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Diana Orders Up Holiday Sunshine - and Gets It!


When Diana Gibbs jokingly remarked that she’d like some sunshine for her holiday, I (half-jokingly) replied, “OK – let’s give it a go”, and a clean coaching session was set up to explore this outcome…

It transpired that Diana was planning a sailing trip with her husband – except that she wasn’t! With only a month to go, she still hadn’t chartered a yacht – and she was aware that she was putting this off in the hope there’d be no boat available by the time she did get around to it. Then they’d have to do something else instead. But Diana was an experienced skipper and of the two of them was the big enthusiast… So why was she putting this holiday off?

It was because in recent years, their sailing trips had been plagued by bad weather, and Diana had started believing that she was attracting the bad weather. In addition, because she was more experienced, Diana had always done the planning, but lack of time meant that recent trips had not been planned as well as they could have been, and she was aware that lack of planning and bad weather could mean they’d end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. She felt responsible – and worried.

The worry was like a black cloud hanging over her left shoulder, while the kind of holiday she wanted (balmy, peaceful, at one with the boat and the elements) was represented by a summer umbrella, above her right shoulder. The summer umbrella represented childhood sailing holidays; unlike Diana, her mother always seemed to attract wonderful balmy weather.

It occurred to Diana that it’d be good if the umbrella could move so it was between her and the black cloud. While the black cloud would still be there, she’d be able to focus on the umbrella instead: she’d be able to see more clearly what she needed to do rather than worrying about on what could go wrong.

I checked: Would summer umbrella be interested in moving between her and the black cloud? It would – as this would enable Diana to get back her anticipation. So what needed to happen? Diana realised she was holding the umbrella in her right hand and that if she kept it in this hand then she’d have her arm across her body which would feel awkward… so she’d need to switch the umbrella to her left hand where it would naturally mask the cloud.

Diana realised she wouldn’t be giving up what was in her right hand – when she passed it to the left, she’d also be passing along the sunshine and more creative spirit too, and this would mask the black cloud. Finally, Diana also realised that would be a good idea to talk to her husband and gain some additional support at the planning stage. She envisaged the umbrella moving from the right hand to the left hand within the next four days…

What Happened Next?

Within a few days of the session, Diana had managed to charter a yacht; now that she felt less fretful, there was no reason to put it off (and they did have one available!) She also did a drawing for herself to represent summer umbrella, and spoke to her husband about what she wanted.

The Holiday Itself…

…was a great success! Despite early morning drizzle as they travelled to the boat, the day became dry and sunny, and over the next few days Diana and her husband enjoyed wall to wall sunshine. Gales raging in the north-west didn’t reach them and it seemed to Diana that this replicated exactly the black cloud and summer umbrella. They kept their plans flexible and responded to each new day with a “let’s see what happens” attitude. They visited all the harbours they wanted and suffered only a couple of heavy showers. Towards the end of the holiday they were joined by a friend who’d never experienced yachting before. Says Diana:

“It couldn’t have been more perfect. The sun shone, the breeze was fresh and from a reasonable direction and over the day our friend got a taste of all kinds of sailing activity - tacking, running, reaching, motoring and anchoring. The whole holiday was exhilarating.”

Photo by Michael Held on Unsplash

About Marian Way

Marian Way's avatar

A highly skilled facilitator and trainer, Marian, who founded Clean Learning in 2001, has developed and delivered training across the world. She is the author of Clean Approaches for Coaches, co-author, with James Lawley, of Insights in Space and co-author, with Caitlin Walker, of So you want to be… #DramaFree.

Marian is an expert Clean facilitator, an adept modeller, a programme writer and an inspirational trainer. She has a natural ability to model existing structures, find the connections between them and design new ways for people to learn. Marian was a leading innovator within the Weight Watchers organisation, which included developing the “points” strategy, a local idea that went on to become a global innovation. She is a director of both Clean Learning and Training Attention CIC, world leaders in clean applications for corporate, educational and community development. She designs our programmes and workbooks, leads workshops and teaches on all our courses. She’s trained people in Great Britain, Russia, Sweden, Germany, Australia, Japan and the USA. Marian is also a recognised Clean Assessor.

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