One Apple A Dy #700 – how do I feel now?

ou know or can know so much about yourself. 

You can measure your performances, check your heart rate anytime, get every possible health check, ask experts and know everything about your body and your health. 

You can play memory and logic games, do intelligence tests, assess your personality, your behaviours or your emotional state, discover your learning style and learn everything about yourself, your abilities and traits.

You can know almost everything about yourself.

But do you ever ask yourself “How do I feel now?” 

I’m a motorsport nut. In the last years, I’ve read many stories of tensions between the riders or drivers and their engineers. While the formers talk about feelings, the latter rely only on the numbers. When feelings and numbers go in different directions, tensions and conflicts arise. Unfortunately, because numbers are objective and easier to rationalise and explain, too often, they trump human feelings and sensations, even when results are poor.

In a way, we are trapped in the idea that if it can’t be measured, it’s not worth our attention. That famous quote from Peter Drucker, “what gets measured gets managed“, unfortunately, expanded beyond business and in all aspects of life. 

Ironically, Drucker never said that. And more ironically, those words are the first part of a sentence with which the journalist Simon Caulkin summarised a paper published by V. F. Ridgway in 1956.

“What gets measured gets managed — even when it’s pointless to measure and manage it, and even if it harms the purpose of the organisation to do so.”

Some things can’t be measured, yet they really matter.

The challenge is to accept to know a little less and begin to feel a bit more every day. Just asking a simple question like “how do I feel now?

One Apple A Day #699 – start with a vision

Yesterday, after a fantastic weekend spent in nature with some kids and their father, I was driving home. 

Alone, some relaxing music on the radio, no rush and still the smiles and the joy of those kids in my mind. My journey home became an opportunity to process everything I experienced, the small details, the conversations.

I think I was midway when, while reflecting on some exchange we had at lunch, an idea came up in the form of a sentence.

We need a vision before than a reason.

It was probably influenced by something I heard in Simon Sinek’s podcast the day before. In a conversation with General Stan McChrystal, Commander of The Joint Special Operations Command under President Obama, Simon Sinek talked about the speech with which Barak Obama, at that time President of United States, presented to the Congress his plans for national health care. In his speech, he made a rational argument for the plan. Absolutely reasonable but at the same time hard to fully grasp, plus it sounded costly. Simon suggests that instead, he should have reminded everyone of the principles defined by the founding fathers of the nation including the belief that all men are created equal, and the inalienable right to life and the pursuit of happiness. He argues that around those Obama could have united everyone, before moving into the how and what.

I feel we all do and experience this approach quite often. We try to convince others using reasoning. We provide all the reasons why what we have in mind is the right thing to do, and we struggle to understand why people are to following us. 

The fact is that we all have different ways to explain things in our mind. We have different beliefs, most of which we aren’t even aware of, that create a different perspective on things.

But if we can create a vision that appeals to their heart and soul, that can connect to something beyond the logic, then we have a lot more chances to inspire action.

So, a good reminder for the self is to start with the vision, not the reason.

One Apple A Day #698 – 100%

A long time ago, I watched a video by Darren Hardy in which we asked his audience how much, in percentage, they think they were responsible for the quality of their relationships.
Most of the people said 50%.
Me too, while watching I thought it was 50%. In the end, there are two people in a relationship, so the responsibility should be evenly split.
Instead, he stated that we all have 100% of it.
In any relationship – personal or professional, couple, family or team – we are 100% responsible.
It was an eye-opening moment for me.
Taking full responsibility for any situation in my life, no matter how many other people are involved, it means to focus on what I can actually do to improve and make the situation better.
I can’t change others, so to take full ownership of whatever is happening allows me to focus my attention and my energy on something I can do.
That doesn’t mean that we can’t be hurt or that we can shape everything that happens in our life. Neither that we can solve every problem.
And indeed we can’t change other people, but if we take full responsibility, we have a chance to change ourselves.

One Apple A Day #697 – recharge

Many years ago, I was going through a tough time. With my life turned upside-down, I was feeling lost without any ideas on how to rebuild myself up.

Following someone suggestion, I went to talk with a psychologist; a wonderful small lady packed with energy and pragmatism. In one session, I was sharing, as usual, all my ruminations about my situation, my loneliness and my struggles. When I paused, she looked at me, and she said something I can’t forget.

“Stop thinking and go out. Do something, meet people. Introspection requires energy, and if you don’t have it, you’ll just get lost in the darkness. Go out, recharge your batteries, and when you’re happy and in the right mood, you can go back to digging again.”

Her message stayed with me since then. I feel it is still a piece of good advice, in particular at this moment. In periods of uncertainty and struggles like the one that many of us are going through, I feel it’s important to do things that energize us. Things that help us focus on the way forward. That doesn’t mean that we should ignore what’s happening and just have fun. I believe we should focus on creating meaningful relationships, expanding our strengths, sharing quality time with positive people, staying in nature, having inspiring conversations, expose ourselves to beauty. Anything that builds up our energy.

P.S. I’m not sure the conversation with my psychologist went like this, and those are not the exact words she used, but this is how I remember them.

One Apple A Day #696 – a sign of clarity

I love quotes and aphorisms. 

I love Italian hermetic poetry and Japanese Haiku. 

I’m in awe by the ability to pack so much meaning and emotions in just a few words.

It is as if, once we remove all decorations and embellishments, what we are left is the essence of the message.

And each one of those remaining words carries so much meaning, so much power.

In an interview, Mary Oliver said: “[…]if you can say it in a few lines, you’re just decorating for the rest of it. Unless you could — intent makes something more intense, but if you said what you want to say, you’re not going to make it more intense. You’re just going to repeat yourself.”

Yet, it’s not easy. Sometimes I overflow people with words.

I noticed that usually when I am not clear about what I want to communicate, I become verbose. But when I can feel it; when the message is crystal clear in my mind and my heart, then the right words emerge, and no decorations are needed.