One Apple A Day #632 – outgrow your systems

I am a big fan of structures and systems. 

Maybe because willpower is not high on my list of strengths, I learned that they are vital to reaching any goal.

But there’s a caveat. 

They, systems and structures, should never become the goal.

If you want to reach a particular outcome, you can just rely on defining goals. No matter how S.M.A.R.T. your goals are, they are not enough to move you forward.

In the past, before I understood the importance of systems, I use to think that I wasn’t achieving success because my goals weren’t high, bold or smart enough.

“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” — James Clear

Goals are the starting point to set the direction. But it’s only when you design a system around those goals that you make real progress.

Unfortunately, it is easy to fall in love with the systems we create. In particular when they work, obviously. 

Systems and structures are very sexy for the rational mind. They are made of shapes and forms. That means that, no matter how flexible they are, they still have boundaries and limitations.

When the system becomes the goal, then we are limiting our potential to grow within the boundaries of the system itself.

The best system is one designed to support and sustain our growth, as individuals, teams or organisations. 

The ultimate purpose of a system is to become obsolete.

So, when we outgrow it, we can mould into an evolved version of ourselves.

 

Photo by Andy Holmes on Unsplash

One Apple A Day #628 – being wise

Every day I learn new things. Information that I acquire, process, evaluate, connect to previous ones and store in my mind. Some of them stick over time, and some got lost or forgotten. 

If and when I need the ones I retain, I dig them out from my memory.

I have the feeling that my memory is not infinite, so over the years, many things got lost, and I can’t retrieve them anymore. Anyway, this is another story.

Have you ever the feeling that you know something even if you can’t find that thing among the things you know?

It is a powerful feeling when you realise that you know something in your bones, not in your mind. As if the knowledge has slowly become part of who you are. 

From something you know to something you are.

From knowing to being.

That is my idea of wisdom. 

When something you know becomes part of who you are.

The tricky thing, in my experience, is that sometimes what you know in your mind can get in the way of what you know in your cells. Your knowledge creates resistance to your wisdom.

“To attain knowledge, add things every day. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.” ― Lao Tzu

P.S. I just realised that yesterday post was titled “Being Silly”. In my knowledge, they seem so different, yet in my body, they are fully interwoven.

One Apple A Day #626 – discipline

“How are we to become a warrior? There are certain characteristics of the warrior that are nearly the same around the world. The warrior has awareness. That’s very important. We are aware that we are at war, and the war in our minds requires discipline. Not the discipline of a soldier, but the discipline of a warrior. Not the discipline from the outside to tell us what to do and what not to do, but the discipline to be ourselves, no matter what.” — Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements.

I’ve been struggling with presence and focus since I can remember. When I was a kid, my mind was continually wandering in a world of fantasy. I was under the sea with Captain Nemo, on a boat with Harvey Cheyne, fighting with the pirates or travelling to the centre of the Earth. Anywhere but not wherever my body was.

Even growing up, I kept being a wandered of the mind. My thoughts always floating between past, present and future. Reality and fantasy.

Over the here, this rambling mind of mine has become an invaluable tool. It helped me do some of the things I love the most; find connections, dig out ideas, change often, begin many different things.

The other side of the coin is the struggle to focus on one thing, to keep the ball rolling until the work is done, to finish what I start, to close what I open. 

Through different experiences, starting from school and going through various jobs, I’ve learned that discipline is how I can teach my wandering mind to focus. So, over the years, I’ve created different structures and systems to bring discipline in my life. However, almost every time, those systems and structures failed me. I thought it was part of the game. Then the other day, while I was going through my notes in search for something I need to write a post, I found some words I highlighted many months ago from The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.

They’ve been working in my head for a few days.

The discipline of a warrior.

The discipline to be ourselves, no matter what.

It’s time for me to approach discipline in a whole new way.

One Apple A Day #618 – Goals and Aspirations

The man in the photo is Tyson Fury, a controversial British boxer and heavyweight world champion. His story is remarkable on many levels. He suffered from mental health issues after reaching the top of the world. He almost killed himself, and then he came back. 

You can find plenty of articles and videos online about his story, and as much as I’d like to write about it, I have only 15 minutes to finish this post.

The reason I’m writing about him this morning is a short video about him that I saw yesterday on Instagram. I think it is a short montage of this longer documentary about him (in case you want to watch something different tonight).

“It was all about winning bells and being a champion, but when you’ve done all of that, what’s about you then […] but if I train every day and I’ll stay in shape, then I’ll be happy forever.”

These words he shared in that video made me think at the difference between having a goal and having an aspiration.

I found the following definitions in an online dictionary.

  • Goal: the end toward which effort is directed
  • Aspiration: a strong desire to achieve something high or great

The way I read them, the goal is about the object we want to achieve. The aspiration is about me. Is about the vision I have for myself and my life. 

They are both fundamental and connected. To realise my vision, I have to divide it into goals on which I can act. To make my goals meaningful, so I won’t fill empty when I get them, they must be aligned with my aspiration.

“While goals can leave us feeling deflated and disappointed once we’ve achieved them, aspirations are never fully completed; we can get up every morning feeling motivated by them all over again.” — from Insight by Tasha Eurich

One Apple A Day #617 – Turning adversaries into partners

Yesterday I began reading a new book, “Conversation Intelligence” by Judith E. Glaser

Only a few pages into it and I’ve already found a small gem; a sentence that stood out and got me thinking.

“Turning adversaries into partners.”

Just four words, so simple yet so powerful. Reading the news, I feel I am surrounded by conflicts. Everyone is against something or someone else.

It’s all a big competition to stay on top. 

We’ve been so good at convincing ourselves that being first is the goal that we are all competing for that small place above. So, we grow jealous and protective of what we have and what we know. Yeah, we may collaborate or use the others, but in the end, the race to the top it’s a solitary race. 

Does it really have to be like this?

What if we stop seeing others as competitors?

What if we transform the idea “we all want the same” from a reason to compete into a reason to connect?

I am aware that I can’t change my world without some kind of corresponding change to my self. 

So, where do I start?

Judith Glaser suggestion is to start by changing our words. 

It seems an excellent starting for me.

What words do you need to change to turn your adversaries into your partners?

One Apple A Day #616 – repeat and create

I’m not a proper musician, but I play a bit.
Not much lately to be honest.
When I was younger, I used to play my guitar a lot more.
But I’ve never been a good musician, my technique was enough to give me pleasure and entertain some friends. That’s it.
Even with my limited skills, I really enjoyed improvising, alone or with hours. Once I got into some loop, I could go on for hours.

When there were a few of us playing, the starting point was to find a base loop. We began by setting a rhythm and then a chord progression. We kept playing that same pattern together until everyone was in synch.
Only then, we were able to start improvising, adding variations and melodies here and there. One of us, though, had to keep always the base loop. This way, the others were free to create different patterns without breaking the harmony of the composition.

I believe that the key to making those jam sessions a rewarding practice for everyone was that first boring part, where we repeat the base loop over and over until it became familiar to everyone.

That’s what repetition does. It creates familiarity, a common thread on which everyone feels safe to paint its own music.

That is the power of discipline.

It creates a familiar and safe base rhythm in our life so we can feel safe and unleash our creativity.

 

 

Photo by Lee Pigott on Unsplash

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 #609 – love and presence

“I’ll protect you from the hooded claw

Keep the vampires from your door.” 

— The Power of Love, Frankie Goes to Hollywood

When we love someone, we want them to be happy. We want to protect them from any possible harm. We want to know and to let them feel that they are safe.

We create fences, made of love and affection, to keep all the evil of the world away.

Unfortunately, fences work in both directions. And sooner or later they become cages. Maybe large ones, perhaps beautifully decorated but still, cages. 

So, here’s another tension for me to reflect upon. The tension between the need to protect and make someone happy and the need to see them expressing all their extraordinary potential.

And then, while I’m writing these words, I realise that it’s my ego who’s talking. My ego with its needs and fears. 

The fear of my own pain if someone I love gets hurt. The fear of my own ego if someone I love is not happy. 

While I’m here, pondering on all these thoughts, my eyes go back to the card I picked this morning.

“Showing up for others.”

And that tension, all of a sudden, sublimes into something else. 

It’s not about protecting. It’s not about supporting or helping.

The best I can do is to show up for the one I love.

To be fully present.

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 #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.