Monday, 31 December 2018

A Landscaping Your Life Review of 2018

It's been quite a year for Landscaping Your Life (LYL) - the main highlight of course was in August when my first book Can't see the wood for the trees was published.

The book uses nature as our coach, nature's landscapes as metaphors for our lives and in particular explores the solutions for when we're metaphorically up the creek with a paddle, stuck in a rut, out on a limb, feel like a fish out of water, are going round in circles or can't see the wood for the trees. 

The book is written more as a dip in and out of reference manual - somewhere you go to when you're unsure what to do or want a different perspective. One reviewer on Amazon described the book as a first aid kit for the brain :-) when it had moved her from panic and overwhelm into calm and collected.

The book shares many of the different LYL tools and techniques and applies them to very specific situations where we're stuck, lost, or unsure what to do. Posts written in 2018 sharing some of the concepts from the book included:
Other LYL posts here in 2018 used nature a little more broadly than the sayings in the book, and also continued the theme of exploring our language as a source for the solution not just a description of the problem - here's a flavour of some of the highlights.
I also shared a couple of short stories I've written which align with much of the personal transformational coaching I do: 
2018 was also the year that LYL became very active on Instagram so you'll find many more examples of how to use nature as your coach there - see #landscapingyourlife.

The review of the Purchasing Coach's blogging year for 2018 shares posts written on my other main passions of: procurement, soft skills, self awareness and coaching.

Here's to a fabulous 2019.
Alison Smith
Landscaping Your Life using nature as your coach to get back on track

Monday, 10 December 2018

Planning for success for the year ahead

Last week's morning workshop for the Scottish Institute for Business Leaders was entitled

 See the wood for the trees in 2019 - planning for success for the year ahead.

The aim before 2019 was upon us was to review what worked well in 2018, what might have worked better and to plan for success for 2019.

The first part of the session was conventional enough where delegates were asked to:
  1. Celebrate their successes of 2018
  2. Consider what contributed to those successes
  3. Identify what got in the way of their successes
  4. Identify what success would look like in 2019
The answers to these questions provided insight about the plans needed to make 2019 a success. Particularly when comparing the answers to 2 & 3 above.

Have a go for yourself and see for yourself.

The challenge is, that often it's the same behaviours that stop us succeeding every year - whether that's personally or in business. 

It's as if we can't get far enough removed from our normal ways of working to break the tie to them. What worked and didn't work last year, are the same that worked and didn't work the year before, and the year before that, and if we're not careful will be what do and don't work in 2019.

Which is where using metaphor comes in - metaphor bypasses the hold these usual ways of working have on us, bypasses our resistance to thinking differently, and allows us to explore a broader range of options. It's a if metaphor opens the doors within our mind to the possible - a possible that could deliver all our dreams come true, and certainly help us achieve our goals for 2019. 

The metaphor I use in Landscaping Your Life (LYL) is nature, and as the book, Can't see the wood for the trees, has only recently been published we used the sayings in that book as the metaphors to find the difference that makes the difference for each person in the room. 

One of the chapters in the book uses the saying making mountains out of molehills. The premise in the book though looks at this saying a little differently - it suggests that any situation we're unsure what to do next in feels like a mountain. Once we understand what to do it's a more manageable molehill. So the aim is to use metaphor to make mountains into molehills.

To do that you need to pick one of the sayings from the book - a saying that best describes how you're feeling at 2019.

Then comes the fun bit - because you simply need to explore solutions as if you were in nature faced with that dilemma. 

PLEASE NOTE: the process does not work if you keep trying to relate the metaphorical solution to real life. That is, just like a seed needs time to pop its head above the soil so too does the solution that will make the difference. If you keep poking the seed, uncovering it to check to see what's going on you'll kill it before it's had time to send down roots and gather enough nutrients to grow.

Which means I want you to explore the solution to the saying you've chosen sticking with the metaphor.

Which means the potential solutions if you are stuck in a rut would include, but are not restricted to, the following:

Or the solutions when you Can't see the wood for the tree might include:

Remember to stick with the metaphor - get past it feeling weird, or you wanting to run back to logic, stick with nature and write down a lovely long list of potential solutions. 

Get silly, absurd, have fun, do what ever it takes to imagine being in that situation and how you'd resolve it.  

Solutions if you're up a creek without a paddle might include: 

One of two things will have happened during all this exploration:
  1. The situation feels different and you already know what you need to do differently. 
  2. You have a lovely long list of metaphorical solutions but no idea what to do with them.
Even if it already feels different I'd encourage you to take your list of potential solutions and consider what they mean in real life. For example, when you can't see the wood for the trees the solutions in real life might include:
  • Get a map - map out all the aspects of your current situation (this had been a huge insight for many this year). 
  • Climb a tree/ Fly over the tree/ Climb a hill - all relate to different means of getting perspective - to step back from the situation - to see it from the perspective of another person perhaps - to stand in their shoes?
  • Cut some trees down - can you delegate to make the situation less busy and confusing - perhaps it's about looking at a small part of the situation at a time?
  • Follow a path out - just taking action in any direction is going to get you somewhere and perhaps that will be a better place from which to make a plan?

  • Wait till winter - is it down to timing - might later in the year make more sense for taking action on this situation? 
  • Focus on one tree - release the need to see the bigger picture and just do the one thing infront of you now!
  • Imagine the wood - perhaps you don't need to see the actual end goal but simply imagine what it might be like and make an action plan based on that?
On the LYL Instagram page we've had some lovely insights on this predicament and I will share these in a post in the new year.

Another solution in the book involves imagining going with the flow headed for the ocean but that's a whole other post.

The aim after using the process is to develop a plan for 2019, a plan that might just have some additional and new actions that are the difference that will make a difference in 2019 for you. A difference that allows you to leave unhelpful or unresourceful behaviours and ways of thinking behind.

If you're wanting a session with a difference in 2019 for you or your team then do please get in touch - +44(0)7770 538159.

Alison Smith
Landscaping Your Life to stay in the flow

Copyright Alison Smith 2000-2019

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Dark night of the soul on the mountain

“I’ve had enough, I want more of this” I said “You’re usually controlling what I do. No stretching. No opportunity to try new things. I want out of the relationship.”

Except I could never leave. However much I wanted new adventures, they could never be achieved without the other.

Some might call me a coward, others bullied, and yet, I could never live without them.

These words were screeched on a mountain whilst I was on a workshop in Cumbria. A workshop people attended in order to realise their potential, to let go of all that was holding them back. A safe space in which to explore the limits they were imposing on their life.

The sun was shining as we got into the minibus and journeyed to the bottom of the mountain. We’d spent the day planning the route, preparing the equipment, and practicing elements of the process we needed to follow – we were ready.

As evening approached we disembarked from the minibus, and looked up the mountain just as dark clouds started to appear.

Undeterred we set off in intervals, each alone with our own thoughts and feelings about what lay ahead.

By sunset some of my companions had made it to the top of the mountain. The rest of us were like the lights on a Christmas tree spiralling down the mountain – each finding our one solitary and safe space from which to do our work. Work that involved staying overnight on the mountain.

The wind and rain crept in as darkness descended. Within minutes the sheets of paper, providing details of the ceremony that I was to undertake, had been whipped from my hands by the wind.

I was alone.

Expect I wasn’t alone.

The other was there too.

That dark night of the soul was when my mind and my body finally had a mother of all arguments. No ceremonial words, no technology, no comfort to distract. Just a mountain and my mind and body, with soul as referee, to negotiate a new way of being. My body pleading to be heard by my controlling mind, asking to be able to explore new routes, heights and summits.

As the sun rose, and I walked down the mountain the next morning, a truce had been achieved with the promise of fully embracing bigger mountains in the future.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Getting your Head above the Parapet

Words have power and yet sometimes we need to engage the body to fully bring what we know we need to do into conscious awareness.

I've been saying I need to put my head above the parapet for months but not doing anything different. So in order to try to shift the situation I enacted putting my head above the parapet and, as you'll see in this vlog, was surprised with what I discovered.

Other sayings enacted in the recently published book Can't see the wood for the trees include stuck in a rut, head in the sand, can't see the wood for the trees and making mountains our of molehills. 

Remember words have power and if you can enact your words into reality I'd strongly suggest you try it, and let me know how you got on too.

Friday, 2 November 2018

Taking action to see the wood for the trees

Whilst thinking of a situation you’d like more clarity on or for it to be transformed consider which of these 6 images are you drawn to?

Once you’ve decided, see below for some coaching questions from nature - ie different questions from each image. Just answer the questions for the image you picked, or explore them all, or think about what insight or questions you imagine the image might be asking you.
Image 1: What can you do now to bring more joy and beauty into your life, to allow the mist to clear? Where are the green shoots of opportunity showing themselves?
Image 2: In what way have you isolated yourself from others, How can you become more connected with humanity and the planet? Where is your tribe? How can you spend more time with your tribe?
Image 3: What can you do today to be more grounded? Whether that’s via physical movement, the foods you eat, people you spend time with, books you read, programmes you watch or visualisation used in your daily meditation. What one action in the past has enabled you to take your head out of the clouds and ether, and to come back down to Earth and take part in daily human life?

Image 4: What one thing (however small) can you do today to move you towards your goal? No getting lost in the confusion - just one small action. No excuses. No delay nor further procrastination. No ifs buts cants. One action you can take now. Nothing more is needed until you’ve taken that one action.
Image 5: Do you need to zoom in or out - ie are you focusing too much on the detail and not enough on the big picture, or vice versa? How can you release the current perspective to shift to the other?
Image 6: What needs to be cut down? What is no longer serving you and your goal? How can that be chopped down and released from your life?

As you reflect on your answers to these coaching questions from nature what action can you take today to get more clarity or to make progress on the situation?  

This is just one example of how Landscaping Your Life uses nature as your coach to get you back on track in your life. Explore this blog for more posts sharing many different tools using nature to get you back on track.

Of course you could also buy the recently published Can't see the wood for the trees which shares many Landscaping Your Life tools and applies them to well known sayings we use when we're stuck e.g stuck in a rut, can't see the wood for the trees, up the creek without a paddle, going round in circles, missed the tide, out on a limb, treading water, like a fish out of water and so on.  
One reader recently described it as a first aid kit for the mind after simply reading one chapter and following the process outlined there.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

First aid kit for the mind

"It's like a first aid kit for your mind" said someone, who had picked up my book in the throws of panic about their forthcoming exams.

She'd bought the book because I was a client, not real expecting to read it as she's not one for reading self help nor coaching books.

As her exams loomed and panic set in her ability to cope rapidly reduced and she found herself thinking "I can't see the wood for the trees", and remembered I'd said you could dip into the book and just read the chapter whose title resonated*.

With nothing to lose, she just read the Can't see the wood for the trees chapter, and did the exercises outlined there. Within 30 minutes, and much to her surprise, she was feeling much calmer, able to see the wood for the trees, and even wrote herself a to-do list and revision timetable.

Since then she's continued to feel very calm and grounded about her revision, even as her exam loomed closer.

She also commented that with every dog walk it was if the woods she was walking in were reminding her that she could do it - ie could see the wood for the trees.

She even went on to list how many people she knew who might benefit from having this book as a reference guide for when they're stuck - most of whom would never pick up a 'self-help' book.

Like any book, of course it can be read from start to finish, it comes into its own though when we're stuck, and just like the reader above you can just go to the chapter that resonates with how you're feeling and read that chapter. As she said the book is "a first aid kit" for reference and to dip into when your mind is unable to find options and solutions to the problems you're facing.

When we're stuck it goes without saying we don't know what to do - or should I say, the logical part of your mind doesn't. What each chapter does, with a little coaching from nature, is help us tap into our inner wisdom that does know what to do. The inner wisdom that doesn't speak in words but in metaphors.

The Landscaping Your Life (LYL) process outlined in the book uses nature as our coach, and nature's landscapes as metaphors for our lives. Which means when we can't see the wood for the trees the trees will have the answer - more here on one example on how that might work.

* There's over 13 different tools shared in the book - and they can all be applied to situations where we resonate with any of the following sayings:

  • Stuck in a rut
  • Can't see the wood for the trees
  • Up the creek without a paddle
  • Like a fish out of water
  • Out on a limb
  • In at the deep end
  • Treading water
  • Going round in Circles
  • Missed the tide

Whilst we don't normally self identify with the following sayings, there's also chapters on:

  • Making mountains out of molehills
  • Head in the sand

With the antidote to avoid going back up the creeks and into those ruts being:

  • To go with the flow (proactively and not passively)

Do you need a first aid kit for your mind? If so, let nature be your coach, nature's landscapes be metaphors for your life, and pick up a copy of Can't see the wood for the trees.

Alison Smith
Landscaping Your life to get back on track 
Author of Can't see the Wood for the Trees

You'll find more about the Landscaping Your Life process on this website - there's also some video blogs over on my YouTube Channel - see the Landscaping Your Life or Can't see the wood for the trees playlists.

My favourite vlog is this one, although you will need to turn the sound down a little before playing it - it's about doing the same things and yet expecting a different result! And is a great example about how the LYL process can be applied to any situation you'd like more insight on

Monday, 1 October 2018

Can't - it would seem we and computers do have something in common

Next time you say you "can't" do anything you might want to remember that, since it confuses website search engines, it's no wonder it confuses your mind.
Let me explain - you'd think it would be easy enough to find the above book on online book sites?

Fuelled with the enthusiasm you'd expect from me as book launch got close, and the knowledge that Can't see the wood for the trees was being stocked by many a bookseller, I was disappointed I couldn't find it - just nil returns and being told there was no such book etc.

"How will anyone find it" I cried.   

Thankfully I eventually did find my book, with many successful searches being via other word searches, for example Alison Smith, Wood for the Trees, and Landscaping your Life. (Which means of course you can buy the book on all these sites
GoodreadsBarnes and NobleWHSWaterstonesDeep BooksInner TraditionsIndieBound, & Findhorn Press *)

The searches just didn't understand nor accept can't!

You know me I love a good metaphor - and this is SUCH a great metaphor. 

When you say you can't do anything, just like a computer, we're going to get a big juicy nil return. And I'm not sure that's what we want when we use that word.
  • I can't swim fast
  • I can't market myself 
  • I can't find the answer 
  • I can't get unstuck
  • I can't get back on track 
  • I can't etc
When I'm moaning about the weights my personal trainer has just increased, and I am saying "I can't do that", he often replies with "You mean you won't even try!"

He's right - like us when we use the word can't the website searches gave up and didn't even try! It's as if we get bored before we even get to the end of the sentence, and move onto another conversation!

The problem is, these are all statements where we're looking for an answer or alternative solution, and a nil return isn't going to give us that.

Which means, if we really do want to shift a situation we need to get clearer about what we do want.
  • I want to swim quicker
  • I want to learn how to market myself better, or find someone who can do that for me 
  • I want to find the answer
  • I want to get unstuck 
  • I want to get back on track 
Which then instils within us a desire to develop an action plan to achieve the goal. 

Even I can not is better than I can't as I support the belief that we can't compute not either - for example try not thinking about an elephant and let me know how you get on.   

Without the not at least it means we've translated the words to:
  • I can swim fast
  • I can market myself 
  • I can find the answer 
  • I can get unstuck
  • I can get back on track 
Which would have us finding ways of making it a reality.

As I say often in this blog WORDS HAVE POWER. You have a choice every day therefore whether the words you use help or hinder you achieving your objectives. **

Which of course that is what Can't see the wood for the trees is all about - using the words we're using to describe being stuck, and using the landscape contained within them to get unstuck.

Always happy to come and conduct a word audit for you or your teams to help you dispense with those unhelpful and downright barrier building words - coaching, speaking and training too.

Alison Smith
Landscaping Your Life 
Unlocking the patterns that are holding you back

You'll find our more about, the book here, and the book launch where we visited four Fife landscapes here.

* Amazon UK's search has now learnt it needs to accept the full title, and when you start typing Can't see the wood for the trees it comes up as an option (which the geek in me find very satisfying).

** Posts written about the unintended consequences of the words we use include: No Pain no GainJuggling balls or spinning plateslife got in the waytreading water, needing to be on the same page as othersturning over a new leaftesting the water and even following our dreams.

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.