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.