Sunday, 30 September 2018

Can't see the Wood for the Trees - overview

Can't see the wood for the trees uses nature as our coach, and nature's landscapes as metaphors for our lives.

The book chapters tackle sayings we use when stuck that also refer to nature as shown below:

In the book, I suggest that if you can relate to the saying then the saying will also have the potential to provide you with some insight to the situation. Which means, if you can't see the wood for the trees, the wood will have the answers - more below.

The book launch took place outside in nature four landscapes in Fife where the book was written. With engagement too from people in Australia, America, Wales, England and closer to home here in Scotland via LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.

It was a very blustery day which means much of the insight gained was either about:

  • Finding safe harbour until the winds have settled
  • Connecting with our own wildness/power  

That's how nature works - ever changing and yet with constant patterns we understand and can relate to. Patterns that help us make sense of the problems we encounter in our lives.

Here's a few thoughts about the insight gained on the day, and a few of the live videos posted on Facebook and LinkedIn on the day to engage with those unable to be there.

Let's start with a reminder of why nature is such a great coach.

One of the tools in the book asks us to consider what we'd do if we were in the situation described by the saying. Which means solutions when we can't see the wood for the trees would include those shown below.

The action then is to take these potential solutions and translate them into options in the situation you're wanting more clarity on. See more here on this saying.

Another LYL tool described in the book involves going for a walk. This video is the culmination of a 30 minute walk as we moved from a landscape that depicted the current situation, through a midway stopping point, to this very very very blustery headland which provided huge shifts in everyone's thinking - you'll find more about the process here on the Facebook post.

The final chapter in the book, the antidote if you will, is going with the flow. Not a reactive going wherever the flow takes you but a proactive type. (I've written a little more about this over on my Purchasing Coach site)

Whilst it is supposed to be a metaphorical flow I couldn't help but get my wetsuit on and do it in reality to round off a great day ;-).

I love this image of headed for the ocean which is the question I suggest you need to ask yourself if you're ever unsure which direction to go in life ie "Am I headed for the ocean?"

If you're interested in learning more about Landscaping Your Life coaching or workshops, or even a facilitated strategy day such as this team do get in touch

Anyone wanting to participate in the book launch raffle, with a prize of a free coaching session with me, have until Monday the 8th October to get over to my JustGiving page for the RNLI - 1 raffle ticket for every £1 donated. Because just like the RNLI I support people who are stuck to get back on track.

Alison Smith
Speaker, coach, trainer, author  - more on services offered here 
Landscaping your life to get back on track 

Stockist of the book can be found here.

Friday, 28 September 2018

Book Launch - 29th September

(Post event note) For more about what happened on the day see here.

Your personal invitation
Details of book launch for Can't see the wood for the trees here or below

Or join me live on YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram #LandscapingYourLife

More about the Landscaping Your Life process using nature as our coach here
And details of where to buy it here

To remotely join in the raffle to win a coaching session with me, with all proceeds going to the RNLI, please pop along to my JustGiving page 

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Help - I can't see the wood for the trees

Yipeeeee Can't see the wood for the trees is now available, and explores a variety of ways of using nature as our coach, when we're using her name in vain such as: stuck in a rut; up a creek without a paddle; or any of the sayings shown below:

If you'd like to join me in person or via Facebook or YouTube on Saturday 29th September for my launch event have a look at what I have planned here - I'm visiting four locations in Fife: 0930 Dalgety Bay, 1130 Aberdour, 1330 Burntisland and 1530 Kirkcaldy.  

There's over 10 different coaching tools shared in the book to help you get on track if any of these sayings are curtailing or dampening progress you're making in your life. Here's an overview of the book and process I published when the US edition was published last month. For the more logically minded readers I also wrote a post over on my Purchasing Coach blog at that time exploring the molehills we're actually making a mountain of.

Today I'd like to explore one of these tools as it relates to the title of the book. 

To get the most from this exploration it would be useful to choose a situation you'd like more clarity or insight about. A situation where the saying I can't see the wood for the trees rings true for you. A situation that you might be feeling a little stuck about. For those not familiar with the saying you may recognise can't see the woods for the trees, or even can't see the forest for the trees.  

This tool involves putting the current situation to the back of your mind and considering what you would do in reality if you were in a wood/woods/forest and couldn't see it for the trees. 

Imagine for a moment that you have gone for a walk and found yourself surrounded by trees and are unsure where to go next - what would you do? 

For example, you might get a map out, climb a tree, or just follow a path out as show in this short video blog.

Or as happened when I took one senior leadership team out for a Landscaping Your Life strategy day, you could ask a warden for assistance. 

The aim is to write down as many different options that we could do when in the wood - no right or wrong just a lovely long list of options. 

No jumping back to consider what they might mean in reality - not yet anyway. 

A long list of every option you can think of. A long list others in the team can think of. You could even consider what role models, anti role models, your favourite character from a book or movie would do.  

Just aim for as long a list as possible.

Writing the list may have already loosened the feeling of being stuck, and solutions of what to do in the current real life situation may already have come to mind.  

Here's a few options I came up with for when we can't see the wood for the trees - do leave your own suggestions in comments below. That way we can have an ever expanding list we can call upon when stuck at some point in the future. 

On Ben Fogle's New Lives in the Wild last night on the TV another option became apparent - stay in the woods and live in harmony with it.  

Once we've got the list it's then about relating it to the current situation ie what would each suggestion for seeing the wood for the trees look like in the real life situation.

Whilst I can provide my own examples for you, it is likely that you will take different meaning from the metaphorical solutions. That's why metaphors are so powerful - they're simply patterns, patterns we make sense of. Our patterns may be similar to others' interpretations, and sometimes not. 

For example, 

What could getting a map out mean in a real life situation?   
  • A mission statement 
  • A vision
  • Clarity on the goal 
  • An action plan
  • Progress reporting 
  • Taking the first step
  • Documenting the plan to give to others
Last week the Purchasing Coach's post on the benefits of coaching uses maps and journeys as a metaphor for coaching. So you may find additional suggestions there.

Keep working your way through the metaphorical solutions - either the ones you've come up with or mine:

What could following a path way out of the wood mean? 
  • Following the route others have already taken (no need to try to cut a new path just yet!)
  • Doing the most obvious thing to do - don't over think it
  • Getting to a safe place from which to determine next steps
Any other suggestions?

What could climbing a tree mean?
  • How can you get more perspective?
  • Don't get distracted by what others are doing
  • Perhaps it's about taking time out in a safe place
What could waiting for winter, and the leaves to fall, mean? 
  • Do you have to make a decision or take action now? 
  • Can you wait for a better time? 
  • What would the perfect conditions be to take action?
What could cutting some of the wood back mean? 
  • Can you simplify your work?
  • Can you simplify the situation? 
  • Can you concentrate on some of the smaller tasks first to get them out of the way

As I said earlier these are my suggestions today. On another day, when thinking about another situation, I may have noticed other opportunities. As I am sure you did as you read my thoughts.

As you reflect on your original situation what solutions or insights have you obtained? What action can you take today to help cement those insights? Can you tell anyone of your commitment to this action?

The book has many more suggestions on how to get back on track when any of the above sayings ring true for a situation you're in. They can be used time and time again as every situation is unique, and so too the patterns we take notice of. Which means on one occasion it's obvious we need to cut back some of the branches, and yet on another occasion we realise we need to plant some more trees!  

I'd love to know how you get on.

If you're interested in Landscaping Your Life coaching, facilitation, workshops or keynote speaking do drop me an email at, or follow me on LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram. #LandscapingYourLife will find me too.

If you buy the book - firstly thank you - and I'd really appreciate a review / comment once you'd read it. Thank you very much.  

Monday, 24 September 2018

An organisation that was stuck in a rut

One example I share in my book Can't see the wood for the trees is about a suit wearing management team who were walking up a single track country lane surrounded by high, over grown hedges. It was in the middle of the countryside in Southern England, and they were on a vision-setting day discussing the future for their organisation. 

“The problem is, if we’re not careful and we keep doing what we’ve always done, just like this lane we’ll peter out.”

“Yes, we’re stuck in a rut,” someone else replied as they looked down the lane, towards the seeming dead end further along, with grass growing in the middle of it.

As they all nodded their heads someone noticed a small hole in the hedge, and said:
“To get out of this rut we need to do something different – like go through that hole.”

Five minutes later, after they’d all pushed their way through the hedge and dusted themselves down, they stood in the middle of a green expansive field at the top of a small hill, looking at the landscape all around them.
“That’s better – no paths already decided, no direction already plotted, just an open field ready for us to make plans about!”

When the management team got back into the boardroom the vision they identified for the organisation was certainly more innovative and creative than might have been imagined before the walk.

The Landscaping Your Life process works because it helps loosen the binds our current thinking has on the limited and perhaps unhelpful options we believe exist - once these binds are loosened horizons are expanded.

Do get in touch if you, your team or organisation would like to explore opportunities for expanding horizons using the Landscaping Your Life process or other unconventional tools I use for that purpose.

Alison Smith
Using patterns in nature to solve patterns in life 

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Getting back on track

I thought it was time to apply the Landscaping Your Life (LYL) process to the saying "getting back on track."

If getting back on track is something you're grappling with at this time you may find that this post takes you on a journey from off to on track.

If getting back on track is not something that resonates I'd suggest reading another post. It's a little like reading a fabulous new recipe - more helpful when you're just about to bake it than ahead of time when it just whets the appetite but leaves you feeling a little unsatisfied. Or even worse, leaves you critical of the process because you have no idea why they put the eggs in before the butter, even though if you were making the cake it would be very obvious and make complete sense.

Best to read it when you need it, and it will make much more sense.

Background to the process
The title of my recently published first book is Can't see the wood for the trees, landscaping your life to get back on track.

The basic assumption of the book is that the words we're using also contain the answer. Which means if we can't see the wood for the trees the trees - real green living trees - would have the answer. Which might require you to consider grounding yourself like the roots in this picture, or noticing the cut wood and realise you need to cut some of the noise out of the situation.

You'll find more about an example when you can't see the wood for the trees here.

Before you read any further, think about the situation you're wanting more clarity about - how satisfied do you feel on a scale of 0-10 (Where 0 is stuck and dissatisfied, and 10 is in the flow, on track, moving forward and satisfied).

As with all LYL explorations the aim is to now put the real life situation to the back of your mind, and explore the landscape to find a range of options. Once we've got a list of options from the landscape then we can consider what it means in reality.

Getting back on Track

The first thing to consider when getting back on track is how we relate to the saying. 

Where are we currently, and where do we want to get to.

I don't mean the content of the situation. 

I'll say that again, NOT the content of the situation. 

I mean, what's the saying that best describes the current situation.

As in, explore every word to see if it accurately describes the current situation: 

If you're not 'on' track what are you? 
  • Off track
  • Off your track
  • Off someone else's track
  • On someone else's track
  • Off the track
  • Off a track 
  • Way off any track
  • Just off track
  • Across the track 
  • Not on track 
  • Up the wrong track 
  • Down the wrong track
  • Off the right track
  • Off the left track 
  • Going round in circles on any track
  • Unable to see the track 
Play with the words - because understanding how you currently relate to the situation will determine where you'll find a solution - one may already have popped up?  
Perhaps 'track' isn't the right word
  • Off the rut
  • In a rut
  • Off the road
  • Off the footpath
  • Off the limb 
Keep going - be playful - you never know just playing with the words may loosen your current inability to find a solution. The aim is to keep using the process until you've connected to the part of you that does know what to do, because, there is one, and it does know.

What's your outcome? I've assumed it's 'getting back on track' but that may also need to change. 

Your answer will depend on how you described the current situation ie what changes you made in the above exploration. Your outcome might be:
  • To get on track 
  • To get on your track
  • To get on a track
  • To get on the track
  • To have no track
  • To find a track
  • To find a beautiful track 
  • To intuit a track 
  • To flow on track (That's given me goosebumps - wow I do love this process - did you find one that did that for you?) 
  • To leave any and all tracks behind  
Do you get a sense that the words you're using impact how you feel about the situation?

And we haven't even touched on some of the juicier processes outlined in the book.  

Once you've got words that accurately describe the current and desired situation then it's about asking how, in nature, would you get from one to the other.

Don't start to try to understand how it relates to the real life situation yet - stick with the metaphor - stick with the landscape - its only by doing this we allow our inner knowing to nudge us in the right direction. 

Let's assume I'm currently 'off my track', and want to 'flow in my track'. I now need to identify the steps I could take to make that a reality. 
  • I need to find my track - which leads me to wonder is it lost? misty? not yet found? hidden? overgrown? mistaken with other people's paths? strangled by other's tracks?
  • I might therefore need to make it less difficult to find - blow the mist away perhaps, blow up other's tracks.
  • Get from where I am to that track - walk? run? roll? swim? fly? 
  • Then start flowing

This does not need to make any sense to anyone but me - it's now very much become my metaphor and landscape. As your own exploration will have.  

It may be that at this point we notice we're moved along the satisfaction scale and options of what we need to do have appeared. 

If not we simply need to translate the action plan in nature into reality. Which might look like:
  • Re-identify my vision (no musts, oughts and shoulds from others)
  • Not to call them steps along the way but strokes (as someone with arthritis in both my knees, and being an enthusiastic open water swimmer, this feels much easier and less stressful which would certainly make it easier to hear the part of me that does know what to do)  
  • Develop a 2018/19 plan for how I will make that vision a reality - I did start to type a 'daily reality' and now wonder whether it's more a 'tidal reality'. Hmm ... will need to let you know if that's me trying to be too clever with the metaphor or if it makes sense.    
Notice if you've been doing this for yourself what level is your satisfaction now? What actions have you committed to take - when will you take them?

Words have power.

Alison Smith
Landscaping Your Life
Using the patterns in nature to solve unhelpful patterns in life

Friday, 21 September 2018

I don't want to miss the tide

As I write this ahead of Saturday I have no way of knowing if the weather will get the better of my plans.

I'm due to take part in the Forth Swim - which is 1.4 miles from South to North Queensferry in Fife, Scotland. (Anyone wishing to make donations to RNLI are most welcome to do so on my JustGiving page or simply text 70070 with RBCM47 £x where x is the amount you wish to donate)

Having taken open water swimming up in June last year I've been in the water over 90 times since then. I love it - who knew I could cope with the cold and enjoy it!

My book, Can't see the wood for the trees, was finally published here in the UK this week (It's been available elsewhere since August), and I am however a little worried that the chapters of my book are a premonition.

The book provides insight from nature about what to do when using some very well known sayings that refer to nature - here in the UK anyway.

Which means I'm hoping not to:




End up with my

Or headed for the ocean

I'll let you know how I get on.

Alison Smith 
Author of Can't see the wood for the trees
Coach, facilitator, trainer and speaker

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Weird or insightful?

"Alison you're introducing us to a way of thinking we've not considered before" said one interviewer.

For over 20 years I've used nature as our coach and, since nature has no words, I've used her landscapes as metaphors for our lives. I called the process Landscaping Your Life.

This blog is awash with examples of how I've used the process myself, with coaching clients, and even with leadership teams. So too my YouTube channel and more recently Instagram.

Clients that know me expect the unexpected and unconventional - they also trust that I only introduce these tools because they're effective. Whether that's to solve problems, develop a vision, or simply obtain a different perspective to a situation.

As with any process people haven't used before, it can feel weird.

Recent interviews about my book Can't see the wood for the trees have led me to discuss the book with people who have never met me, never used the process and it's opened my eyes to a how insightful and different a process it is.

I've brought the very practical, logical and analysis skills that are me at my core. I've added the behavioural and language skills that I developed a little later in life to this, and then the final ingredient is the magic of metaphor and nature. That special ingredient indigenous cultures have known for millennia.

I'm so very excited that tomorrow, those in the UK, join those in America and Australia in being able to buy the book. I hope that the logic, language and magic contained within it helps you to achieve what you want in life.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Fife book launch event - 29th Sept

If you’re stuck and not sure what to do next and resonate with any of the sayings mentioned below you might want to pop along and join Alison Smith whose new book, Can’t see the wood for the trees, written in, and featuring much of the fife coast, uses nature as our coach. Which means, if you can’t see the wood for the trees, are stuck in a rut or are up the creek without a paddle, the trees, rut and creek may have the answer.

To launch her book Alison is revisiting many of the locations she wrote the book from and will share hints and tips on how to get out of your current predicament. 

Join her in person or via Facebook and YouTube at all four locations, at a place and time that’s convenient for you on the day, or what about joining her for the session tackling the saying that resonates most with you at this time.

Any queries on the day pop a message on the Landscaping Your Life Facebook page.

0930 Dalgety Bay 

Meet at the recently revamped New Heritage Viewpoint –  access from Lumsdaine Drive to Fife coastal path opposite the Wee Glasshouse.
  • Making mountains out of molehills
  • Stuck in a rut
  • Can’t see the wood for the trees

1130 Aberdour Silver Sands

Meet at the Ha lighthouse. 
  • Up a creek without a paddle
  • Like a fish out of water

1330 Burntisland Beach *

Meet at the swimming pool car park - along side the beach.
  • Head in the sand
  • In at the deep end
* If you're going to the Big Community Get Together at Burntisland primary school 1300-1500 and can't join me at one of the other locations, and want to know more let me know and I'll arrange an alternate date to meet at the beach. Or I'm the one that can often be found in the sea at high tide when the sun's shining ;-)

1530 Kirkcaldy

Meet at Seafield Car park (behind Morrisons) Weather permitting and after talking to those who join her there Alison will be vlogging while swimming!
  • Treading water or going round in circles
  • Missed the tide
  • Going with the flow

Raffle for a free signed book in aid of RNLI will be held - £1 per ticket, all money received on the day will be added to my JustGiving page for the RNLI that I set up for my Forth Swim.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Interviews with Alison Smith

Media mentions for the book include the Fife Free Press and Courier.

The one lovely and unexpected outcome of publishing a book has been having the opportunity to share more about my book Can't see the wood for the trees with lovely people such as:

Marianne Pestana on Moments with Marianne
Here's a link to the interview with her, with another coming up on 1st March.

Dr. Pat Show on Transformation Talk Radio
Here's a link to the interview with her

Deborah Beauvais on Love by Intuition Radio 
Here's a link to the interview with her

One for my Purchasing Coach followers from Phil Ideson at The Art of Procurement
Here's a link to the Podcast

Donna Sebbo 
Link to Follow

Peter Roth on Energy Stew Radio
Here's a link to the interview with him.

Sister Jenna on the America Meditating Radio Show

Friday, 14 September 2018

Can dreams ever become reality?

My dream of being a published author has come true and yet it feels very surreal - in my Purchasing coach post today I explore whether having dreams is helpful in achieving what you want in life.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Treading water?

If it feels like you're metaphorically and constantly treading water in the current situation and you're wanting something to shift you might be better thinking about what happens when we really tread water.

Don't worry, you don't need to replicate what I did in this video and take to the sea in order to tread water, you can imagine how it feels: the constant effort, the constant movement, the dread of "not this again", the draining energy and all at the same time as getting nowhere! 

The key with using nature as our coach is to observe what we'd do in nature. Ignore all the content of the current situation, the ifs, buts, can'ts, wont's, and she said this and he said that and so on. To just observe the patterns in nature and allow them to guide you towards wider perspectives, and even an alternate option or two.

When we're treading water one option, just as I do in the video, is to float - and just take time to breath, to rest, renew and only take action once you have had time to just be in the moment. 

Although to be fair in my example on the video putting my phone and selfie stick down and stop videoing would have helped my ability to tread water never mind float!

Having a wet suit on helped too.

Another option would be to use a float to help.

Or to put your feet down.

Or swim into shallower water and out of the depths.

Or put your snorkel on and go on an adventure and explore .

Or get into a boat, kayak, or canoe (just make sure you avoid losing the paddle as you don't want to end up the creek without one - but that's another vlog for another day!)

The aim is to get a nice long list of alternatives to treading water.

Once you've got that lovely list then you can go back to the original situation you had previously and consider what those options might mean - what does putting your feet down and not treading water look like in the real life situation, or what would represent the float or canoe?

As odd as it might seem, trust me when I say your mind will find the links you need.

Once you have a list of practical options you can decide on what action to take, and when.

My recently published book Can't see the wood for the trees provides some hints and tips about how to take the sayings you're using when stuck, and use the landscapes hidden within them to find a solution and get back on track. Which means when you can't see the wood for the trees the trees have the solution, or if you're stuck in a rut I might invite you to find a rut to step in and then out of. Or if you're treading water you do as outlined in this video. The book also has chapters to provide insight when you're: up a creek without a paddle; going around in circles, feel like a fish out of water, out on a limb or think you've missed the tide. There's even one if you recognise that you have your head in the sand, or someone has suggested you might be making mountains out of molehills.

More options about buying the book can be found here.

If you search #LandscapingYourLife or #AsInLifeAsInNature on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest you'll also find plenty more example too.

Alison Smith
Landscaping Your Life
Using patterns in nature to solve patterns in your life