Friday, 31 July 2015

Extra Motivation

My favourite phrase, I believe by Guillaume Apollinaire, says:

"Come to the edge" he said.
They said "We are afraid"
"Come to the edge" he said.
They came. He pushed them.
And they flew.

This quote has never been so apt as it was this morning as I watched fledgling seagull twins (see picture of them with one parent) as they were fed by their parents. They’ve not long left their nest and for the next few weeks they will spend much of the time on the ground being fed by their parents as they learn to fly. As in previous years their initial flying attempts are over walls and more hop like than flight, and will go on for many days/weeks as their confidence and flying and feeding skills develop.

This morning I realised, however, that they could perhaps fly sooner if they had sufficient motivation. A third chick appeared and the parents of the twins made it very clear it was not welcome and were attacking it. I could not believe the flight this chick then took – over the road, over gardens aerial acrobatics at it’s very best as it was chased by one of the parents.

I wonder how often in life we all need that extra motivation to get moving?

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Are you getting enough perspective?

Perspective is very important if we want to be able to clearly understand where we are to plot a course to where we want to be.

The answer to how far away is the rock in the picture from my house in Burntisland, and therefore, how long will it take me to walk there, and how long will I have to do that safely, are very difficult to determine from this picture from the window at home. 
You might be able to establish some of the answers when there are people, or horses as in this photo, standing next to it when the tide is out - as it's only then I realise it's bigger than it looks.
Perspective also comes from being able to see the rock in context, as shown from the top of the hill at the back of Burntisland in this picture:
Or from different angles and at different times of the tide. 

Or, perhaps using maps is the only way to get a better understanding - at least that provides an accurate scale.

It's only after all this information is known and compared and analysed that the answer to "how far away is the rock?" is: further away, bigger, taller and wider than I first thought. Only then that I can accurately determine how to deal with the situation. Which in this case involved walking there an hour before low tide as demonstrated by this video blog I recorded once I got there on having the right tools for the job.

How can you get more perspective on a challenge in your life? 
Alison Smith
Landscaping Your Life
Inspiring change inside and out
PS: I think perhaps those who designed this poster should perhaps read the blog too, and understand what perspective would look like for 'best days out'. 

I know the pictures show Burntisland to be a great place but I worry for the rest of Scotland if the best day out would be had from coming here! Then that's just from my perspective - kidlets might enjoy the fair and the beach.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Talk - don't write

Bees on a postbox

Much of my work involves improving communication so I wondered when I saw this picture what can we take from these bees?

A big warning I suspect that we're often too quick to commit something in writing. How often have already difficult relationships escalated due to a hasty email being sent and the other person misinterpreting what was written?

If you were sending a letter and came to this post box you'd certainly think twice before posting it. I suggest we need to do the same when we send emails. Especially when what we're communicating is important to us or the other person.

Who do you need to pick up the phone and speak to rather than send an email?

Alison Smith

Landscaping your Life
Inspiring change inside and out

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Connecting with your audience

We’ve all been there. We’ve sat and listened to someone speak and wished they hadn’t bothered.

Yet we meet them afterwards and wonder who the person was on the stage? The person in front of us is animated, interesting, we believe every word, can engage with what they’re saying and want to know more. We even consider inviting them to speak at a conference until we remember the catastrophe on the stage.

I want to explore something that often comes as a surprise to fellow speakers when I give them feedback and that’s how we use our energy.

I don’t mean energy levels that are addressed through appropriate diet, exercise and sleep. I mean the type of energy we can feel when we walk in the room and can tell it’s a place we want to be or not, or the type of energy that we feel when someone is passionate about what they’re saying. What we do with our energy when speaking has an impact on us, our audience and our message in the same way.

The problem is people often provide more logical and rational reasons for their feedback on our keynote and it often ignores what I believe to be one of the major blocks for many speakers. Feedback is getting closer when we hear:

  • It’s not coming from your heart
  • You’re in your head too much
  • You didn’t connect with the audience
  • You didn’t connect with the message
  • It just wasn’t you up there
  • You looked like a headless chicken
  • You were talking AT not TO me
These all arise because of what we’re doing with our energy and our energy is impacted by what’s happening inside us. For example we might be imagining our message is a bullet and the audience feel this as being shot at, or we might have a metaphorical wall around us and the audience experiences this as aloofness or even arrogance. Being aware of the internal representation(s) we have when we’re speaking and ensuring they support our objectives is essential.

Here are a few tips on how to recognise when you might need to take action and some examples of internal representations you might consider:


  • You know you’ve lost it when: You feel tense and are pacing up and down and can’t stop moving.
  • Others know you’ve lost it when: They start to feel agitated and distracted.
  • You know you’ve got it when: You feel as if you have all the time in the world.
  • Others know you’ve got it when: They are calm and feel the power of your words.
  • Internal representation/metaphor to consider: Anything that grounds you – often from the feet e.g. roots, heavy boots (not wearing them - unless they match your outfit - just imagining you've got them on), anchor etc.


  • You know you’ve lost it when: You feel isolated from the audience and may even start to panic.
  • Others know you’ve lost it when: They start talking to each other and are not paying attention to you.
  • You know you’ve got it when: You feel like you’re talking to your friends.
  • Others know you’ve got it when: They feel included in a discussion with you.
  • Internal representation/metaphor to consider: Anything that provides a connection with the audience - often from the heart e.g. tracks, golden chains etc.


  • You know you’ve lost it when: You can’t remember what you are going to say next.
  • Others know you’ve lost it when: They feel confused and don’t understand what you’re saying.
  • You know you’ve got it when: You find the right words easily and effortlessly.
  • Others know you’ve got it when: They can’t wait to hear what you have to say next.
  • Internal representation/metaphor to consider: Anything that offers and delivers the message – often from the head e.g. light, flowing water etc

You may notice in the examples given that the picture for communication is also very grounding, or that the grounding picture relates to connection. Often once we find and embody the right metaphor grounding, connection AND communication can take place. 

What’s your metaphor and does it work for or against your success?

Alison Smith

Landscaping Your life
Inspiring change inside and out

Pictures copyright my brother :-) Andrew Jones Photography

PS: Do please get in touch if you'd like a coaching session providing energetic feedback on your leadership or speaking. It's likely to explore aspects you've not covered before and could be what's holding you back from truly connecting with others +44 (0)7770 538159

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Are you using all your senses

Not all causes to problems are obvious which is why you need to observe all the clues that are available to help point you in the right direction.

In the video above I use the movement that we can see in the field of wheat to determine where the wind is and the direction in which it's headed. You can also hear the impact of the wind as I speak as it's picked up by the video recorder. I remember sitting in a tent in a gale and hearing the wind approaching as it moved through the adjacent avenue of trees.

In a situation you'd like more clarity on what can you observe (see/hear/feel) to help you get to the root of the problem?

Alison Smith

Landscaping your Life 
Inspiring change inside and out