entire ocean in a drop.
I’m aware that there is so much more in me, and in everyone, that I can’t even imagine. It goes beyond my ability to understand. And that’s perfect because not knowing is what allow me to take the risk and allow this bigger who to emerge.
But I am also a drop in the ocean.
I am part of the whole and the whole at the same time.
Even more, I am a drop in many oceans at the same time.
And again, there is much more in the ocean that goes beyond my imagination. And not knowing is what allow me to take the risk to plunge into the water with all the other drops and see where we can go together.
“Listen, O drop, give yourself up without regret,
and in exchange gain the Ocean.
Listen, O drop, bestow upon yourself this honor,
and in the arms of the Sea be secure.
Who indeed should be so fortunate?
An Ocean wooing a drop!
In God’s name, in God’s name, sell and buy at once!
Give a drop, and take this Sea full of pearls.” ― Mawlana Jalal-al-Din Rumi
Mastery requires practice.
I know that, if there is something on which every master or big achiever agrees is that if you want to get to excellence, you must practice.
I also wrote about it many times.
I think I got the concept, but I also know that knowing what to do and doing what I know is not the same thing.
In this case, the barrier between the knowing and the doing has a name; boredom.
“The greatest threat to success is not failure but boredom.” — James Clear
The more you practice something, the more you get better at it. But also the more tedious and routine it becomes. At the beginning everything is exciting, every time I practice, I learn new things. Improvements are visible, and they motivate me to go on. But sooner or later, the day by day improvements become less evident, routine replaces the excitement, and slowly my interest starts fading away. That’s when I start looking around for some novelty and my journey to mastery crumbles. Even if it is working and I am making progress.
“Men desire novelty to such an extent that those who are doing well wish for a change as much as those who are doing badly.” — Machiavelli
I’d love to say that there is a strategy to avoid that, but so far, I have found nothing but learning to fall in love with boredom.