One Apple A Day #705 – wait a little longer

I am a problem solver.

Or at least, I was.

Not in the sense that I can solve any problem, far from that.

But I used to look at things in life with a problem-solving attitude.

Something not working as expected? Let’s find a solution.

Is there a confrontation? Let’s find a way out.

Do you have a question? Let’s find the answer.

And any time I couldn’t find the solution, the way out or the answer I felt it as a failure.

I don’t know if it’s a natural attitude or if it’s something taught. I’m quite sure I’m not the only one. In my career, I met many people with the same attitude. Some of them are way better than me in solving problems.

Lately, however, maybe because I’m getting slower, I began to slow down. Who knows, it may because I’m not as quick as I was before in solving problems. Or perhaps the challenges are getting too big and complex for my skills.

Whatever the reason, I’m learning to stay with the issues, problems, confrontations or questions that emerge in my life.

In my rush to solve and answer, I wasn’t giving enough space for the challenge to teach me its lessons or to show me a different way.

It isn’t easy. Sometimes it can be scary and even painful to stay.

Yet, there is an opportunity there for something to emerge. A shift of some sort that goes beyond any solution that our knowledgeable mind can conceive.

“When the confrontation is held for what it is, has been given the space it demands without our interference, then something shifts, something opens, and the light returns.” 

from Be The Change by Vanessa Jane Smith

One Apple A Day #702 – drop the stones

It looks like that being behind the wheel of a car is my new inspiring place. I don’t know why, but often while I am driving words or images came up. Sometimes they are connected to something that I’ve been pondering for a while, other times, they are entirely out of context. All of a sudden, something appears in my thought, and I have to decide what to do with it.

Luckily for me, I have this small practice every morning when I can process some of these random thoughts.

Yesterday, while I was driving home from some errands, this sentence from the bible came up.

“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

It is what Jesus said to the Pharisees who wanted to stone a woman who made adultery. 

So, know I’m left with this sentence trying to understand what the universe is telling me. Sure, there is an undeniable invitation to avoid judging others. I’m quite sure that Jesus was also implying that no one is faultless and that, therefore, no one has the right to pass judgment on somebody else.

But is it just that? Why is it coming up for me now?

I can’t remember casting stones to anyone lately. 

But that doesn’t mean I’m no carrying them.

So maybe that’s the message. 

A reminder to drop the stones I’m carrying in my pockets because it’s just weight slowing me down.

A reminder that I am as broken and imperfect as anybody else. That I have made mistakes and I had hurt others, sometimes even if I thought I was doing the right thing. 

And many of these events became stones that I carry with me.

Life is a messy journey.

One in which it is essential to accept our imperfections, acknowledge the times when we stumble, learn to apologise and to forgive, and in the end, drop the stones and keep moving forward trying to be a little better every day. 

One Apple A Dy #700 – how do I feel now?

ou know or can know so much about yourself. 

You can measure your performances, check your heart rate anytime, get every possible health check, ask experts and know everything about your body and your health. 

You can play memory and logic games, do intelligence tests, assess your personality, your behaviours or your emotional state, discover your learning style and learn everything about yourself, your abilities and traits.

You can know almost everything about yourself.

But do you ever ask yourself “How do I feel now?” 

I’m a motorsport nut. In the last years, I’ve read many stories of tensions between the riders or drivers and their engineers. While the formers talk about feelings, the latter rely only on the numbers. When feelings and numbers go in different directions, tensions and conflicts arise. Unfortunately, because numbers are objective and easier to rationalise and explain, too often, they trump human feelings and sensations, even when results are poor.

In a way, we are trapped in the idea that if it can’t be measured, it’s not worth our attention. That famous quote from Peter Drucker, “what gets measured gets managed“, unfortunately, expanded beyond business and in all aspects of life. 

Ironically, Drucker never said that. And more ironically, those words are the first part of a sentence with which the journalist Simon Caulkin summarised a paper published by V. F. Ridgway in 1956.

“What gets measured gets managed — even when it’s pointless to measure and manage it, and even if it harms the purpose of the organisation to do so.”

Some things can’t be measured, yet they really matter.

The challenge is to accept to know a little less and begin to feel a bit more every day. Just asking a simple question like “how do I feel now?

One Apple A Day #698 – 100%

A long time ago, I watched a video by Darren Hardy in which we asked his audience how much, in percentage, they think they were responsible for the quality of their relationships.
Most of the people said 50%.
Me too, while watching I thought it was 50%. In the end, there are two people in a relationship, so the responsibility should be evenly split.
Instead, he stated that we all have 100% of it.
In any relationship – personal or professional, couple, family or team – we are 100% responsible.
It was an eye-opening moment for me.
Taking full responsibility for any situation in my life, no matter how many other people are involved, it means to focus on what I can actually do to improve and make the situation better.
I can’t change others, so to take full ownership of whatever is happening allows me to focus my attention and my energy on something I can do.
That doesn’t mean that we can’t be hurt or that we can shape everything that happens in our life. Neither that we can solve every problem.
And indeed we can’t change other people, but if we take full responsibility, we have a chance to change ourselves.

One Apple A Day #697 – recharge

Many years ago, I was going through a tough time. With my life turned upside-down, I was feeling lost without any ideas on how to rebuild myself up.

Following someone suggestion, I went to talk with a psychologist; a wonderful small lady packed with energy and pragmatism. In one session, I was sharing, as usual, all my ruminations about my situation, my loneliness and my struggles. When I paused, she looked at me, and she said something I can’t forget.

“Stop thinking and go out. Do something, meet people. Introspection requires energy, and if you don’t have it, you’ll just get lost in the darkness. Go out, recharge your batteries, and when you’re happy and in the right mood, you can go back to digging again.”

Her message stayed with me since then. I feel it is still a piece of good advice, in particular at this moment. In periods of uncertainty and struggles like the one that many of us are going through, I feel it’s important to do things that energize us. Things that help us focus on the way forward. That doesn’t mean that we should ignore what’s happening and just have fun. I believe we should focus on creating meaningful relationships, expanding our strengths, sharing quality time with positive people, staying in nature, having inspiring conversations, expose ourselves to beauty. Anything that builds up our energy.

P.S. I’m not sure the conversation with my psychologist went like this, and those are not the exact words she used, but this is how I remember them.