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Monday, 21 September 2015

The Dark Hedges


The Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland have made it through to the short list for #treeoftheyear. I hope since they've become part of the Game of Thrones history that they're better signposted than when we visited a number of years ago. 

I wondered as I looked at the pictures on Twitter how the hedges could be used for Landscaping your life (LYL). 

LYL is a process that uses landscapes and nature as a metaphor for our lives. Along the lines of being as grounded as a tree, going with the flow like a river, as deep as the ocean, as changeable as the weather and so on. 

There are a number of different ways LYL can be used to help you get out of a rut and back on track, or help you to see the wood for the trees etc.

Let's see what how the Dark Hedges might be of assistance.

First think of a situation you'd like more clarity on - you may be stuck or simply want to get on track quicker or more easily, or you may not quite know which direction you want to go. What ever the situation bring it to mind and get a sense of what level of clarity and satisfaction you currently have for it.

Now put the situation to the back of your mind and join me as we explore the landscape. We'll come back to the real life situation later once we've allowed nature to provide us with some insight. 

As you look at the picture of the Dark Hedges what come to mind? For example you may notice:
  • The straight road up the middle
  • The crooked branches
  • The connected branches 
  • The green leaves
  • The grey bark
If you imagine this image representing the current situation what do you notice? Has it improved your ability to understand the solution that's needed? Does the image feel more or less satisfactory or clear?  

If it's feeling more satisfactory already you may want to see if any of the following suggestions increase your level of satisfaction, or simply return now to the original situation and notice what you notice. 

If nothing has changed, or perhaps satisfaction has reduced, consider what changes you might want to make to the image. These might include (and feel free to try each of the suggestions as you read through the list)
  • Adding more or less colour or even making back and white
  • Changing the size of the image
  • Changing the location of the image 
  • Zooming in or out 
  • Making it more or less focused
  • Making it into a movie so you can explore the landscape more fully
  • Adding sounds
  • Changing the weather
  • Changing the time of day
  • Changing the type of tree
  • Adding or taking away trees
  • Making the road longer or shorter
  • Making the road more bendy
In other words keep changing the image until satisfaction with the image has increased, and stop once satisfaction has peaked. 

Don't worry if this feel strange - especially if you can't make sense of why making these changes can change your level of satisfaction. Basically your mind is able to make the connection and is doing all the hard work for you. 

Relax and continue to explore the image knowing that as you do so different connections in your brain are being made that will enable you to view the original situation differently.

How satisfied with the image do you now feel? 

If you're still not feeling any more satisfied you may want to imagine moving around the landscape - either by walking or even flying (as a bird or bee) or even using a mini camera drone. 

Or perhaps you need to imagine travelling into a completely different landscape? 

Just keep making changes until clarity and satisfaction have improved.

Now return to thinking about the original situation - notice what you notice? What is clearer now, and perhaps more importantly what actions can you now take to move forward?

I'd love to hear how you get on with this - it's always harder to explain how to do it remotely like this - much easier in person as we walk through a landscape. 

Perhaps that's my next task to do a video blog demonstrating it in practice. (I will add a link here once I've done that). 

Although there's plenty of other LYL video blogs using nature to get insight about life on my LYL YouTube channel. There's more on Facebook and Pinterest too.

Do get in touch if you're interested in knowing more about individual or group coaching and facilitation using this process, or other innovative tools that enable you or your team to be more inspired and get back on track alison@alisonsmith.eu +44 (0)7770 538159 

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Insightful walk in nature

Yesterday I shared on the Purchasing Coach blog my realisation that more time outside in nature was needed to support my well being and creativity. I set out to rectify that when the day started with such a beautiful blue sky and aimed for the top of the hill behind my house (shown above).

What I hadn't expected was that the landscaping your life process I use in coaching session with clients would hijack the walk. The process uses nature as our teacher and many of the insights have been shared on YouTube

One technique is to identify a situation you'd like more clarity on and then go for a walk and notice what you notice. In this instance I hadn't identified a situation but after 9 months as an interim category manager I was reflecting on 'what next'. Here's what I noticed...

  • You will see glimpses of light before you get where you're going (this was very welcome after 20 minutes of climbing and repeatedly thinking I was near the top when I wasn't!).
  • Flies flock together around sh!t (not sure there's much to say about this but it was a very clear insight at the time).
  • Seagulls will wait close at hand, and in anticipation, for the Farmer to continue ploughing the field.
  • Even if it looks far away it's nearer than you think with social media (I tweeted this picture of the forth bridges (in the distance) to @forthroadbridge and they replied).
  • You can really see more of a situation when you step back and review it from a different perspective (this was the view of Burntisland, the Forth river and Edinburgh in the distance).
  • The best route isn't always the most well trodden - the left hand path was very much the safest option (on the way up I'd experienced a path that at times was lost to the encroaching cliff edge and at very acute angle - the left hand path led to a field)  

I don't yet completely understand how these all relate to "what next?" - something about seeing the bigger picture, connecting with those further afield, not following the pack and being patient! Would love your take on these observations, and do let me know the outcome of your #landscapingyourlife walk(s).  

Alison Smith

Landscaping Your Life
Inspiring change inside and out

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Are your relationships crumbling?

I can't go anywhere without seeing an opportunity for a blog post!

The sandcastle above lasted a minute or two before crumbling. It just needed a little more water to provide the glue that would have kept the sand together for much longer.   
Although, as I'm sure many of us have found, once the tide comes in all that care and attention amounts for nothing as our carefully designed castles topple back into the sea.

So what learning do I take from water that can be applied to communication - personally and organisationally?

  • Communication is the glue that holds us together
  • Too much communication and we can get overwhelmed
  • Too little communication and it doesn't stick
  • Communication isn't something you do once - it needs repeating regularly
  • Communication little and often is better for absorption and flourishing 
Is your communication too much, too little, or if you'll allow me to mix my metaphors, just like Goldilocks' porridge and just right?

Alison Smith

Landscaping Your Life
Inspiring change inside and out

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Do you need to soften them up first

After many days of heat wave the ground, brown from the lack of water over recent weeks, was hit with a torrential downpour today. The problem of course was after so much sun the ground was baked dry and the water could do nothing but sit on the top (as shown above).

It's the same when you water a plant that's been left for too long without water - the water just runs straight through.

The reason is that the soil needs time to soften up. In both instances watering little and often would speed up the absorption of the water and enable it to provide sustenance to the grass or plant roots.

Isn't that what communication in an organisation is like. If you communicate too much at a time then it just doesn't even go in, and you might as well have not bothered.

Alison Smith

Landscaping Your lifeInspiring change inside and out

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Perfection

Perfection is such a hard task master. One that drains energy, laughter, inspiration and life out of any situation. Of course it would - it's an impossible target constantly whispering "more, more".

When coaching clients my, albeit recent, recognition of the benefits of 'doing my best' versus aiming for 'perfection' is of no use to them. Clients have to find their own relationship with 'perfection', and 'good enough', or what other alternatives to perfection they discover for themselves. 

Here's a picture from a recent walk where a desire to let go of perfection led me to ask "what part of the current landscape best describes that desire". I then asked them to walk into that landscape and notice what they noticed.


There seemed to be a lot of "oh I see" and "that feels better" going on - only time will tell if their relationship with perfection has changed in a way to make a difference in their day to day life. The clue I suspect being less doing, and more being and "time for me".

The presupposition that nature has the answer ensures your mind will find an analogy or metaphor that makes sense to any challenge you set it. That's why Landscaping Your Life is such an effective tool and one that's always in the tool kit for selection in personal coaching, and group facilitated sessions I deliver. 

If you're interested in discovering more - see the Landscaping Your Life Facebook or Pinterest pages or call me +44 (0)7770 538159 or email me alison@alisonsmith.eu.