Thursday 8 August 2013

Up a creek without a paddle

When coaching clients or facilitating groups I'm always on the lookout for the language being used to describe the challenge being faced. It's the quickest way to access the underlying issues, that taking words at face value may take hours to uncover.

I'm, therefore, continuing the theme today of using the very metaphors we're comparing a situation to in order to solve it. If you think you're in a rut then use that metaphor to explore the options that exist to get out of a rut. If you're making a mountain out of a molehill then let's not get caught up in the content of the issue let's just look at the patterns that exist that provide insight on how to stop doing that!

Today we're looking at being "up a creek without a paddle". As with the other phrases I've looked at here the very use of the phrase presupposes that you're stuck, with nowhere to go and no ability to get out of the situation.

In reality if we were up a creek without a paddle then there's many ways we could get out of the creek. Here's one solution (the landscaping your life process would enable you to identify many more solutions).

Think about it. If we’re drifting aimlessly or even going around in circles until we stop then we can’t really plot a route out or even understand what’s happening. We’re at the mercy of external forces.
If you’re in the boat there’s going to be a number of different ways to stop. You may have anchor but it’s unlikely so you may have to ground yourself. On the other hand you may be able to moor or tether the boat if you can.

STOP is about a breathing space to assess the situation. It’s about grounding ourselves so we can act from a place of calm and peace not from a place of fear.

Life Jacket
Once we’ve stopped many of the solutions we may identify will be easier if we had a life jacket on.
That is on the way out of the creek, as the going gets rough, without a life jacket confidence can become dented and we may soon end up back up the creek. We don’t have the confidence to stay out there in the rapids. We prefer to come back to the safety of the creek than hang on for open water.

That’s where a life jacket would come in handy because it gives us confidence that even if we end up in the water we’ll be ok. That is we can cope with anything.

The life jacket is about getting into a resourceful and confident state where we know we can cope with anything that life throws at us. (My prescription for positivity may help here.)

Once we’re ready to start thinking about leaving the creek we need to understand what our mission is. It’s only once we know our mission that we can look at a map and understand the routes that will best enable us to meet it.

It’s no use just grabbing the paddle and getting the hell out of the creek. Without a mission how will we know what direction to take at the first fork? How will we know it’s not another creek?
All heroes on our TV’s seem to have a mission to save the world from the bad guys. We therefore know when they meet a bad guy that they’re going to take action. There’s no doubt in your mind because that’s their mission. That’s what our mission is about – knowing what we stand for and what we will take action to move towards. It’s only once we know this can be move onto looking at who else might want to journey with us.

Guides and Travellers
Once we understand our mission it’s important we find people who are going to be able to help us. We might be able to get out of the creek on our own but we stand a better chance if we find people to guide us and others we can travel with.

The step in the process is as much about our relationship with our network as it is building the network. We can have 1000’s of people in our network but if they don’t like or trust us what’s the point!

The Guides and Travellers step is about identifying your potential network. It’s also about developing relationships with those who boost our energy and minimising our time spent with those who drain our energy.

When we’re up the creek it’s not always easy to understand the routes out of the creek especially when the tall creek walls are surrounding us. It’s easy to think there are no routes out and believe ourselves to be stuck.

Plotting a map with all the possible routes out helps expands our thinking and understand all the possibilities that exist. In the long term we’d like to understand the routes that will help us achieve our mission. In the short term we may have other missions to accomplish.

When walking even if we’ve got a map we use a compass to help plot the course and help us understand where we are in relation to the map and our intended destination.

We have our own inner compass, inner wisdom some would say intuition. Once we’ve got all the possible routes out of the creek it’s our inner compass our intuition that will determine which direction we take.

This step is also about being authentic and true to ourselves – following our own true north.

Once we’ve undertaken the other steps there is only one way out of the creek and that’s to find our paddle and use it. That is take personal responsibility to take the necessary action to take the first and subsequent steps.

Which part of the above 7 steps do you need to spend some time on in order to get out of a creek in your life?
Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Unlocking potential using unconventional tools

Postscript: a Landscaping Your Life website was launched in November 2015 - so for more on this effective process do please go and visit.

Photograph copyright by brother from Andrew Jones Photography

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