One Apple A Day #690 – my personal revolution

Synchronicity. 

“A concept, first introduced by analytical psychologist Carl Jung, which holds that events are “meaningful coincidences” if they occur with no causal relationship yet seem to be meaningfully related.” — Wikipedia

I didn’t know I have to thank Jung for this word. My day hasn’t really started yet, and I already learned something new. 

What a way to begin this Friday.

Anyway, last few days, I experienced synchronicity. 

Or maybe I created it.

I had four conversations, and in all of them, we talked about the importance of being true to our very own nature, to ourselves. Only when we are in tune with our truth, life flows naturally. 

And be aware, natural does not mean easy, comfortable or painless. 

It is just the feeling that you are living the life you’re meant to live. You are being the person you’re meant to be.

And that, being true to your own nature, looks like a small personal act of rebellion to me. 

We convinced ourselves that only an intervention from outside or from above can change the system in which we live. Like a pandemic.

While there is so much that we can do, just by being true to ourselves.

And in my head came up this image of billions of personal revolutions.

One Apple A Day #689 – find your pace

Last days have offered me a huge opportunity to revaluate my relationship with productivity. 

As I already wrote, it’s an uncomfortable subject for me. 

I would never describe myself as a productive person, that’s for sure. Yet, it’s a subject that fascinated me, maybe precisely because it’s not a natural thing for me.

This morning, while I was doing a simple but effective practice to synch movements and breathing, a memory came back; my first motorbike riding course on track. 

The program was straightforward. Six students, one instructor, a 20 minutes session on the track followed by 40 minutes offtrack to analyse what we did, repeated for five times.

During the session on the track, one of us was leading the group for two laps with the instructor just behind observing. Then all the others. After two laps, the one in front went to the back of the group. 

When it was my time to lead the group, I wanted to impress the instructor straight away. So, I gave my best; full-throttle on the straight, braking hard before each turn and then accelerating as much as I could. 

At the end of my two laps, I was exhausted but very proud of myself. When we stop for the debrief, I was drench in sweat but happy with my performance. The instructor feedback was like a punch to the guts. I was one of the slowest. Sure, I was fast on the straight, but that was useless, considering that there was one short straight but plenty of turns.

On the next session, the instructor forced me to do my two laps, always keeping the same gear. That meant that I couldn’t accelerate much and I couldn’t go too fast on the straight. But, surprise, during the debrief, I discovered that my lap time was way better.

Once my obsession with speed was out of the picture, I found my rhythm and with it the performance. 

This story reminds me of two valuable lessons, that too often I forget.

One is to look at performance, and productivity, more holistically. If we focus only on one aspect, we may illude ourselves that we’re going faster while we are just wasting energy.

The second lesson is that when we find our rhythm, we use better our resources and we can keep performing high for longer. 

One Apple A Day #682 – social cleanse

Since the end of last week, the rising sun has been perfectly aligned with the windows under which I write. Every morning, for an hour or so, its rays paint everything in gold. It’s magical, and it reminds me how much I love this moment of the day. 

You should give it a try.

Anyway, while I was meditating feeling the warm of this golden light on my skin, I became aware of another great opportunity of social distancing. 

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” — Jim Roh

It is well known that the people we spend the most time with shape who we are. They influence the conversations that we have, where we put our attention, our behaviours. 

“According to research by social psychologist Dr David McClelland of Harvard, [the people you habitually associate with] determine as much as 95 per cent of your success or failure in life.” — Darren Hardy in The Compound Effect

Almost all self-development books and experts stress this point. They typically invite us to assess our relationships to understand who are and who are not supporting us in becoming who we want to be. Then, and this is the tough part, the invitation is to distance ourselves from the toxic ones. The ones who are holding us back from realising our potential.

But that’s not easy at all. Our relationships are connected to our rituals, to our habits, the places where we go, the things we do. 

But now, we are forced to stay away from everything and everyone. Casual encounters are no more an issue. We can choose who we talk with and when. What a unique opportunity for social cleansing. We can assess the relationships we have in our lives, and carefully decide where we want to invest our energy. 

One Apple A Day #680 – demanding situations, choices and freedom

“I suppose the role of character is for the individual to rise to a situation. If it were not for the situation, we would never have heard of him. So that you might say that character is the product of an exceptional demand by the situation upon human ability. I think the ability of the average man could be doubled if it were demanded, if the situation demanded.” — Will Durant

Will Durant was an American historian, philosopher and writer. With his wife, he wrote The Story of Civilization, 11 volumes covering the whole story of humanity. The words opening this post are extracted from an interview in which he shared his thoughts on thoughts on the “Great Men and Women” in history. The heroes, the ones who shaped history and whose lives we study in the hope to become better.

In the same interview, he said that “the hero is a product of a situation rather than the result being a product of the hero. It is demand that brings out the exceptional qualities of man.

I love the idea of the hero as someone cut from a different cloth, with exceptional skills, wit and brilliance. 

However, I know we are all made of the same substance. I know we all have within us the potential to be heroes. And I know that hard times, like the one we are living now, can bring out the hero and the heroine from every man and woman. But it can also bring out the worst, the villain.

What makes the difference is a small choice. The choice of how we want to respond to the challenge.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” — Viktor E Frankl

One Apple A Day #677 – You must not be your own obstacle.

Having more time, and need, for inspiring conversations is undoubtedly one of the positive sides of this collective pause in which we are all in. 

Yesterday, I was talking about energy and protection. 

How often, driven by the desire to protect our energy or the source energy of a project or organisation, we end up limiting the creative potential of that same energy. For all the right reasons, we get in the way of our own potential.

I was reminded of an episode of “Chef’s table”. A Netflix series telling stories of some of the most celebrated chefs in the world. Jeong Kwang is the protagonist of one episode, but she is not like the others. She has no fancy restaurant. She’s a Buddhist monk working in the kitchen of a monastery in South Korea. Yet, she’s recognised as a fabulous creative chef.

At one point, with the same grace with which she prepares the food, she said to the interviewer:

“Creativity and ego cannot go together.

If you free yourself from the comparing and jealous mind, your creativity opens up endlessly.

Just as water springs from a fountain, creativity springs from every moment.

You must not be your own obstacle.”

One Apple A Day #676 – spread the change

From the way this virus is spreading, I feel we can learn some lessons on how we can create change in any system.

Homeostasis​ ​is​ ​the​ ​natural​ ​tendency​ ​of​ ​an​ ​organism​ ​to​ ​keep​ ​its​ ​stable​ ​condition​ ​and environment. It’s a tendency that applies to any system in our lives. Our​ ​inner​ ​beliefs,​ ​​​habits​ ​and​ ​​environment,​ ​they​ ​all​ ​work together​​ ​to​ ​create​ ​and​ ​keep​ ​our​ ​life stable and steady. Any time we try to change a system, ​those​ ​same​ ​forces​ ​that​ ​have​ ​established​ ​the​ ​current​ ​equilibrium​ ​will​ ​fight back to keep as it is.

The more we push to change the system, the more those forces will pull in the opposite direction.

It’s similar to what happens when we pull an elastic band. If we use a lot of force to pull it quickly, we will meet a lot of resistance, and it will be hard to ​keep​ ​the​ ​new shape.​ ​We will likely have to ​are​ ​to​ release the band and let it ​slide back to its natural status.

This virus is showing us a different approach to change. It is not so aggressive to trigger all our defences. At the contrary, in the beginning, it went mostly unnoticed. Our systems didn’t react immediately, so it had the time to spread and compound. When we became aware of it, it was already everywhere.

If we want to change something in our lives, in our organisations or communities, rather than go head-on, we may try a more subtle approach. One based on small​ ​but consistent daily​ ​improvement​ ​that compounds to create the change we want.

One Apple A Day #675 – state of confusion

Richard Phillips Feynman was undoubtedly a genius. He may not be as popular as other scientists, but his contribution to quantum physics was essential. For his work on the development of quantum electrodynamics, Feynman received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965.

He was the kind of guy you’d expect to be incredibly knowledgeable and capable of understanding everything anytime. Instead, as you can hear from his own voice in the video below, he admitted that he was, more often than not, in a state of confusion.

You see, it’s tempting to think of the great innovators and geniuses as superhumans with the incredible power of seeing the answers, knowing the direction, and envisioning what’s next with clarity. 

However, as Feynman revealed, the real power lies in their inability to understand things and acknowledge it not as a weakness, but as an opportunity. A source of wonder. 

Obviously, Feynman knew a lot of things. But, he found pleasure in not knowing and being forced to figure things out.

If there is one thing we can learn from the great innovators of the past, is that to create impactful results, we have to muddle through, with no guarantee of success while seeing the perfection of uncertainty. 

Most of us approach innovation because we want results. Preferably predictable results. 

But, as Feynman taught us, it’s only when we become comfortable with living in a state of confusion, that we can create wonder.

I learn about Feynman and his state of confusion from this article by Greg Satell

One Apple A Day #674 – it’s all perfect

“The perfect blossom is a rare thing. You could spend your life looking for one, and it would not be a wasted life.”

This is what Katsumoto says to Nathan Algren in a scene of “The Last Samurai”. 

The quest for perfection.

This scene came up for me yesterday in a conversation with my friend and mentor, Sujith. We were reflecting on how many things that happened in our lives in the last weeks were perfectly timed. As if they were part of an invisible but perfectly crafted plan.

That image came to my mind when I realise that the quest for perfection is not an outward hunt. It is, instead, a practice through which we learn to see the perfection in everything.

When we become aware that everything is perfect, then everything becomes an opportunity. We unleash infinite creativity and abundance.

Perfection then, it’s not a characteristic of something but rather an inner state. An elusive and fleeting one, indeed. 

That’s why the quest for perfection is a lifelong practice. But, as Katsumoto says, a worthy one.

At the end of the movie, when Katsumoto is dying, he looks a the cherry blossom floating around him, finally able to find that perfection.

“Perfect. They… are all… perfect…”

One Apple A Day #695 – the paradox of simplification

A few days ago, I had an inspiring conversation that made me reflect on the risks of oversimplifying reality. I’m talking about that tendency to view every situation through a binary filter. Such as “right or wrong”, “us and them”, “good and bad”, “winners and losers” and so on.
In Being At Full Potential, we call this the State of Binary Awareness. A state of awareness from which everything is reduced to a duality.
Reducing things in life to a binary perspective, it’s a way to cope with its complexity that comes from our need to belong; my tribe and the rest of the world.
Though in this increasingly connected world, I feel that this simplification makes life even more complicated. It creates tensions, conflicts and divisions.
It is a kind of paradox.
Maybe, if we accept that life is complex and that there are infinite nuances in everything, we can relax all these tensions and free ourselves from the dividing walls we built.

One Apple A Day #694 – Energy

Everything and everybody needs energy to perform work. 

We say that we feel energized when we are involved in something that increases our desire and ability to perform in any way. It’s something we can feel at a physical level. Our body is vibrating, ready to release, or I should say transfer that energy through some creative or transformative work. 

This morning I woke up feeling all but energized. I crawled out of bed more than an hour later than what I planned and wanted. My head heavy and my body ached in a few places. With a bad mood about a day started with the wrong foot, I dragged my self to the kitchen to do some stretching when I realized I was wrong. 

I wasn’t late at all. All of a sudden, I’ve been gifted with an hour.

I felt a surge in my energy, at all levels: physical, mental and emotional.

And that made me think and ask myself: Where is my energy coming from? What is my source of energy?

I haven’t found a clear answer yet, but I have two new questions to work on, Today. And that is definitely energizing.

Plus, I learned about “Potentiality and actuality“, two principles defined by Aristotle about which I want to learn more.