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 #679 – what windows are you keeping open?

For my research, I’ve been reading about neuroplasticity in the last days. Things like a study did a few years ago showing that interacting with our smartphones, it actually changes the way our thumbs and brain work together. Dr Ghosh, the author of the study, suggests that “that cortical sensory processing in the contemporary brain is continuously shaped by personal digital technology.

More and more, we have proofs that the choice of where we put our attention, shapes who we are.

Two days ago I went to the supermarket. There was a heaviness in the air, affecting everybody. A few people moving quickly around the shelves, avoiding each other and not only physically. No eye contact, no smiles.

I talked to the lady at the till and she told me that nobody says hello or goodbye anymore. We are letting fear expand in our minds, hearts and souls. As a result, the space left for other feelings and emotions is shrinking. 

Then a dear friend sent me this powerful poem yesterday. 

The wine of divine Grace is limitless.

All limits come only

from the limitation of the cup.

Moonlight floods the whole sky

from horizon to horizon,

How much it can fill your room

depends on its windows.

Grant a great dignity, my friend,

to the cup of your life;

Love has designed it

to hold His eternal wine.

~ Rumi

The amount of love that can fill my room depends on its windows. 

I must remind myself to check every day what windows I’m keeping open. 

I must keep shut the one of fear, we all the negative news trying to flood in. And hold wide open the ones of love and connection.

One Apple A Day #680 – turn on the love

When the room is dark, I usually turn on the light so I can see. 

Such an obvious thing to do.

I would say it’s common sense.

Unfortunately, as Steven Covey said; “what is common sense is not always common practice.

Yesterday, I was exploring fears with a group of inspiring people.

And I realised that when it comes to fear, more often than not, I try to push through the darkness instead of turning on the light.

I put all my focus on the fear I want to overcome, trying to get stronger and better. Like when I wake up before dawn and, to avoid disturbing my partner, I try to get out in a pitch-black room only to hit something in the darkness and wake her up. 

If pushing through darkness may have a sense when I’m sneaking out very early, I feel it doesn’t when it comes to fear.

It’s like the target fixation effect I know very well being a motorcyclist. Not only we go in the direction of our gave, but what we put our attention on, expands. I’ve learned it through experience. If I’m riding and I see a pothole on the road, I must move my gaze on the way around it as soon as possible. Because if I keep staring at it, I’m going to hit it.

If it’s dark, turn on the light.

In the case of fear, the light is love. 

Yesterday, I put my fears aside, and I shifted my focus on how I can bring more love into what I do. So I can cast my fears away.

One Apple A Day #672 – love + discipline

I was very, and I still am, deeply shocked by the tragic loss of Kobe Bryant. He was undoubtedly a giant whose legacy goes beyond basketball and sport in general.

His uncompromising dedication to his craft, playing basketball, has always been a trademark of his career. There are so many stories about his commitment and relentless pursuit of excellence. 

Yesterday, I was reading this one particular story, and I was trying to understand what can motivate someone to put so much work into something. It can’t be just the discipline or willpower.

I believe I found the answer in the letter he wrote in 2015, to say goodbye to basketball.

“I fell in love with you.

A love so deep I gave you my all —

From my mind & body

To my spirit & soul.”

It was love, then.

A deep, fulfilling love for the sport. A love so mighty to give meaning to all the hustle, the struggle, the pain, the sweat.

My friend Mark once told me that when you infuse love into your work, it becomes your craft.

That’s the recipe we can learn from Kobe. Love plus discipline.

Because discipline without love is sterile and hollow. Love without discipline is anaemic and fragile. But it’s when love meets discipline that the magic happens.


Photo: Kobe Bryant, Lakers shooting guard, stands ready to shoot a free throw, source

Bye 2019

So here I am again. A few hours more and 2019 will be a thing of the past. A folder filled with memories, images, words, faces, emotions ready to be archived. So, today I’ve decided to put aside my morning practice and instead of the daily “apple”, I’ll celebrate the year ending today.

In the last days, I spent some time looking back at all that has happened over the previous 12 months. Not to cling to the past, but to dig out lessons and insights that I can use for the future. All of that with a sense of gratitude.

As I did last year, at the end of this post, you can find a pdf with the questions I used to reflect upon the past and set the stage for the future. If you’re not interested in my learnings and you want to jump straight to the document, click here

If you’re still reading, I’m grateful for your interest, and I hope you could find some useful hints for yourself in my recollections.

First of all, the word that better summarise my 2019 is Identity. I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting, talking, reading, writing and exploring the subject. My own identity obviously, but also “identity” as a concept. Can we really know our identity? How do we know who we are? Is it a fixed thing, or does it change and evolve over time? Even if I’m sure I’ll always have more questions than answers on this subject, I feel that this quest is an integral part of my own identity. So, it will also inform my future work, but I’ll talk about this in another post about 2020.

My three most significant achievements in 2019.

  1. The launch of The Lab by MentorLab. I had the incredible opportunity to partner with Rossella and Cristiano in the creation of The Lab. A safe and private place of knowledge sharing and collective learning to connect coaches, mentors and hr professionals in Italy. So far, it has been an incredible journey, and the best has yet to come.
  2. The ACC credentials from ICF. I must admit that I’ve never given much importance to formal recognition or titles. But this one is special because to get it, I had to face and overcome some of my toughest limiting beliefs. So, I want to celebrate this achievement because it reminds me of the journey I did to get there.
  3. The first Italian company taking the Being At Full Potential Organisation Assessment. I’m so grateful for the trust, the courage and the openness with which they decided to challenge themselves.

My three favourite posts (that I wrote) in 2019.

This year I wrote 249 posts as part of One Apple A Day practice plus a few other articles. In 2019 I have produced fewer pieces than the previous years even I definitely wrote more. The main reason is that I started writing in Italian (on The Lab by MentorLab). I’ve also kept working on the book I’m writing with my mentor, but not as much as I wanted. This is something I want to improve next year. Anyway, these are the three posts I remember the most.

  1. Discipline and Identity
  2. Identity, Maps and Territory
  3. Drawing lines

Three lessons I’ve learned in 2019 that will serve me in 2020.

  1. Connecting vs Collecting: I wrote about this lesson in this post. In 2019 I learned that every time I got engulfed in the collecting mindset, my energy drops and my actions are less powerful. In 2020 I’ll nurture a connecting attitude to play my part in letting the energy of the universe flows.
  2. Serve the vision: at the beginning of 2019, I was struggling between the desire to serve others and the need to serve myself. I was stretched between these two divergent forces. That was creating tension and stress. Then I remembered the metaphor of the pendulum, and I realised that when I serve my vision, I’m in service both of myself and others.
  3. Aspirations vs Goals: over the last 12 months, I set many goals, too often failing at achieving them. At the same time, I achieved some unexpected results. I realised that with me, aspirations are more effective than goals. Starting with my aspirations, I can create and focus on practices and rituals that generate results. In 2020 I’ll focus less on what I want to achieve and more on who I want to become.

The three people that most inspired me in 2019.

I am surrounded by incredible people that inspire me every day with their love, passion, curiosity, talent, courage and, above all, with their humanity. I feel blessed, and I’m immensely grateful for their presence. 

Your presence. 

Because if you’re reading this, then you’re one of them. You’re a person who inspires me with your extraordinary uniqueness. 

But there are three persons in particular that I want to celebrate this year. Just thinking of them reminds me of what it means to be human and why I do everything I do.

  1. My dear friend Stefano with his bow, arrows, hugs, jokes, presence, poetry and realness. 
  2. My best friend and travelling partner Andrea for his courage, curiosity, humbleness, open mind, authenticity and ethics.
  3. My sister Silvia because she’s the most incredible example of selfless service, kindness, faith, strength and unconditional love.

The three most useful book that I read in 2019.

  1. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
  2. The Nature of Consciousness: Essays on the Unity of Mind and Matter by Rupert Spira, Deepak Chopra, and Bernardo Kastrup
  3. Beyond Performance: How Great Organisations Build Ultimate Competitive Advantage by Scott Keller, Colin Price

One Apple A Day #672 – I need to love more

Power + love.

Again.

Since I wrote about it last week, this Be The Change card has been coming back almost every morning. This morning again, I shuffled the cards, closed my eyes and picked one. 

Power + love.

The card comes with this inspiring quote by Martin Luther King Jr.

“Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anaemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”

For a while now, there have been tensions in my neighbourhood. Someone has stepped over the collective interests to pursue their own benefit. As with many things, they used a legal loophole to achieve their desired outcome. But with that, also came more conflict and tensions.

Looking at the whole situation with the lens that this card, “Power + Love” gives me, I can see that in this situation, the balance is fully tilted towards power.

I have the power to do it, then I do it. If you have the power to stop me, then do it. And so on.

And power, without love, is reckless and abusive.

Love is the missing factor in this equation. But how do I bring love back into the picture?

What does it mean to love more in these circumstances?

These are the questions I’m going to carry with me today.

Power + Love.

One Apple A Day #668 – love, power, change, time

I woke up with the words from an article I read yesterday still whispering in my mind. I thought those would be a perfect input for my daily apple. I was already savouring the idea of pondering on and playing around those words.

Before beginning my writing practice, I did some stretching, I drank some water, and I sat to meditate. Following my morning ritual, I picked a BeTheChange card to ease my way into a deeper level of reflection.

It was the card saying “Power + Love”. 

Again.

For the third morning in a row, the same card came up.

What does this card keep telling me that I am not seeing?

So, I was there, still on the outside but with quite a chaos on the inside. 

I tried to focus on what I wanted to write about but those two words, power and love, kept coming back.

Then I had a flash. A memory from my school years. Power is also a word used in physics. It has something to do with change and time. Immediately after, other words from a book I read last summer surfaced in my mind.

I didn’t know what to do with those flashes when I opened my eyes. So, I rushed to my laptop and did a quick search.

“In physics, power is the rate of doing work or of transferring heat, i.e. the amount of energy transferred or converted per unit time. As a physical concept, power requires both a change in the physical system and a specified time in which the change occurs.” – from Wikipedia

So, the way I’ve decided to read it, my power is my ability to infuse energy into a system to change it within a specified time. 

What about love? Using Rupert Spira words, “Love is the experience of that oneness of being.

So, if we are one, to change someone or something, it means to change me.

The words I wanted to write about at the beginning were about leadership. The words in the card I picked reminded me that leadership begins with my ability to love and infuse energy in my own change.

One Apple A Day #662 – love and protection

To protect something or someone we love is noble.
However, when this word came out in a recent conversation, the first emotion that I felt was fear, not love.
To protect means to keep safe from harm, something or someone.

So, it is an act motivated by fear. But fear is the opposite of love.

So now I’m torn.

Can we love and protect at the same time?

If we spend our energy to protect something, we won’t have much left to infuse into that same thing and make it grow and thrive.

If we go all in, infusing all the love we can to make it grow and thrive, we may become blind to the risks around us.

I know, probably I’m just overthinking as I often do. But these thoughts have been spinning in my head since yesterday, and I need to let them out, so I can clear up my mind and move ahead with my day.
That’s one of the purposes of this writing practice.

Plus, I pick my Be The Change card, and it says “Standing in the intersection, leading from the space in-between“.

So, I’ll stay in the intersection between love and protection, and lead my day from there.

One Apple a Day #638 – love more

This morning I wanted to write about sacrality.

But then, I lowered the shield I use to protect my morning space, and the pain of the world flew in. All over the world, human beings are oppressed, killed, abused by other human beings. It is daunting.

And from my safe and comfortable place, the same questions keep coming back: “Why? What can I do?“.

To the first question, I don’t have the answer. And maybe there are no answers. But I keep going back to something I read in Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frank.

“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 fulfil the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”

Maybe these words can help me find the answers to both questions.

If there is something I can learn from all this suffering, is that love is the only way forward. 

I know, it may sound cheesy, but that’s my personal learning.

I need, and I want to love more.

And because our answer must consist in “right action and in right conduct”, to me it means to be kind to everyone. 

To smile to the cashier at the supermarket who’s having a tough day, to greet the neighbours who never say hello, to wait patiently for the old man to cross the road. There is so much I can do every day.

I’m aware that it won’t ease the pain or relieve the suffering of all these human beings around the world. 

But that’s not a reason to not start being a better human, here, today

From agreement to tuning

My experience with any human transformation process is that it all starts with the creation of a safe space for everyone. There are plenty of studies proving that “Psychological safety” is one of the most critical conditions for people to fully express their potential. It’s only when we feel safe that we show up authentically, we speak our own truth, and we take risks. This is why the initial agreement is vital in any coaching process, both in a one-to-one relationship or in a group setting.

Thou, the English word “agreement” has always felt a bit cold or impersonal to me. As if the focus is more about setting boundaries than finding a connection. 

Inspired by the Italian translation of agreement, I prefer to use the synonym “accord“.

The word “accord” used with the meaning “come into agreement, agree, be in harmony” originates from the Vulgar Latin word “accordare” that literally means “be of one heart, bring heart to heart“.

When we build an accord, we are doing more than setting some shared rules or standards. We are bringing our hearts together. And that takes courage, another word connected to the heart (Coeur in French). The courage to open up our heart and hold space in it for someone else. 

Can you think of a safer space to be than the heart of someone else? 

What I find fascinating is that in Italian, the word “accordo” also means chord; “a group of notes sounded together, as a basis of harmony“.

So, to find an accord is like tuning our hearts together, so they vibrate in harmony. Anytime we do that, with another person or within a group of people, something magical happens. 

That is why I’m never worried about investing plenty of quality time in the tuning phase of a workshop. When we are all, facilitators and participants, in tune, things just flow. 

People open up, and the light they hold inside their hearts infuses the space.

 

Photo by Larisa Birta on Unsplash