One Apple A Day #670 – close the book

Over the weekend, I had a few conversations about the ending of things.  

We give a lot of attention to the beginning. We remember and celebrate the first moment of something; a relationship, a job, a project, life.

I feel we are not as good at dealing with the end.

I’ve been taught how to start something, but I can’t remember anyone teaching me how to end anything.

Though, the end of anything is a crucial moment. One that will have a defining impact on anything that will come after. 

The destination plays a vital role in giving meaning to a journey.

I see so many people, and I am one of them, doing their best to avoid the end. Sometimes running away, or ignoring it. But mostly just jumping on new things. And in doing so, they drag the unfinished old ones with them. 

But how can you live fully what you have in the present when part of your energy is spent carrying the past?

The end of everything is so important. There should be classes at school on how to properly end or deal with the closing of something. So we can take all the value from the experienced that we lived and use it to nurture the present and build the future.

“A wise man once said; When you come to the last page, close the book.” — Mr Wu from The Love Bug

I was this movie when I was a kid, and this scene at the very end is the only thing I remember. There are really lessons in the most unexpected places. The space on my desk is limited. So, if I don’t close a book when I get to the last page, after a while, I won’t have enough space to open a new one.

One Apple A Day #696 – the magic is in the question

Yesterday I was writing an article about “the daily question process” created by Marshall Goldsmith. It’s a straightforward yet powerful practice to improve ourselves based on a set of active questions answered every day. You can read how and why it works here from Goldsmith himself.

This morning, while I was meditating and creating space for the seed of this post to emerge, I had a small Aha moment when my thoughts went back to the daily question process. Goldsmith does not say anything about what he does with all the answers he collects. 

Every day he asks, or better he has someone asking him 32 active questions to which he answers with a yes or a no. That’s a massive amount of data, but he never talks about it when he describes the process.

All that really matters are the questions. Just by asking the right questions in the right way, we can trigger a series of constructive thoughts and nurture our self-awareness. The answers are merely incidental in this process. The thoughts and the emotions that the questions spark are the real gold in this process.

And as Goldsmith says in his post, “even the process of writing questions will help you better understand your own values and how you live or don’t live them on a daily basis.

One Apple A Day #686 – Bring on the mess

Sometimes life is messy. Looking at my experience, I should probably say “most of the time”.
There is natural messiness in the world and in human beings.
And it can be scary. This mess is what makes things unpredictable, and our brain doesn’t like unpredictability.
As an efficient prediction machine, the human brain is continuously ingesting and analyzing information from the surrounding to infer what will happen next.

I realized how much energy I spent trying to figure out things, to find the right place for all the pieces. To create a reasonable order so I can make sense of things and give peace to my rational mind.

Sometimes it’s a fascinating and rewarding process. I love when I can create a frame through which I can read reality and act on my understanding. It’s like finding a map so I can go straight to the treasure.

Other times, however, it is exhausting. It becomes an endless effort to fit everything until I reach a point when I even forget what I was trying o achieve and why. In the meanwhile, I’m not doing any step forward.

So, I’ve decided to embrace the mess. Once we accept that life is messy and we can’t figure out everything in advance, we can move forward and maybe discover treasures that we didn’t know exist.

So, bring on the mess and let’s have fun.

“Randomness is not just inevitable; it is part of the beauty of life.” – Ed Catmull

One Apple A Day #684 – awareness as a tuner

The best communicators learn to align their intentions with their impact.

I found this sentence a few days ago on Conversational Intelligence by Judith E. Glaser. Since then, I’ve been pondering about this alignment between intentions and impact. 

Using Judith words; “While intention is what someone wants to make happen or plans to accomplish, the impact involves the quality of the experience from the perspective of the receiver—and that impact may not correspond with what the communicator intended.

So, I do align these two things? In particular, knowing that the impact of my communication is not something I have control over. Or do I?

My understanding is that to tune intention and impact, I must work on my awareness. 

First of all, I must be aware of my true intentions. Often there is a gap between the stated intentions and true ones underlying my words and actions. I don’t know you, but I can be very good at deceiving myself. So, working on awareness and being fully aware of my intention is half of the work.

Then I must also be aware of the other. I must learn to read the signs in the people and the environment I want to connect and communicate with. Only by becoming aware of both of them, intentions and impact, I can create the alignment needed to build trust.

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 #680 – about wisdom

My grandfather knew when it was the right day to prune the vines. He always knew when it was the right night to go out fishing for eels. He couldn’t really explain how he knew it, but he did.

My grandmother knew how to make a perfect traditional cake. Many people from the village used to bring her the ingredients and she never disappointed, no matter how different the flour or the eggs were. Though, she didn’t know the recipe. When we manage to elicit a structured formula from her, the results weren’t as good.

Yesterday evening a dear friend told me about his great grandfather.
He was the man everyone called to get fruitful grafts on the vineyards. Throughout his career, he kept a daily log with all his weather observations. But what made him successful was his ability to retrieve the right information from his yearslong almanack and know the most propitious moment to make a successful graft. He couldn’t explain how he knew, but he did.

They all knew without knowing. Each one of them knew, deep in their own essence, how to read the invisible signs of the universe.

That is wisdom to me.
The subjective knowing beyond the objective knowledge.

Unfortunately, the subjective knowing can’t be modelled or structured, and so it cannot be taught.
You can only acquire it through observation and experience.
It takes time, discipline and awareness.
And the willingness to detach from the outcome.

One Apple A Day #678 – let it run

Some times my mind reminds me of a chihuahua.
A friend has one of those tiny cute dogs, and I’ve done the dog-sitter a few times. It’s incredible how much energy it’s squeeze in such a small being.
There were moments in which there was no way to keep him still. He was running all around full speed, jumping from the char to the sofa, on the table. No matter how much I tried to calm him down, to pet him or to offer him some rewards. He just kept spinning around like crazy until he was exhausted. Over the months, I’ve learned to let go. There was no point in trying to control him. So, I gave him the space for his crazy running until he was ready to interact with me.

Some times my mind does the same, and it goes all over the place. It spins around, bouncing from memories to ideas, going from one place to another, from one thought to something else completely unrelated — all of this without any apparent logic or purpose.

In the beginning, it was upsetting. In particular, when it happens when I’d like to focus on something, or I am meditating. Like before writing my morning post. I was disappointed by my inability to keep my mind where I wanted. But then I realised that trying to control my thoughts is pointless. I had to let them run wild and free until peace comes. The beautiful thing is that very often with peace also come the answers. And a previously invisible pattern emerged from what were unrelated thoughts a moment before.

One Apple A Day #676 – don’t let anger poison your soul

I read somewhere that being angry with someone is like drinking poison, hoping to hurt them. It won’t affect the people you hate, but it will surely and slowly kill you.

It happens many times in my life. I allowed negative emotions and thoughts to grow within me until they became toxic and poisoned my soul.
The irony is that while I was getting sick from my own doing, nothing was changing with the situations or the people that sparked my anger.

A few weeks ago, it happened again.
On a Saturday, someone did something that really hurt me. Knowing that there wasn’t much I could do to change the situation, I tried to convince myself that I could let go and enjoy my weekend as planned.
On Sunday morning, my partner and I went visiting some friends. We went exploring a lovely Christmas market to find some inspiration for gifts.

All the time, my mind and my heart were somewhere else.
Pain became a disappointment.
Disappointment became anger.
I was poisoning my own soul.

On the way back home in the afternoon, I realised that I was wasting my energy and my time. For nothing.

When I got home, I immediately went talking with the people who hurt me. From a practical point of view, that conversation was pointless, and it didn’t solve anything. The wound and the pain are still there.
But it helped me pushing the toxic thoughts out of my system, replacing anger with compassion.

One Apple A Day #674 – hey look, this is who I am

What should I do? Should I write my daily apple this morning or not?

It’s almost 11 in the morning, and my morning routine has been completely disrupted. For good reasons. I’m on a short vacation in a city I love, visiting people who are really dear to me and we arrived very late yesterday night.

It’s always about getting your priorities right. A night of good sleep is vital for my health. And my health is a top priority. Friends are also over there among the essential elements of my life.

Though, this short daily moment is part of who I am. Every time I write and publish a post, I’m saying to the universe “Hey look, this is who I am. I am an author.” 

Even when it’s not perfect. Even when my routine is gone or my inspiration is low. It’s not the outcome that matters the most. It’s the consistency through which I shape and reinforce my identity. 

I don’t write for the outcome, I write because this is who I am. 

And you know, I’ve surprised myself. I’m a lazy and undisciplined person, yet I’ve been consistently writing almost every morning for years now. I firmly believe that the reason I’ve been able to achieve this is that I’m not writing for the outcome, I’m doing it because it’s who I am. 

So yes. I’m writing this morning to remind myself that I’m an author.

One Apple A Day #670 – Mors tua vita mea

Mors tua vita mea” is an idiomatic expression in Latin, born in the Middle Ages.

The literal meaning is rather dramatic, “Your death is my life” and it refers to the fight for survival, like in a war or battle, where your defeat is necessary for my victory.

In a more broader sense, this phrase embodies the idea that one derives an advantage for someone else failure

Your loss is my gain.

It is an expression that distils competition, individualism and opportunism. It is often used to describe the harshness of life by those who feel life as a continuous struggle for survival.

A few events lately made me realize how many people are still trapped in the mindset of self-preservation. In a paradigm of scarcity, so we have to fight for the same resources. And the winners take it all.

I’m referring to good honest people, who have no desire to harm anyone. But when you’re trap in that mindset, you become blind to the consequences of your actions. Caught in the idea that everyone is willing to do everything to get what they want and protect who they love, you just do the same. 

It’s the law of the jungle baby.

But we are not in the Middle Ages anymore. And the only outcome of approaching life with this mindset is that, in the end, everyone loses. 

And I don’t believe having better rules, laws or structures will change anything. If we create new structures from an old mindset, we will just sustain that mindset.

What is needed is a shift in consciousness. 

One that moves us from self-preservation to self-realization.

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