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 #594 – a clean start

I took a few days off from this little project of mine. Even more, I paused the whole morning routine for a week.
No exercise, no meditation and no writing.
I understood that it was necessary after writing the previous daily apple last Monday. At the end of my fifteen minutes writing process, I was spent. I had to push the words out instead of letting them flow, and that depleted my energy. I’m not sure when it started, but it wasn’t energising anymore.
I needed to rest. So I put the morning writing on hold.
And with it everything else.
In fact, this recovery pause made me realise that this tiredness was affecting everything in my life.
My to-do list was crushing me. I had things in it that I’ve been postponing for weeks, some even for months.
And they were hunting me, pushing me to keep doing stuff even if my energy was gone and I wasn’t really able to take any step further.
So, I did something a bit crazy.
I didn’t just pause the to-do list, I wiped it clean. I deleted all the things to do that I wasn’t doing. I thought that if they were still there after weeks than the key to making that happen surely was not that busy do-do list.
So, I cleaned it.
And you know what. The day after I cleaned my to-do list, I completed one of the tasks that I’ve been dragging for months.
Maybe it’s a coincidence, but I think it’s not.
Sometimes we put so much weight on things that we aren’t unable to move them forward. The moment we give up, we lift that weight and voilá, the magic happens.

One Apple A Day #592 – man in the mirror

I feel blessed by the presence of amazing friends in my life.

People who help me grow with every conversation or experience.

Two days ago, I wrote about power and love. In that post, I also shared the need for me to do some news cleansing because I realised that they, the news, where releasing some toxins in my system.

Less than an hour later, my best friend sent me a text. It was a reflection about how much energy we waste to get angry and upset about what happens in the world and how, this anger, influences how we see the world and the people around us. So, staying away from the news is not an escape from reality. At the contrary, it’s a way to protect our energy so we can use it to make our own world better.

“Always remember, your focus determines your reality.” — Dave Gray

Then yesterday I had dinner with one of my brothers. As usual, it was an inspiring conversation in which every word opens up new insights and learnings. I realised that too often we turn our attention to distant things that we can’t change so we don’t have to look in the only place where we can really change something; ourserlves.

“To change the world, you must be willing to change yourself.” — Dave Gray

This is what I was doing lately. I was allowing for the news of the world to distract me from my world and my own growth.

By the way, the day I wrote that first post about power and love, I went to experience archery with another amazing brother (you should definitely try if you have the possibility, it’s pure wonder).

During the drive, I listened twice to a song by Michael Jackson, I had not heard for a while; Man in the Mirror.

I’m starting with the man in the mirror

I’m asking him to change his ways

And no message could have been any clearer

If you want to make the world a better place

Take a look at yourself, and then make a change

One Apple A Day #586 – potato or egg?

“Boiling water will soften a potato but harden an egg.”

It’s great to study the lives of remarkable people. To learn about the strategies of the ones who inspire us. From their experiences, we can extract many useful ideas that can help us in our own life journey.

But there is a caveat.
For an idea to create a real impact in your life, you must be able to mould it around your unique identity.

We study successful people because we want what they have. But what they have is the result of what they did. And what they did is informed by who they are.

Your actions are more powerful when they are aligned with your identity.

So, the first step, as Socrates said, is to know yourself.
The second step is to know who you want to become.

Then you’ll have an inner compass that will help you navigate through the ocean of ideas and strategies from successful people. So you won’t do what others do. You’ll create your own unique way.

One Apple A Day #584 – Own your failures

We all make mistakes.
Some are small, others have a significant impact.
Sometimes nobody notices, other times they get all the spotlight.
Sometimes it’s our fault, other times it just happens.
We all pass through some failures in life.
Or at least, I know I did, and I’ll do again. Many times.

What I found to be very important is what we do with our errors and failures.

We can make excuses. I was great at this when I was a teenager (that means until my late thirties). I was able to find the most creative explanations to divert the blame on anything else but me.
And things didn’t improve when I began blaming myself.
The outcome was the same; I was telling myself that I wasn’t in charge of my life.
A comforting but dangerous lie.

Things really change when we decide to own our failures.
When we take responsibility for them and accept that we are human and imperfect. We make mistakes, it is part of the growing journey.
When we own them, we can learn from them.
There is this one crucial question that I ask myself when I fail; What can I learn from this failure/defeat/error?

Every failure is an opportunity to learn and grow, but only if you own it.

Oh yes, you can also ignore them and keep going through life as if nothing happened. I tried this route, and it worked for a while, but they never really went away. At some point, they always came back to haunt me.

One Apple A Day #578 – practice and boredom

Mastery requires practice.

Simple though not easy.

I often use this quote from Bruce Lee, who knows something about mastery:

“I fear not the man who has practised 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practised one kick 10,000 times.”

The problem with practice and discipline is that it gets boring. At some point, sooner or later, the feeling of boredom will appear.

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

What can you do then? How can you keep showing up despite the lack of impulse?

I wrote almost 600 posts. The road to 10,000 is still very long but, I already received the visit of boredom. Some morning, when ideas elude me or when I’m tired, it’s not easy to open the laptop and write.
But I’ve learned something from those mornings.

The first and most important thing that I’ve learned is that your practice must be about developing your identity, not achieving your goals. Goals are temporary, and they work very well as motivators when they are achievable in a reasonable amount of time. They are great to start something, but not to sustain it. If you want to build a habit for the long game, you must make it about your identity, your growth as a person.

The second lesson is variety. Add small changes to keep it compelling. In my case, I write every day about something different. This makes the practice more exciting.

The third things I’ve learned is to not get too attached to the practice. It’s not about the habit itself, it’s about what I will become through the practice. So, I’ve decided to stay away from this practice every weekend.

One Apple A Day #576 – Celebrating change

Change is inevitable. Change is constant. -Benjamin Disraeli

Yep, it’s again that day of the year.
My birthday.
An opportunity to look back with gratitude and acknowledge all the changes I’ve been through.
The ones I choose and the ones that I tried to avoid.
The delightful ones and the painful ones.
The ones that I embraced and the ones I resisted.
And also the ones that didn’t happen or I didn’t remember at all.
They all contribute to getting me where I am and making me who I am.

In this morning card, my friend Vanessa wrote, “if nothing else, you can rely on change“.

I want to use this birthday’s apple to celebrate “change”.

So, here’s to changes and to life.

When you’re finished changing, you’re finished. -Benjamin Franklin

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 #563 – wealth

It’s scorching everywhere in Europe so, if like me you don’t like air conditioning, having a sound and refreshing sleep is not easy.
This morning I woke up, went out in the terrace and sit there to do my morning meditation. Often, it is through this practice that the ideas for these posts emerge.
But this morning, thanks to the cool sunrise breeze, I fell asleep.
This mundane experience made me think about the importance of having a regenerating rest. How many people are unable, for many reasons, to rest properly?
Isn’t this somehow a measure of wealth?
This question opened up a new stream of reflections about the idea we, or maybe I should say I have about wealth.
Wealth is typically measured in money and stuff.
You’re wealthy if you have money in the bank, houses, cars, clothes, technology and so on.
But what about other essential things like health, love or fulfilment?

Over the last years, I’ve witnessed many times the resourceful support of family and friends through tough moments; that kind of richness can be bought, but it also doesn’t happen on its own. It must be nurtured investing your most significant resource; yourself.

Maybe, we should have a more holistic vision about wealth, one that includes your finance, sure, but also your health, your emotions, your mind and your soul.

One Apple A Day #561 – fall forward

I love conversations. I’ve always been a prolific talker, and lately, I’m learning to be a better listener.
It may be naive to say, but if in a conversation everyone is talking, nobody is listening.

Though, as much as I love conversations, both with others and with myself, they are sterile if they don’t distil into action.

Words carry a lot of power, but it’s only when we act that we realise that power.

They say that every journey begins with one step.
But it has to be a step forward.
I’ve spent too much time running in place.
Jumping up and down and looking very busy but without going anywhere.

A step forward is scary.
It’s not just about moving a foot, we must commit to it with all our body.
We have to lose balance for a moment.
This is how our body works.
We fall forward, catch ourselves and then repeat.

If you’re not ready to fall, if you’re not prepared to fully commit to that step forward, you may end up running in place.
It may be excellent for your health, but it will take you nowhere.