One Apple A Day #507 – which way from here?

“Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t much care where.
The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.
Alice: …So long as I get somewhere.
The Cheshire Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.”

― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Sometimes I get stuck and lost.
It may be because there are so many options and parameters that everything gets blur.
Or because no option seems the right one.
Sometimes I’m just overwhelmed, and I can’t think straight.
When I’m in that place, I remember this conversation between Alice and The Cheshire Cat.
When I have no idea where to go, it doesn’t much matter which way I go as long as I move.

One Apple A Day #504 – being the mountain

This morning I was reflecting on compassion, sympathy and empathy. And then I remembered this beautiful cartoon based on a talk given by Brené Brown on Empathy.

It’s less than 3 minutes so it won’t take much of your time, but she beautifully explains what empathy is.

“Rarely can a response make something better. What makes something better is connection.”

A few days ago I was reflecting with some brothers about compassion and empathy. We came out with this inspiring image of being the mountain in the storm. Being able to share the pain of others without hiding from it, feeling it as if it is mine. But at the same time, being centred as a mountain, offering a grounded presence where they can find peace.

One Apple A Day #500 – who are you voting for today?

Too often we underestimate the power of the small choices and actions we make and do every day. Most of our time in life is made of small acts, sometimes apparently insignificant. But, each one of them contributes to building your identity. And, most importantly, while you may not have control over the big events that happen in your life, you surely can choose how you want to show up every day.

I love how James Clear explains the power of the daily action in his book Atomic Habits.

“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.”

So, who are you voting for today?

This post is inspired by the Be The Change card I pick this morning; “How do I show up every day” and by the realisation that the writer within me reached 500 votes this morning.

One Apple A Day #499 – help others shine

All human beings are extraordinary.
Within each one of us, there is a universe of wonder, ready to expand if only we create enough space.

I just came back from a workshop with other 15 people.
They are what you may misjudge ordinary people. Like the ones that you meet every day when you go on with your life. The colleagues you see every day in the elevator, the parents waiting outside the school, the bankers, the plumbers, the guy driving the car in front of you and so on. Everyone trapped into a role, our universes compressed within the boundaries of the doing.

But once we created together a safe space in which each one felt safe to expand the being, the magic happened.

All these extraordinary universes, no more tamed by the boundaries we imposed on ourselves, flooded into the shared space. They fused together, and a new collective awareness emerged, one that embraces all perspectives and wisdom.

And when it was time to go home, a spark of that wonder was shining in the eyes of everyone.

All human beings are extraordinary, we need to create a safe space where this extraordinary potential can get out and shine.

Anytime you help others shine, the world gets a little brighter.

One Apple A Day #498 – live everyday

It’s a gorgeous morning here on the hills in the North East of Italy.
I’m sitting outside, writing this post on a bench surrounded only by the sounds of nature. I can’t say how many different animals are singing from the woods around this place. There are no other guests, and the people working on this farm haven’t arrived yet. So, I can savour every bit of this moment. The crispy breeze, the warming sun, the goat staring at me from her corner and the peacock walking around as if I’m just an accessory to his world.

I am the witness of a morning party celebrating the beauty of life. And out of the blue, this scene from the Peanuts appears in my mind.

Charlie: “Someday we’ll all die, Snoopy!”
Snoopy: “True, but on all the other days we will not.”

One Apple A Day #497 – Perspective

If you divide a number by infinite, no matter how big that number is, the result is always zero.

Yesterday I was talking with a friend about how easy it is to get trap into the desire of doing more, achieving more, having more.
It may be for fear of missing out (FOMO), or for the willingness to be in service. Or maybe is just that we love so much for what we do that we crave more of it.
The result is the same.
It’s just never enough.

It happens to me sometimes.
I got so focused on doing things that I forget to savor the moment.
Yesterday morning, while I was driving home, the sky was so clear that I was able to see the Dolomites in all their majestic beauty.
It’s humbling.
That view reminded me that life, even the longest one, is practically nothing compared to eternity.

This post is just a note to myself.
No matter how far and how fast I walk, the horizon will always be somewhere in the distance. But if I pause, breathe and lift my gaze, the horizon will come to me.

One Apple A Day #492 – embrace your emotions

In the early 1990s, the neuroscientist Antonio Damasio and his wife Hanna where studying patients with brain lesions that were affecting their ability to feel emotions but not their reason capabilities. They observed that when emotions and feelings are impaired, we are unable to make decisions.

Anytime we need to make a choice, we all want to make the most reasonable and objective one. This is particularly true in working environments. We are often pushed to leave our emotions out and make rational choices. The incredible amount of data to which we have access at any moment should always allow us to make the right or at least a good decision.
But does it?
I remember when we had to choose our second flat to rent in London. We spent weeks browsing websites, talking with agencies and viewing options to find the perfect fit. In the end, we choose one that ticks all the boxes. We never really enjoyed that place. After one year we started looking again. Only this time we left more space to our feeling. We ended up with the most unexpected, and a bit fool choice, where we had our best time in London.

What would happen if, instead of ignoring them, we observe and become aware of our emotions and feeling?

“It is emotion that allows you to mark things as good, bad, or indifferent.” — Antonio Damasio

One Apple A Day #485 – being in awe

Last week I was in Rome and, no matter how many time I’ve already visited, I’m always in awe before the majesty of the buildings, temples, fountains, squares, churches, palaces. Everything in Rome is monumental.
I was reminded of this article I read about the positive effect of experiencing awe in our life.

Being before a temple that is more than 2000 years old, forced me to redefine my perspective on time. It the same feeling I had when I was driving in Patagonia. That vastity redefined my perspective on space. Art is another source of awe, a glimpse into the vastity of human beauty and creativity.

According to Amie Gordon, PhD, Principal Research Scientist in the Emotion, Health, and Psychophysiology Lab at the University of California-San Francisco, awe is about novelty and vastness. Something that doesn’t fit with what we already know and forces us to change our perspective.

It would be easy to think that the only sources of awe are external experiences.
But look at children, they live in a state of awe. Because they know less they create the experience of newness and vastity our of everything.

We should learn from them the art of being inspired.

One Apple A Day #479 – something to die for

“There can be a cost to acting on one’s principles, but there is a bigger cost to abandoning them.”

With this sentence, Jane Philpott, Treasury Board President of the Canada government closed the message in which she announced her resignation.
This message struck me because yesterday night I was reflecting about another, more famous, quote.

“If a man hasn’t found something he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

Albeit I love this quote, it always makes me feel a little uncomfortable.
Martin Luther King was fighting for a high but dangerous cause. A cause that was going to change the world, or at least his country, forever. He was aware of the risks of pursuing his vision and, in the end, he died for it.

But, how does it apply to me?
Since yesterday, I’ve been pondering on this question.
Nothing I do is putting my life at stake.
Sure, I have my values and principles on which I’m not willing to compromise, but saying that it’s something I would die for seams a bit of stretch.

Then, this morning I was reading this article about the political crisis in Canada, and I found that sentence. And it hit me.

If I abstract MLK’s message from his historical context then “to die for” means “to give up everything”, including that same thing you are fighting for.

The question then becomes “what are you willing to sacrifice your career for?” or “what are you willing to let your company die for?”.

These are questions I can work with.

One Apple A Day #475 – a meaningful job

We are all aware of the importance of finding meaning in what we do. In this McKinsey’s article, the authors say that “increasing the ‘meaning quotient’ of work” has a huge impact on people’s performances.

If you do a quick search online, you will find plenty of articles with suggestions on how to find a meaningful job.
However, there is a high probability that the quest for a meaningful job will be delusional for many.
Because a job does not have a meaning on its own. It is just a job.
As much as an object is just an object.
We infuse meaning in things, including jobs.
We can not expect for our job or for anything else to give meaning to our life. We are the only ones who can give meaning to our lives.
We must look inside, dig out our values and aspirations, understand what really matters for us and then we can infuse meaning in what we do.

“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.” — Viktor E Frankl