Coach of the Month – Alison Smith

Each month we ask a leading Business Coach to share their methods with

This month Alison Smith, who has over 20 years experience in business, training and coaching talks about the Transformation Game. A tool she uses in her coaching with clients.

Alison is also a business Adviser for Young Enterprise and on the Action for Children Board. These roles arose because she wants young people to have all the support they can to ensure they avoid the creeks in their life. For them to keep or get on track so they can be the change they want to see in the world.

Alison describes herself as a Paddle Finder. That is she helps others find their paddle when they’re up the creek without one! We asked her to tell us why she’s such a keen advocate for the Transformation Game.

10 years ago I started a Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) diploma and I’ve never looked back since. At the time I worked as a Purchasing Manager for the Halifax. By the time I left, six years later, I was Communication and Personal Development Manager for the Purchasing department for an expanded HBOS team involved in supporting all the 150 individuals in the department. In the intervening years I did an NLP practitioner, master practitioner, trainer training and then went on to become a Transformation Game facilitator and Frameworks for change Coaching Process coach.

Since leaving HBOS I’ve done consultancy work but an increasing amount of my work is helping people get out of creeks – which is where the Paddle Finder title comes in. It’s what I’d done all my life – find people, teams or projects who were stuck and help them get moving. It certainly generates a lot of conversation when I first meet people.

The tool I use the most with clients is the Transformation Game and its business cousin Frameworks for Change Coaching Process (FCP). The first is aimed at a personal audience and the second a more business audience – which is reflected in the different processes and some of the language used. That is we use a game board, dice and insight, setback and angels cards in the Transformation Game and cards where angels are replaced with mentors in the FCP. I have to say I don’t have a problem using the term angels in business especially when I explain we’re looking for an expression of the quality of the angel rather than something else.

As games for one person take 2.5 hours and for three people a day I can only give you a sense of the experience here in this article. Here I’d like to just jump in and see what happens as I facilitated a game for myself with the intention:

I intend to make 2010 a year to remember.

To get the most from this process you may want to take a little time to reflect on this intention for yourself. Where are you in respect to this intention and what would a year to remember include? You may also decide to reflect on each move before reading my notes. Just as in the game it’s your own internal connection with the card that will provide the most insight. I can only offer what they bring up for me personally, not even as a facilitator as you’d not connect with the words as easily. Please note the following includes key highlights only, and not details of every move, which include:

* Being born onto the physical level. Because I didn’t roll the appropriate number to be born without assistance the first action of this game was being born by spiritual caesarean. Which might suggest some resistance to 2010 or the intention. Although I suspect for me it’s more about needing patience and trusting things will happen in their own good time rather than it being a race to finish!

* The guardian angel for my game is Harmony. As I connect with the energy of harmony I relax and realise that everything doesn’t have to be done now. I’m acting as if I need to have 2010 all planned out by 1st Jan and hit the road running. How would it be if I just practiced being in the now more and just dealt with what was in front of me one step at a time?

* The first move on my life path is on to a Miracle square. Which is a great reminder for me to say the process isn’t just a series of squares on a board but a dynamic and innovative process that enables you to fully connect with your own inner wisdom. The miracle square is about releasing pain, sharing the miracle energy with others and expressing our creativity. I wonder how this energy might help to start 2010? Again perhaps a reminder for me that progress in life isn’t always from my own action. Others can help and yes often that can seem to be as an answer to a prayer or miraculous. By trying to do it myself I wonder if I’m missing those little miracles, those opportunities that are presenting themselves? I know the answer to that is yes.

* The miracle brings with it a pain free setback of “Your suggestion was rejected and you freaked out.” and an insight “I am able to express myself clearly without jargon. Gain 3 awareness tokens”. For me the pain free setback is more about my lack of listening to other’s ideas and thinking I have all the answers. I can see it would be miraculous and very freeing (or perhaps relaxing) to allow other’s ideas to be heard rather than again feeling I have to do it on my own. The insight allows for my thoughts to be expressed too.

* Straight from a Miracle into a Depression with 4 pains and a focussing setback of competitiveness. I am certainly tired and in need of a break. I’ve been working, as I type this, nonstop for weeks and even sitting here eating a pizza that was delivered 5 minutes ago! There have been very few days without access to the PC and it’s certainly been all work and no play. I can see that competitiveness plays a huge part in this – the need to be seen to be walking my talk and being successful perhaps has meant my attention has been on what others are doing rather than what I want and should do. I’ve started to join the rat race rather than listen to my own inner compass. No wonder my energy is depressed.

* Landing on an Angel square brings the angels of Peace and Efficiency which is an interesting combination and certainly straight after the depression from competitiveness? For me they offer an ability to get everything done whilst maintaining peace and more life balance. A reminder that efficiency doesn’t have to come at the cost of life balance.

* I land on the Free Will square and I decide to take another angel so that I may move up to the Emotional level. I get the angel of Inspiration which feels very light compared to the heaviness I’m still releasing from the depression. Before I move up a level I get Universal Feedback to my use of free will and get told ‘accept the consequences of your ill-timed action loose 5 awareness tokens’. Oops. Which all seems to be tied to waiting to be born, to move on, progress and keep going. I’ve obviously not quite got that lesson yet!

* Another Miracle allows me to release all my pain and the subsequent insights of “your openness, trust and love for everyone enable others to share themselves fully and safely. Gain 4 awareness tokens” and “You broke through your closed shell of isolation into the light of true understanding and brotherhood/sisterhood. Gain 4 awareness tokens.” means I am now able to move up to the emotional level. Both insights seem to reflect the theme that is emerging about opening to allow others into my life more and not doing it alone.

* Setback “you stubbornly refuse to approve of your own unique process of growth. Take 2 pains.” That theme again and a card I get regularly and yet I have just said the following on a LinkedIn discussion:
“If we allow our uniqueness, or as you said John our -ness, to be seen then we’ll find the people we’re best able to help. A colleague once thanked me in a letter for the work I’d done by saying thank you for being Alison-y. How would it be if we measured our success by how -y we’ve each been each day.

And despite talking this wisdom it’s taken months for me to finally walk it 🙂 and yet I can truly say the energy and enthusiasm from others has increased in direct correlation with my ability to be me.” Still stubbornly refusing then. After allowing me time to connect and feel the pain this setback then provides me with an opportunity to release the pain by identify an action plan.

* Insight “My personality is radiant with release” – which at the end of this game is a reminder for me, as I type this just before Christmas, to release all the doing and to take time to stop, chill, recharge my batteries, laugh and come back in the new year with a new zest for life and 2010.

Which seems a great place to stop the game.

Overnight I had some additional insight about the original intention. When facilitating a game we can take some time to ensure the wording of the intention(s) chosen reflect accurately the issue most in need of support, release or movement. I now realise that even my intention reflected a way of being that isn’t helpful ie I intended to MAKE 2010 a year to remember rather than intend to EXPERIENCE a year to remember. A subtle change but a huge difference in energy and outcome I’m sure.

I’m very happy to discuss anything that has cropped up for you as you explored these cards. I can certainly highly recommend a game either individually or for up to 4 people. As you will have seen it can certainly get to the heart of an issue very quickly. I certainly had no idea where it was headed when I started a few hours ago.

For more details about the Transformation Game, Frameworks for change Coaching Process (FCP) and other services offered, including my monthly newsletter please see
07770 538159.

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