One Apple A Day #601 – from collecting to connecting

Our society is based on what I call the “collecting paradigm”. In this paradigm, success is defined by how much you can collect; money, power, knowledge, land, people, connections, ideas.
You name it.
The critical factor is how much you can amass.
Wealth and success are measured on what you have, material or immaterial. Potential is defined in terms of how much you’ll be able to collect.
In this paradigm, a lot of energy is then spent on protecting what you have accumulated. When you live into this paradigm or mindset, often what you have defines also who you are; your knowledge, skills, role.
The collecting paradigm is one of scarcity and competition.

What would happen if we shift to a new paradigm? One that value connections above collections.

In this paradigm, it’s all about connecting people, ideas, things, places, knowledge. The aim is to keep the infinite energy of the universe flowing. When we collect, we are stopping this flow by removing something from it. When we create a new connection, we expand the possibilities to flow exponentially.

It’s a paradigm of abundance and collaboration.

I know, it’s not easy. It requires each one of us to rethink the meaning of success and winning.

It’s not about me anymore. It’s about everyone.

Are we ready for such a shift?

One Apple A Day #600 – rituals and celebrations

This morning I picked the card “Ritual” for my morning reflections. Then, when I opened the laptop to write this post, I realised this is the apple number six hundred.
This ritual has been going on for quite a while now.
When I started, I planned to do it for 90 days in a row and then stop. But then it was such an enjoyable experience that I’ve decided to keep going. Every now and when I ask myself when will I stop. Will I ever reach the destination of this journey? Is there a destination at all?

I don’t know. What I know, or I should better say what I feel is that this small ritual of mine is aligned with who I am. I’m an explorer, and like any explorer, I have my journal or logbook to keep track of my discoveries so one day I’ll be able to share them with the world.

I’m well aware that celebrating significant milestones is essential. And this is one of those. It means I’ve spent 600 mornings in the last two years or so, writing and sharing something. Who would have known that someone like me, who gets quickly bored, would have stick to a habit like this one for so long? I know now that this is possible only when the practice becomes part of our identity. So, this morning post is definitely part of who I am.

With that in mind, I’m already thinking about the next post. The one I was planning to write today before I realise it was time to celebrate.

So, be aware, I have no plan to stop.

One Apple A Day #599 – practice

You’ve probably heard of the famous “10,000-hour rule“.

It has been defined by journalist and author Malcolm Gladwell in his book “Outliers: The Story of Success“.

He created this rule based on the results of a 1993 study on violin players. That study shows that the best performer had put at least 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to refine their talent.

This rule is used by many speakers and motivators. In a way, it says that it’s not about your talent, but it’s the amount of work you’re ready to put in that will make the difference. And if you are prepared to put in 10,000 hours of practice, you can aim to mastery.

In a way, I like to be reminded of the importance of practice as a vital part of the journey to mastery. But there’s always a risk of oversimplification when we put all the focus on the outcome. Because when everything is about the results, then the practice is just a means to an end. Something to get through, as quickly as possible.

Recently, Brooke Macnamara, a psychologist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, decided to repeat part of the 1993 study. You can find more about this story in this article.

Macnamara, states that “When it comes to human skill, a complex combination of environmental factors, genetic factors and their interactions explains the performance differences across people.

So, practice is fundamental, but many other factors will determine the final outcome. And that’s in an important reminder that we should fall in love with the practice itself.

Macnamara also said: “Practice makes you better than you were yesterday, most of the time, but it might not make you better than your neighbour. Or the other kid in your violin class.”

And that’s all the beauty of the practice. It is not about competition, it’s about realising our full potential as humans.

One Apple A Day #598 – I slipped

The ache in my back woke me up early, a good half an hour before the planned alarm.
I lurch to the kitchen with my eyes half-closed. It was still dark outside. Or at least, it looked dark to me
I remember thinking that I needed just a few minutes on the couch, to let the pang in my back dissolve before doing my morning exercises.
So, I slump on the couch.
Just a few minutes.
The next thing I recollect was my partner telling me there we were late for our appointment.
No time for my morning practice.
“Nevermind”, I thought, “I’ll recover late, we will have plenty of waiting time through the morning”.
Reality is that I felt slow and sleepy all day. I even struggled to find enough energy to read a novel for more than 10 minutes.

So, yesterday I slipped.
No exercises, no meditation, no daily apple.
Nothing.

It happens. It’s not the first time, and it won’t be the last.
And there is always something to learn, in particular when we fail.

Yesterday, I learned that the twenty minutes I spent every morning doing some physical exercises are not only beneficial for my health. They literally awaken my body and my mind. It’s like sending an energy shock through my whole system re-activating it after the night.
Having skipped that, I’ve been sleepy and sluggish all day, unable to focus on anything.

I’ve also learned that my morning practices are now part of my identity. So, even if I miss one day, I can effortlessly get back to my rituals the day after.

“The ultimate form of intrinsic motivation is when a habit becomes part of your identity. It’s one thing to say I’m the type of person who wants this. It’s something very different to say I’m the type of person who is this.” — Atomic Habits by James Clear

One Apple A Day #597 – you are infinite

Be yourself, they say.

Great advice but, who am I?

Who this self I am supposed to be? How would I know that I am “being myself”?

Because the more I try to define who I am using my thinking mind, the more I wrap myself into a box that gets smaller.

And I can clearly sense that most of me has been left out.

So, you see, there is a problem here.

My mind thinks in shapes and forms, so it is used to set boundaries to divide one thing from the other. To separate me from the others and the world so I can put a label on myself.

The ancient greeks engraved the words γνῶθι σεαυτόν on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.

“know thyself”

What they didn’t write is that knowing yourself is a never-ending journey. And that the journey is more important than the destination. It doesn’t matter how many labels and boxes you’ll be able to use to define yourself, as long as you keep exploring.

You are infinite as the universe you hold inside.

One Apple A Day #596 – magic mirrors

“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” — Napoleon Hill

I’m sure you’ve read or heard this quote many times. This morning these words pop up while I was reflecting upon a conversation I had a few days ago with my dear friend Vanessa.

We were reflecting on our work, trying to distil the essence of what we do. Among the many compelling ideas, one has been resonating with me since that conversation.

We are the carrier of a special kind of mirror. One the reflect not who you are, but who you can be if you express your full potential.

When we stand before our clients, individuals or groups, we can reflect back the image of their extraordinary self. They can see, in that magic mirror, the stunning beauty of themselves living at their full potential.

Whatever you put your attention on expands.

Seeing your extraordinary self is vital to begin any transformation journey. Because once your mind conceives it, as Napoleon Hill wrote, you’ll know you can achieve it.

We all can do that. Anytime we live our full potential, we become mirrors for the people around us. Magic mirrors in which they can see their extraordinary self.

Our Deepest Fear

By Marianne Williamson

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness

That most frightens us.

We ask ourselves

Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small

Does not serve the world.

There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking

So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine,

As children do.

We were born to make manifest

The glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us;

It’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,

We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we’re liberated from our own fear,

Our presence automatically liberates others.

ONE APPLE A DAY #595 – shine through defeat

Yesterday I read a short and powerful piece by an Italian teacher. A friend posted it on facebook but mistakenly associating it with a famous Italian poet and writer.

The words immediately resonated with me, so I wanted to learn more about them. This is how I discover that the real author is Rosaria Gasparro. She’s a teacher in primary school, but she’s also a lot more obviously. For sure she’s a beautiful writer.

This small story made me wonder about the infinite potential that lives within each one of us. We just need to crush the walls of our limiting beliefs and allow for our extraordinary self to shine. Then, we would make the world a brighter place.

Below, my humble translation of the words of Rosaria.

THE PRAISE OF the DEFEAT

I think it is necessary to educate the new generations on the value of defeat. On its management. On the humanity that springs from it. On the creation of an identity that can perceive a commonality of destiny, where one can fail and start over without value and dignity being eroded. On how to not become a social climber, on not to walk over the body of others to get there first.

In this world of vulgar and dishonest winners, of false and opportunistic doers, of people who count, who occupy power, who rob the present, let alone the future, to all the neurotics of success, of appearing, of becoming … to this anthropology of the winner, I instead prefer those who lose. It is an exercise that I do well. And it reconciles me with my sacred little.

You can read more from Rosaria here (in Italian).

ONE APPLE A DAY #594 – a clean start

I took a few days off from this little project of mine. Even more, I paused the whole morning routine for a week.
No exercise, no meditation and no writing.
I understood that it was necessary after writing the previous daily apple last Monday. At the end of my fifteen minutes writing process, I was spent. I had to push the words out instead of letting them flow, and that depleted my energy. I’m not sure when it started, but it wasn’t energising anymore.
I needed to rest. So I put the morning writing on hold.
And with it everything else.
In fact, this recovery pause made me realise that this tiredness was affecting everything in my life.
My to-do list was crushing me. I had things in it that I’ve been postponing for weeks, some even for months.
And they were hunting me, pushing me to keep doing stuff even if my energy was gone and I wasn’t really able to take any step further.
So, I did something a bit crazy.
I didn’t just pause the to-do list, I wiped it clean. I deleted all the things to do that I wasn’t doing. I thought that if they were still there after weeks than the key to making that happen surely was not that busy do-do list.
So, I cleaned it.
And you know what. The day after I cleaned my to-do list, I completed one of the tasks that I’ve been dragging for months.
Maybe it’s a coincidence, but I think it’s not.
Sometimes we put so much weight on things that we aren’t unable to move them forward. The moment we give up, we lift that weight and voilá, the magic happens.

One Apple A Day #593 – about discipline

Last week I had a few conversations about discipline and rules.

I believe that the combination of discipline and self-awareness help us create more freedom in our life. I also think that creating a safe space is crucial to help a group of people express their full potential. Discipline, seen as a set of standards or agreements, can provide the structure to protect the safe space needed. But discipline and rules can quickly become a limiting wall, a barrier crushing personal creativity.

In my experience, for discipline to be effective, it must be meaningful.

It must serve the purpose for which everyone is working. It’s not a way to avoid problems or to make the work easier for the facilitators. Discipline must be designed to enhance the experience and help everyone express their full potential. When we don’t feel that the discipline is meaningful, we continuously look for ways to work around it.

So, when we ask for discipline, when we design a standard we should always check with ourselves the nature of our intent.

One Apple A Day #592 – man in the mirror

I feel blessed by the presence of amazing friends in my life.

People who help me grow with every conversation or experience.

Two days ago, I wrote about power and love. In that post, I also shared the need for me to do some news cleansing because I realised that they, the news, where releasing some toxins in my system.

Less than an hour later, my best friend sent me a text. It was a reflection about how much energy we waste to get angry and upset about what happens in the world and how, this anger, influences how we see the world and the people around us. So, staying away from the news is not an escape from reality. At the contrary, it’s a way to protect our energy so we can use it to make our own world better.

“Always remember, your focus determines your reality.” — Dave Gray

Then yesterday I had dinner with one of my brothers. As usual, it was an inspiring conversation in which every word opens up new insights and learnings. I realised that too often we turn our attention to distant things that we can’t change so we don’t have to look in the only place where we can really change something; ourserlves.

“To change the world, you must be willing to change yourself.” — Dave Gray

This is what I was doing lately. I was allowing for the news of the world to distract me from my world and my own growth.

By the way, the day I wrote that first post about power and love, I went to experience archery with another amazing brother (you should definitely try if you have the possibility, it’s pure wonder).

During the drive, I listened twice to a song by Michael Jackson, I had not heard for a while; Man in the Mirror.

I’m starting with the man in the mirror

I’m asking him to change his ways

And no message could have been any clearer

If you want to make the world a better place

Take a look at yourself, and then make a change