Why Metasaga?
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Lao Tzu

The idea of Metasaga came from Metafari
This is an extract from the online blog of the inventor of Metafar i , Leif Josseffson.
"As we plan for the Metafari in Tanzania it shows that the idea has inspired others in ways we could not imagine.
Kate Coutts from Unst, in Shetland heard about the Metafari. Suddenly we have the MetaSaga......"

Why Metasaga ?
Metafari belongs with the Massai. It is steeped in their culture, their heritage. It belongs in the landscape of Africa.
That is what gives it strength. Because the people, the land are one the impact of Metafari is deep and lasting.
To transfer the idea to Unst is to translate it in to the voice of the Shetlander. Here too, the Sea , the Sky and the
weather dominate. Our culture, our heritage surrounds us, shelters us, determines who we are. We are Norse,
Vikings , people of the North Atlantic. Our Myths are of Norse Gods, trows, giants and Finn Folk. Our Saints
are Olaf and Magnus. It is only right that we name our experience Metasaga.
"What is told...". .Sagas are a narrative in poetry or prose, dealing with historica,l legendary and mythical subjects.
Uyeasound Up Helly Aa

The important thing is that the saga is narrative, it is the voice of the individual, the place. Metasaga is about using the landscape
of Unst to provide metaphors to allow peple to explore their own story, find their own voice.

UNST - the beginning


“We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal, and then leap in the dark to our success.”
Henry David Thoreau
Go Jump off a cliff
The Valsgarth Leadership Programme in Unst was to include an outdoor education, team building event. This took
the form of putting on a wetsuit, jumping off a cliff into the near freezing North Atlantic. Not my idea of fun and I was
not alone. Six others decided it was not for them. As the facilitator I had to offer another activity. Could I jump off my
own cliff and try the Metasaga out with a group? I had only used metasaga with an individual before.
All of us had been engaged in professional and personal development in the classroom situation for two days.
Intensive learning and sharing. I felt people needed space to think at a deep level but also needed keys to unlock their
thoughts and feelings. Metasaga could provide activities that would allow this to happen. We were about to set off on
a journey in more ways than one. The white mini bus rolled up with our driver .
So armed with packed lunches, warm clothes, digital cameras and personal journals a small band boarded
the minibus .
Off to explore Unst ,but also our selves.

The longest journey is the journey inward.”
- Dag Hammarskjold

Skaw - The beach at the end of the world

"The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. One should lie empty, open,
choiceless as a beach - waiting for a gift from the sea." - Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Skaw is the most northerly beach in the UK. The next stop to the north is the Arctic. It is a clear clean place where the horizon seems
to go on forever.
Everyone was deep in thought on the bus .A heavy silence had descended. It is an uneasy quiet not a stillness. All of them needing space
to be with their own thoughts. Skaw gave them that space. As the leader I had to let them go off and explore. My only instruction was to
tell them to write a message in the sand . Let the sea carry it away. Let it go.
All of them reported writing words and phrases that the sea carried away. Only they know what they were. On coming back to the bus you
could see a change in them. The waves had soothed them, the beach had worked it's magic. Many of them made notes in their journal.

I have seen the sea when it is stormy and wild; when it is quiet and serene; when it is dark and moody.
And in all its moods, I see myself " - Martin Buxbaum

Exploring relationships

A place to spend a golden afternoon, DSCN1234.JPG
To search ,like children, for a pretty stone,
An ornament ,an aid to memory;
And then to feel we are not alone,
That there are others with us on this beach.”

On returning to the bus I asked how many people had picked up a pebble or a shell.
Do you pick up objects when you walk on the beach?
Go back to the beach and collect some objects that represent people who are close
to you in your professional or personal life. Create a still life of your relationship to
one another. You can take a photograph.
In 6 months will you create the same picture?
Now choose a pebble for someone or something that you want to remove from your life. Go down to the sea
and throw it as far as you can.
Now choose the object representing the person who is most important to you.
Place it in your pocket and carry it with you.

“A journey is best measured in friends rather than miles” T.Cahill

Skidbladner - the longship

Our next stop was the Skibdladner , a replica longship in Haroldswick . The ship was abandoned in Shetland
waters. It seems at home here. It is part of our Viking past. Vikings those barbaric raiders who laid waste to
anything they came in contact with. But Vikings were no better or worse than many other visitors to our shores.
Many were farmers, husbands, kinsfolk. Strong men with rough hands from oars and ropes and work.
Now local people are restoring the longship , making it a focal point for tourists .

What do you do with your hands?
A man who works with his hands is a laborer;
A man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman;
But a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist.” - Louis Nizer.

Those rough Viking hands stained with blood, if we are to believe the history books,
also created things of great beauty. Look at their carvings , their jewellery
and their ships.
What do your hands do?
What things of beauty do you create?
Is there a Viking in your team that has a bad reputation but underneath there
is a different story? What is that story?
How are the members of your team creative?
The Skidbladner was built with care and passion. It was rowed here to Shetland with a huge amount of effort,
yet it was abandoned. What have you abandoned?

Anyone can steer the ship when the sea is calm”-Publilius Syrus

PURE windmills

A white metal container sits outside a normal looking shed. Beside the shed and container are two windmills.
The windmills have names " Birlin" and " Dirlin". The place looks deserted. Many folk drive past hardly giving it a second glance.
It is good to see renewable energy being used in this environment. The windmills must be used to make electricity to power the sheds?


Tucked away here on the island of Unst is a world leading development in the use of wind power to make and store hydrogen
which can then be used to fuel a car.

This is the home of PURE energy.
Pure energy

"To waste, to destroy, our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land
instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in
undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which
we ought by right to hand down to them." Theodore Roosevelt

How do you renew your energy?
What sustains You?
How do you renew your energy , especially when things are tough?
Where does the energy come from in your organisation?
Many people drive past PURE unaware of the significant work that is taking place there.
What significant work are you failing to notice?
What opportunity are you missing?
How are you leading the field?

“When you are in the valley, keep your goal firmly in view
and you will get the renewed energy to continue the climb." - Denis Waitley

Bobby’s Bus Shelter

Geocaching - Unst bus shelter

This is about taking something ordinary and changing it into something extraordinary.
It is also about a sense of fun and enjoyment.
Creativity comes in all sorts of ways.
Bobby's bus shelter

This bus shelter was decorated by a local family for their son ,
who waited here for the school bus -a project that grew and is now
a major tourist attraction. You can even buy Bobby's bus shelter sweets.
Their website won an award.
The group really enjoyed their visit. Laughing and joking, sharing the enjoyment.
Each of them signed the visitors' book.

"Creativity is inventing , experimenting ,
growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes and having fun. " - Mary Lou Cook
Be creative - have fun.
We have already discussed the way we are creative with our hands, but how are you creative in your work?
Who is the most creative thinker in your team?
Have you ever changed something ordinary into something extraordinary?
How did you do that? Who was involved? What worked?

Having fun at work is really important. It is one of the major areas explored in FISH philosophy.
So how do you have fun at work? What event at work was really good fun?
Who organised it? Where was it? Which of your colleagues has the most sense of fun?
Colours and textures really impact on us. What is your work space like? Have you personalised it?

“ A man’s character always takes its hue, more or less ,
from the form and colour of the things about him.” – Fredrick Douglass

The important lesson here is - Go on have some fun - be creative.

Yoal Regatta - Pulling togetherfarhaaf1.jpg
All summer long ,in various locations throughout Shetland ,
the yoal regattastake place. Each yoal represents their own district.
Teams are made up of 7 people and each boat has up to six teams.
There are six people rowing and a cox to steer. The yoal rows out
for one mile before racing the one mile back to the pier , where
crowds of onlookers cheer them on.
The yoals are built to specific designs and reflect the sixareens
traditionally used in Shetland for the Far haaf fishing. Here you see
a replica of an original sixareen ,that lies at the pier in Baltasound.
Our yoals and sixareens remind us of the loss of life in the Delting
and Gloup disasters, where whole communities of young men were lost in powerful storms.
Our Metasaga coincided with Unst Yoal Regatta so we joined the crowds at Baltasound Pier. Here the group
became part of my community, they experienced a community event.

Pulling together

Who is in the boat with you?
Are you pulling together as a team?
Who is the cox and what are they using to guide and direct you?
What effort are you putting in?
Teams are made up of all types of people from under 16 years girls to veteran men.The skills are passed on.
How inclusive is your organisation?
What succession leadership do you have in place? What skills do you have to pass on?
What group do you represent? Does that make you feel proud?
Are you part of a community? Do you engage with community events?
Do you have a leadership position within your community, what is it ?
Is your organisation a community with common values?

What storms and disasters have you faced? What have you learned from them?
What positives can you take from them in to your present situation?
Bigton girls
“To pull together is to avoid being pulled apart.” Bob Allisat

Church with a difference - St Olaf's

We moved on to Lund in the west
St Olafs
of our island. Beside the beach sits
the ruined church of St Olaf. This is the ruin of a rectangular
medieval church probably dating from the 12th Century.
The church itself stopped being used as a place of worship around the
18th century but the surrounding graveyard is still in use. Included in
the graveyard are the graves of two important Hanseatic merchants.

Bremen merchants,who moved to and lived in Unst in order to further
the North Atlantic trading link.

The church has a leper's window. These windows were put in to allow lepers
and undesirables to view the service without mixing with the congregation.
This was our stop for lunch and the group could wander through the church and also

down on to the beach of Lund. A chance to relax, to for 10 minutes.
Here is an arched doorway in the church. The special way the stones
are arranged means they work together to support the arch and keep
the doorway open. How is your organisation supporting you?
How are you supporting those around you in your team?
Are you keeping the doorway to change open?
Is there an open door ahead of you and are you wanting to go through it?
What can you see at the other side of that doorway?

The undesirables were kept out of the church. Who are you excluding from your group?
Is there a voice that is not heard? Do you feel excluded? How can your organisation be more inclusive?

“The three hardest tasks in the world are neither physical feats nor intellectual achievements,
but moral acts: to return love for hate, to include the excluded, and to say, I was wrong.” – Sydney J. Harris

Lepers cannot feel, they are desensitized . Are you feeling? Are there things that you don't want
to go near because they hurt too much?
The Hanseatic merchants moved to follow their trade. Have you moved to follow your profession?
What did it feel like to leave your home? Where would you move to next?
If we were to write the epitaph for your organisation what would it say?

Lund - a beautiful western beach

"Just as the wave cannot exist for itself, but is ever a part of the heaving surface of the ocean,
so must I never live my life for itself , but always in the experience , which is going on around me. "
Albert Schweitzer
Lund Beach

Lund is a beautiful beach facing West. The next stop from here is the USA.
We had done a lot of deep thinking and once again folk needed
space to be and think. All of them had their journals with them and they
could use this time to write in them.
We had a packed lunch with us and we all enjoyed the fresh air and food.
There were no deep questions here. We all need time to heal and have peace.
My only question to you reader is " Where do you find real peace?"

Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you. - Celtic Blessing

Bordastubble Standing Stone Lund

" What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments,VLeadersL_012.jpg
but what is woven into the lives of others."
- Pericles

It was time to head back north to Saxa Vord but there will be two more stops before the end of our tour.
We headed away from the coast past the supposedly haunted house of Lund and on to the moor.

We parked the minibus and walked to an impressive standing stone, said to be Shetland's largest standing stone. Some say that when this stone is paired with the nearby Burragirth stone they plot a lunar alignment.

Who knows what ancient geometery, astronomy or mystery these stones hold?

“Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man's desire to understand.” – Neil Armstrong

What we do know is that these stones have survived for a very long time. What stories could they tell if they could speak?
How many people have touched them?

………………………………………………..More questions than answers.

What is your legacy?

This standing stone is a lasting legacy . It was put here by a team of people working together.

What is your legacy as a team? What is your legacy in work? Is your work lasting and sustainable? Will it endure?

You can see a lot of this stone but many standing stones have deep foundations.

What do you hide beneath the surface? What are your foundations like? What do you point to?
What or who are you aligned with?

Standing stones are mysteries, puzzles that leave us with questions.
What questions do you have?

"Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far into the future,you will gradually, without even noticing it,
live your way in to the answer?"
Rainer Maria Rilke 1903

Boat Haven - the final stop

I was very aware that the group had been together in a small minibus for nearly 4 hours.
They had been asked some very deep questions and been given space to think and reflect.
Up until now they had been given clear directions. Each stop had beencarefully planned and questions prepared .
Now I had to give them some choices.
We pulled up beside the Boat Havenhaven-450.jpg
This museum is dedicated to the maritime history of Shetland boats.
The boats are all traditionally built for use under oar or sail. It is well worth a visit.
I gave them the choice :
Visit the Boat Haven Visit the nearby Bistro and indulge in coffee and chocolate cake
Walk back to Saxa Vordabout a mile away.
Some folk did all three.
The important thing here was about making choices. Deciding on what really met your own needs at this time.
It was important that they each chose their own ending or was it the beginning?

"THE END.........
Or is it the beginning of a new Journey
that stretches out before me,
an uncharted sea." - Liz Babbs