One Apple A Day #646 – Recovery

I woke up with a heavy head, a stiff neck and a sore shoulder. 

I know, not a great start of the day. I’ve tried to follow my usual morning routine, but after a few minutes of stretching, it was clear that training wasn’t an option this morning.

So, I went back to bed, and I tried to relax my body.

This little experience of mine made me think of the importance of resting and recovery. Something we usually look at as a waste of time or an obstacle to our productivity.

It is so easy to overdue.

In my case, the combination of a few factors makes things worst. 

I am self-employed, so I can work whenever I want. There are no external boundaries separating working time from the rest.

I do something I love. 

I can’t remember who said, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work another day in your life.”

Somehow it’s true, but that doesn’t mean you won’t need to rest and recover.

Athletes are very well aware of this. Recovery is not a pause from training, it is an integral part of it.

It should be the same in any work we do. We should have recovery phases by design.

I’m not sure it will avoid waking up with a stiff neck, but I’m definitely going to put more attention on planning my recovery moments. So they won’t feel a waste of time but productivity boosters.

One Apple A Day #640 – Collapse

We all live on different planes or realities at the same time.
We all share the physical and material one, where our body moves and things happen. But at every moment, a lot is going on at the emotional, rational and spiritual planes.
Very often, those different planes are misaligned, if not completely disconnected. Our body is in the present while our emotions are still trapped in the past. We walk in nature, but our mind is still in the office.

Do you ever experience that?

I do. And I also experience the magic unleashed when all those planes collapse into one. When my soul, heart and mind melt and sink into my body. When it happens, I feel a sense of connection and strength as if my energy gets multiplied.
Maybe you’ve experienced that too. When you do something that you’re so passionate about that everything else disappears. When you’re playing with your kids, and the world goes silent. When you’re with someone that you’ve fallen in love.

When all those planes collapse, it is as if your self expands beyond you.

But can we do that? How do we create that alignment?

One thing that is helping me is to have a grounding rhythm in my life. A set of rituals that I choose with the sole purpose to help all the layers collapse into one.

 

 

Photo by Matúš Kovačovský on Unsplash

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

One Apple A Day #629 – gratitude

It’s one of those cloudy mornings so typical in this part of Italy. The grey outside matches how I felt when I sat down to write. I was not feeling at my best this morning, both physically and emotionally. With my defences lowered a surge of negative thoughts was crushing my walls and seeping into my mind. I even asked if it was worth it to write anything this morning. You know, the typical questions: what’s the point? Who’s reading it? 

Bla bla bla. 

My mind was taking me down a negative spiral. But then I look forward and, there it was.

Oblivious of the grey sky and of my negative thoughts, an orange pomegranate was standing there among the leaves.

Fierce in all its extraordinary beauty. 

And I was reminded of how beautiful it is to be alive and to be able to witness the magic of nature.

So, I took five minutes to write everything I’m grateful for. And the energy of life came back. And with it, the desire to write.

A few years ago, when I was going through a tough period, I wrote a small gratitude pray. I used to read it every morning before everything else. Maybe it’s time to read it again.

The Monthly Edition: August 2019

It’s the holiday season! At least in Italy. This is typically the month when nothing happens, and everyone is in vacation mode (often even when they are working).

Anyway, whatever your situation right now you’re probably worried because you haven’t received my monthly newsletter.

At least, this is what I’m telling to my ego. 🙂

Reality is that your inbox is already full of stuff, so you’re just realising now that this month I’m late.

Again.

Even more than the previous months.

It looks like I can’t keep up with my own commitment.
If I squeeze my brain for a few minutes, I’m pretty sure I’ll come out with some excellent excuses for this delay.
But you know what.

Screw the excuses.

“Victims make excuses. Leaders deliver results.” — Robin Sharma

I have no plans of being a victim.
I want to deliver results.

And that requires me to take responsibility. With “taking responsibility” I mean to own my failures, so I can learn from them. To do that I need to have an honest and frank conversation with myself, asking uncomfortable questions and staying away from the easy answers.

So, right now I’m asking myself; “what can I learn from this failure in keeping the deadline for my newsletter?”.

Yep, all of a sudden this newsletter is about the answers I found in my self-inquiry process. I know each one of us is unique, so what came out of my process will be unique to me. But who knows, you may find some ideas or insights that will be beneficial to your own processes.

Lesson #01: Clarity of meaning

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” — Nietzsche

The first thing I’ve investigated in my self-inquiry is the “why”.
When we investigate the motif behind something we want to do, we may be tempted to use a “why” question. Like “why do I want to do this?”

But even when I’m talking with myself, this question tastes judgemental. So, I decided to go for a different one.

“What are the things that make this newsletter so important to me?”

And this is the list that came out:

  • I love writing, and this is another opportunity to write
  • This newsletter is more personal than the other stuff that I publish, so it sparks a different type of reflections
  • It creates opportunities to start conversations with others
  • It helps me slow down and assess my own journey, something I often overlooked because I’m too busy doing stuff.
  • It’s an opportunity to improve my discipline (like having a book to suggest every month).

No lack of motivations then. The solution ought to be found somewhere else. Even if, it’s good to reconnect with the intentions that started this small project of mine.

Lesson #02: Plan ahead

“A man who does not plan long ahead will find trouble right at his door.” — Confucius

I realised I had to send the newsletter only on the 1st of August. That means I was already late for it. That’s not a good start. On top of that, my schedule for the first week of august was already defined. So I couldn’t find the time that I needed to write this newsletter. I am a slow writer, so I need at least four hours to get in the flow, find the inspiration, do the actual writing, review and polish and then send it. If I want to be on-time, I need to set aside the time for this task way ahead.

Thanks to these two learning, I was able to design some actions.

Actions!

“There can be no learning without action, and no action without learning.”  — Reg Revans

  1. I locked the time in my calendar for the next five newsletters, until December.
  2. I defined the list of books to read and comment for the next five months
  3. I’ve decided to publish these newsletters also on my website as articles to create even more opportunities for conversations (that would be the page you’re reading now. If you want to receive it also on your inbox, just subscribe to my newsletter using the form on the right of this page).
  4. I’ve decided to share more updates on all the things I’m working on, so maybe new collaborations can emerge.

From my bookcase

This month’s suggestion is “Liminal Thinking: Create the Change You Want by Changing the Way You Think” by Dave Gray. This book had a profound impact on my vision on almost everything. It really opened my eyes on the power of the space in-between.

“In order to learn anything truly new, you must empty your cup, so your existing knowledge, theories, assumptions, and preconceptions don’t get in the way.”

 

So, in a few weeks, I’ll have a new monthly edition with more updates and a new reading suggestion. If you want to be sure you won’t miss this article next month (or if you want to check if my actions deliver the expected results), just subscribe to my newsletter.

For now, this is the end of this summer (and first) edition of this post.

Thank you for your patience and for giving me this opportunity to reflect and improve.

And if you want to share with me how you deal with your own failures, comment below. I’d be happy to have a conversation with you and learn!

One Apple A Day #585 – rituals and lines

As you probably know from some of my past posts, I’m a petrolhead. Or gearhead, depending on where you’re from.
I love motorcycle and car racing.
In a race, both machines and people are pushed to their limit.
When you’re going at 300Kmh on a track, there is no time to think about your next move or how to approach the next turn.

If you listen to a racer interview, you may hear them talking about “lines”, or better, the ideal line or trajectory.
On every track, there is usually one ideal line. It is the one that maximizes the speed in every point of the circuit while minimizing the distance covered. Following the perfect line make a massive difference between a winning lap and a poor one.

So, every racer spends some time to learn that line. Finding it, it’s a combination of science, knowledge, feelings and plenty of practice.

But even when you have found that perfect line, it’s not easy to stay on it for a whole race. Circumstances evolve during a race: there are all the other racers aiming at that line too, the changing weather, the evolving grip of the tarmac and the tyres, and the increasing fatigue both physical and mental.

This is why racers need clues. They fix in their memories a set of visual clues along the circuit that they use to quickly understand if they are on the perfect line. After a while, they are not even conscious of those clues. They just sense them and then act accordingly.

Rituals for me are like those clues.
I design them to help me stay on my ideal line. The one that connects me with the person I want to become. Every time something pulls me away from my ideal line, my rituals help me getting back to it.

One Apple A Day #556 – water and stone

Yesterday I visited a place called “I cadini del Brenton”. It is a series of 15 potholes (the “cadini”) carved in the stone by the water of a stream (the Brenton). Flowing down from one cavity to the other, the water creates small waterfalls. As if the river takes a little jump, then rest for a minute in the silence of nature before taking another plunge downwards.

While I was there, listen to the lulling sound of the water and the wind playing with the trees, I can’t help but admire the relationship between the river and the rock.
The course of the stream is moulded around the shape of the mountains and the rocks. The water twists and jumps and dives adapting its path, but in doing so, it also digs, carves, erodes and smooth out that same stones. Millennials of this dance between the water and the mountain, have gifted us with the beauty that we can admire today.

That view reminds me of how our behaviours and words, like streams of water, are moulded on our identity. But at the same time those behaviours, over time, shape and carve that same identity. The person that I am today is the result of this never-ending dance.
This is where self-awareness plays a vital role. It helps us see how our identity informs our behaviours, so then we can create the habits and rituals that will help us shape the person we want to be.