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

One Apple A Day #592 – man in the mirror

I feel blessed by the presence of amazing friends in my life.

People who help me grow with every conversation or experience.

Two days ago, I wrote about power and love. In that post, I also shared the need for me to do some news cleansing because I realised that they, the news, where releasing some toxins in my system.

Less than an hour later, my best friend sent me a text. It was a reflection about how much energy we waste to get angry and upset about what happens in the world and how, this anger, influences how we see the world and the people around us. So, staying away from the news is not an escape from reality. At the contrary, it’s a way to protect our energy so we can use it to make our own world better.

“Always remember, your focus determines your reality.” — Dave Gray

Then yesterday I had dinner with one of my brothers. As usual, it was an inspiring conversation in which every word opens up new insights and learnings. I realised that too often we turn our attention to distant things that we can’t change so we don’t have to look in the only place where we can really change something; ourserlves.

“To change the world, you must be willing to change yourself.” — Dave Gray

This is what I was doing lately. I was allowing for the news of the world to distract me from my world and my own growth.

By the way, the day I wrote that first post about power and love, I went to experience archery with another amazing brother (you should definitely try if you have the possibility, it’s pure wonder).

During the drive, I listened twice to a song by Michael Jackson, I had not heard for a while; Man in the Mirror.

I’m starting with the man in the mirror

I’m asking him to change his ways

And no message could have been any clearer

If you want to make the world a better place

Take a look at yourself, and then make a change

The Monthly Edition: August 2019

It’s the holiday season! At least in Italy. This is typically the month when nothing happens, and everyone is in vacation mode (often even when they are working).

Anyway, whatever your situation right now you’re probably worried because you haven’t received my monthly newsletter.

At least, this is what I’m telling to my ego. 🙂

Reality is that your inbox is already full of stuff, so you’re just realising now that this month I’m late.

Again.

Even more than the previous months.

It looks like I can’t keep up with my own commitment.
If I squeeze my brain for a few minutes, I’m pretty sure I’ll come out with some excellent excuses for this delay.
But you know what.

Screw the excuses.

“Victims make excuses. Leaders deliver results.” — Robin Sharma

I have no plans of being a victim.
I want to deliver results.

And that requires me to take responsibility. With “taking responsibility” I mean to own my failures, so I can learn from them. To do that I need to have an honest and frank conversation with myself, asking uncomfortable questions and staying away from the easy answers.

So, right now I’m asking myself; “what can I learn from this failure in keeping the deadline for my newsletter?”.

Yep, all of a sudden this newsletter is about the answers I found in my self-inquiry process. I know each one of us is unique, so what came out of my process will be unique to me. But who knows, you may find some ideas or insights that will be beneficial to your own processes.

Lesson #01: Clarity of meaning

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” — Nietzsche

The first thing I’ve investigated in my self-inquiry is the “why”.
When we investigate the motif behind something we want to do, we may be tempted to use a “why” question. Like “why do I want to do this?”

But even when I’m talking with myself, this question tastes judgemental. So, I decided to go for a different one.

“What are the things that make this newsletter so important to me?”

And this is the list that came out:

  • I love writing, and this is another opportunity to write
  • This newsletter is more personal than the other stuff that I publish, so it sparks a different type of reflections
  • It creates opportunities to start conversations with others
  • It helps me slow down and assess my own journey, something I often overlooked because I’m too busy doing stuff.
  • It’s an opportunity to improve my discipline (like having a book to suggest every month).

No lack of motivations then. The solution ought to be found somewhere else. Even if, it’s good to reconnect with the intentions that started this small project of mine.

Lesson #02: Plan ahead

“A man who does not plan long ahead will find trouble right at his door.” — Confucius

I realised I had to send the newsletter only on the 1st of August. That means I was already late for it. That’s not a good start. On top of that, my schedule for the first week of august was already defined. So I couldn’t find the time that I needed to write this newsletter. I am a slow writer, so I need at least four hours to get in the flow, find the inspiration, do the actual writing, review and polish and then send it. If I want to be on-time, I need to set aside the time for this task way ahead.

Thanks to these two learning, I was able to design some actions.

Actions!

“There can be no learning without action, and no action without learning.”  — Reg Revans

  1. I locked the time in my calendar for the next five newsletters, until December.
  2. I defined the list of books to read and comment for the next five months
  3. I’ve decided to publish these newsletters also on my website as articles to create even more opportunities for conversations (that would be the page you’re reading now. If you want to receive it also on your inbox, just subscribe to my newsletter using the form on the right of this page).
  4. I’ve decided to share more updates on all the things I’m working on, so maybe new collaborations can emerge.

From my bookcase

This month’s suggestion is “Liminal Thinking: Create the Change You Want by Changing the Way You Think” by Dave Gray. This book had a profound impact on my vision on almost everything. It really opened my eyes on the power of the space in-between.

“In order to learn anything truly new, you must empty your cup, so your existing knowledge, theories, assumptions, and preconceptions don’t get in the way.”

 

So, in a few weeks, I’ll have a new monthly edition with more updates and a new reading suggestion. If you want to be sure you won’t miss this article next month (or if you want to check if my actions deliver the expected results), just subscribe to my newsletter.

For now, this is the end of this summer (and first) edition of this post.

Thank you for your patience and for giving me this opportunity to reflect and improve.

And if you want to share with me how you deal with your own failures, comment below. I’d be happy to have a conversation with you and learn!

One Apple A Day #591 – being a channel

A sat this morning with a BeTheChange card asking me “What wants to emerge?“.

It’s undoubtedly a different question to ponder on because it shifts our perspective on things. It reminds me of one of my favourite passages from Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E Frankl.

“We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly.”

What wants to emerge right here and now, at this exact moment while I’m writing? I was trying to find some thoughtful reflection to share only to realise that again, I was tricking myself making everything about me.

So, I deleted what I wrote, and a memory came in from yesterday.

A conversation I had while I was on a long drive and listening to some music. It started with another question: a piece of art made by an awful person is still a piece of art?

That question quickly shifted to another one; does the author owns her or his creation?

We use to think at the author as the “creator”, someone who creates something out of thin air and so “owns” what she or he creates. But what if the author is just a tool? Someone channelling what wants to emerge into the reality of our shared world?

What would change in your life if you look at yourself as a tool instead of a creator?

One Apple A Day #583 – walk the talk

They say that words create worlds. That’s why it is essential to take care of the quality of our conversations, they are incredibly powerful.

But it’s when our words transform into actions that they realise their full potential. It is through our behaviours that the world we create manifests itself into reality. It is so easy to forget this part.
Words are seductive. Our own in particular. Sometimes we get caught in them, and we forget to act. At least I do.

The other day, I shared some compelling idea with a friend only to realise later that I wasn’t following my own advice.
It was a revealing moment.

So, this morning, I am having an honest conversation with myself.
About the things that I’m not doing.

What world do I really want to create?
Who do I need to be to create that world?
What would that version of me do in that world?

And then do it.

Acting every day as if that world already exists to give it a chance to manifest.

Every choice we make, every word we say, every action we do, we are casting a vote for the world we want to live in, and for the person that we want to become.

One Apple A Day #579 – Let them be

The other day I went outside into the shared backyard. The neighbour was there, staring at some plant that he is cultivating.
When he noticed my presence, he called me over to show me something.
He was observing a pumpkin plant growing and climbing a net. Its stems were crawling on the net, curling and revolving around the wires. The plant was clinging on the net to expand and stretch its branches.

“See? She knows what to do. Nobody teaches her, she just knows what to do. Plants are si wise.”

I was listening to the old man while observing that small sign of nature’s wisdom.

Plants know what to do. Unfortunately too often their natural wisdom doesn’t match with our desires.
We want more and faster.
We seek order.
But nature it’s often slow and messy. So, instead of letting the plants follow their natural wisdom, we force them into our idea of order. We impose our control on them.

While I was there, talking with the old man, I realised how often we do the same with anything that doesn’t fit our idea of how things should be.
Like with kids anytime we want for them to behave like adults.

I just had the fortune to witness the incredible beauty that sparks from a group of people when you give them the space to shine. It was amazing.

Sometimes, the best thing we can do to foster the culture of an organisation is nothing.
We should just step aside and, for that liminal place, hold the space where the natural wisdom and beauty of the people can emerge.
It’s not easy, I know.
It requires a lot of trust and strength.
But when you do it, magic happens.

Just let them be.

One Apple A Day #574 – yearning

Yesterday a friend caught me off guard during a conversation.
She just asked me what my yearning is.

Silence.

I had no answers ready. I tried to find something in the hidden corners of my mind, but nothing.
I’ve been thinking about that question since then without finding a definitive answer.

To yearn means to have an earnest or strong desire for something or someone.
Sure there are things that I desire, people that I love.
But I can’t point my focus on one thing.
That one “thing” that I desire with such intensity to fill up my mind, my heart and my soul.

Then in another conversation, I was reminded that sometimes thinking about something can get in the way of getting it. It’s one of the fascinating paradox of our mind.

“The harder we try with the conscious will to do something, the less we shall succeed. Proficiency and results come only to those who have learned the paradoxical art of doing and not doing, or combining relaxation with activity.” — Aldous Huxley

So, I’ve decided that if I really want to discover what I yearn for, the only way is to stay open and allow for the answer to emerge.

One Apple A Day #567 – lesson learned

I confess. This morning I’m so sleepy and sluggish that even moving my fingers on the keyboard requires a lot of effort.
I almost fell asleep during my morning stretching exercises.

You can imagine how hard it has been to find something to write about this morning. All this struggle to think straight and to write brought back a recent memory.
Tuesday morning we took a taxi in Barcelona to go from the train station to the port. The taxi driver was a lovely guy, and we had a chat on our way through the traffic. Nothing special, you know. We started talking about the traffic and how it has changed in the last few years. When we asked if he likes to live in Barcelona, his answer was a small gem.
Of course, he loved to live there.
But the reason he gave was unexpected for me.
He told us that he is always happy; that’s why the city smiles back to him.
His grandmother – abuela – told him something when he was a kid that has been his mantra since then.

“Si tienes comida, come. Si no tienes comida, no come.”

If you have food, eat. If you don’t have food, don’t eat.

Life is simple, he said, just take what you have and get the best out of it.

So, this morning I’m following the advice of a taxi driver from Barcelona. I’m going with what I have, my sleepy brain, getting the best out of it.