Sunday, 24 December 2017

Festive Walk

Today's Purchasing Coach post is a Landscaping Your Life walk in the park and takes insight from the following images.

Before popping over to discover what I learnt, you may want to consider how these images provide insight for you on a situation you've been grappling with.

Festive greetings to you and yours,
Enjoy what ever you end up doing over the break
Here's to a fabulous 2018

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Solstice insight from the beach

Today's Purchasing Coach Advent post, where I'm demonstrating another unconventional coaching tool, took me to the beach.

My inner wisdom had me using this image to represent the current situation:

and then arranged the shells to make this desired outcome - or perhaps it was more the action to take to get to the desired outcome.

You'll find more about it here.

Festive Greetings.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Unconventional coaching and facilitation tools for Advent

Just thought I'd pop over and say you might enjoy the advent series of posts over on my Purchasing Coach blog. The series is sharing 25 unconventional tools that can be used in coaching and facilitation that help you obtain insight on situations where solutions are eluding you. 

Today's posts is on Metaphor - although I'm hoping a Landscaping Your Life walk will make it onto the list too. I'll share that here if it does.

Festive greetings.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

You don't need to be able to see the wood for the trees

One of the reasons I love the Landscaping Your Life process is that nature always has more to give, and our mind will always find the insight from nature it needs to, in order to get a different perspective on the current situation.
I’ve written about and explored ‘not being able to see the wood for the trees’ time and time and time again and yet.... last week whilst in Derwent Water I had an epiphany that I’m sure I’ll share in many a coaching session from now onwards. It really resonated with me at the time that’s for sure.
Do let me know what you think. 

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

In need of more grounding?

Here's what I discovered when I saw this sycamore tree on the shores of Derwent Water in the Lake District 

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Turn over a new leaf

It's autumn, and there's plenty of leaves on the ground so get out there and show your unconscious you're serious about turning over a new leaf - and yes have some fun too :-)

Monday, 6 November 2017

Building Bridges

Here's a recent video blog on the subject of building bridges with others, with insight taken from the 3 bridges at South Queensferry - each built in a different century.

Here's a post from the archives with additional insight on the subject after a month long closure of the forth road bridge. 

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Stuck in a Rut

If you're stuck in a rut - what happens if getting back on track simply required you to go and find a rut, step out of it, and as a result things had shifted enough for progress to now be made? 

How fantastic would that be?  
In a study in 2015 it was revealed that 69% of people feel suck in a rut - ie trapped in the same routine. 

That % feels a little high to me and yet, if you're reading this in the hope of some inspiration, the % doesn't really have any meaning because in your sample of 1 it's currently 100%?

When feeling stuck in a rut the biggest challenge is finding the motivation to break free of what ever is holding us back. There's numerous things we could be doing however, when we're stuck in a rut it's often hard to find the energy to think about what to do, never mind take the necessary action.

When we're feeling like this then using conventional thinking to resolve the situation can often make life harder not easier. Which is where unconventional tools come in. 

As you read the following unconventional suggestions just notice what you notice about how you're feeling and the relationship to that rut that had you wondering if this post may just help.

I shared in a previous post that you may simply need to stand in a real rut and step out of it. You'll also find more here on this Landscaping Your Life (LYL) vlog.

Other suggestions might include:

Playing around with the saying:

Absurdity helps shift our mindset so you may want to think about other twists on the saying:
  • Stuck in a puddle
  • Unstuck in a rut
  • Stuck in a sparking water rut
  • Dancing in a rut
  • Not so stuck in a rut
  • Getting less stuck in a rut
  • and so on 
Or you may want to play around with the words:

You're simply allowing your mind to explore a route from stuck to back on track using the words.

Just the meditative exploration on it's own might enable you to release the internal blocks to making progress in this situation. 

If however, you relate to any of the following sayings more, you may want to follow the links and explore their solutions to getting you back on track: being a stick in the mud, unable to see the wood for the trees, needing to test the waterkeeping your head above the water, stopping going around in circles (my personal favourite and so simple and effective), and needing to expand or step out of our comfort zone.

The solution may of course lie in identifying an antidote saying to tell yourself instead: 
  • On track
  • Back on track
  • Getting back on track  
  • In the flow
  • Flowing 
  • Plan sailing
  • and so on 
Drawing the rut

Anything that might help shift the current state into a more resourceful one, providing you with more energy to take the necessary steps out of here. You may want to use more colours, better pictures, include the surrounding landscape, or even plot a map from where you were to where you want to be. 

What ever comes to mind, that however weird it may feel, may just be a nudge from your subconscious about where the solution can be found.

Make a collage of the rut or track to get back on to

In this collage the rut is no longer something to get stuck in but something to experience and flow through.  

Or perhaps the collage doesn't need to show the rut but what it represents, and the desire not to conform to any stereotypes!
Perhaps a little more unconventional than some ideas, and yet if it works then won't unconventional be worth it? More here on how I use collages in my coaching.

Going for a walk 

Walking in nature with a challenge at the back of your mind can be very insightful. More here from a LYL walk in nature, where flies flocking around a cow pat made for interesting insight!
You might for example see a bridge and realise you need to build or find a bridge to get from one side of the rut to the other! It's then a matter of taking that insight and understanding what that might look like in reality. Perhaps it's a bridge to other people to help you, or daily practices that stop you falling back into negative thinking, or a reminder you have everything you need and are making it more difficult than it needs to be. 

Nature isn't the only place to find inspiration - Street Wisdom uses the same concept applied to high streets, side street and boulevards in towns and cities where ever you live. That is, go for a walk and notice what you notice, and you may just find the solution you're searching for.

Or get even more absurd

Don't ask :-) 

No right or wrong, just ideas that may have already shifted the internal representation you had about the situation, enabling you to find alternative solutions to get you energised and back on track

As you reflect on the original situation what actions come to mind - what step do you need to take in the next 24 hours to enable you to get back on track

Alison Smith
Landscaping Your Life to get back on track 

Other posts written here or over on the Purchasing Coach blog that may also provide more conventional insight to get you back on track include:

Monday, 9 October 2017

Route map for achieving your goals

"What am I missing?" "Why have I still to achieve my goal?" "Why is success eluding me?" 

Recent LinkedIn updates had me applying Landscaping Your life (LYL) to goal setting and their achievement. I therefore thought that I'd explore the subject more deeply here, to see what other light could be shed on; the potential causes for lack of progress towards achieving our goals; and answering the above questions. 

LYL is a tool I developed over 20 years ago, and uses landscapes as metaphors for our lives, and helps us unravel challenges we're facing. That is, LYL assumes nature and its landscapes contain the same patterns as aspects of our lives, thus enabling us to see the solutions contained within the landscape, rather than what's not clear from the daily noise of our lives. 

As with any metaphorical exploration, this post is going to make more sense if you apply it to a real life situation rather than read it theoretically. With that in mind, please think of a goal that you've yet to achieve, that you'd like some clarity on about what might be stopping you making progress. 

Now, put that situation to the back of your mind as you read this post. 

In this example, I'm assuming that we're at A and want to get to B, and progress is made via the route we take to get from A to B.

Which suggests the first task is to understand where A and B are. And why you want to either leave A, or get to B. What will B give you that you don't have in A. Perhaps if you're making no progress it's because A has things B doesn't have?

Remember to leave the real situation at the back of your mind - don't wonder just yet how these suggestions translate into real life.

Assuming that's all as easy as it sounds, then the next step is to identify a route. In this example we're being told that one route is 13 minutes slower, and yet I know it meets a key criteria for me of taking the scenic route via Moffat.
Which suggests the criteria we're using for the route will also impact the route we take - fastest, shortest, most fuel efficient, most scenic, via C or D, least number of stops, least likelihood of holdups, maximising optimal speed, least driving skills needed, types of transport needed, petrol and other resources needed, time available and so on.

Which might mean that unless criteria are changed, we realise B is unachievable, resulting in us reassessing our destination and a third destination of E being identified. Even if that's only an over night location before proceeding to B the next day.

Once we know the criteria for route selection, there's all sorts of apps and maps that can help us plot the best/optimal route.

Although be careful not to jump to a conclusion that something can't be done if you're using the wrong app for the journey you want to take.
Even your choice of map needs to include both A & B, and be sufficiently detailed to help determine the specific route.
Of course, a great route is of no use if we're not making progress along it ie action is also needed.

Sometimes it's this initial first step that is what's missing. 

On some LYL coaching sessions I might ask people to demonstrated walking their route in the landscape. As they do this, sometimes the barrier to them achieving this goal becomes evident, and can be explored either via the landscape or more logically. 

For example: they may leave A, and get so far long the route and then come rushing back to A. We can then explore the reason for the hold of A over them, or lack of effective route etc. 

Or they may get distracted by C and realise they don't really want to go to B, or need to release the hold C has over them. (which reminds me of this vlog about turning a corner.)
The concept behind this LYL process is to explore the metaphor for as long as you can - no tangent is a bad tangent. It's simply a tangent that may provide the insight needed to help you get back on track. I'd go so far as to say follow the hunches and tangents - it's likely they're the nudges from your subconscious about where the solution lies.

Once the metaphor, landscape and tangents have been exhausted it's only then that we can revisit the original goal, and identify what steps we may wish to take in order to have finally turned that corner.

For example, suggestions might include:    
  • Making B closer to A
  • Understanding journeys can have detours
  • Accepting B may not be the final destination
  • Considering the resources needed to get to B  
  • Exploring more about the benefits of getting to B
  • Finding a new mode of transport

Which might translate to:
  • Finding an interim goal you can achieve more easily 
  • Understanding you may get distracted, and that may add not detract from the experience
  • Accepting that progress towards the goal may help you realise a new more empowering goal, that lack of movement will never help you to identify
  • Consider the resources needed to achieve your goal, and identify plans to obtain these
  • Explore your motivation for wanting this goal, can you make it even more inspiring? 
  • This may mean finding other people to help you to achieve the goal 
You may have taken completely different meaning from the above observations. That's why metaphors work, because we see the patterns we need to within the landscape, the patterns that make sense to us, that don't need to make sense to others, so long as we can translate it into action in the real life situation.

Yes, we could have listed these solutions without the metaphor - and yet often I and my clients have found the difference that makes the difference will be found via the metaphor.

What do you notice about your original goal? What action can you take to help get back on track? Do let me know how you get on, or if you have any questions, in comments below. 

Always open to speaking to those wishing to explore how LYL may help them or their team to achieve and even exceed their goals +44 (0)7770 538159. 

Alison Smith
Landscaping Your Life to get back on track

Other LYL posts that may help in plotting a course from A to B include:

You may also like this more logical exploration of goal setting and achievement from my Purchasing Coach blog.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Testing the Water

Over the summer I've started Open Water Swimming (OWS) - currently without a wet suit. As a kid I'd have said swimming in the sea, but with the increasing interest in Triathlons swimming outside has taken on a new lease of life for adults along with getting a new name - OWS or Wild Swimming.

The temperature of the sea water here in Scotland over the last few weeks has been about 12 degrees (c53 degrees Fahrenheit). The phrase testing the water has therefore real meaning to me at the moment.

As I have many times before on sayings we use to describe situations in our lives, I wondered what we could learn from nature about testing the water.

Before reading my suggestions you might want to think about a situation where testing the water might be something you're considering doing - that way you can apply these insights to that real life challenge.

Here's what I've discovered:
  • We need to be clear what we're testing the water for - cold, depth, cleanliness, clarity, sandy bottom and/or beasties.
  • You can't tell the temperature by looking at the water - the only way is to get wet.
  • You can tell if there are numerous jellyfish about by looking - although the odd one can and does often just emerge out of the depths just where you're swimming. 
  • Asking other people for their opinion isn't as easy as you think - we all have different tolerances for cold - in the same way we do for warm temperatures. 
  • After the initial cold-shock the body will adapt and it won't feel as cold.
  • Moving about reduces the impact of the cold.
  • You may not notice when your body has had enough of the cold - ie as weird as it sounds it's easy to stay in too long especially once hypothermia has taken hold and is playing games with your mind and body!
  • Starting slowly and building up is a healthier and safer strategy than just jumping in and going for it.
  • Your body temperature can continue to drop after you've left the water so don't over do time in the water until you're more acclimatised to it. 
  • Going in when the sun is shining is certainly better in the initial acclimatisation stages.
  • There's plenty of equipment available to help us more comfortably exist in the watery environment - wet suits, goggles, caps, gloves, shoes etc.
  • Warm drinks and food, and lots of layers to put on help with warming up afterwards. 
  • Tide tables help in determining the height of the tide and therefore how far we can swim and not get out of our depth.
  • Continued immersion over a few weeks will increase your habituation to the cold water.
  • The people who think you're mad have never done it themselves - other open water swimmers are full of enthusiasm and support for you to continue. "As long as you're still enjoying it" said Iona, one of the local lifeguards. 
  • The benefits are certainly worth it - swimmer's high, higher rate of calorie burn, improved blood flow, & boosted immune system.
Did any of these help you see the situation you're needing to test the water about differently? 

For me the biggest insight was about not listening to those who have not even tried doing what you want to do - take advice from experts who have been on the same journey you're just starting. Another insight was about not taking your initial reaction as the long term forecast for how it's going to be forever - habituation/acclimatisation can take place very quickly.

After 3 weeks and 9 swims I'd say "What are you waiting for, go for it and you'll be pleasantly surprised with all the positive benefits!"

Alison Smith
Landscaping your Life
Using unconventional tools to unlock your potential

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Dear Human Being, with love from your Soft Skills


Dear Human Being,

The solutions to many of the challenges you face are just like the iceberg in the above postcard - underneath the surface. They're hidden in your subconscious, not yet known but wanting and waiting to be seen and understood.

To help enable you to bring the very solutions you're searching for into your conscious awareness we've written a series of postcards to you. They're available as a toolkit and are entitled Dear Human Being, with love from your Soft Skills.

For instance Change Management went on a bit of a busman's holiday, and sent you a picture of a stick in the mud, Rapport sent you yet another picture of the sky, and Feelings had an exciting time at the enchanted Forest near Pitlochry and sent you this postcard.
We hope you'll agree that, whilst potentially unconventional, they're a very effective means of providing different perspectives to skills that are often taken for granted, ignored or even abused!

We certainly hope you'll enjoy reading what we got up to on our holidays, and what insight we shared with you to help you develop your use of us more fully.


With Love from your Soft Skills

To buy the toolkit for personal use please see the right hand side of the screen, or follow this link where you'll also find out more about bespoke versions of the Soft Skills Toolkit that can be developed to meet organisational or professional needs. (The original variant entitled Dear Procurement, with love from your soft skills can be purchased here, and other postcards may be found on the Purchasing Coach blog. Today there was a postcard sent from Change Management, and tomorrow Emotions gets a look in. There's also a post on how to use the post cards to develop your Soft Skills here).

Do get in touch if you'd like costs and rights to reproduce for organisational use

There's also a few vlogs that relate to soft skills that were inspired by nature.

© Alison Smith 2017

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Can't see the wood for the Trees

When we're stuck or lost or even simply a little low its so easy to focus on the trees and forget to pay attention to any of the clues around us that might assist us in finding a route out.

Here's two examples of where to look when you can't see the wood for the trees - which apply to real life as much as they do to a walk in the woods.

Alison Smith
Unlocking your potential using unconventional tools

Monday, 6 February 2017

Is your communication going down the drain?

A great example from a walk that our communication can just become like background noise with no one listening.

Alison Smith
Landscaping your Life
Unlocking Your Potential Using Unconventional Tools