One Apple A Day is my morning writing practice. It started as an experiment a few years ago, and it is now my daily anchoring practice. Fifteen minutes each morning that help me recenter and ground me.
On this page, you can read a new post every weekday.
Human beings have the unique ability to endure almost anything.
I know people who for decades have kept doing a job they loathe, being in an unhappy relationship, or living somewhere they don’t feel at home.
All situation that can be changed.
But they don’t.
They keep enduring the struggle, the pain and the unhappiness.
Day after day.
They keep telling themselves that they have no other choices.
What struck me the most when I talk with them is that they know what they really want to do. But once they describe the life they desire, they immediately start listing the things they can’t let go.
They quickly go from “waiting the right time” to change to “it’s too late” to do it.
They just believe it’s impossible for them to change.
And they are right.
As Henry Ford said, “whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.“
The belief of what we can and cannot do defines the boundaries of our ability to change our world.
So, if we want to change our world, the starting point should be our belief about what is possible.
Possunt quia posse videntur.Virgil
They can, because they think they can.
Why is it not happening?
This question comes up often lately.
Studies, research and books show us that a different way to work, live, and be is not only possible, but it also bears a positive impact on everyone.
There are plenty of evidence, examples, stories, knowledge, data, ideas, tools, models and systems. It’s all there, accessible to everyone.
And there is also no shortage of smart, handful, skilful and empathic people in the world.
Yet, it is not happening.
Not only we can’t find an answer to the significant challenges of humanity. We struggle to improve our organizations, our communities and, in the end, the quality of our own lives.
Sure, there are striking examples all over the planet. Yet, it’s hard to understand why this transformation toward a more holistic approach to everything is taking so long to spread.
Why are organizations resisting this transformation despite the evidence saying that it would benefit every stakeholder?
It won’t happen until there is a shift in awareness. Only then, individuals, organizations and communities will be able to source new forms and configurations.
And for this shift to happen, we must embrace a journey of subtraction.
The amount of data that humanity, directly on indirectly, produce and consume every minute is mindblowing.
Clearly, there is no shortage of data, information and knowledge. And it has never been so easy to access for so many people in the world.
With so much objective knowledge and data at our disposal, you would imagine that we should easily agree on everything.
Instead, we are continuously experiencing divisions and conflicts on almost every subject.
In the quest for truth, we found plenty of knowledge, and we convinced ourselves that it is the same thing.
I know I did it.
Sometimes I still do it, but I’m getting better at catching myself when it happens.
Because I read, learn or understand something, I may convince myself that I’ve found the truth. And I hold it with pride before others, only to discover that it isn’t gold but just pyrite, the fool’s gold.
Knowing a lot is a great thing.
Having plenty of data and information is absolutely useful.
Just remember that truth is meant to be sought, not to be found.
Cherish those who seek the truth but beware of those who find it.Voltaire
Infographic by DOMO.
Years ago, when I was learning to swim, my teacher started the lessons with very taxing exercises. Plenty of repetitions at a different speed.
By mid-lesson, my tank was empty. My body was exhausted, my arms and legs became so heavy. But there was still half a lesson to complete.
Once I asked her why she was doing that. Why put us through all that hard work in the first part of the lesson.
She told me that she discovered that it’s precisely when people are exhausted that they begin to improve their technique. When you can’t use your raw force to move forward in the water, you must get the maximum out of every movement. You must learn to glide through the water, make every stroke count, and use your remaining energy in the most efficient way possible. In short, you learn faster and better.
I do this sometimes in my life.
When I am full of energy, I tend to push through things, to say too many yeses, to work the extra hours. It’s only when I run out of steam that I realise that I can’t sustain that approach anymore. When that happens, I am forced to learn how to make more conscious choices, choose where I want to put my energy, and make every word and action count.
So, when something happens in our life that puts us through some strain and burns our energy, it may be an opportunity to learn how to become more efficient in pursuing our vision.
It’s way later than usual for my morning practice.
As much as I love my early morning rituals, sometimes we must be flexible and go with the flow.
However, I can’t really anchor my day without my daily apple.
When I don’t write, I feel as if something is missing, and I struggle to focus the whole day.
So, here I am, writing a few words on a train to Milan.
I’ve always loved travelling by train.
It’s an excellent opportunity to reflect but also observe humanity.
Today, however, I’ve been looking out of my window.
I’m on a high-speed train, and the landscape scrolls quickly before my eyes, villages alternating with open countryside. This is my homeland, but everything is so fast and blurred that I struggle to recognize anything. It’s only when the train slows down to enter a station that shapes become more defined, and details become visible.
Last weekend, I walked in the woods, going deliberately slow, and I remember my senses filled with sensations.
Sometimes we need to go fast to get to the desired destination in such a racing world. However, in doing so, we may miss plenty of details that could make the experience of travelling to our destination way more fulfiling. That’s why I believe it’s vital to take the time to slow down every now and then. Just to awaken our senses and expand our vision.
You may even discover that slowing down can make you faster.
If you want a working relationship to work, you have to work on the relationship first.
In the past, I thought that to create an effective working relationship, I needed a well-defined structure with some shared principles and procedures. As they say, good fences make good neighbours. If everyone knows what to do and how to do it, things go smooth.
This approach worked well for me, at least until things were predictable.
Unfortunately, when situations became messy and uncertain, these kinds of working relationships often crumbled.
In the last three years, I’ve learned that I must invest my energy in building and nurturing the relationship if I want a working relationship to really work.
When we focus on the “being” part of the connection, the “doing” flows effortlessly. That means creating practices with the only purpose of nurturing the relationship; creating trust and connection.
So when we do things together, we just have to be ourselves. The doing becomes a dance in which everyone fully trusts the others.
Words are powerful.
They can create worlds or destroy them in a moment.
Yet, they don’t have meaning in themselves.
We give them their meaning.
Too often, we believe for the meaning we give to a world to be objective and absolute.
We assume that the person on the other side of our conversation, while using that word, sees the same world.
But is it the same?
A few days ago, I asked a group to share the meaning of a word they had been discussing for a while. From a group of about a dozen people, I collect a dozen different definitions.
How often do we do that in conversations?
And maybe we end up fighting just because we use the same word with different meanings?
By exploring the meaning of words, we can tune in to someone else world.
How come we are all constantly in a hurry?
From the small things to the big ones.
We get impatient at the first queue.
We want our children to learn to write earlier than anyone else.
Teenagers who behave like they are already adults.
We celebrate young people because they finish university years in advance or become millionaires at a young age.
Maybe it’s just me venting out because I’m getting old, and I’m still trying to figure out who I am and where I’m going.
But I have the feeling that in this rush to get to the end results, we may forget to savour the journey.
Too often, when someone was in need, I didn’t show up because I didn’t know what to say or what to do.
I believe we overestimate the power of our words and actions while we underestimate the impact of our presence.
Being there for someone else, showing up for who we are without the need to say or do anything, is a precious gift.
Like when we were kids. Knowing that our parents were there was enough to give us the courage to do something or the sense of protection to fall asleep.
Sure, through our doing, we can make a huge difference.
But we can do so much for others by doing nothing else than showing up. So they know that they are not alone. That we care.
So, show up.
For the ones you love. For your friends. For your family. For your colleagues. For your community. For your world.
Even if you don’t know what to say or how to help.
Just be there.
It’ll make all the difference in the world.
I had a rough night.
A mosquito visited me while I was trying to sleep.
After the first bite, I thought I could handle it; it wasn’t enough to make me do something. Then came the second one, but still, I resisted and tried to sleep. I kept telling myself I wouldn’t let a bite from a mosquito disrupt my sleep. Until I was itching everywhere, and I had to wake up and do something.
At that point, however, my night was already disrupted. This morning my body and my brain are struggling to catch up.
Just because I didn’t act on that second bite.
I don’t know if it because I underestimated what was happening, because I wanted to be strong or because I’m just lazy.
Whatever the reason, I waited until the damage was done.
How often do I do the same?
Something annoys me, but it’s too small to be a problem, so I let it go. I decide it’s not worth acting on it. And most of the time, it’s okay. It’s quickly gone and forgotten. But then it happens again.
That’s a defining moment. If I act then, it will probably never become big enough to be a problem.
However, if I decide to keep ignoring it, whatever the reason, then it often escalates until it’s too big to be ignored and the damage is already done.
So, here’s the small lesson of the day: act on the second bite.