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Why 'over the stile'?

Updated: Oct 6, 2023

Stiles provide marvellous metaphors for life coaching.

I saw mine in a dream.

There was a fence. The way over one part was through a complicated puzzle of gates, latches and locks. My husband excitedly set about analysing the problem - let's just say it was going to take a while. I walked on.

A little further, I found a stile. A simple and inviting stile, sitting quietly in the sunlight. It required hardly any effort at all.

I woke up with the realisation that, just like a countryside stile, achieving your dreams can be joyful and straightforward. The sunlit future that you want to step into isn't out of reach.

It turns out that the humble stile provides a rich crop of metaphors to describe how we perceive obstacles and change, and how partnering with a coach can help.

Like any good metaphor, it keeps on giving. Humour me as I share what I have so far..

  1. Out of the buttercups into the woods. Just like in this picture, the future is shaded and uncertain. We can't see the way ahead, it's a step into the dark. Going it alone is scary, it's great to have a coach on board who champions your strengths and shines a torch when needed.

countryside stile Ticklerton England buttercups woods walk rural spring summer
Near Ticklerton, Shropshire

2. No fence at all! I came across this stile sitting prettily on its own in a meadow. You can walk round it, there's no fence. What seemed like an obstacle never actually existed. Sometimes, after a session with a personal coach, problems take on an entirely new perspective; they dissolve and the way ahead is seamless.

Countryside stile Millichope park Shropshire walks rural
Neatly on its own. Millichope, Shropshire.

3. There's something fun about clambering over a stile. Likewise, self-discovery is rewarding and enjoyable. Normal life seldom offers the opportunity to be properly heard and explore that fascinating and complex creature - ourselves! That's why working with a coach a truly uplifting experience. Here I could show a picture of me, legs akimbo, bouncing over a stile but thought better of it...

4. Take care. You didn't bank on the nettles or rotten wood. A coach helps us carefully examine the way forward and prepare for any pitfalls. What initially seemed like the right course of action could turn out to be the wrong one.

countryside stile blue sky nettles walks shropshire millichope walks england rural view
Watch out for the nettles. Millichope Park, Shropshire

5. The Stile of Doom. Making a change can seem terrifying, a bit like this stile underneath an A C transformer. But with a coach to call upon for help, you too can be transformed (excuse the pun)!

Hazard AC Transformer electricity stile kinver shropshire walks England footpath
Hazardous? Kinver, Shropshire

If you would like to join with me in exploiting the stile metaphor, add a comment below.

Check out the Stile Appreciation Society on Facebook where you'll view some fabulous stiles from around the U.K!

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Sep 24, 2023

Love these! Here are two more from Maddie.

1) The style with the flap for your dog

You're initially a bit jealous of your dog being able to trot through the style easily while you're expected to heave yourself over, but then you realise that you've avoided the thick mud that your dog had to wade through and added a view!

2) The style that you used to look forward to

When you were a child clambering over a style was the most thrilling bit (probably the only thrilling bit) of the walk. You used to sprint towards it in excitement before throwing yourself over, perhaps after a quick game of 'who's the king of the castle', but now you…


Sep 17, 2023

I found the second photo, where there is a stile but no fence, funny but also thought-provoking. It’s true that we often create obstacles to pursuing our dreams. A coach can give us the courage to persevere.


Sep 16, 2023

Very astute Suzannah.


Sep 13, 2023

I love the different stile analogies Suzannah, a brilliant way to show what you can do to help us

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