One Apple A Day #685 – now, here, breathe

Some days, I feel lost.
I keep reading inspiring articles about how this global crisis will change the world, on how it will change us at every level. I hear predictions and suggestions on how we should prepare for the aftermath. I’ve been asked, and I ask powerful questions. And in the meanwhile, I’ve been doing plans, creating things, having conversations on what we can do and how. I can feel the excitement for what this massive and global change will bring.
Then, some days, I just feel lost.

As if in my looking forward, in my effort to prepare for tomorrow, I’ve forgotten my today. Yet, life is happening today.
And in this today, I don’t know. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow. I don’t know how the world will be. I don’t know who I will be. I don’t even know when it will be tomorrow. I have no answers and maybe not even the right questions.

In these moments, I feel the need to stop and stay.
To stop asking, searching, thinking, doing, making sense.
Just stay.
Stay with what it is, with who I am.
It is not the moment for future goals, for prediction, for long term plans.
I just want to be present.
Now, here. Nowhere.
Breathe.

One Apple A Day #672 – I am the one

We are all living, without doubts, a challenging situation. What is happening is shaking the foundations of our world at all levels; personal, professional, individual, social, economical. Our habits, routines and rituals have been disrupted. Most of the cues and frames through which we were able to read the reality around us, are useless now.

At least, this is what is happening to me. 

And I’ll be honest. 

There are moments, during the day in which I feel lost and powerless. It looks like no matter what we do, things keep getting worse. The flood of news and messages is not helping for sure. 

This morning I woke and realised that this tension is getting under my skin. I slept with my jaw tight, not a good sign.

So, this morning I enter my meditation with the only aim to relax, let go of the stress and find peace. 

And some words came up.

I am the one who’s asked to change and evolve.”

When I opened my eyes, I remember one of my all-time favourite books, “Man’s search for meaning” by Viktor Frankl.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” 

So, my question for today is “How can I change to thrive in this challenging time?

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 #698 – a recipe for transformation

“First is an intention. 

Then a behaviour. 

Then a habit. 

Then a practice. 

Then second nature. 

Then it is simply who you are.” – Brendon Burchard

I love this recipe for transformation. It is not even a recipe, to be honest. In my experience, this is how life works. How we grow, and we become who we are. The things we love and the one we don’t. 

They all started with an intention. One that too often, we are not fully aware. And that intention triggers a behaviour that, through habit and repetition, becomes who we are. It’s a long and slow process, like a drop on a rock. When an apparently harmless and insignificant behaviour, becomes a habit, its power multiply and its effects compound.

The secret ingredient in this recipe is self-awareness. Having clarity of your intentions, observing your behaviours and deliberately choose the habits you want to cultivate. Creating the discipline to transform those habits into practices. The rest will be a natural outcome. And this is the beauty of this recipe for transformation. It’s not about making big things or incredibly disruptive actions. It’s about paying attention and being aware of the tiny things that count, and then let time do its magic.

One Apple A Day #692 – the “who” questions

Where do your stakeholders need you and your team to be in 3-5 years?

This question was asked yesterday by David Clutterbuck during a webinar on team coaching. Indeed, a powerful question. One that shifts the focus on the team’s growth and evolution.

So, this morning I woke up with my own version of that question.

Who do I need to be in 3-5 years, to better serve my vision?

I love all questions starting with “who”. We live in a challenging, changing and uncertain world. What used to work only a few months ago is not working anymore. What it’s true today, may not be tomorrow.

In this context, goals, plans or strategies may sound hollow.

That’s why I believe that it’s vital to shift our attention to our growth as human beings. As individuals, teams, organizations and communities. Then, whatever happens in the future, whatever comes in our way, we will be able to adapt and respond.

“For all our discussion of the abstract power of societies, they are still made up of individual people. When two people connect, they form a relationship. A group of relationships forms a community, and the place where communities intersect is what we come to know as society. Each of us is responsible for forming the social codes of our communities.” – Source

One Apple A Day #683 – you need a map

“The point of planning isn’t to know exactly what to do. The point of planning is to delude yourself into thinking you know what you’re doing just long enough for you to actually get off your ass and do something.” — from a tweet by Mark Manson

In my experience, we are not scared of change. Most people don’t mind change, actually. What we are scared is the uncertainty that often comes with change. Not knowing what is waiting for us on the other side of change can be frightening. The human brain is a prediction machine, always assessing what’s going on around us to predict what will happen next. So, we don’t mind change. On the contrary, we may even welcome it. As long as we know where we are going. 

For most of us, probable is better than possible.

Unfortunately, when we are trapped in this prediction game, we are unable to take the leaps forward that can really transform our lives and create abundance. 

One of our strength, the ability to predict the future, becomes a limiting factor.

Yet, there is a way in which we can leverage our predictive mind so we can embrace change, even disruptive ones. We can plan or map out the way forward, enough to find the confidence to take the first step. You see, having a map is not a guarantee that we will get where we want. In the same way, having a plan doesn’t mean you’ll get what you want. But they both trick our mind into knowing what’s happening. Having a map, plan or strategy can silence fear for a while so we can find the confidence to begin.

One Apple A Day #679 – organizations or organisms

“A different ideal for organizations is surfacing. We want organizations to be adaptive, flexible, self-renewing, resilient, learningful, intelligent – attributes found only in living systems. The tension of our times is that we want our organizations to behave as living systems, but we only know how to treat them as machines.” — Margaret Wheatley, Finding our Way

When I read these words from Margaret Wheatley, the first image that came to my mind, is one of a shift from organizations to organisms.

An organization is an organized group of people with a particular purpose. 

An organism is a system consisting of interdependent parts. 

These are just the first two definitions that I pick from the web.

Maybe it’s one of my biases, but when I think about an organization, my focus goes to all the parts that make it work. As if the organization is something that grows outside and between the people who are part of it. It’s an image of separation. 

The image of an organism is one of wholeness. The strength of the organism comes from the interdependence of the parts. There is no separation from the parts and the whole. The organism’s growth happens both inside and outside people. 

I’m not sure about what to do with these thoughts. But I know words are powerful and shape reality. So, maybe, if I begin to use a different word for the initiatives in which I’m involved, new ways of working together may emerge.

One Apple A Day #674 – comfort, change and curiosity

It was a rainy and misty day. One of those days when the best thing to do is to stay home, before a fire.

Instead, we were out walking in the woods. Nobody around, just us and the silence of nature. The light rain was making everything so soft that we couldn’t hear our own steps.

Not the most comfortable way of spending a morning, maybe. But undoubtedly, very inspiring. It was, then. When we were walking down a slight and slippery slope, that Andy asked one of his powerful questions.

How come that we call it comfort zone, yet so many people seem unhappy when they are there? If it’s a place of comfort, you should be happy. Or not?

By the way, I did a quick check online this morning. These are a few definitions I found. 

“The comfort zone is a safe place where you feel the most comfortable.”

“A psychological state in which things feel familiar to a person, and they are at ease and (perceive they are) in control of their environment, experiencing low levels of anxiety and stress. In this zone, a steady level of performance is possible.”

“A behavioural state where a person operates in an anxiety-neutral position.”

“Where our uncertainty, scarcity and vulnerability are minimized—where we believe we’ll have access to enough love, food, talent, time, admiration. Where we feel we have some control.”

Indeed, your comfort zone should be a happy and peaceful place to be.

While we were out there, our boots deep in the mud, we came to the conclusion that the reason for that unhappiness is probably due to the assumption that the comfort zone is a fixed thing. 

Change, another word starting with C, is natural. Everything is constantly changing, moving and transforming. When you got trapped in the idea that the comfort zone is a static thing, you cling to what you have and consume all your energy resisting change. Stay in your comfort zone becomes an exhausting effort. One that drains your happiness until you feel miserable in that same space you use to feel at ease.

This morning, while I was thinking about this conversation and about the boot that I still have to clean after that walk, a third word starting with C popped up. Curiosity. Curiosity is what inspires us to make questions and to embrace challenges. It is what allows us to push, shift and reshape the boundaries of our comfort zone, so it can grow with us.

One Apple A Day #671 – the power of AND

The conjunction “and” is so common that you would never think it carries such a powerful and transformative power.

It is definitely not as cool as many of the buzzwords we use in our conversations. 

Probably, because it is so short and so frequent, it doesn’t feel so rewarding for our thinking minds. Or maybe it’s because it’s scary in its simplicity. It’s easy to hide behind complex words and well-thought solutions. But a tiny word like “and”, can make you feel exposed.

I had a first glimpse at the power of AND during a coaching conversation with my mentor. I was struggling to make a decision between two alternative options. She asked a straightforward question. 

What would change if that OR becomes an AND?

That little change in the way I was phrasing my challenge, opened up a wellspring of inspiration and ideas.

“Co-creation sits in the space between freedom and constraints.” — The Way of Nowhere

The word AND is the key to unlock the creative power of the space in-between. To transform the tension between polarities in creative energy.

One Apple A Day #692 – blame vs responsibility

Moving from “blame” to “responsibility” is one of those shifts that can turn a life upside down.
Yet, it is not an easy one.
In a way, blaming is like taking a painkiller.
When something or someone hurts me, I take my blame pills, and the pain fades. Nothing changes, I know. But the pain is gone, and I can keep going on with my life.
But the cause of the pain is still there. And anytime it comes back, I’ll need a higher dose of blaming to dull the pain.
To take responsibility means to look into the source of that pain and act to solve the cause. Unfortunately, often this can make the suffering even worse at the beginning.
I believe this is why blaming comes so easy. In particular, when we are the ones hurting ourselves.
I’ve always been good at this one.
Years of training in blaming myself for every little mistake, so I could relieve myself from the struggle to change.
Even now that I’ve learned the lesson, it’s easy to slip into the blaming mode.
So, this post is a note to self.
A way to remind me that to blame is to look back, so if I want to move forward, I have to take responsibility and do something.