Saturday, 25 April 2015

The important meeting

Blog from the archives when I went to help on a friends farm for lambing.

Last Friday whilst on my farmyard adventure we moved some sheep from one field to another. About half a mile of it was along a country road. Obviously when doing this traffic can be affected - which happened on this occasion. A queue of 3 cars developed in the 5 or so minutes it took to move the sheep. One of the drivers asked how long it would take and when told "5 minutes" promptly turned the car around. This has happened before when one businessman exclaimed "but I have an important meeting" and has been known by the farmer as Important Meeting ever since. In both instances the detour taken would have been over 15 mins vs 5 mins of waiting.

I appreciate the frustration - I've been there and done that. When we're busy it's easy to allow our journey to be the most important journey anyone has ever made. To want everyone else on the road to get out of our way. To make 'moving' the goal - especially 'not moving slowly' or even 'not stopping' the goal. It does however highlight some questionable beliefs: 

  • I am more important than anyone else
  • Constant moving is more effective than stopping
  • Moving quickly is more effective than moving slowly
  • Others on the road don't have a valid reason for being there
  • and certainly not as important a reason as yours

Next time you start to get impatient just look at the underlying belief that's generating that emotion, and ask your self about the validity and truth of your thinking.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Tortoise or Hare

The tractor I drove this weekend whilst at the farm in Cumbria had some interesting images for the gears. That is the gear I used would allow me to go at Tortoise pace, but had any of us been confident in my driving I could have taken it up to a Hare's pace - although I still think that's quite slow. 

I think the images reflect the journey I went on during my 4 day experience on the farm. 

Day 1: Gear/Thoughts 16 = Hare - Head full of what I did yesterday, what we're doing today and how far day 4 seems away. In other words head miles away e.g. I moved a sheep using it's lambs as bait (perhaps not quite the right word - carrot might be better) and my head got distracted and I wandered off to the pen we were heading for not realising the sheep had gone in the opposite direction. 

Day 2: Gear/Thoughts 13 = Rabbit - head a little less busy and distracted. Perhaps the hardest day as the head started to let go of things but the panic around that set in. When you're used to 16 thoughts running around at the same time it's hard to let them go to concentrate more attentively on one or two.

Day 3: Gear/Thoughts 6 = Turtle - head a little clearer - when we got to the tea breaks I realised I'd not looked at my watch, and was surprised it was that time already. When I moved sheep my attention was on the task in hand not thinking about anything else and as a result infinitely more effective.

Day 4: Gear/Thoughts 1 = Tortoise - I woke in the night and instead of automatically reaching for my phone to see what time it was I just thought "the alarm hasn't gone off so not time to get up yet" and went back to sleep.

Some people may go on a meditation weekend to achieve a sense of being. Others get creative and draw, paint or write. Others go for a run. For me it would seem - however odd it may appear - a few days hard work on the farm gets me into a state of being. 

What enables you to get out of your head and just be? More importantly when did you last do it and when have you next scheduled to do it? 

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Landscaping Your Leadership

If you use nature as your teacher then the story of the universe becomes the story of our solar system, which becomes the story of our planet, of humanity, of you and I, and of our flourishing. The story starts with Integrity and concludes with Sustainability and, just like our planet, requires you individually, or organisationally, to retain your ICECAPS.

For over 15 years I've used a process that uses nature to landscaping client's lives - whether landscaping their life, health, relationships, work, business or leadership. It's been used in many different settings for example strategy development, team development, problem resolution, goal setting and so on. Over that time a number of different techniques have been used to enable insight to be obtained, action plans developed and progress made. 

This blog shares with you a more recent innovation and that's the ICECAPS checklist which has been developed to look at what nature can teach us about our lives. As you'd expect from nature - it's simple - you just have to ensure that you retain your ICECAPS.

  • Integrity - authenticity and being true to yourself
  • Creation - bringing the right resources together to achieve a vision
  • Evolution - understanding and flowing with the patterns of growth in the environment
  • Collaboration - working with others across the whole system in which you operate
  • Action - taking positive action towards the goal 
  • Perspective - understanding where you are in relation to the goal and changing course as needed 
  • Sustainability - ensuring all actions allow for sustainability of the whole system 
When problems and challenges arise in your life the question becomes at which point of the ICECAPS checklist has disconnection taken place. Appropriate action can then be identified in order to reconnect.

More on the process can be found on my Pinterest board and Facebook page. Otherwise more will follow other forthcoming blogs. 

Alternatively if you'd like me to run a landscaping your business session with your team, a one day landscaping your life session with a manager, or have other areas you'd like to be landscaped then do please call me +44 (0)7770 538159 or email me

Alison Smith

Landscaping Your Life
Inspiring change inside and out

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Bad apples just get more rotten

I have been inundated with examples of the different ways we can view good and bad over the last week, and thought I’d share the thoughts that have arisen for me:

One key conversation was with a friend about being a ‘good person’ vs a ‘bad person.

I agree certain behaviours are bad (although I’m pretty sure we’ll all have different scales for what goes where) but that doesn’t make the people doing them bad. If we continue to label others, rather than their behaviour, as bad then it’s not long before we start believing them to be rotten, like an apple, and therefore useless. The only option then is for them to be discarded. 

As a metaphor "Bad/rotten apples" it’s not got a lot going for it, not least because it means we're all apples just waiting to go rotten!! 

I wondered what might be a more helpful and resourceful metaphor we could use for other people – what about:
  • Tomatoes – because they need the right soil, nutrients, feeding, watering, heat and light. That is they need TLC and the right conditions to enable them to flourish. Although perhaps unhelpful when thrown at others rather than eaten as part of a healthy diet.
  • Flowers – what I like about this metaphor is flowers can flourish in many environments despite the lack of the ‘right’ conditions. But constant lack of any of the right conditions will certainly not allow for a flourishing, vigorous and beautiful flower.
With both these examples at least it’s easier to understand what is needed to ensure the plant flourishes and contributes to the garden. It’s also useful to consider the impact of the greenhouse, the gardener and tools used because ultimately these too will determine the extent to which the plants flourish.

What metaphors do you use to describe others, and in what way might these be unhelpful to finding a solution to the issue.