Often on a Saturday, I walk one of the old paths from Trawden to Colne, across the fields and down the flags to Carry Lane, then up into town where I treat myself to a coffee and scone in my favourite cafe. Today (not Saturday!) the sun was beckoning so I couldn't resist some fresh air. It's a route I know well and I've walked it in snow up to my thighs and in sizzling hot sunshine so I never even think about looking for footpath signs. Today though, I veered off route and followed a path I hadn't taken before - knowing that because I was on 'home ground' and I was up high, there was no way I would lose my bearings. I'd be able to see Colne and head for whichever part of it I wanted.
However, the path didn't stay up high and instead, it dipped into a small valley I didn't even know existed, where a bubbling stream flowed through woods and the path dipped under hawthorn trees. At one point, the path crossed the stream and joined a lane, where there was no sign of whether I had to go left or right and no long distance view across the field to scan for stiles or gates. I followed my nose and was soon relieved to see a small yellow arrow on a fence post. Because I was then in 'new territory' so to speak I was continually scanning for that next little yellow arrow and in one field, I had to pace the whole perimeter before I found a stile tucked away around a corner. Even though I wasn't lost at all really, there was a feeling of anxiety just starting to surface. I realised that as I walked away from the last yellow arrow I felt a little lost until I spotted the next one, at which point a feeling of "Yes, I'm on the right path" came to me. In the end of course I picked up the next yellow arrow out of that field and before I knew it I was striding into town, having discovered new views, houses and farms I didn't know were there and that lovely little valley with the fast flowing stream. It was a good feeling to have found a new way into town.
In business, when we are looking from 'up high' we can see the whole thing; where the possible destinations are and the routes we could take to get to them. But when we are stuck in a little valley and there's no obvious little yellow arrows, it's easy to get lost and anxious. It's also very easy to just keep taking the same path, because it's safe and you know the route so well. When I am working with a business, I lead them to that 'high ground' and we look at the whole picture. With 30+ years of business growth and board level experience, I help them plan the best route to their desired destination and we decide together where to place the yellow markers so that everyone involved knows they are on the right path. We meet up at agreed points along the way because sometimes the route takes several months or years and it's good to have someone experienced with you who knows that there is a stile around the corner.
When I coach individuals who want to try and take a new path, I help them reduce anxiety and stress levels so that they can see from 'up high' once more. When you are really stressed, your perspective alters and little things seem insurmountable, you get lost in the valleys and can't see beyond the trees. Your ability to make decisions and to focus is impaired and often you don't sleep well. It all feels like a vicious circle. I walk people out of that vicious circle, enabling them to appreciate the detail of life.
So this Spring, which is coming I promise (see the new buds on the photo above that I took yesterday), if you are planning some changes in your business or your life and you'd like an experienced guide to help you succeed, just follow this little arrow - ->
If you enjoy my blogs, you can read more of my work in my book available here www.amazon.co.uk/Words-Walks-Wisdom-Wendy-Bowers/dp/1671172353