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