One Apple A Day #689 – breakthrough questions

I am a spiritual seeker. 

And my spiritual journey is also at the essence of what I do.

I believe that when we learn to surrender to our bigger who, we can move beyond the boundaries of our mind. We can source from the infinite creative potential of the universe. 

And here’s come the challenge.

Bringing words like “spirituality” or “consciousness” in business conversations is not an easy task. Yes, you can try to translate and frame them into the language of the business, but it’s easy to fall into old and tired ideas.

These are challenging times, everything happens at an incredible speed. Everything is connected, and the world is getting smaller and smaller.  Individuals and organisations are looking for new and different answers. But that it’s possible only if we ask new and different questions.

It’s not about framing my spiritual essence into the language of the business. It’s about bringing more of it. And to do that, I must raise the quality of my questions.

If I want better answers, more significant ideas, more disruptive breakthrough than I must ask bolder, more courageous and challenging questions.

“Breakthrough questions for unlocking our personal creativity. For creativity rarely begins with an answer. Breakthrough questions should therefore lead us into the unknown.” – The way of nowhere

One Apple A Day #680 – about wisdom

My grandfather knew when it was the right day to prune the vines. He always knew when it was the right night to go out fishing for eels. He couldn’t really explain how he knew it, but he did.

My grandmother knew how to make a perfect traditional cake. Many people from the village used to bring her the ingredients and she never disappointed, no matter how different the flour or the eggs were. Though, she didn’t know the recipe. When we manage to elicit a structured formula from her, the results weren’t as good.

Yesterday evening a dear friend told me about his great grandfather.
He was the man everyone called to get fruitful grafts on the vineyards. Throughout his career, he kept a daily log with all his weather observations. But what made him successful was his ability to retrieve the right information from his yearslong almanack and know the most propitious moment to make a successful graft. He couldn’t explain how he knew, but he did.

They all knew without knowing. Each one of them knew, deep in their own essence, how to read the invisible signs of the universe.

That is wisdom to me.
The subjective knowing beyond the objective knowledge.

Unfortunately, the subjective knowing can’t be modelled or structured, and so it cannot be taught.
You can only acquire it through observation and experience.
It takes time, discipline and awareness.
And the willingness to detach from the outcome.

One Apple A Day #679 – practice detachment

“The only difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is the way in which we use them.” – Adriana Doyle

Yesterday I had an enlighting conversation with my dear friend Umberto. We were talking about how tough times can be unique sources of learning and growth, or heavy stones dragging us down.

It is up to us to decide what to do with our pitfalls.

I was also sharing how things that I experienced as massive failures when they happened years ago are now events that I cherish as part of my growth.

Yet, to put failures and tough times in the right perspective when you’re living them, it’s definitely hard.

As usual, Umberto shared a fascinating metaphor to explain this.

“It’s a matter of volume occupied. The more space something takes within your life, the heavier you perceive it. When you widen your space, that same thing becomes smaller and smaller, until it’s almost irrelevant.”

Quite obvious, no? If you put any object right in front of your face, it looks huge, but as soon as you put some space between you and the object, it becomes smaller until it almost disappears.

But how do you do that? It looks like time would be the only thing needed to gain a wider perspective on things. However, it’s not. How many people do you know who are still chained to their past failures and can’t see beyond them?

I believe the key is to practice the art of detachment. Your not your failures, and you’re not your successes. Only when you learn to detach from the outcome of what you do, you can walk away from it. And gain the perspective needed to transform failures in learning.

One Apple A Day #653 – being me

“When I shifted my attention from the change I wanted back to my identity, the change I was seeking just happened.”

This is a powerful insight that a dear friend gave me yesterday. 

In the past, when I wanted to change something in my life, I put all my energy and focus on the change I wanted to make.

Too many times, however, I’ve lost myself in the changes I was seeking. I was so focused on changing something in my world that I forgot who I was in that world. When that happened, I find my self lost and disconnected within the same changes I was longing for.

It is only when I shift my focus inward, that I can root my life in who I am and navigate through changes without losing my centre. 

While changes can depend on many factors. I’m the only one in the whole universe, who can be me.

“Know who you are because no one is better at being you than you are.” — David Droga

One Apple a Day #639 – the power within

Some people I love, they find peace and relief in visiting holy places. Others experience unity with humanity and nature only when they step into a sacred space of like-hearted people. Some have experienced the absolute freedom of their mind inherent nature, thanks to substances. Others feel powerful only when they are within a relationship.

It looks like we need some external help to step into our full potential.
I understand that. I am no different.
To unlock my potential, I need enough trust to tear down the walls I built to protect it. And that means to become vulnerable.

It is often easier to trust an external entity, being it a place, a person, a substance or a symbol, than ourselves.
But we should never forget that the real power, the energy is already there. It is within us.
Whatever external help we needed to overcome our limitations, we must always remember that it is not the source of our energy. It is just an instrument, a door opener.

You already have all the power within you.

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 #635 – Mutual listening

Today, in my morning meditation, I focused on listening.
Considering that I’m going to facilitate a group on listening and that I picked a card saying that “a deeper level of listening is needed”, it was a natural choice.

While I was breathing into this thought, I realised that lately I’ve been talking and thinking and about listening more than I’ve been doing it.

My recurring struggle aligning what I know with what I do.

I tell a friend to take some time off and walk in nature, while I spend most of my time sitting with my laptop. I write about the importance of having clarity about who we are to guide our steps, and I don’t take time to explore my own identity.

How easy it is to get trap into the doing. When our intentions and actions are not in sync, that’s a good sign that we are losing the connection with our true self.

Listening is a good example. It is easier listening to others than to my self.
Yet, this apparent weakness hides also an opportunity.
If it’s easier to listen to others, than maybe we can help each other in this.
We can be the listeners for others while others are the listeners for us.
Through meaningful conversation and trust, we can create a space of mutual listening.

Fancy a conversation?

One Apple A Day #614 – love the world

“We live in this world when we love it.” – Rabindranath Tagore

I read this quote a few days ago. 

I read many quotes every day. Our digital spaces are flooded by aphorisms and quotes. Unfortunately too often they are wrongly attributed when not fabricated. 

But this one got my attention because lately, I’ve been often engaged in conversation about “how things are in the world, how they should be and what can we do to change it“.

I’ll be honest, it’s a conversation that makes me a bit uncomfortable. 

In part, because it can quickly become judgmental. 

“Society is broken, but the majority can’t see it.”

In part, because it can easily trigger anger and bitterness.

But mainly because I struggle to have clarity about how to improve myself, imagine the world.

So, when that quote captured my attention, I asked myself some new questions: what would I do with someone I love? Would I try to change them? Or would I try to love them as they are? And what about someone who loves me, what would I desire for them to do?

I’m still reflecting upon those questions. My heart says that I would do my best to love them as they are, and show up every day living in my full potential. So I can hold a safe and sacred space for them to shine. And change, if that’s what they need to do.

My mind, as usual, is a bit more confused.

By the way, when I found that quote for the first time, it was misattributed to Gibran. In my search to find the real author who channelled those words into the world, I also found another quote that will contribute to my reflections.

“Love the whole world as if it were your self; then you will truly care for all things.” – Lao Tzu

P.S. The opening image is a photo of the Earth from the space taken during the Apollo 15 mission. I find it irresistible. How can you not love it?

One Apple A Day #611 – do you walk on water?

“Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. «It’s a ghost,» they said, and cried out in fear.” — Matthew 14:25-36

Sometimes I fall prey of what I call the “walking on water syndrome“. 

It happens when I feel that I can walk above the mess of reality. That I have found the answers. That I am awakened. 

When I convince myself that I can cross the lake without getting soaked.

I don’t know if it ever happened to you. 

Maybe it’s just a feature of my ego.

Like if I’m talking with someone who has a different perspective on something important. And within that space, I convince myself that I have figured out everything; the situation and the other person. And when that happens, when I take myself out of the mess of reality because I believe I can walk on water, when I do that the connection is gone.

I can see it in their eyes. They look at me as if I’m a ghost.

“The thing to remember is that people act in ways that make sense to them. If something doesn’t make sense to you, then you’re missing something.” — Dave Gray


Thanks to my friend Luca for helping me discover this during one of our walks in the park. I was telling him how sometimes I forget that to deal with the messiness of life, we must be ready to get dirty. And he immediately pointed me to the image of Jesus walking on water. 

Image from Wikimedia.

Grow into your vision

I just watched this powerful video by Simon Sinek. I admire the way he can give words to ideas and concepts that are hard to grasp. Being able to make invisible things visible – through images, words, sounds – is a unique talent.

This video, though, baffled me and I don’t know why. So I took some time to ponder on it. In my reflections, I found something I wrote more than two years ago that became the basis for this post.

The video is about passion and vision. Things that are usually referred to as something we should have or find to live a fulfilling life.
As Simon beautifully said, “passion is an output, not in input”. It is the outcome of doing something that has a meaning for us. That gives sense to our lives. Something we care about.

“The reason that people do things, especially heroic or major things, things that take a lot of effort, is because they care.” — Dave Gray

So, doing something meaningful, something you believe in, chasing a vision is what transform your experience into passion instead of stress.

This leads to the following question in Simon’s video; “how do I find what I believe in?
Or, worded differently, “how do I find my vision?“.

This question is what unsettles me a bit.
Vision is often painted as that one big truth hiding somewhere and that we have to find to give meaning to our life. Whispering in the air, planted deep within us, written in our destiny or on the stars. With that picture in mind, some travel far from home to find their vision. Some spend years digging deep inside to uncover it under their fears. Some look for some visionary to follow. Some just wait.

What if there is no such thing as “the vision”? What if we accept that life is more complex than that? Life would become a journey of open, continuous and curious exploration rather than a search for definitive answers. When we become too focused on the quest for the vision, we got trapped in what psychologist Omer Simsek calls the need for absolute truth.

I am also more and more convinced that the verb “finding” is deceiving. It keeps up hanging in our quest while distracting us from doing the real thing; to experience life.
What if the goal shifts from “finding your vision” to “growing into your vision“?
Then it’d be less critical to have full clarity – mind – about the vision and more important to feel – heart and guts – that you are living it.

So, passion is not only the outcome, but it also becomes your compass. If you feel stressed, what you’re doing is not align with your vision. But when you feel passionate and energised by what you’re doing, then you’re most probably living your vision even if you can’t verbalise it.

There are other two ideas in the video that capture my attention.

The first is the one about the value of being a follower instead of a visionary. The moment I get in touch with that vision, I feel called by it, and I embrace it, then it becomes my own vision too.

I believe that visionaries are not a creator, they are channels between the infinite knowledge of the universe and the material world. They channel the universal wisdom and make it available to everyone else. Their visions aren’t theirs. They are of everyone. So, we are all visionaries and followers at the same time.

And that leads me to the second point. I believe we all have the potential to be creative and be visionary. But that potential is often covered and hold back by our fears, beliefs and conditioning. The more we become aware, the more we can awake that potential.

All my work is based on the unshakable belief that every human being is extraordinary.

Read more:

  1. The Need for Absolute Truth and Self-Rumination as Basic Suppressors in the Relationship Between Private Self-Consciousness and Mental Health” by Ömer Faruk Şimşek, Aylin Ecem Ceylandağ &Gizem Akcan – link
  2. Insight: The Power of Self-Awareness in a Self-Deluded World” by Tasha Eurich – link
  3. Liminal Thinking: Create the Change You Want by Changing the Way You Think” by Dave Gray – link