Life at 100 miles per hour

Dear <<First Name>>,

I wonder if it’s having had 3 weeks away from work with Covid that enabled me to notice the increasing pace of life. Or perhaps it’s just the impact of life returning to hybrid working after nearly two years of virtual interactions and restrictions that’s brought it into focus?
I know it’s not just me though because it’s a theme that’s emerged in a number of recent coaching sessions – as someone put it “life at 100 mph” (more of the antidote to this later) !
As I reflected on the tools, techniques and strategies discussed in the coaching I wondered what metaphors had to offer and dug out a post about juggling, a story about the hare and a tortoise, a poem about the tide, and a vlog about patience from the archives to add further insight to the topic – do let me know what you think – they’ve certainly calmed me down as I’ve reread and rewatched them.
The post:  Are you Juggling too many balls

I'm never one to pass by a metaphor in a clients language. Not least because they're a quick and easy means of exploring a situation and finding a wide range of potential solutions.

For example, if someone were to say they felt like they were juggling balls I'd be more inclined to explore the balls, than I would all the things on their to do list, emails, priorities and behaviour of their boss currently responsible for all those balls etc.

The main reason being, we can get so lost in all the facts, data and judgements that we end up defending the current situation.

Which means if you're juggling too many balls my response is to ask more about the balls - type, colour, number, size, direction of travel and so on.
It's not the current real-life situation we're exploring, it's the representation of juggling balls we're interested in.

Once the current juggling has been described, drawn, enacted or simply considered, then it's time to consider the options that exist.
  • What happens if you put the balls down?
It's important we don't go back to the real-life situation just yet, but instead stick with the metaphor a little while longer.
  • Can the balls go in a bin?
  • What happens if you make the balls bigger or smaller?
  • What about changing their colour?
No right or wrong, nor judgement, just what ever answer comes to mind.
  • Can someone else look after a ball for you?
  • Can other people juggle the ball instead?
  • Can you pop the balls? or blow them up? or let them float?
  • What about making them very light?
  • Can you stop the balls coming straight to you? (in a recent coaching session someone imagined having a velcro board where all balls had to go first as part of the decision making process about whether to pick them up or not)
  • Can they go into a bag?
  • Can you change the balls into something easier to juggle?
Alternatively, it might be about making the balls more inspiring so you're enthused enough to juggle them.
  • Would imagining you're kicking footballs instead make it feel easier?
  • Or dealing with gorgeous bubbles?
The aim is to keep exploring the metaphor until you've exhausted all the potential solutions - fun, silly, logical, absurd - no right, no wrong - just an exploration of the metaphor you're using.

Once you've done that, and only then, you can explore what these suggestions mean in the real-life situation - solutions that thus far you'd been resisting or had not even considered.

For example for one client, putting all the balls on a Velcro board meant that people throwing balls in their direction could see what else they already had on, and might decide someone else could take responsibility for the ball.

This solution required them to develop a log of what they were being asked to do, and when people came to them with more work to visibly be seen to be adding it to the list and then discussing its relative importance compared to other activities on the list.

Spinning plates is a metaphor that aligns very much with juggling balls and many of the solutions might be very similar.

For example, someone suggested they simply needed to put their plates on a plate rack - which felt much less stressful and easier to deal with than the previous model. Although we also discussed adding Blu tac under some of the plates to help them stay there whilst the person took a well-earned rest!!

The aim is to provide your mind, that currently feels stuck, to understand there are other options, and be open to exploring how to apply them to the current situation.

How the language or idioms you're using to describe the current undesired situation could also provide the solution is what the current series of my Landscaping Your Life podcast explores – with solutions so far explored covering being between a rock and a hard place, treading water, having an uphill struggle, being at a crossroads, building bridges and wanting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. If you're not already doing so, I'd really appreciate you following my podcast and also adding a review too - thank you. 

It's also the premise that my book Can't see the wood for the trees is based upon. Sayings you use when you're stuck are used to find solutions to getting you back on track. Which means options and opportunities can be found in the ruts, creeks, and woods you're thinking you're stuck in. There’s also a vlog of me reading an extract of the chapter about feeling like you’ve missed the tide which aligns with today’s theme.
The story: The Hare & Tortoise
I've always been a hare sort of girl.
For me hares aren't just speedy but the first, the best and getting better every day.
In a morning, hares are wide awake and just want to get up and straight out into the world. They are prone to trying to do too much and as such sometimes need 'an all nighter' to get things done. Hares are prone to eating on the run and often get to the end of the day and realise they've forgotten to eat anything at all. Always with time and energy for others, always on the go and head buzzing with new ideas.
Tortoises are slow, everything is done just right and in its own time.
Tortoises like to awake to the sound of nature not the alarm clock with time to contemplate the day ahead and plan what will be done when. Tortoises eat regularly and at a pace that allows their body to take in the nutrients of the food. Tortoises love others and yet know to put themselves first in order to be there for others for the duration. Which often means quiet time for themselves alone in some hidden corner away from others.
Each has their own way of being and doing that works for them so long as mind, body, heart and soul continue to be aligned.
But what happens when a hare's body wants to go at tortoise pace and the mind is still a hare?
What happens when a tortoise's soul starts to open and the need to be seen by others means hiding in a quiet corner is no longer something they can afford to do?
Whether we're a hare or a tortoise, guilt, frustration and attachment are common themes when change starts to take place. Guilt of not being able to stick at the previous way of being, frustration at the slow pace of learning new skills or being forced out of our comfort zones and attachment to how things 'ought to be'.
The biggest error is buying into the collective consciousness of how things ought to be. Speed isn't right every time nor is a steady pace. As we learn from both these creatures, we learn our body relishes the tortoises care and attention, our mind enjoys the hare's passion for creativity, the heart appreciates the way tortoise expresses love and our soul embraces the joy of hare. Each part of the whole asking us to accept their different needs and knowing alignment can be achieved, and yes without a dual personality.
"A leopard can't change its spots" "Once a hare always a hare" no longer holds true. As we personally evolve and emerge we must learn to listen to what our inner wisdom guides us to do, we must remember that, just like the butterfly, we can emerge more beautiful, graceful and, at the other side of a transformation, ready and able to handle whatever life has to offer.
It’s the energy of transformation that I’ll be helping you to achieve in my Take a Giant Leap 12 week programme coming later in the year – so do let me know if you’d like me to send further details when they’re ready.
The poem: 
The video: Perfect Timing
This was taken early one morning on the local beach with a coat over my PJ’s and dressing gown.
The Scots Guardsman went past the office earlier this week (see below) and whilst quick for its time its speed would be seen as slow by today’s standards – a reminder perhaps that life will always get quicker and quicker and so it’s us who has to restrict our speed.
An insight that was discussed recently when some described life feeling like it’s going at 100 mph. Solutions that emerged included the need to reduce speed to a more effective and efficient, safer, predictable and less risky 70 mph and even lower for some situations?

How can you travel at a safer speed today?
As ever, you know where I am if you’re in need of a one off or series of coaching sessions to get you back on track or your team would benefit from the addition of some of these unique and unconventional tools to their problem-solving toolkit.
Much love,

Alison xx
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