When I was looking for my definition of innovation, I found the amazing work on the topic of Professor Benoit Godin. His definition is the results of his extensive research on the history of innovation.
“Innovation is a deliberate human change to something existing to create something new.”
The word that struck me the most in this definition is “deliberate”.
Innovation does not just happen. It is a deliberate change.
To me, that means that to create innovation is not enough to declare it or to make some once-in-a-while strategic choices such as building an innovation team, hiring the right people, learning new methodologies and buying smart tools.
Innovation is an attitude that we must practice every day.
Too often we look at incredible innovations as if they came out of a magical burst of creativity of some talented guy or team.
I can understand why.
Most of the time the ideas that changed everything were completely unpredictable just an instant before they surface.
But those a-ha moments did not happen by chance.
They were the results of a deliberate choice to be open, curious.
They sparkled from an attitude of innovation.
“With everything perfect, we do not ask how it came to be. Instead, we rejoice in the present fact as though it came out of the ground by magic.” —F. Nietzsche
There are days when words just flow.
I don’t have to make an effort to find them.
It is if they were already there just waiting for me to open the laptop and let them out.
There are days when words hide behind thoughts and emotions.
In those days I have to find something, a key to open the gate.
But once the gate is open, words start rolling out one by one.
And then there are days like today when words are nowhere to be found.
I spent what seemed an eternity, standing before the open gate, but nothing came out.
I thought about walking away, close the laptop and move on.
But this is my anchor.
Without this moment, I’m less present for the whole day.
So, I decided to use this space to acknowledge that sometimes things just don’t work as we would like.
And it’s ok.
I am human.
And in this awareness of my limits, I’m going to anchor my day.
A few days ago, a friend reminded me that if we compress the 4.6 billion years of Earth history into a single year, Homo erectus will show up only one before the New Year’s Eve party. Civilisation would begin only 5 minutes before the countdown. Jesus would join the party about 1 minute and 17 seconds before midnight, but a nanosecond later it would be already gone. Americans would sign the Declaration of Independence 3 seconds within the countdown.
Then yesterday, I had a fascinating conversation about infinity that made me think that no matter how much you take away from something if that something is infinite it will keep being infinite. So any finite number, compare to infinity is not distinguishable from zero.
Anytime I’m reminded of the infinity of the universe and time; it’s as if a weight is removed from my shoulders. Whatever we do in the present moment, it’s nothing compared to the infinity of the universe.
So, why are we so stressed?
Take a pause.
In the last two days, I discovered the power of slowing down.
It is as if all the parts of me, that have been flying around while I was busy doing stuff, all of a sudden sank back and I’m whole again.
You are pulled in many directions every day; your attention and energy split in small streams.
But the world around you spins so fast that you struggle to keep the pace while keeping all the parts of your life together.
All of you together.
You’ve learned to prioritise and focus on one thing to maximise your performance. And in doing this, sometimes you feel you are sacrificing your integrity.
I see you.
I feel the same.
That’s why I’ve decided to take a pause last days.
To slow down until I was staying still.
And while all those streams, all those part of me were coming home, I began feeling whole again.
If you feel you’re losing your integrity, just breathe.
Take a pause.
Even if only for a few seconds.
Take a pause and just breathe.
“Our longing for love comes from the intuition of our shared being.” — Rupert Spira
What is the shape of love?
What is its form?
What objective qualities does it have?
Because, if we want to hold or own something, then that thing must have a form in time or space, some objective or material qualities.
Only when something can be objectively defined, we can perceive it as a separate entity. Something separated from ourselves and everything else. Something that we can observe.
Love has no shape.
Love is transparent and non-objective.
Love is formless.
How can you observe it? How can recognise it as different from something else? How can you say what it yours and what not?
So, if love is formless, then it can’t be divided into pieces.
The love I experience is the same love you experience.
Our experiences are different, but love is the same.
This is why our mind can not grasp it.
Our thoughts are objective and limited.
Words are limited.
So, we ask artists to describe something that cannot be explained but only felt.
We all are immersed in the same love.
But sometimes, layers or resistances and obstacles keep us away from feeling it.
The quest for love is not a journey to something.
It’s not about doing something.
It’s about sinking in our own being.
“The experience of love is precisely that experience, the experience of our shared being.” — Rupert Spira
I believe in the transformative power of small daily practices.
If I want to learn a new skill, develop a new behavior or become better at anything, I create a daily habit. Something, small that I can integrate seamlessly into my life and in my environment.
I love to experiment and play new practices.
It transforms everything into a playful experience.
For a new practice to stick, it must match my passions, my values, and my strengths. This way I can create the consistency needed to make it a habit.
The other day, however, I was facing a different type of challenge.
I didn’t want to learn something new.
I needed to stop doing something.
I wanted to get rid of a habit that it’s affecting my focus and my productivity.
When I don’t have something planned like a meeting or a session with a client, instead of tackling an item in my to-do list, I end up wandering aimlessly online between useless videos and not-so-interesting articles.
At the crossroad between work and idleness, I just go with the path of less resistance.
Anytime this happens, I feel guilty.
I tried many solutions from better planning to external accountability, but nothing really worked.
I know how to create a habit, but how do you get rid of one?
One that plays on my weaknesses.
In this case laziness.
And then, in a session with my fantastic coach, it hit me.
The answer was in that same weakness.
I just needed to be creative by being more who I am.
In this particular case, I decided to use my passion for stories as a way out of the unwanted habit.
I now keep a novel always at hand. Anytime I feel I’m dragged towards a time-wasting activity, I take out my book, and I start reading.
I’m still not doing the things in my to-do list that I should do.
But at least I don’t feel guilty at the end of the day.
Every morning I do this small ritual using the Be The Change cards.
I sit down with my eyes closed, and I shuffle the cards.
The intent for this ritual changes every day; an inspiration for my writing, a new perspective about something that it’s stuck in mind, or just an idea to kick off the day meaningfully. Then I pick a card, and I let it sink in my awareness for a few seconds.
This morning I went through my ritual as usual with the intent to find inspiration for this post.
But I while I was observing the card that I picked — Deepening into own wisdom — I realised that I chose two cards. There was another one stuck behind.
As you can see in the picture above, the second card has the word “Soul”.
The invitation from the cards is so vivid and compelling that I don’t think there is much I can add.
More and more in the last months, I’m becoming aware that my path to wisdom is taking me beyond my mind, my knowledge or my understanding.
It is a journey of the soul and into the soul.
“It’s the heart that knows the path. The mind is just there to organise the steps.” — Jeff Brown
I love words. There can be so much power and wisdom hidden behind a word we use regularly.
Like the word “attention“. It came out in a few conversations lately, so I felt the urge to give it some attention.
The word “attention” comes from old Latin. In particular, it’s the combination of “ad“, meaning “to, toward” and “tendere ” meaning “stretch“.
So, to give attention to something means to stretch yourself toward that thing.
The first image that comes to my mind is an elastic band. One tip connected to you and the other one to the thing you want to focus upon. To give attention to something means to stretch yourself until you can attach this elastic band to the object of your attention. The stronger the elastic band, the more you will be drawn toward the object of your attention.
Your attention is a superpower, use it wisely.
- If you want to achieve a goal, the first step is to put your attention on it. This way you will be pulled towards the target, and you’ll get there with less effort.
- If you attach your “attention” to many objectives, you will be pulled in different directions. Maybe even opposite ones, making any movement almost impossible. So, it’s a good idea to invest your attention on one thing at the time.
This morning I decided to surrender to the Be The Change cards fully.
Usually, when I sit down to write the apple of day, I already have some running in my head. I still pick a card most of the time. It helps me spark my writing in the direction of what I want to share.
But this morning I woke up only with some vague thoughts.
So, when I set up for the writing practice, I decided to let the cards determine the topic. And they did. A card dropped out of the deck when I started shuffling.
I had to sit in silence for a good minute to let this invitation to sink in.
“Step aside & make space for others.”
What does it mean for me to step aside? Is it about work? Or my relationships? Who are the others I can make space for?
One of my guiding principles is “kindness”. I firmly believe in the power of being kind.
Today, this card made me realise a sort of a paradox.
My way of being kind has always been to help and support others. I am kind to others, and they are the objects of my kindness.
But that put me right in the middle of the stage.
What if being kind is not about me giving help or support, but it’s about me stepping aside and making space for them?
So they can help themselves.
So they are the protagonists of their stories.
Like this card today.
I discovered a new word: autotelic.
“The term “autotelic” derives from two Greek words, auto meaning self, and telos meaning goal. It refers to a self-contained activity, one that is done not with the expectation of some future benefit, but simply because the doing itself is the reward.”
This word is used by professor Csikszentmihalyi in his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience to define one of the essential characteristics of the experience of “flow”.
In short, one of the signs that we are in a peak experience is that we found the experience so rewarding in itself that we detach from the outcome.
It’s the kind of feeling we experience when we do something not to achieve something but for the pure joy of doing it.
Can you think about anything you do in your life that you love so much doing that you detach from the outcome?
When I read that word, the first image that came to my mind was a group of kids playing. I remember that I could play for hours — losing the sense of time is another sign of being in flow — just for the joy of playing. There was no other purpose than playing itself.
Other self-rewarding activities for me are playing the guitar, reading, writing, having conversations.
All activities that we don’t usually associate with work.
Funny, isn’t it?
One of the keys to maximising our performances is to do things for the joy of doing them, and not for the desire or need to achieve something.
Yet, for many of us, work is all about the outcome.
Maybe, we should try to make our work a bit more playful.