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?
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.
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
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
“Who am I?” is one of the toughest questions we can ask ourselves.
Any answer we can think about is just an approximation.
It is like measuring the mass of a black hole in space.
By definition, we cannot observe black holes directly because nothing, including light, can escape from inside them.
Astronomers determine the mass of a black hole by measuring the impact they have on what’s around them — for example, measuring the orbit of the stars around the black hole or analysing how the gravity of the black hole affects the light of near stars.
We do the same when we have to answer the question “Who am I?”. Our essence has no form so we can’t measure it with objective parameters. This is why we define who we are by talking about the impact of our identity on our world; our work, our beliefs, our why, our role and so on.
I believe the only direct answer to the question “Who am I?” is “I”.
And even if I know that I will never find an answer that can satisfy my analytic mind, it is vital to keep asking that question and searching the answers.
P.S. I’m not an astronomer so my description of how the black holes are measured may not be accurate.
I don’t know.
It’s a reminder to myself.
This morning I woke up with the awareness that I don’t know.
It was a bit scary at the beginning.
Then I took a deep breath, and I decided to acknowledge my not knowing.
I don’t have all the answers, and I will never have all the answers.
Not knowing makes me feel free.
I don’t know.
It is also an invitation to myself.
An invitation to embrace not knowing and be curious.
To open up to the wisdom of the world and the beauty of humanity.
So, I won’t get trap in the urge of knowing what is coming, but I will allow for the answers to unfold while I move forward.
I don’t know.
Sometimes all it takes it’s just to begin.
To do something.
To write a word.
To draw a line.
To say a word.
Whatever as long as you set things in motion.
Sometime our goals may be scary.
When I was leaving in London, I used to go out running early in the morning.
Midway in my usual path, there was this beautiful place called Primrose Hill. As the name suggests, it’s a nice little hill from the top of which you can enjoy a fantastic view of the city.
Little but with a steep slope.
I knew that I wanted to see the dawn from up there but, being midway in my running I was scared by the climb.
For a while, I got there only to take a look and then start my way back.
Then one morning, inspiring by something I read, I decided to go for it.
That day I didn’t look at the top, at my destination.
I knew very well where it was.
Instead, I kept my gaze on my feet.
One step after the other.
A bit worried at the beginning but, in the end, it was just about taking a small step. And another small step.
And then I gained momentum, and before realising it, there were no more steps to take.
I was at the top.
The city before me.
It’s great to have bold and audacious goals, but sometimes those same goals may stop us from acting.
Once the goal is set, stop thinking about it. Find the first small action you can take to go in the direction of your target and put all your attention on that. That step is all you have to worry about.
And once is done, move to the next one.
Keep focusing on your next step until you gained momentum.
And then you are unstoppable.
Ready to conquer your hill.
How often do you find yourself in the midst of a tension between two forces? Maybe it’s between you and someone else, or between two choices, or between what you want and what others want.
Being there, in that space in-between two divergent forces can be stressful. Our soul stretched being pulled in opposite directions.
A client once gave me a beautiful metaphor for these situations.
It’s like being the ball in a pendulum, swinging left and right.
Pushed and pulled by both sides.
Typically, what we do is to find some kind of equilibrium in the middle. What we call a compromise. But, with forces on both sides pulling us, to stay still takes a considerable effort. It consumes our energy.
If you take a look at the picture of the pendulum, there is a point that doesn’t move; the one at the top from which the ball is hanging; the pivot. It just stays there, being itself unchanged no matter where the ball is.
Anytime I feel I am in the middle of tension, with opposite forces pulling me in different diversion I asked myself a simple question.
What does it mean, in this situation to be the pivot?
Most of the time, this question leads me to the source of the matter, where the key questions lay.
Next time you find yourself between two forces, instead of looking for a compromise, try to look at it from the pivot’s perspective.
Who do I serve?
Last week, during a compelling conversation with a dear friend, this question came up for me.
This is not an easy question yet I feel it is a fundamental one.
We all live and work in this tension between our inner purpose, needs, desire and the purpose, needs and desire of the world outside.
At the beginning I thought that I should be able to sacrifice my own needs for a greater good; to move from ego to eco. But then I realised that the answer was coming from my desire of feeling one of the good ones.
My second stage of this self-inquiry brought me back to the self. To serve others, I must serve myself first. So, through serving myself, I will be able to serve others.
Still, I wasn’t satisfied. Why does it have to be either/or? What if it’s an and? What if I can serve both myself and others at the same time? But how is this possible? What does it mean when my purpose and the purpose of others is different? Should I dedicate myself only to causes that are aligned with my own needs and desires?
Something was missing so I kept exploring, and then I read this sentence from Rupert Spira: “If we understand and feel that every animal, person and object is our very own self, we cannot go wrong.”
If I remove the boundaries between myself and others, that tension disappear. It’s no more about helping one or another. It’s about serving a higher vision. One the goes beyond this tension.
Rupert Spira wrote that “love is the experience of that oneness of being.”
Then the way forward is through love. Or, as Saint Augustine said:
‘Love, and do whatever you want!’
We all have lights and shadows.
I always found almost impossible to use my own light to explore my dark side. It is as if our light is cast outwards so we can’t use it to illuminate our inner shadows. Or maybe it is just fear.
But when I’m in a circle of trust with a group of people, something magical happens. The lights of others shred through my shadows, and I can look without fear in the darkest corners of my soul.
I had this experience one year ago, during a walk with a group of man on the Italian hills. We had a long and tough day. I, in particular, had an emotional breakthrough midway and I was facing my own demons. I had opened a door I’d always feared, and there I was, staring before the darkness behind that door. But that evening, while we were all together standing in a circle to close the day with gratitude, I felt the intensity of their light, and my own darkness became less scary.
“We cannot hold a torch to light another’s path without brightening our own.” —Ben Sweetland