Each season, driven by its own character and purpose, offers us plenty of inspiration. I love the opportunity that this creates for metaphor and wondering, where we can take lessons from nature and use them as a lens for our own lives. I also love wandering about outside, so today I invite you to join me on a seasonal coaching walk. Kick through some leaves with me as we wander and wonder together, finding Autumnal prompts for some self-coaching.
I do have mixed feelings about Autumn if I’m honest. It’s probably not my favourite season, although I’m not sure I could put my finger on why. It starts on my birthday; this signals another creep forward in my life. And the season then seems to then disappear in a flash, consumed as it normally is by a new school term, darkening days and the frenetic rush toward Christmas. I never seem to be quite prepared enough for the cold, dark and manic moments!
And as for nature, what does she make of Autumn? What do we see when we walk around our Autumn landscape? There is much that changes this season that can offer metaphor in our coaching walk. Let’s wrap up well and step outside.
Despite my mixed feelings, there is one thing I completely love about Autumn: those wonderful fresh and crisp mornings, when the sky is clear, bright and blue and the air is cold but invigorating. It’s the time I can easily convince myself to go out, so I’ve chosen one of those mornings for our walk.
First, as always, is our breathing. The cold air passing into our bodies can be a shock, but as we are not yet into the depths of winter, we can enjoy the sharp tug on our lungs and breathe deep. Keep your eyes open, drink in the deep blue sky and settle before we take our first step.
Now look around you and let your eyes land on something. It can be human-made or nature-made. Take a few moments to notice the shape, the lines, the edges and angles. Notice colours and shades, nuances of tone and texture. Finally, think of its utility – what is it for, does it serve a purpose you know of, is it functional or aesthetic, at the end of its useful life or at the beginning?
That exercise helps to tune in to your surroundings and notice the world around you. It gets your imaginative juices flowing too, which will help with your self-coaching.
Why not extend the exercise – is there anything about that object which feels relevant to you right now? The brightness or sharpness, the wrinkles or purpose, the furriness or the joy? Start your insight in that moment.
I’m ready to start wandering now, and the autumnal questions I find I am asking myself are:
- As the leaves accept their fate that they will change colour and fall away from the tree that has held them, how too can I accept the fate of what is in front of me and let go of what I cannot change?
- What ideas or projects can I now harvest that have been growing and ripening over the last few months?
- What activities, projects or tasks have come to the end of their useful life, and I can now allow to decay into the earth and recycle into energy for the future?
- What can I do now to prepare myself for any potential winter ahead? Are there supplies (research, ideas, equipment etc.) that I can gather or sustenance I can preserve (such as relationships) to see me through?
As I walk, I am looking around me and marvelling at the ease with which nature is, on the one hand, letting go of summer and accepting change, whilst simultaneously stepping into preparation for winter. Autumn is touched by sadness with the passing of summer, and yet full of joy for the harvest.
A season of contradiction then, or of balance? That depends on your point of view. As you keep walking, consider this in your own context: are there contradictions you are faced with that you could reframe into balance?
My walk ends back in my own garden where Autumn is felt just as keenly. My lawn is sprouting with various forms of fungus. It appears en masse for a day or two and then dies back as quickly as it comes, passing its nutrients back into the earth. I could focus on the death and decay, the Halloween party in my lawn, or I could offer thanksgiving for the brief life that passes and the lusciousness of my garden. Both are necessary. What can you mourn or give thanks for today?
Back home now with a hot chocolate, I am reflecting that Autumn is the last colourful hurrah before we fall into the hibernating womb of winter. Relish its lessons as you walk around.