One Apple A Day #490 – step out and observe

I am fascinated by the paradox of human behaviors. And they are everywhere.

Everyone wants to be heard, so we all talk louder and louder (figuratively on social media, for real in meetings) and as a result, nobody listens.

When we are drowning in a problem, we double the effort. But as the instructors teach in swimming lessons, the more you move to stay afloat, the more likely you’re going under.

When we feel lost, we go anywhere to find ourselves. Yet, when we were kids, they taught us that if you are lost, you should stay where you are until your parents come and find you.

We want for everyone we love to be happy, so we sacrifice our own happiness for them. And if they do the same, what remains, in the end, is only the sacrifice, while the joy is gone. What would give more pleasure to someone that loves you, to see you happy?

I don’t have a magical recipe, but lately, I found that there is enormous power in taking a pause to step out of the race and just observe.

One Apple A Day #486 – travelling improves awareness

One of the good things about travelling is that it forces me to reassess my habits.
Our life runs on habits. And of most of them, we are not aware.
Without automatic habits, we would have to think deliberately before doing anything. That doesn’t sound efficient at all.
Luckily for us, our brain and body have the incredible capacity to identify and implement patterns that allow us to function efficiently in our environments.
Automatic habits are vital elements of our life, as long as they are good ones. With good ones I mean the patterns that help us thriving and improve the quality of our life.
But the same process also works for bad habits. The ones that don’t support our growth but impact negatively on our life.

When behaviour becomes automatic, it also becomes invisible.
So, most of the time we are not aware of our habits, nor we can’t distinguish a good from a bad one.

Any change begins with awareness.
There are three practices that I found helpful to gain awareness about our automatic habits.
Introspection, using a tracking system and travelling.
The first one helps you take a pause and observe your life from a new perspective.
A tracking system can help you notice the effects of invisible behaviours in your daily routine.
Travelling takes you to new environments and disrupts your habits. In my case, it forces me to reassess my morning rituals to understand which ones are essential.

One Apple A Day #482 – the last drop

Nobody is small enough to not have an impact.

I heard this sentence yesterday from the leader of an organisation that aims to solve one of the biggest challenges of our world.
Before the significant challenges of humanity such as climate change, inequality, human rights and so on, it’s easy to feel powerless.
I often feel powerless.
These days I’m listening to leaders who are committed to change the world, who are dedicating their lives to higher causes.
In the beginning, I felt small.
But then, the more I listened to them I realised two things.
Before being leaders, innovators or changemakers, they are human beings.
Like you and me.
They are not cut from a different cloth.
Their superpower is being human. A power that we all have.

The second thing is that every choice, every action albeit small, counts.
It may not seem so in the moment, but it counts.
It’s natural to think that significant shifts in the history of humanity are the result of a single massive event. But in reality, they are the compound effect of many small choices and actions.
Because it is the last drop that makes the cup run over, but all the drops before are the ones that filled the cup.

One Apple A Day #481 – not knowing

This morning, I don’t know what to write about.
But it’s not a lack of inputs.
On the contrary.
These days I am flooded by inspiring ideas, places, people, conversations.
It’s just so much that my mind keeps jumping all over the place without staying on anything for more than a few seconds.
And I love this feeling.
But this morning, when I sit for my morning writing, I realized that being exposed to so many inputs can be paralyzing.
So, the only option I have is to surrender.
To hold a space in my awareness for everything to come in, trusting that what really needs to emerge will find its way back to the surface.
I don’t need to have the answer as long as I stay open to the questions.
Not knowing what to do or what to say, it’s an incredible opportunity to just stay, breathe and listen.

One Apple A Day #479 – something to die for

“There can be a cost to acting on one’s principles, but there is a bigger cost to abandoning them.”

With this sentence, Jane Philpott, Treasury Board President of the Canada government closed the message in which she announced her resignation.
This message struck me because yesterday night I was reflecting about another, more famous, quote.

“If a man hasn’t found something he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

Albeit I love this quote, it always makes me feel a little uncomfortable.
Martin Luther King was fighting for a high but dangerous cause. A cause that was going to change the world, or at least his country, forever. He was aware of the risks of pursuing his vision and, in the end, he died for it.

But, how does it apply to me?
Since yesterday, I’ve been pondering on this question.
Nothing I do is putting my life at stake.
Sure, I have my values and principles on which I’m not willing to compromise, but saying that it’s something I would die for seams a bit of stretch.

Then, this morning I was reading this article about the political crisis in Canada, and I found that sentence. And it hit me.

If I abstract MLK’s message from his historical context then “to die for” means “to give up everything”, including that same thing you are fighting for.

The question then becomes “what are you willing to sacrifice your career for?” or “what are you willing to let your company die for?”.

These are questions I can work with.

One Apple A Day #478 – everything is subjective

How often are you asked to be objective?
Particularly at work, we are often told that to do a good job, to make effective decisions and, in general, to see things as they really are, we must be objective.

To be objective means to be unbiased. When you’re objective about something, you have no personal feelings about it.

Is it really possible or are we just lying to ourselves?

To ask someone to be objective is the same as asking to avoid being human. How can we fully experience the world if we try to strip away or hide a large part of who we are?

Anytime we think we are making objective decisions we are just lying to ourselves. So, what if instead of trying in vain to be objective, we acknowledge our subjectivity?

Even more, we explore it. Through introspection, we shift our attention from the known to the knower, from the observed to the observer.

“We see the world not as it is, but as we are.” ― Anaïs Nin

If you struggle to get a sense of the reality in which you live, it may be worth to turn your focus inside.

One Apple A Day #471 – Stay playful

A few weeks ago I had an inspiring conversation about playfulness with my dear friend Luca. While we were reflecting on what “being playful” means to us, we realised that in playing, like in every human experience, there are both form and essence.

Because the form is the only visible one and the easier to model, we usually focus on it. It is what most of the companies did years ago when “gamification” became one of the main buzzwords in the digital industry. I did it too.

My feeling is that the “gamification” approach didn’t deliver the expected impact because it was all about form. We were trying to apply the typical visible elements of games to other areas. But the essence wasn’t there. We were just asking people with a business mindset to use a playful form.

What could happen if we do the reverse? If we infuse a playful mindset into other forms?

For Luca and I, a playful mindset or attitude is about being always curious, making everything experiential, seeing everything as an opportunity to learn and discover, focusing on the act of playing more than on the outcome, having fun together.

What about you? What is the essence of playing for you?

And what would happen if you infuse that essence in your work?

One Apple A Day #470 — my life council

You’ve probably heard or read about the “board of directors” or “supervisory board” concerning big companies.
A board is a group of persons having supervisory or advisory powers over a company. They usually hire, support and supervise the people leading the company, the CEO and the executive directors.

When I think at a board the image that comes to my mind is one of a council of wise and elderlies people. I’ve never been part of a board, but I’m pretty sure my image is not accurate.

Anyway, the point of this post is that I believe that everyone should have a board. A council of wise people ready to give advice and support.
How easier would it be if you could ask for advice when you have to make a tough choice?

So, every year I appoint my “supervisory board”, or as I prefer to call it, my “life council”.
Within there are a few people that inspire me and to which I turn to in search of wisdom.
When I have to take a tough decision, or I don’t know what to do, I summon my council and ask for advice.
In my council, there can be people that I never met such as writers, historical figures or fictional characters. There are also people I know, but they don’t need to know that they are part of my council.
It is, indeed a virtual council.

Fancy creating your own life council? Just take a piece of paper and jot down the name of a few people whose words and actions are sources of wisdom for you. Then, anytime you feel stuck just open that piece of paper and ask yourself “what would they do in this situation?”.

Be aware, they can just give advice.
The responsibility for your choice is all yours.

One Apple A Day #468 – Choose love

About ten years or so ago, I was sitting in my grandma’s kitchen with her and her brother. They were sharing funny stories of their childhood when my great-uncle, out of the blue said “Fabio, you know what the problem is nowadays? There is not enough love in the world“.
I still remember vividly that moment.

A few years after, my girlfriend took me to a talk by Sujith Ravindran. At that time I didn’t know him, and I didn’t know that it would be the beginning of a life-changing friendship. I don’t remember all the details of that evening, but one sentence remained with me since that day.
Fear is the opposite of love.

This morning I picked a Be The Change card saying “Power + Love.”
I immediately recalled those two moments.

When I read the news, I realized that too often power is driven by fear and as such, it is used to divide us.

And I’m honest, sometimes I feel there is nothing, as an individual, that I can do.

I feel powerless.

But this card, this morning, reminded me that maybe, there is one thing I can do.

I can choose love.

“Love is the experience of that oneness of being” — Rupert Spira

One Apple A Day #467 – on self-doubts

Self-doubts are thieves.
They sneak into your mind, and they steal your self-confidence and your creativity.
It’s an awful feeling to stare at a blank page realising that you’re as empty at that page.

Sometimes life tests us.
Things don’t go exactly as planned.
The expected results are not coming.
The self-doubts lurk in.
And before we realise it, we are questioning everything.

I know the feeling.
I’ve been there often.
It still happens.

We all have moments of doubts and fear when we question what we do and who we are. I used to rely on self-reflection to find my way out of those moments. But in doing so, I was adding even more questions and making the hole bigger.
I was feeding my fear.
Now, when it happens, when the self-doubts arrive I ground myself in my rituals. I stop the thinking that is just feeding my self-doubts and rely on the habits and structures that I created when my self-confidence and my creativity were full and energised.

“Just slap anything on when you see a blank canvas staring you in the face like some imbecile. You don’t know how paralysing that is, that stare of a blank canvas is, which says to the painter, ‘You can’t do a thing’. The canvas has an idiotic stare and mesmerises some painters so much that they turn into idiots themselves. Many painters are afraid in front of the blank canvas, but the blank canvas is afraid of the real, passionate painter who dares and who has broken the spell of `you can’t’ once and for all.” – Vincent van Gogh