Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Ripple effect

I'm preparing for a 1.4 mile swim in September from South to North Queensferry along side the iconic UNESCO World heritage site the Forth Rail Bridge here in Scotland.
I was doing sprints to increase my stamina and noticed that, as I pushed forward with my breaststroke, I sent out waves ahead of me. Waves that felt like they were forging the way ahead - clearing a path.
The stronger and more vigorous my actions the more impact I had on the water in-front of me.

It stopped me in my tracks as I reflected that I'd never quite understood the ripple effect in this way.

In my mind the ripples we send out into the world are more like this image:
or perhaps even this image taken at the beach not long after the swim when the much needed rain set it.
Small gentle ripples an unintended consequence of our actions on others.

What was happening as I swam was not gentle, nor unintended and was positively impacting me and not other people.

As I shared this insight on Facebook I was reminded of the power of metaphor, and more specifically the power of metaphor when applied to situations in our lives.

Landscaping Your Life uses landscapes as a metaphors for our lives. Instead of trying to solve a  problem logically we allow our more creative mind to find patterns in nature. Patterns that provide a clue to where the solution might lie.

For example:
  • A corner turned in the landscape might allow us to understand the need to turn a corner in real life, and understand we can leave the past behind. 
  • A light at the end of the tunnel might remind us to stay optimistic.
  • The roots of a tree invite us to get more grounded    

We will however each look at the metaphor from our own perspective, based on what's going on for us at that point in time. Someone else might therefore interpret the above examples differently
  • The corner may remind them of what they don't want to leave behind 
  • The length of the tunnel may be where the answer lies, or  
  • The strong branches provide solace and insight
That is, even if a picture paints a thousand words and therefore a metaphor paints a thousand pictures, we'll each relate to the metaphor or landscape differently. Also differently each time we revisit it, based on life at that moment in time. 

Which means others will experience the above ripples differently, and may explore the landscape from the perspective of :
  • The impact of the ripples - negative or positive
  • The initial perception of the ripples vs end result
  • Strength needed to make an impact
  • Not trying or trying to make an impact
  • Unexpected ripples from others/life
  • Stopping or even trying a different stroke  
  • Ripples on a clear day vs a windy/dull day
  • and so on.
Whilst I was swimming I knew the noticing of the ripples/ waves was a profound moment, the meaning however had yet to make itself clear to me.

I could feel as I swam that there was something for me in the power with which I was taking action. This was no easy effortless glide through the waves - no meandering, no floating and allowing the water to determine my path.

It was only when I read Louise Hay later that evening that I was reminded of the power of intention.

I already knew and accepted that setting goals make them more likely to happen. I also knew that visions and action plans also had their place. What I think this noticing was asking me to do was realise that belief sends out waves into the future, into my future.

Powerful waves. 

I therefore have a choice of whether those beliefs are positive or negative.

Which reminds me of Hamlet's "there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so"

Conviction in the belief sends those waves racing ahead - in every moment we have a choice whether those waves will make life easier or harder for us.

Do get in touch if the ripples in your life are over powering you, or you feel like you're drowning. I promise the solution won't include me inviting you to swim with me, but it might include a walk in the park or, if you're up for it, a paddle in the sea! alison@alisonsmith.eu +44(0)7770 538159

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

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Is it time to turn a corner in your life?

"Just humour me" I said to a couple of delegates on a recent workshop, where we were using unconventional tools to solve some problems/issues/niggles and frustrations.

"Put the issue to the back of your mind, and just walk around that corner".

The session was taking place outside and, whilst other delegates were standing in the shoes of their stakeholders, I thought I'd let these individuals experience the impact of turning a real corner, and noticing the positive impact it would have on the metaphorical corner they needed to be taking.

They headed off around the corner in the park out of sight, and five minutes later appeared with beams on their faces, and a shift in perspective.

The premise of this tool is that our language isn't just describing the problem but provides the clue to where the solution will lie. If we know we need to turn a corner then why not turn a real corner, and let your unconscious provide the insight about how that applies to the situation you're wanting insight on.

Here's an example from a walk I took yesterday, on the beach here in Fife, Scotland that is a frequent visitor to these pages and my vlogs.

On one side of the corner - I have home; the railway line; the sandy beach, complete with lifeguards; and a huge expanse of muddy bay!

This is what I am leaving behind with the sea only in the far distance.

As I approach the corner where I am going is not clear, it's as if I have to trust and follow the path in front of me.

As the delegates on the workshop also discovered, once we're around the corner we can't see where we've been only where we're headed.

In this instance with Edinburgh on the horizon, and a more secluded beach with cottages over looking them.

The delegates realised that in three months time they wouldn't be worrying about the current problem. This insight allowed them to release their frustration and more easily identify an action plan to move forward (and dare I say it move around that corner).

As I reflect on these images, I'm being asked to turn my attention away from the known and embrace the unknown, and look towards the bigger and brighter destinations in the distance. To make the scary future more tangible, and let go of the safer past.

As you reflect on these images what insight comes to mind for you? As our issues and niggles are different each time we take such a challenge around the corner we'll get different insights and perspectives every time we try this process - even if its the same corner!

This vlog also demonstrates this simple technique, and was taken seven years ago from the same corner.

What corner do you need to turn in your life, and what landscape will you use to demonstrate your ability to do just that? 

As workshops disappear from the diary over the summer break I have more flexibility and availability to provide coaching and 1:1 retreats, either in person using nature as a source for inspiration or via webex where we'll just need to be a little more creative (Face-time is certainly an option to go on a walk in different counties, countries or continents.)

Do get in touch if you are stuck, and would like a little nudge to get you back on track - although tough love also in plenty of supply ;-) +44 7770 538159 alison@alisonsmith.eu

Alison Smith
Landscaping Your Life to get back on track