Blog & Insight

If your problem was a mountain

Rather than ask you tell me all the details about a situation you're grappling with in a Landscaping Your Life (LYL) coaching session I'm just as likely to ask you to draw it - in team LYL sessions too.

And more often than not draw it as a landscape or component of one, for example

If your problem was a mountain what sort of mountain would it be?

Which is the theme of Landscaping your Life with Alison Smith podcast episode 58 due out on 14th August (Apple/Spotify) - or more specifically drawing the landscape that represents the problem and then making change to it (see How to get the most from the podcast for an index of all the episodes to date).

See below for links mentioned in the episode and more about this particular technique.

If your problem was a mountain what sort of mountain would it be?

And please don't just continue reading without trying this for yourself - I'm not sure many of the Landscaping Your Life techniques can be appreciated fully without giving them a go for yourself. It's as if the true magic of using nature as a metaphor is a secret you can only unlock by trying it out for yourself.

Think of a problem you'd like more insight about, therefore, and if it was a mountain what sort of mountain would it be - and draw it.

Think about

  • The top
  • The slope
  • The breadth
  • The height
  • The terrain
  • The colours

Keep going until you're happy that the current drawing of the mountain reflects the current situation - although it's not about perfection and spending more than a few minutes doing this.

I'd now like you to make changes to that image - which might be done by making additions to the drawing or require you to start a new drawing so you can delete or amend features or more easily add new ones.

You might consider to

Features you may add, amend or delete might include

  • Height
  • Slope
  • Paths
  • Colours
  • View from the other side
  • Trees
  • Vegetation
  • Cabin/ Bothy
  • Guides
  • Sherpas
  • Fellow travellers
  • or even adding yourself into the image (this made a huge difference for someone recently)
  • Compass
  • Map
  • Rucksack
  • Ropes
  • Crampons
  • Rations
  • Bicycle
  • Ski lift
  • Helicopter
  • and so on and on

Keep going until the situation feels better - you may already have translated the metaphorical changes you made to the drawing to the situation you first thought of.

If not consider each change you made and what solution they might be inviting you to think about - ideas people have shared when doing this have included:

  • Look up not down - and focus on the end goal
  • The easier path is on the other side of the mountain - stop making it so difficult and use the easier way
  • Adding myself to the image - to feel more engaged
  • Adding Sherpas and other to help - stop trying to do it on your own and ask for help
  • Adding paths and getting a map ie its too easy to get lost without them - do a little more planning
  • Add colour - which might be about making it a little more fun
  • Follow the path around the mountain and get to your destination - what's your goal and how can you get there the quickest

Here's one before and after from a session with a procurement team in Amsterdam using the mountain metaphor where they realised they were focusing too much on the effort needed and were forgetting to focus on the goal and celebrating the successes along the way.

Although the free form drawing below addressing how to manage time management and is perhaps one of my favourite metaphorical drawings helping you to find solutions currently hidden from view.

The premise being you had an internal representation of the problem that you don't know what to do about, and made changes to it that provide insight about where the solutions lie and what action you could take.

I'd love to know how you get on.

You'll find the blog making changes to a landscape photo mentioned in the episode here

Here's some more general information about the Landscaping Your Life with Alison Smith podcast and the Landscaping Your Life process used in the podcast episodes to help you get back on track when you don't know what to do.

Other tools in the Landscaping Your Life toolkit include going on a Landscaping Your Life walk - and the Landscaping Your Life with Alison Smith podcast shares many such walks identifying different solutions for a vast range of problems you might be grappling with.

You'll also find more about other useful tools and techniques in the LYL toolkit in my book Can't see the wood for the trees which is available from all online stockists.

If you're interested in finding out more about the Landscaping Your Life coaching, speaking or team sessions do get in touch +44(0)7770 538159 with the Landscaping Your Life with Alison Smith podcast also available where you listen to your podcast.


© Alison Smith
VAT Registration: 224 5001 58
Registered in Scotland, Registration Number: SC457105
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