One Apple A Day #686 – my sanctuary

Sanctuary.

This word keeps coming back in my thoughts.

According to the dictionary, it is a “protection or a safe place, especially for someone or something being chased or hunted.”

This word also brings back memories of holy buildings, monasteries or churches where we used to go in symbolic pilgrimage when I was a kid.

My sanctuary is the place where I can detach from the mundane life and connect with my higher self. When I can listen to the universe – god, the field, the soul or however you call it – whispering. When I can ask the questions that have no answers.

In many fables, the sages live on top of a mountain. The medicine men use to go to the sacred mountain seeking answers. And religious people go to their temples.

What about now? Now that we are all locked within the wall of our houses. We can’t climb any mountains, we can’t sit in our temples. We can’t even walk out in nature. 

Yet, to me, having a sanctuary is vital. 

The environment is undoubtedly essential. Nothing opens up my mind as being in nature, being it the shore with the waves before me or the top of a mountain closer to the sky. But my sanctuary is most of all an inner state. So, I try to create my personal sanctuary every day.

I do it early in the morning, where everything is silent. I have a ritual, a sequence of steps I do every morning to get me to that place of full presence. 

My sanctuary.

Going there every morning, even if only for a few minutes, keeps me grounded.

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 #699 – five pillars

Pillar 1: Starting small

Pillar 2: Releasing yourself

Pillar 3: Harmony and sustainability

Pillar 4: The joy of little things

Pillar 5: Being in the here and now

These are Ken Mogi’s 5 Pillars of Ikigai. I found them in this article while I was doing some research on the subject. 

These days most of the conversations I have are about the spread of the infamous coronavirus. I bet it’s the same for most of the people around the world. 

Here in Italy in particular, but soon everywhere, this disease is creating visible and tangible effects on the way we live. The most challenging aspect of this situation is our inability to predict what’s next. We don’t know what will happen, how long it will last, how the whole situation will evolve. Individuals, businesses, communities. 

I feel that we are all lost in the dark.

What do you do when you can’t predict the future?

While I was pondering on this question, I remembered those five steps. Somehow, I feel they can help me navigate through this uncertain and challenging time. Instead of hanging desperately to the past, hoping for this storm to pass quickly. Or trying hopelessly to predict the future. These pillars invite me to rediscover the power of the here and now. To focus my energy into bringing my full essence in every little thing I do.

One Apple A Day #693 – Rhythm

Three weeks ago, my partner moved abroad for a project. She’s going to be away for a while, so we’re both dealing with the challenges that this experience brought in our lives.

Obviously, the biggest one is the distance, but there’s another one I wasn’t expecting; the loss of rhythm.

We’ve been apart before, but it was always for shorter periods. This time we’re talking months. And something happened in my head since the very first week.
My flow and productivity got disrupted like never before. Since day one, I’ve been struggling to keep my routines and habits.
It took me a while to realize what was happening.

I’ve lost my rhythm.

Over the years, we built our own unique rhythm. A rhythm on which I can improvise, create and follow the flow without getting lost. A rhythm that keeps me grounded.

I feel like I’m without my metronome.

And it is clearly affecting my energy and my flow.
Everyone is unique, but I’ve learned how important it is for me to have a basic rhythm in my life, on top of which I can improvise and move freely.

So, now my new challenge is to find a new way to keep the beat until she’s back.
Any suggestions?

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 #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 #664 — stillness

“Do you have the patience to wait

till your mud settles and the water is clear?

Can you remain unmoving

till the right action arises by itself?

The Master doesn’t seek fulfilment.

Not seeking, not expecting,

she is present, and can welcome all things.” — Lao-Tzu

A friend sent me this a few days ago, and these words have been working within me since then. 

There are moments in life where we feel as if we are swimming in muddy water. We can’t see clearly, and the more we move, the more the water becomes murky. It looks like everything we do, everything we say makes things worst. At the point that we begin wondering if there is a way out at all.

“Do you have the patience to wait

till your mud settles and the water is clear?”

To stop and wait seems counterintuitive. Yet, it’s only when you stop moving and agitating the water, that the mud starts to settle. 

What does it mean to stay still in your situation? What would happen if you do nothing and say nothing for a while?

Can you remain unmoving

till the right action arises by itself?”

This is the tricky part for me. Because when you stop moving and the mud starts to settle, impatience grows. The more the water becomes clear, the more the desire to see through, to get the answer raises. 

It is then that your inner strength is tested.

Can you resist the desire to act and wait for the right action to emerge?

How will you recognize it?

A good sign is the feeling of detachment from the outcome. When you’re not focused on anything but the present moment, that’s when the eyes of intuition will show you the way.

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