Welcome 2020

We’re already one week into this new year and, after a short break to refill the batteries, I feel the need to get back to my practices.
But, before I restart my small thing called One Apple A Day, I thought it was a good idea to welcome 2020.
It won’t be a long post like the one I wrote to say goodbye to 2019. With last year there was history.
The new one is like a big blank canvas.
I don’t know what will happen this year. What colours will end up on that canvas and what images will appear at the end.
I don’t know, and it’s a gorgeous feeling. One of anticipation and excitement.

So, this welcome message to the new year is concise. It’s more like a letter of intent. And I’m writing it in my usual 15 minutes morning slot, to be sure I’m not wasting time with clichè or trivialities.

My guiding word for 2020 is Sustainability.

I’ll write more about it in the next days, but in short, it’s a word that speaks about balance and transformation. It’s about small daily steps and consistency. It’s the ingredient connecting identity and discipline.

Welcome, dear 2020.
I’m ready. Let’s begin.

One Apple A Day #678 – let it run

Some times my mind reminds me of a chihuahua.
A friend has one of those tiny cute dogs, and I’ve done the dog-sitter a few times. It’s incredible how much energy it’s squeeze in such a small being.
There were moments in which there was no way to keep him still. He was running all around full speed, jumping from the char to the sofa, on the table. No matter how much I tried to calm him down, to pet him or to offer him some rewards. He just kept spinning around like crazy until he was exhausted. Over the months, I’ve learned to let go. There was no point in trying to control him. So, I gave him the space for his crazy running until he was ready to interact with me.

Some times my mind does the same, and it goes all over the place. It spins around, bouncing from memories to ideas, going from one place to another, from one thought to something else completely unrelated — all of this without any apparent logic or purpose.

In the beginning, it was upsetting. In particular, when it happens when I’d like to focus on something, or I am meditating. Like before writing my morning post. I was disappointed by my inability to keep my mind where I wanted. But then I realised that trying to control my thoughts is pointless. I had to let them run wild and free until peace comes. The beautiful thing is that very often with peace also come the answers. And a previously invisible pattern emerged from what were unrelated thoughts a moment before.

One Apple A Day #666 – self-leadership

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!

One Apple A Day #650 – The Two Me

There are two me.
One is the present “me”, the person I am, today. The second one is the future me, the person I want to be tomorrow.

My future self is a dreamy guy. He is resourceful, creative and abundant, with plenty of audacious goals and ambition. He relentlessly makes plans and design actions to fully realise his potential. He is the man of intentions.

My present self is a matter-of-fact person. The one who has to realise the plans made by the other me. But he has to deal with the limitations and boundaries of reality, and that often trigger a scarcity mindset. He is the man of actions.

When they are out of synch, things can become complicated.
The future me feels hampered by the present one, and that creates frustration in him. The present me feels pressured and misunderstood. When this happens, intentions and actions seem to follow different paths.

Sometimes, they act as a perfect team. Each one selflessly serving the other. Intentions flow into actions, and magic happens.

One Apple a Day #636 – Identity, maps and territory

The map is not the territory” is a powerful metaphor coined by Alfred Korzybski to illustrates the differences between belief and reality, between an object and a representation of that object.

Often, maybe too often, we confuse maps with territories, our idea or model of something with the thing itself.

Last weekend I was immersed in a powerful workshop about identity and change. While I was meditating and reflecting, a compelling question surfaced in my awareness.

Is identity the map or the territory?

To answer that question, I began jotting down a few characteristics of both. The map, being a representation, is finite and partial. That makes it knowable and understandable. But there also can be many maps of the same territory.

On the other side, the territory is one, infinite and whole. That means we can never know it or understand it all. All these characteristics imply that it can be known only through one or more maps. 

But a territory can be experienced and lived even if we don’t have a map.

I like to think of my identity as the territory. One, infinite and whole. 

I’m well aware that the only way to know me, it’s through a map. Some of them I draw, others are created by others. 

My writing is a sort of map of my territory. My work, my relationships, my stories. They are all maps.

We can only know someone through maps. 

But, as it happens when we travel, to really experience a territory, we must lift our eyes from the maps and look around. We must explore with all our senses, we must connect, immerse our hands in the messiness of things.

It is only when we set all the maps aside that we can really experience the true identity of someone. Even if we won’t be able to draw a map out of it.


Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

References:

From agreement to tuning

My experience with any human transformation process is that it all starts with the creation of a safe space for everyone. There are plenty of studies proving that “Psychological safety” is one of the most critical conditions for people to fully express their potential. It’s only when we feel safe that we show up authentically, we speak our own truth, and we take risks. This is why the initial agreement is vital in any coaching process, both in a one-to-one relationship or in a group setting.

Thou, the English word “agreement” has always felt a bit cold or impersonal to me. As if the focus is more about setting boundaries than finding a connection. 

Inspired by the Italian translation of agreement, I prefer to use the synonym “accord“.

The word “accord” used with the meaning “come into agreement, agree, be in harmony” originates from the Vulgar Latin word “accordare” that literally means “be of one heart, bring heart to heart“.

When we build an accord, we are doing more than setting some shared rules or standards. We are bringing our hearts together. And that takes courage, another word connected to the heart (Coeur in French). The courage to open up our heart and hold space in it for someone else. 

Can you think of a safer space to be than the heart of someone else? 

What I find fascinating is that in Italian, the word “accordo” also means chord; “a group of notes sounded together, as a basis of harmony“.

So, to find an accord is like tuning our hearts together, so they vibrate in harmony. Anytime we do that, with another person or within a group of people, something magical happens. 

That is why I’m never worried about investing plenty of quality time in the tuning phase of a workshop. When we are all, facilitators and participants, in tune, things just flow. 

People open up, and the light they hold inside their hearts infuses the space.

 

Photo by Larisa Birta on Unsplash

One Apple A Day #622 – the beauty of chaos

I am a messy person in the material world. I leave things everywhere, I keep stuff scattered all around the room. My messiness is one of the reasons I’ve decided to own as little as possible. It’s easier to keep my messiness under control with fewer things to manage.

Anyway, I love chaos. And most of all, I like to make sense of chaos. When I can connect apparently disconnected things, when I can find a shape or form that allow understanding something messy, then I’m happy. 

I’ve always been like that. I think it started when I was very young. I was a shy, goofy and solitary kid. I spent a lot of time on my own reading, dreaming and trying to make sense of things. Somehow, it was my superpower, what makes me unique among all the other kids. And also not one of the most popular, but that’s another story.

However, growing up this burning desire to make sense, to understand everything that happens, became a weight holding me back. I was spending all my energy trying to understand life instead of living it. I thought that if I could make sense of things, then I would find happiness. And in doing that, I wasn’t really living. 

I was observing chaos from the threshold without stepping in.

Then, a few years ago, the chaos hit me like a surge. 

My life went upside down. 

Nothing made sense anymore. I’ve been pulled into the messiness of life and forced to live it.

At that time, I felt lost and hurt. But I’ve also learned the beauty of experiencing life as it is, without the need to make sense but just allowing for the magic to emerge from chaos.

“Babies are born in blood and chaos; stars and galaxies come into being amid the release of massive primordial cataclysms.” — from Do the Work by Steven Pressfield

One Apple A Day #618 – Goals and Aspirations

The man in the photo is Tyson Fury, a controversial British boxer and heavyweight world champion. His story is remarkable on many levels. He suffered from mental health issues after reaching the top of the world. He almost killed himself, and then he came back. 

You can find plenty of articles and videos online about his story, and as much as I’d like to write about it, I have only 15 minutes to finish this post.

The reason I’m writing about him this morning is a short video about him that I saw yesterday on Instagram. I think it is a short montage of this longer documentary about him (in case you want to watch something different tonight).

“It was all about winning bells and being a champion, but when you’ve done all of that, what’s about you then […] but if I train every day and I’ll stay in shape, then I’ll be happy forever.”

These words he shared in that video made me think at the difference between having a goal and having an aspiration.

I found the following definitions in an online dictionary.

  • Goal: the end toward which effort is directed
  • Aspiration: a strong desire to achieve something high or great

The way I read them, the goal is about the object we want to achieve. The aspiration is about me. Is about the vision I have for myself and my life. 

They are both fundamental and connected. To realise my vision, I have to divide it into goals on which I can act. To make my goals meaningful, so I won’t fill empty when I get them, they must be aligned with my aspiration.

“While goals can leave us feeling deflated and disappointed once we’ve achieved them, aspirations are never fully completed; we can get up every morning feeling motivated by them all over again.” — from Insight by Tasha Eurich

One Apple A Day #613 – from control to care

It’s past nine in the morning. Quite late for my morning writing practice.

I had, in fact, I’m still having a slow pacing morning.

My weekend was quite intense, and when I woke up at dawn, my body clearly told me that it was too early. 

It needed more rest. So, I decided to take care of myself before doing anything else. Including having my vital apple a day.

Taking care.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to reflect on one of my inner struggles; control. 

I’ve learned long ago that I can’t control what happens outside me, out there in the world.

However, I’ve been struggling with my inner control. 

The control over my own thoughts, emotions and behaviours. 

I know I can stop a thought from emerging or emotion from surging, but I should have the control on how I respond to that thought or emotion. 

And that was my struggle.

Lack of will? Poor discipline?

I don’t know.

But this week, I had the opportunity to spend a day with a group of men willing to ask tough questions and to be vulnerable.

In that space, I had a kind of revelation or intuition of some sort.

What if I change my words?

What if I replace “control” with “care”?

Instead of focusing on controlling my response to thoughts and emotions, I’ll use my energy to take care of those thoughts and emotions.

I don’t know where this shift in perspective will lead me, but I feel a sense of excitement just writing about it. 

And that’s very promising.

P.S. The first image that emerged in my mind yesterday, when I thought about “taking care”, was a majestic tree. And that’s curious. A few months ago, I did a visualization exercise aimed at finding my vision for the future. The image that dominated my vision was one of a tree. That’s where the drawing at the beginning of the post comes from.

ONE APPLE A DAY #595 – shine through defeat

Yesterday I read a short and powerful piece by an Italian teacher. A friend posted it on facebook but mistakenly associating it with a famous Italian poet and writer.

The words immediately resonated with me, so I wanted to learn more about them. This is how I discover that the real author is Rosaria Gasparro. She’s a teacher in primary school, but she’s also a lot more obviously. For sure she’s a beautiful writer.

This small story made me wonder about the infinite potential that lives within each one of us. We just need to crush the walls of our limiting beliefs and allow for our extraordinary self to shine. Then, we would make the world a brighter place.

Below, my humble translation of the words of Rosaria.

THE PRAISE OF the DEFEAT

I think it is necessary to educate the new generations on the value of defeat. On its management. On the humanity that springs from it. On the creation of an identity that can perceive a commonality of destiny, where one can fail and start over without value and dignity being eroded. On how to not become a social climber, on not to walk over the body of others to get there first.

In this world of vulgar and dishonest winners, of false and opportunistic doers, of people who count, who occupy power, who rob the present, let alone the future, to all the neurotics of success, of appearing, of becoming … to this anthropology of the winner, I instead prefer those who lose. It is an exercise that I do well. And it reconciles me with my sacred little.

You can read more from Rosaria here (in Italian).