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.

ONE APPLE A DAY #595 – shine through defeat

Yesterday I read a short and powerful piece by an Italian teacher. A friend posted it on facebook but mistakenly associating it with a famous Italian poet and writer.

The words immediately resonated with me, so I wanted to learn more about them. This is how I discover that the real author is Rosaria Gasparro. She’s a teacher in primary school, but she’s also a lot more obviously. For sure she’s a beautiful writer.

This small story made me wonder about the infinite potential that lives within each one of us. We just need to crush the walls of our limiting beliefs and allow for our extraordinary self to shine. Then, we would make the world a brighter place.

Below, my humble translation of the words of Rosaria.

THE PRAISE OF the DEFEAT

I think it is necessary to educate the new generations on the value of defeat. On its management. On the humanity that springs from it. On the creation of an identity that can perceive a commonality of destiny, where one can fail and start over without value and dignity being eroded. On how to not become a social climber, on not to walk over the body of others to get there first.

In this world of vulgar and dishonest winners, of false and opportunistic doers, of people who count, who occupy power, who rob the present, let alone the future, to all the neurotics of success, of appearing, of becoming … to this anthropology of the winner, I instead prefer those who lose. It is an exercise that I do well. And it reconciles me with my sacred little.

You can read more from Rosaria here (in Italian).

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 #577 – shed the old skin

The other day I was walking in a park surrounded by the sound of thousands of cicadas. A typical soundtrack in the Italian summer.
But this time, a friend showed me all their abandoned skins on the side of the trees.

I’m fascinated by these transformation processes in nature, so I had to learn more.

Here’s what I’ve learned.

The female cicada deposit her eggs within slits in the bark of a tree. When the eggs hatch, the newborn nymphs drop to the ground, dig and hide into the soil.
The nymphs live underground for most of their lives. They have strong front legs for digging. They create their home close to roots, and they feed on their sap.

At some point, when they are ready to transform in their final nymphal state, they create an exit tunnel to the surface and emerge into the light. The find a tree and start climbing. During the climb, they shed their skin – a process called moult – for the last time. The new adult cicada emerges, the one we can hear in summer. The abandoned skins still clinging to the bark of the trees.

I find the whole process magical. When the cicada is ready to move into the adult life, it leaves behind the old skin so the new self can emerge to bring its magic to the world.

What do you have to shed and leave behind to bring your magic into the world?

One Apple A Day #575 – alignment and flow

Imagine that you have a field full of crops, and they need water to grow. Luckily for you, there is a big lake close by that can provide all the water that you need. To carry the water where you need it, you build a pipe from the lake to your field.
Because there is quite a distance to cover, the pipe is formed by a few segments. Unfortunately, the terrain is uneven, and the parts do not align correctly. As a result, a lot of water goes wasted while flowing from the source to the field, your crops struggle and they don’t produce all the fruits they could.

Sometimes, I feel like that pipe struggling to get enough water to the crops.

The lake is the infinite source of my human potential, and the field is the manifestation of that potential in the real world.
Only when all the parts of me are aligned, that energy flows freely and fully into my actions. Those parts are my soul, my mind, my heart and my body.
When they are not fully aligned, part of my energy goes wasted, and I can’t express my full potential.

But when they all aligned, oh dear, I can feel the energy flowing through me like a forceful river.

That is the feeling of “flow” or “being in the zone” to me.

Have you experienced it?

One Apple A Day #573 – into the light

“What would you jump into or out of if you were guaranteed success?”

With this question in mind, I’m writing today.
As soon as I read the question, I thought that it would be easy to answer.
Who doesn’t have a dream? Something we are not chasing because it’s too bold, or too risky.

So, I started seeking an answer only to find myself stuck.
Really, my mind is paralysed. I’ve been staring at the screen for a good five minutes, and nothing came up.

And then I felt it.
The fear of succeeding.
The fear of recognising that there is an incredible potential within that I’m not expressing. Did I waste it?
All these fears have created a cage of limiting beliefs. And I spent so much time in it that I got comfortable.
So now I struggle to imagine the world beyond.

But I know it’s possible. I had glimpses of that world. The world of possibilities.

It’s time to open the door and step out, into the light. It may burn at the beginning, but as soon as my eyes adjust, I know more wonder will manifest.

One Apple A Day #571 – let yourself flow

I love to learn new things; to discover new ideas and connections.
I always thought that the only way to grow and expand my potential was through addiction. Adding more knowledge, more skills, more tools, and so on.
The idea is that the more you know, the more and better you can do.
But it doesn’t work like that, not for me at least.
Knowing what to do doesn’t automatically imply doing what I know.

More and more, I’m becoming aware that the key to unlocking my true potential is subtraction.
We are like rivers, flowing is our nature.
What we should do is to remove all obstacles, or find ways around them, so we can flow to the sea.
Some obstacles are part of the nature of things, like rocks. Others are made, by us or by others, like dams.
The more we can clean the way, the more our stream will flow freely.

Sometimes I put so much effort to make my energy flow that I get in its way. The typical sign is a sense of frustration and feeling stuck.
When I become aware of it, and I let go, then my energy starts flowing again.

Tim Gallwey summaries it perfectly in his famous formula: Performance = Potential – Interference.

Let your potential flow.

One Apple A Day #562 – the safety paradox

You’ve almost surely read and heard many times about “Psychological safety”. Many studies proved that it is one, if not the, most critical condition for extraordinary performance at the personal and team level.

Psychological safety can be defined as “being able to show and employ one’s self without fear of negative consequences of self-image, status or career“. In short, it is the belief that, within a team or organisation, you feel safe to show up authentically, to speak your own truth and take risks.

So, creating a space where everyone feels safe should be the starting point for every teamwork.

How do you do that?

This is what I’ve been pondering about last days. The feeling of “being safe” is entirely subjective. I may feel safe to express myself fully in a space where someone else can not. How can I know if a space is “safe” for everyone? If someone doesn’t feel safe, will she or he manifest that feeling?

Indeed, some configurations are more helpful than others in creating a safe space for everyone. But I believe that psychological safety is sourced within. If I want to create a safe space, the first vital step is for me to sincerely believe that that space is safe and show up authentically.
No matter what.
And that means taking risks. It means to be willing to step out of my inner “safe” zone and feel unsafe.

It is a kind of paradox.

If I want to create a safe space for others, I must be ready to risk my own safety.

One Apple A Day #557 – Romeo & Juliet

I’ve spent a few hours strolling around the streets of Verona yesterday. One of the main attractions for tourists is the famous Juliet’s Balcony. People from all over the world come here to see this symbol of love, maybe in the hope that it will bring more love in their lives.
But Juliet’s house and the balcony are nothing more than props. Not much different from the ones I saw outside the Arena when they were setting up the stage for the Aida.
Romeo and Juliet existed in the fantasy world created by Shakespeare’s creative mind. Yet, as Juliet’s balcony proves, if we believe a story long enough, it becomes real. That balcony in Verona feels very real.
This can also happen in our lives. If we tell ourselves a story long enough, that story will shape our reality.
“This can’t be done.”
“I’m not good at this thing.”
“Oh no, I can’t draw, sing, write.”
And so on.
How many “Juliet’s balconies” do you have in your life?
What would you be capable of, if you move past those stories?

One Apple A Day #552 – responsibility and freedom

Bureaucracy.
This is the word that emerged and filled up my mind this morning.
Not a fanciest or most inspiring word in my dictionary, for sure.

I have a complicated relationship with bureaucracy. At any levels and in any context.
Sure, the worst experience is when I have to do with the public administration. In those cases, I feel as if bureaucracy has been carefully designed to create uncertainty and doubts.
But to be honest, I struggle anytime some rules and procedures overshadow human relationships to make things happen.

To me, bureaucracy is the epitome of a form depleted of the energy from which it manifested.

So, I woke up with this word in mind, and I want to do something with it, not just vent out my annoyances.

I remember a quote that I read a while ago.

“Bureaucracy is a construction by which a person is conveniently separated from the consequences of his or her actions.” ― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life

That made me immediately think about the relationship between freedom and responsibility.

In a workshop that I did a few months ago precisely on this topic, I’ve been reminded that responsibility is the “Ability to respond” to situations.

“Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.” — Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search For Meaning

So, freedom and responsibility are strongly linked.

“Freedom, however, is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness.” — Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search For Meaning

If we don’t feel free, we won’t take responsibility. But if we don’t take responsibility for our words and actions, we can’t be free.

I recollect many conflictual conversations in different organisations, where employees were asking for more freedom and the manager were asking for more responsibility. And they couldn’t find an agreement; apparently, they were asking for two different things without realising that they were just talking about two sides of the same coin.

Great! So, where do we start? From responsibility or from freedom?

It looks like a typical chicken or egg problem.

“The first step toward personal freedom is awareness.” — Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements

My feeling is that we should always start by expanding our awareness.