One Apple A Day #692 – I want to go home

Do you remember when you were a kid, and your parents decided to go somewhere you didn’t want to?

I do. Very well.

I was an introvert child. I could spend hours on my own reading or watching cartoons on the TV. 

When my parents decided to take the whole family somewhere, usually on Sundays, let’s say I wasn’t really cheerful. 

In particular when the plan was to visit relatives or to go to some party with many people.

Anyway, I was a kid, so I didn’t have much choice but to follow.

I remember those long journey in the car where my only thought was “I want to go home!”

Sometimes I voiced it, but most of the time, I just sat there, in the back of the car in silence with the most resentful face I could make.

My mood didn’t change when we got to our destination. If possible, I was even more uptight. Full of my fierce refusal of the whole situation.

“I want to go home.”

That was everything I could think about. 

Everything was annoying and boring. And that was proof that I was right in my desire to go home.

Then, almost every time something happened. 

I don’t know if it was me getting tired of holding the forth. Or if it was something external cracking my walls, like a joke from my father, something sweet to eat softening my resistance, or the sight of some other kids doing something funny.

Whatever the reason, that voice in my head repeating “I want to go home”, became more and more feeble.

Until that thought was gone and I began having fun where I was.

These days feel a bit like that.

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 #688 – do what you love

Days are fading away, and every morning this feels a little less transient than the day before. While I loosen my grip on the past on one side, I’m surely not getting any more clarity about the future.
I feel as if I stranded in the present. Though, I’m not worried.
At the contrary, I am surprisingly relaxed.
However, this is not what I had in mind when I wrote the title of this post.
That is also a new thing. Usually, I add the title at the end, but it came up doing my stretching, and here I am.

I have only two minutes to give it a meaning. Or maybe I already did because writing is what I love.

You see, one of the questions I ask myself often these days is how to use this time for the best. What should I learn so I’ll be ready when this thing is over? Where should I put my attention so I can secure a prosperous future after all of this? What is the right thing I can to today so I’ll be ahead tomorrow?
And so on.
Do you have similar questions running in your mind?

Last weekend I finally accepted that I know nothing about the future. I know, there are plenty of forecasts out there, many experts are preparing all kind of scenarios. But here I’m talking about me.
And I know nothing about what’s ahead for me.
So, anything is possible.
Any new skill may or may not be the right one.
At this point, I can’t think of anything better than to do what I love, now.
What makes me happy today.
What makes my heart sing with joy today.

One Apple A Day #687 – do you still have to?

I realised that the quality of my conversations improved lately.

All conversations, from the random ones at the grocery store to the daily exchanges having a meal.

Like yesterday at lunch, when I realised how many things we thought we had to do and all of a sudden, we can’t. And because we can’t do them, they don’t look as necessary and inevitable as we thought they were.

Yes, some are big things like going into the school or to the office to study and work. But mostly, this moment is an eye-opener on the many small things that make up our daily life.

I have to help that person. I know, I’m tired, but I have to.” or “I have to do that thing; otherwise nobody will do it and who knows what would happen.” 

How often I’ve heard people around me complaining like these. 

Now that person we thought we have to help is taking care of her or himself. That thing we had to do? Nobody doing it and nothing happened.

This is a unique opportunity to assess our routines, habits, and the list of things we thought we have to do and check what we can let go and what we want to keep. 

One Apple A Day #685 – now, here, breathe

Some days, I feel lost.
I keep reading inspiring articles about how this global crisis will change the world, on how it will change us at every level. I hear predictions and suggestions on how we should prepare for the aftermath. I’ve been asked, and I ask powerful questions. And in the meanwhile, I’ve been doing plans, creating things, having conversations on what we can do and how. I can feel the excitement for what this massive and global change will bring.
Then, some days, I just feel lost.

As if in my looking forward, in my effort to prepare for tomorrow, I’ve forgotten my today. Yet, life is happening today.
And in this today, I don’t know. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow. I don’t know how the world will be. I don’t know who I will be. I don’t even know when it will be tomorrow. I have no answers and maybe not even the right questions.

In these moments, I feel the need to stop and stay.
To stop asking, searching, thinking, doing, making sense.
Just stay.
Stay with what it is, with who I am.
It is not the moment for future goals, for prediction, for long term plans.
I just want to be present.
Now, here. Nowhere.
Breathe.

One Apple A Day #684 – start somewhere, but start

This morning, when I sat to do this little writing practice of mine, I was at lost. Many thoughts and ideas were floating in my mind, but nothing was carrying that spark I needed to begin writing. 

It happens, more often than I’d like. Over the years, I’ve learned that the biggest mistake I can make is to indulge in this wandering of the mind, waiting for the right idea to start. More often than not, I get even more lost. 

In these cases, what I do is to take anything and being writing. Usually, it is a recent memory such as a fact, a conversation or something I read.

This time, I decided to start from a little story my fellow coach Ian McKechnie told me yesterday.

It’s the story of a small group of Hungarian soldiers who got lost in the Alps during the First World War. After three days of heavy snow, they were giving any hop to make it back to the camp where the rest of the troop was. They were desperate but then, of them find a map in his pocket. With renewed hope and energy, they followed the map and made it back to the camp. When their lieutenant asked to see the map, he discovered that it was a map of the Pyrenees. Having a map, even if a wrong one, was enough to calm them down, so they were able to think more clearly and, most importantly, to take action.

Two things happened this morning when I found this story in my pocket.

The first is that I started writing, and even if I didn’t know how to use the story, I ended up with a new post.

The second thing is that while searching for some information about the story, I discovered this fantastic article, that I’m going to read in full later, on the rhetorical power of anecdotes and how easy it is to twist a story when it doesn’t fit our thesis.

If you don’t know where to start, check your pockets.

One Apple A Day #683 – start with “I”

This morning, my Be The Change card is a challenging one.

Stop with the “you”. Start with “I”, “We”.

A card that, to me, talks about responsibility.

What’s the meaning of all of this?

This is a question that pops up often around me lately. And when we can’t find an answer, the question quickly moves into a quest for someone or something to blame. 

Because there must be a meaning in all this madness that the world is going through, right? Or at least, it must be someone’s fault.

This card reminds me of two significant things.

The first one is that if I am part of the system I want to change, I am part of the problem. So, if I really want to be part of the solution, I must stop looking outside and begin thinking about how I can change.

“A truly significant change to your world will almost always require some kind of corresponding change to your self.” — Dave Gray

The second is that asking for the meaning of this situation is as pointless as asking for the meaning of life. I am the one who’s asked to give meaning to my life. 

“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. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.” — Viktor Frankl

I often use quotes from Viktor Frankl book, “Man’s Search For Meaning”. This should give a hint of how much that book has impacted my life. 

I’d say that this is the perfect time for you to read it if you haven’t already.

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 #681 – practice boredom

My country is on full lockdown. People are confined within their houses, most businesses are closed or operating at reduced speed, kids are home from school. All the things with which we were used to filling up our days are no more available. I heard many friends talking about boredom and the struggle to find something to keep them and their loved ones, in particular children, engaged.

“The greatest threat to success is not failure but boredom.”

This quote comes from one of my favourite book of the last year; Atomic Habits by James Clear. 

I think we all agree that practice is the way to achieve mastery in anything. A lot of practice. 

The problem is that the more you practice something, the more it becomes boring. What was exciting at the beginning, after a while becomes a tedious routine. Our interest fades away, and we become easy prey for distractions. 

Learning to deal with boredom can make the difference in becoming who we want to become.

That is why, as Clear says, “you have to fall in love with boredom.” 

Now we have this unique opportunity to practice boredom and learn to love it. Something that will probably make a significant difference in the new normality in which we will all live after this extraordinary situation.