One Apple A Day #521 – you can do something

According to the Global Challenges Foundation – a foundation that works with researchers to explore threats to humanity -, the next 50 years will set the pace for humanity’s survival in the next 10,000 years.

Climate change, mass migrations, artificial intelligence, political instability, deforestation. The list can go on and on.

The challenges ahead of humanity are greater than ever, and it’s easy to feel small and powerless.
What can we do?
What can I do?

When I caught myself in these thoughts, I always go back to this sentence from “Little Wins: The Huge Power of Thinking Like a Toddler“, a beautiful book by Paul Lindley.

“While a toddler’s world might be geographically tiny, it is mentally limitless; conversely, when we grow up, we have the potential freedom to explore everything around us, but will often limit ourselves to the same narrow range of places, people and experiences.”

From toddlers, we can learn to be creative with what we have. But there is something more than that. They face every challenge with an open mind because they haven’t been conditioned yet. When we want to find a solution to a problem we approach it with the same mindset that creates that challenge in the first place. Our mindset comes with us, and it limits us our possibilities.

I believe that I can do something about the significant challenges we face as humanity.
But it all starts by expanding my awareness.

“The biggest challenge we face is shifting human consciousness, not saving the planet. The planet doesn’t need saving, we do.” by Xiuhtezcatl Martinez (a 19 years old activist)

One Apple A Day #491 – find your meaning

Last night was the last one of probably the most important traditional celebration in Valencia; las Fallas. It’s a week full of music, colors, people, dancing, folklore, and firecrackers. For the duration of the celebration, the city is filled with beautiful monuments, called “Falles” made of cardboard, wood, and polystyrene.
You can find some photos online, they are unique pieces of art. Some of them took a whole year to be built.

The closing act of this week is called the “Cremà” (Valencian for “burning”).
During the last night, all the “falla” monuments are set on fire. They are all wholly burnt.
The first time I experienced this celebration, I was surprised. What is the point in dedicating so much effort to something and then burn it down in one night?
Now I know that things don’t have a meaning on themselves. We give meaning to them. What really matters is not the object, it is the relationship that we have with that object. Through the “cremà” people in Valencia fill with meaning the monument they create.
It’s an excellent reminder to myself of the importance of anchor anything I do to a meaning.

One Apple A Day #489 – it starts within

I just came back from a conference where incredible people and leaders discussed how to make the world a better place. Last week millions of students all over the world walked together on the streets to ask adults to do something instead of just talking. A terrorist attack in New Zealand reminded us of the fragility of peace.

Before all these big challenges it’s easy to feel small and powerless.
What can I do? What can a single person do?

One of the speakers at the conference said that “without peace at the individual level, we can’t create peace in the world“.
We cannot change the world without changing ourselves before.
So, the question shifts from how can we make the world better to how I can make myself better.
It all starts within.
A friend reminded me that the best gift I can give to the world is to fully express my potential.  And love.

This is what I can do.
This is what I will do.

One Apple A Day #482 – the last drop

Nobody is small enough to not have an impact.

I heard this sentence yesterday from the leader of an organisation that aims to solve one of the biggest challenges of our world.
Before the significant challenges of humanity such as climate change, inequality, human rights and so on, it’s easy to feel powerless.
I often feel powerless.
These days I’m listening to leaders who are committed to change the world, who are dedicating their lives to higher causes.
In the beginning, I felt small.
But then, the more I listened to them I realised two things.
Before being leaders, innovators or changemakers, they are human beings.
Like you and me.
They are not cut from a different cloth.
Their superpower is being human. A power that we all have.

The second thing is that every choice, every action albeit small, counts.
It may not seem so in the moment, but it counts.
It’s natural to think that significant shifts in the history of humanity are the result of a single massive event. But in reality, they are the compound effect of many small choices and actions.
Because it is the last drop that makes the cup run over, but all the drops before are the ones that filled the cup.

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

Review your 2018

Here we are, almost at the end of 2018.

A few days more and also this year will be part of the past.

For some of us, these days are also an opportunity to slow down, look back, review the past year and maybe set a few goals for the new one. Wins and losses, successes and failures, the things we started and the things we closed, the people we met and the ones we lost.

How did you assess your 2018?

And how did you plan the new one?

I used to do a performance-oriented review. I measured the finishing year through the filter of the goals and intentions set 12 months before. And then I plan out some SMART goals for the next 12 months.

To be honest, it hasn’t always worked well. If you read some of my past articles, you probably already know that I’m not very good with goals.

So, this year I decided to do things differently. I decided to look at the past through the lenses of the future, and look at the future through the lenses of the past.

I’ve challenged myself to review 2018 as if the whole year was the preparation for the next one. Everything I’ve done, everything that happened, all my experiences were meant to set me up for the best year ever; the incoming 2019.

With this mindset, I shifted the focus from goals and performances to my learnings and my evolution as a human being. And it makes me feel a lot more positive about the next year. Now I have more clarity about my future direction, and I feel ready to celebrate the end of 2018 properly.

I created a document with all the questions I’ve designed for my own year-end review.

You can download it from here.

I hope it’ll help you find some insights to design you 2019 adventures!

One Apple A Day #428 – Celebrating who we are

It’s that time of the year when we look back, and we measure how far we’ve gone in the last 12 months.

What questions do you ask yourself? How do you assess your year?
I use to count my our successes and failures, to check if I have reached the goals I set at the beginning of the year, to evaluate my performances.

Isn’t this what most of us do? In particular, in a professional or business context, this is how we decide if there is something to celebrate or not.

Don’t get me wrong, measuring performances is essential for a sustainable business. And it’s important to celebrate achievements.

But what would happen if we also ask some other powerful questions?

What have we discovered about ourselves this year?
How much have we been true to who we are?
How many times our choices have we been aligned to our vision?

How great would it be, at the end of the year, to celebrate all the times when we have been true to who we are?

One Apple A Day #427 – Words create Worlds

How much attention do you put on the words you use?

A few days ago, while I was checking the news online, a headline captured my attention. It was about UN chief António Guterres who, during an of the year press event, called all countries in the world for a renewed commitment to a “rules-based global order“.

Words create worlds.

They have this power.

This is why it is so important to choose wisely the words that you use.

In your own life but it’s even more critical when you are a leader. As leaders, the language we use helps shape the cultures we lead.

So, what does a “rules-based global order” says about the world the leader of UN envision? To me, it talks about a world based on fear and lack of trust. It talks about protecting the status-quo instead of moving towards the future.

Is this the world that you want?

I know for sure it’s not the world that I want.

I’m ready to commit to a “values-inspired global vision“. One driven by trust, love, compassion, forward thinking.

What about your words?

Are they reflecting the world that you want to create in your life?

One Apple A Day #418 – From WHY to WHO

What if your ultimate purpose is to fully realise and express who you are?

The quest for purpose or “why” is becoming more and more relevant for both individual and organisations. I witnessed groups dedicating long brainstorming to define their purpose, their cause. I have friends who felt lost because they don’t have a higher cause or a reason to which they can dedicate their lives.

We are constantly reminded about great leaders with a compelling vision and a clear purpose that fits in a t-shirt or an Instagram post.
You probably feel that you too should have a higher cause and are investing time and resources to find your “why”.

I hear you. I’ve been there.

The quest for purpose is a tricky one. It can quickly transform into feel-good research. Without even noticing, you shift from “what is my purpose?” to “what is a purpose that would make me feel one of the good ones?”.

Nothing wrong in being one of the good ones but if your purpose is not aligned with who you are, it won’t bring in your life the bliss you’re looking for.

So, what if you decide that your purpose is just to fully become who you are meant to be? The quest then becomes “who am I?”. A personal one. One that is not about feeling good but being real.

And in this quest for your “Who”, you may also find your “why”.