Coaching in 2019

With instant and global connectivity there's really no limitation on coaching sessions.

Contact me now if you'd be interested in finding out more about what's involved - whether for a one-off kick up the ... session, a retreat like weekend, or a more gentle programme of coaching sessions.

Or first read about the myths and benefits of coaching over on my Purchasing Coach blog.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Random acts of kindness

It's Random Acts of Kindness day today and I was wondering how we could give it a Landscaping Your Life feel:

  • Plant a tree
  • Water your plants
  • Collect rubbish
  • Visit your favourite landscape 
  • Grow vegetables
  • Smile

Whatever you decide to do - EnJoy.

More ideas here as shared by the

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

7 keys to having FULL IMPACT

I had such a GREAT week the other week.

In just 8 days I demonstrated the breadth of possibilities for using Landscaping Your Life (LYL) to make a difference in people's lives:
  • It started with a speech at a Professional Speaking Association (PSA) training day on having CLARITY for FULL IMPACT in your speaking (more of that below), then moved on to 
  • Using LYL to gain insight in supplier relationships as part of a 2 day SRM workshop.  
  • An interview on the Dr. Pat Show saw me sharing LYL and using nature as our coach to a wider audience as we discussed my book Can't see the wood for the trees
  • I discovered I had had another great review written about the book, and there was a feature in the Saturday supplement about it in the local Fife Courier, and then I finished the week with 
  • A workshop to support personal transformational change where we explored the use of many of the LYL tools shared in this blog. Those who attended left feeling more optimistic about the future, armed with an action plan to get back on track. 
The premise for the PSA speech I gave can be applied more broadly to any aspect of our lives, and that's what this post is all about - having FULL IMPACT where ever you want it.

When we're faced with any challenge it's easy to dive into the details - into all the lovely content and facts and data (as we see them anyway).

However, rather than get lost in all that data and logic which might include:
  • why you're where you are, 
  • why you've not progressed further to date, 
  • why it's difficult, 
  • why this or that expert who gave you advice was wrong, or 
  • why it was hard for you to apply their expertise 
Rather than explore more about
  • this hurdle, 
  • that problem, 
  • the difficult person
  • or dilemma 
we're going to use metaphor to provide some insight.

Using metaphor allows us to stop defending our current situation, and to rise above the 'content' that's keeping us stuck, and to simply and objectively observe the patterns of the situation. Patterns that support or otherwise us achieving our goal. Patterns that once observed can more easily be released or rearranged. 

In this post the metaphor of taking a FULL IMPACT photograph is going to act as a reflection for a situation where you're wanting to have FULL IMPACT - whether that's a full impact speech or sales pitch, having a full impact career, or perhaps even full impact about the food choices you're making.

Please bare in mind - this process is not a dish best served cold - in other words, very much like the book, it's going to make more sense if you can apply the questions to a real life situation. 

Take a few minutes, therefore, to consider a situation you'd like to have FULL IMPACT about. 

Then put that situation to the back of your mind as you continue to read and consider the insights from this post. 

Please, please, please don't start to assess how the metaphor applies to your situation until you've explored the metaphor first. It's like planting a seed and then uncovering it every day to check if it's started to grow yet - you'll just increase the chances of it failing to flourish at all!  

In this instance the metaphor we're going to use is a landscape - where the 360 degree landscape reflects all the choices we have, and a FULL IMPACT photograph is what we're aiming to take.

That is, success is a photograph of the landscape that has FULL IMPACT, and we're simply going to explore what we can do to maximise the likelihood of us taking a photograph that has FULL IMPACT.

1. Y is for Y-Factor - why are we taking the image - what's our objective?

Perhaps it's about the emotion we want people feeling as a result of seeing the picture, or action we're wanting them to take, or simply a record for future generations and so on.



or perhaps it's information we're wanting to convey.

Y do we want to take the picture - because that's certainly going to help determine where we focus our camera, and when we press the button.

2. T is for Timing.

Many full impact pictures require that they be taken at a very precise time of day or year - not often able to be taken 24/7 365 days a year. 

That is, some images might be a once in a life time shot - even if well worth the patience and perseverance.  

For example, to take a full impact picture of the northern lights we're going to want to have certain favourable conditions - ie to be as close to the poles as possible, for there to be solar activity, for it to be dark, away from city lights, cloudless and no moon. 

Which means we have a choice
  1. To take a photograph that reflects the current environment, or 
  2. Ensure we do everything to match the perfect conditions to get the shot we're wanting
What we won't get is a great photo of the northern lights if it's midday in the middle of summer. When faced with those conditions it might be better to let go of the 'must be northern lights' and focus on what is in front of us!

Although, for some images 

3. I is for Interesting 

Yes of course, you need to find it interesting to convey that interest to the other party but so do the other people in the situation. Without interest why would anyone invest any time in looking at the image.

Interest is of course very subjective   

Or perhaps it's about making the every day interesting.

which all links back to the Y-Factor.

4. R is for Rainbow

Colour can make or break an image - too little colour, too much of one colour, too busy with any and all colours, not enough contrast, too much contrast - it's up to the photographer to weigh this all up when considering the image to be taken.

Where will the colour make most impact?  

This is where we also have to be careful with airbrushing - too much airbrushing or tampering with nature and something will no longer look authentic and full impact could be lost totally and for ever!

5. A is for Angle

There's many many photographs out there all vying for people's attention, and if you're taking an image of a park bench everyone has already seen many park benches before.

Which means a full impact image of a park bench has to view that park bench from a different angle.

6. L is for Lens

We're getting closer to taking the picture and need to start to make decisions about zooming in or out:

Or perhaps we need to provide a little of both - the big picture and detail? 

To consider where to focus?

Or perhaps it's more about what to allow to be out of focus? 

7. C is for Composition 

Composition is how you put all these components together, when you make a decision and commit to taking the picture. 

The rule of thirds would suggest not to plonk what's of interest in the middle but to have it off to the side a little - to allow space around the focal point so people can enjoy it. Too busy and they just won't get what ever it is you're trying to convey. 

As you reflect on this post did you notice other insights that might apply to taking a picture for FULL IMPACT?  

The aim now is to notice what you notice about the original situation. 

This exploration may already have unconsciously opened up the situation - so you're already able to see other options that may have been hiding earlier. 

Alternatively, you may now need to reflect on each aspect of CLARITY to understand what might be missing or need further refinement from the current situation.

For example, if you're want a presentation with FULL IMPACT you may want to consider: 
  • Y-factor - why are you doing it - what impact do you want to make?
  • Timing - what are the key and unique characteristics of this audience, rather than your last or next audience? 
  • Interesting - what will interest this audience?
  • Rainbow - how can you allow your authenticity to shine?
  • Angle - what's your angle, how can you ensure people hear something they've heard many times before from a different angle?
  • Lens - what will you leave out for a future discussion, what will you focus on? 
  • Composition - how will you put it all together to allow the key points to breathe? 
If it's a FULL IMPACT career you're wanting to make then questions this metaphor might be posing include:
  • Y-factor - what do you want from your career? 
  • Timing - how is timing important about what you want or is available now, and in the future?
  • Interesting - what makes for an interesting job for you (and how can you have more of these)? 
  • Rainbow - what makes for an enjoyable day at work (and how can you have more of those)?
  • Angle - what's your niche or USP - what unique skills do you bring to your work?
  • Lens - what's the long and short term focus for your career - how will this next step help you get there?
  • Composition - what will you do now, what can wait, what do you need to be doing whilst you wait?
and if your quandary is about making food choices that deliver FULL IMPACT, and as I type I'm wondering if this will work and am just about to find out along with you ....  
  • Y-factor - what's your objective - health, fitness, short or long term? 
  • Timing - is the timing supportive of achieving the specific goal or might a different goal suit the current conditions better?  
  • Interesting - how can you make this exciting - what's worked before - what's not worked before?  
  • Rainbow - how can you add some colour - spice into it? ie how to make it less bland? 
  • Angle - if you're tried this before what angle might you be able to see this goal from in order to make it worth spending the time and energy on? 
  • Lens - what's the bigger picture - and perhaps more importantly zoom in and focus on some smaller more tangible goals to focus on initially to start you off on your journey - what are you quick wins? 
  • Composition - how can you pull this together into a package that you can commit to rather than ignore - will there be prizes, does the challenge have a name, are there milestones, is there room to breathe?  
I trust this exploration has provided you with insight about the situation you wanted some CLARITY about - and that it also gave you a great example of the power of metaphor to shift thinking and open up to new opportunities?   

I would love to discuss with you the services I offer - whether delivering a keynote, coaching or facilitation - whether that's to help you personally or your team to obtain FULL IMPACT to achieve your goals.

If you're interested in personal transformation then you may like to know that on 1st March 2019 we'll be launching a private LYL Facebook group. So do pop along and like the LYL Facebook page where we'll be telling you more about it very soon. 

Alison Smith
Landscaping your Life - using nature as our coach to get back on track. +44(0)7770 538159


Monday, 21 January 2019

Learning from Nature's timing

Happy New Year - even if a little belatedly.

I’ve been wanting to write this post for some time but, as it’s about timing, I had to be patient as it wasn’t fully developed enough till now.

If you’ve only a few moments free then that’s the punchline too – not taking action till the timing is right, the pieces of the jigsaw are available and have all been turned over, spring has arrived or sunset is approaching.

Specifically not taking action too soon, nor hurried, nor just because you think you should, ought, or must be doing something.

Busyness for busyness sake will not deliver the harvest if the seed is planted too soon, nor will it be an abundant harvest if we keep pressing reset, checking its growing for fear of just biding time as it percolates and develops unseen till the time is right.

Yesterday’s #spiritchat on Twitter was about rituals – morning rituals, daily rituals or even annual rituals that we have that support our mind, body, and soul. It was the catalyst for writing this post on timing.

New year has always been a time for me revisiting my visions and goals. A time for some peace and quiet, time to release the old year and embrace the new. A time to have a transformation game, make a vision board and/or collage. A time of reflection and inspiration.

Except this year life got in the way, and my ritual moved out by a couple of weeks. Coincidentally out by a couple of weeks to when the weather turned much colder after a warmer December than normal!

Interesting therefore as I reflect on nature’s patterns that the new year doesn’t feature.

The 1st January is a human construct, an arbitrary date to reset the year. Our ancestors would have used nature’s patterns to live their lives by – whether that was aligned with sunrise, sunset, longest or shortest day, equinoxes, the arrival of spring or autumn, or so on.

In nature there’s a natural order of things – harvest comes some time after sowing, the longer the germination and growth period the greater the longevity of the outcome. If you want quick germination be prepared to have to resow repeatedly throughout the year.

It’s the metaphor of this natural order of things I want to explore today.

My belief is that logic can only get us so far in life, and logic can certainly throw a whole load of blocks and barriers in the way with its “that wont work”s, “it didn’t work last time”s, “I can’t”s, “must do it this way”s, and even “won’t”s.

That is, logic is great if we’re not dealing with expanding comfort zones, transformational change or the need for inspiration. These require a different language, a language logic has yet to learn.

Use of metaphor allows our mind and its logic to take a break as we get in touch with our inner wisdom – an inner wisdom that does not have words but understands and speaks in metaphor.

As you reflect on a situation you’d like more clarity on, perhaps one you’re becoming impatient about, or wondering when the best time to start would be, what aspect of nature’s timing comes to mind?
  • Sunrise/ Sunset
  • Day/ Night
  • Longest day/ Equinox/ Shortest day
  • Winter/ spring/ summer/ autumn
  • Full moon/ new moon
  • High tide/ low tide
  • Sow, grow, harvest, seed
  • others? 
If one pattern of timing jumped out at you, or another came to mind, take some time to reflect on what that pattern is about. 

Don’t jump too quickly to what it might mean in the current situation. Simply think about, or even write down or draw what you know about that pattern, look it up on the internet, keep digging into the pattern to discover all of its features - not just the obvious.

Last week sunrise was a pattern I was exploring, and its features included: 
  • It follows the night
  • It comes slowly
  • It’s timing is predictable
  • It can’t always be seen but it’s always there
  • There’s a sunrise happening somewhere in the world at every second
  • It’s beauty is often demonstrated when there’s just the right amount of cloud about 
  • It’s followed by a midday and sunset (it seemed like I went from one sunrise to the next without allowing time for the day to develop, nor end!)
The aim is to keep going. 

To keep exploring the pattern.

Once you’ve fully dived into the metaphor it’s a case of then relating it to the current situation. What different perspective might this pattern in nature be asking you to consider?

For example, here's some examples of what these insights might include, although this will relate to my own observations which will be impacted by my life experience at the moment, so don't be surprised if you get something very different: 
  • I need to have a little more patience - to set something off and allow it time to get to midday and beyond, to mix the metaphor a little, to not get angry because it's still below the surface of the ground developing. 
  • The need to sow more than the one seed might be helpful - ie an abundant harvest comes from sowing many seeds some of which will never grow or flourish.
  • The right time of tide depends on what you're doing - so don't judge yourself until you know the best time for the activity you're wanting to do - ie don't just follow everyone else - they might be wanting to fish not set sail! 
  • Jumping from one deadline to another isn't allowing anything to flourish and is killing creativity.  
  • Perhaps I just need to take action in a different location to take advantage that sunrise is at a different time there than here!! 
  • Rather than trying to do it myself and getting lost in the dark perhaps I can ask for help to provide some moonlit illumination.
  • And so on.
How to embed any insights that resonate can take various forms: 
  • You can stick with the metaphor and use screenshots or images of seeds growing or sunrises, or even go for a walk and observe the pattern in question, or 
  • You can invite your mind and its logic to help develop a plan to release the pattern.
Good luck, and may all your seeds grow and flourish.

There's many different ways that Landscaping Your Life (LYL) uses nature as our coach, nature’s landscapes as metaphors for our lives, to provide insight and inspiration for the task in hand. 

There's many posts here and there's even an index of highlights from 2018 that will also give you a flavour for what's possible, and includes the publication of Can’t see the wood for the trees which had featured on many a vision board for the last 20 years. (As they say, patience is a virtue and great things are worth waiting for.) 

For more on how I’ve used the LYL process in business see my posts on: Stuck in a rut, and See the wood for the trees in 2019 - planning for success in the year ahead

I look forward to hearing from you this year for personal coaching, group facilitation or speaking.

Alison Smith
Landscaping Your Life
+44 (0)7770 538159