One Apple A Day #605 – It is important

In the last weeks, I’ve been struggling with my priorities. Probably I said too many yes or maybe I just overestimate my energy.
Anyway, the result is that some days, I feel overwhelmed by the things I want and I have to do. Whatever choice I make on what to focus on, I feel guilty for the things I’m leaving behind and for the people I will disappoint.
In my mind, I know that the only way out is to put things on a list, define the priorities and tackle one task or goal after the other.
And that’s what I found overwhelming; defining my priorities.
The easiest framework I know to prioritize things is Eisenhower’s matrix, later developed by Stephen Covey in his 4 Quadrants.
It’s a simple matrix built on two axes; urgency and importance.
The aim is to put as many tasks as possible in the “important, not urgent” quadrant.
Urgency is based on time, so most of the time, it’s easier to evaluate things to do.
“Importance” is an entirely different game. How do you define what is important? It’s a quest that requires us to explore our values and our vision for the future. To me, something is important when it serves my vision, it is aligned with my values. The degree of importance depends on the impact a specific activity has on my vision and on my world.

You’re probably wondering why am I struggling if I have a framework and I know how to define the priority of the things I want to do?

Because to know what to do is not the same as doing what we know.
Between knowing and doing, there are our emotions and our beliefs influencing our actions.

But I have a secret weapon; my morning practice. Including these daily posts. Just writing about my struggle, I gained more clarity about it. I don’t have a solution yet, but I feel less overwhelmed and ready to review my priorities.
No doubts that my morning practice scores very high in importance.

One Apple A Day #604 – Connection

All of a sudden, the woods go silent. 

All the others are behind me and observing my movements, however, at that moment, I am alone.

There is nobody else. There is nothing else but me, the bow, the arrow and the prey.

It’s an incredible feeling that words struggle to describe.

Like being out of space and time.

Everything is happening incredibly slowly and fast at the same time.

I look at the prey. I choose the exact spot where I want to hit and then we are one.

The prey and me.

I can feel the connection as if there’s no distance at all.

I raise the bow, pull the cord and then liberate the arrow.

I know where the arrow is flying. I know where it is going to hit. 

I feel as if I always knew.

The arrow hits the exact spot that I visualise.

And then the world comes back.

The sounds of the woods, the voices of my friends.

I am back in the current space and time.

 

That was my experience of flow last Saturday. An utter sensation of just being one with everything. And everything happens effortless and naturally as if any obstacles have been removed.

It was not a pleasure for a good shot. That came only later.

It was a profound and potent sense of being whole.

It wasn’t the first time. I have the same experience sometimes when I’m writing, or when I’m immersed in a powerful conversation.

I’m still not sure how it happens. 

Anytime I try to deliberately create that feeling, I fail. 

And maybe that’s the secret. 

It’s not about trying more or harder.

It’s about setting the stage and allows for the flow to happen.

For sure, I’ve learned a valuable lesson.

Knowing your goal with clarity is not enough to get it. 

I must create a connection with it. I have to become one with my objective.

And then it will pull me towards itself.

P.S. Obviously, the prey wasn’t a real animal.

One Apple A Day #603 – Curiosity

“Being curious is better than being smart.” — James Clear

Curiosity is a propellent that ignites growth. Being smart is about using what you know in the best way possible. Yet, you’re still limited by what you know. It is curiosity that pushes you to explore beyond the boundaries of what you know. 

The word “curiosity” comes from the Latin curiositatem; “desire of knowledge, inquisitiveness“. And obviously, it’s connected to the Latin word curiosus “careful, diligent; inquiring eagerly, meddlesome“. 

So, when we nurture our curiosity, the unknown becomes like a magnet, calling us to explore and inquire. 

To do so, to cultivate a mindset of curiosity, we must train ourselves to look at things with fresh eyes. As if everything is new, with the same awe of a child exploring the world.

I also found it fascinating that the word curiosity is akin to cura, “care”. A curious person is also someone who takes “care” of something. And that made me realise that the other ingredient of a curious person is love. 

Love is what gives us the courage to go beyond the resistance created by fear. It is vital to act on curiosity.

One Apple A Day #602 – pressure and time

“Geology is the study of pressure and time. That’s all it takes really, pressure and time. That, and big goddamn poster.” — The Shawshank Redemption

Andy, the main character of the movie, spent 20 years digging a hole in the wall of his prison’s cell, a few crumbs at a time. He applied a little pressure for enough time until he was able to escape the prison and gain freedom.

When we are going through a tough moment, or we feel trapped in a difficult situation, we dream about a significant change. Something that shakes our world, turns things upside-down and redefines our life.

And while we wait for this defining moment, time goes by, and it eats up our energy. At the point that, even when that moment comes, we are not able to seize it.

“It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis.” — James Clear

There is always something small you can do. It may seem insignificant at that time, but if you are consistent, you can build massive transformation.
Geological transformations are massive, we talk about continents moving and mountains emerging or disappearing. Yet, you can stare at a mountain for a whole life without seeing the slightest change. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not happening.

Decide who you want to become, find the tiniest action you can do every day to be that person, and then do it.
Pressure and time.
That’s all you need.

One Apple A Day #601 – from collecting to connecting

Our society is based on what I call the “collecting paradigm”. In this paradigm, success is defined by how much you can collect; money, power, knowledge, land, people, connections, ideas.
You name it.
The critical factor is how much you can amass.
Wealth and success are measured on what you have, material or immaterial. Potential is defined in terms of how much you’ll be able to collect.
In this paradigm, a lot of energy is then spent on protecting what you have accumulated. When you live into this paradigm or mindset, often what you have defines also who you are; your knowledge, skills, role.
The collecting paradigm is one of scarcity and competition.

What would happen if we shift to a new paradigm? One that value connections above collections.

In this paradigm, it’s all about connecting people, ideas, things, places, knowledge. The aim is to keep the infinite energy of the universe flowing. When we collect, we are stopping this flow by removing something from it. When we create a new connection, we expand the possibilities to flow exponentially.

It’s a paradigm of abundance and collaboration.

I know, it’s not easy. It requires each one of us to rethink the meaning of success and winning.

It’s not about me anymore. It’s about everyone.

Are we ready for such a shift?

One Apple A Day #600 – rituals and celebrations

This morning I picked the card “Ritual” for my morning reflections. Then, when I opened the laptop to write this post, I realised this is the apple number six hundred.
This ritual has been going on for quite a while now.
When I started, I planned to do it for 90 days in a row and then stop. But then it was such an enjoyable experience that I’ve decided to keep going. Every now and when I ask myself when will I stop. Will I ever reach the destination of this journey? Is there a destination at all?

I don’t know. What I know, or I should better say what I feel is that this small ritual of mine is aligned with who I am. I’m an explorer, and like any explorer, I have my journal or logbook to keep track of my discoveries so one day I’ll be able to share them with the world.

I’m well aware that celebrating significant milestones is essential. And this is one of those. It means I’ve spent 600 mornings in the last two years or so, writing and sharing something. Who would have known that someone like me, who gets quickly bored, would have stick to a habit like this one for so long? I know now that this is possible only when the practice becomes part of our identity. So, this morning post is definitely part of who I am.

With that in mind, I’m already thinking about the next post. The one I was planning to write today before I realise it was time to celebrate.

So, be aware, I have no plan to stop.

One Apple A Day #599 – practice

You’ve probably heard of the famous “10,000-hour rule“.

It has been defined by journalist and author Malcolm Gladwell in his book “Outliers: The Story of Success“.

He created this rule based on the results of a 1993 study on violin players. That study shows that the best performer had put at least 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to refine their talent.

This rule is used by many speakers and motivators. In a way, it says that it’s not about your talent, but it’s the amount of work you’re ready to put in that will make the difference. And if you are prepared to put in 10,000 hours of practice, you can aim to mastery.

In a way, I like to be reminded of the importance of practice as a vital part of the journey to mastery. But there’s always a risk of oversimplification when we put all the focus on the outcome. Because when everything is about the results, then the practice is just a means to an end. Something to get through, as quickly as possible.

Recently, Brooke Macnamara, a psychologist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, decided to repeat part of the 1993 study. You can find more about this story in this article.

Macnamara, states that “When it comes to human skill, a complex combination of environmental factors, genetic factors and their interactions explains the performance differences across people.

So, practice is fundamental, but many other factors will determine the final outcome. And that’s in an important reminder that we should fall in love with the practice itself.

Macnamara also said: “Practice makes you better than you were yesterday, most of the time, but it might not make you better than your neighbour. Or the other kid in your violin class.”

And that’s all the beauty of the practice. It is not about competition, it’s about realising our full potential as humans.

One Apple A Day #598 – I slipped

The ache in my back woke me up early, a good half an hour before the planned alarm.
I lurch to the kitchen with my eyes half-closed. It was still dark outside. Or at least, it looked dark to me
I remember thinking that I needed just a few minutes on the couch, to let the pang in my back dissolve before doing my morning exercises.
So, I slump on the couch.
Just a few minutes.
The next thing I recollect was my partner telling me there we were late for our appointment.
No time for my morning practice.
“Nevermind”, I thought, “I’ll recover late, we will have plenty of waiting time through the morning”.
Reality is that I felt slow and sleepy all day. I even struggled to find enough energy to read a novel for more than 10 minutes.

So, yesterday I slipped.
No exercises, no meditation, no daily apple.
Nothing.

It happens. It’s not the first time, and it won’t be the last.
And there is always something to learn, in particular when we fail.

Yesterday, I learned that the twenty minutes I spent every morning doing some physical exercises are not only beneficial for my health. They literally awaken my body and my mind. It’s like sending an energy shock through my whole system re-activating it after the night.
Having skipped that, I’ve been sleepy and sluggish all day, unable to focus on anything.

I’ve also learned that my morning practices are now part of my identity. So, even if I miss one day, I can effortlessly get back to my rituals the day after.

“The ultimate form of intrinsic motivation is when a habit becomes part of your identity. It’s one thing to say I’m the type of person who wants this. It’s something very different to say I’m the type of person who is this.” — Atomic Habits by James Clear

One Apple A Day #597 – you are infinite

Be yourself, they say.

Great advice but, who am I?

Who this self I am supposed to be? How would I know that I am “being myself”?

Because the more I try to define who I am using my thinking mind, the more I wrap myself into a box that gets smaller.

And I can clearly sense that most of me has been left out.

So, you see, there is a problem here.

My mind thinks in shapes and forms, so it is used to set boundaries to divide one thing from the other. To separate me from the others and the world so I can put a label on myself.

The ancient greeks engraved the words γνῶθι σεαυτόν on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.

“know thyself”

What they didn’t write is that knowing yourself is a never-ending journey. And that the journey is more important than the destination. It doesn’t matter how many labels and boxes you’ll be able to use to define yourself, as long as you keep exploring.

You are infinite as the universe you hold inside.

One Apple A Day #596 – magic mirrors

“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” — Napoleon Hill

I’m sure you’ve read or heard this quote many times. This morning these words pop up while I was reflecting upon a conversation I had a few days ago with my dear friend Vanessa.

We were reflecting on our work, trying to distil the essence of what we do. Among the many compelling ideas, one has been resonating with me since that conversation.

We are the carrier of a special kind of mirror. One the reflect not who you are, but who you can be if you express your full potential.

When we stand before our clients, individuals or groups, we can reflect back the image of their extraordinary self. They can see, in that magic mirror, the stunning beauty of themselves living at their full potential.

Whatever you put your attention on expands.

Seeing your extraordinary self is vital to begin any transformation journey. Because once your mind conceives it, as Napoleon Hill wrote, you’ll know you can achieve it.

We all can do that. Anytime we live our full potential, we become mirrors for the people around us. Magic mirrors in which they can see their extraordinary self.

Our Deepest Fear

By Marianne Williamson

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness

That most frightens us.

We ask ourselves

Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small

Does not serve the world.

There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking

So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine,

As children do.

We were born to make manifest

The glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us;

It’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,

We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we’re liberated from our own fear,

Our presence automatically liberates others.