What is the Capabilities Creative Technique?

The Capabilities creative technique is named after the 18 C Landscape Designer Lancelot Capability Brown, so called because of his habit if referring to the great ‘capabilities’ of a landscape.

The Capabilities creative technique uses landscape as a metaphor for life, assessing the current structure of your life’s landscape and studying how it could be altered to exploit fully all of its capabilities – and so become more attractive to you.

Capabilities acknowledges that each person is structurally different.  There is therefore the need to best match your desires and ambitions to that underlying structure.

How does Capabilities work?

The Capabilities technique follows a four stage process that examines the capabilities of your life and assesses what changes could be made fully to exploit those capabilities.

The four stages are as follows: –

  1. Statement of your current purpose in life – i.e. a review of your current life landscape.
  2. Assessment of the ‘Capabilities’ of  your life landscape.  What are the characteristics of your life and what do you value about it?  Where do you see that improvements could be made?
  3. Design the life landscape you would like – fully exploiting the capabilities you have identified.  What will your life landscape look like after the ground works are complete?  What is a reasonable timeframe for the completion of those works?
  4. Begin the ground work.  Set out the initial steps you will take towards the full exploitation of your life’s capabilities.

Methodology: Capabilities

The four boxes below set out the requirements to complete each of the four stages of the Capabilities Creative Technique.

Capabilities: First Stage

Write an initial statement that summaries the prominent purpose that your life serves.

For instance: I am a person who manages a hotel.

Now extend that statement to encompass the wider landscape of your life.  Try and summarise the present core purpose of your life – describing not what you would like that purpose to be, but what that purpose currently is.

For example: In both my work and private lives I am an events manager who creates a welcoming environment where my guests can feel that they are valued, entertained and celebrated.

Capabilities: Second Stage

Begin the assessment of the Capabilities of your life’s landscape by answering the three following questions: 

  1. What is it that you do?
  2. What is it that you want to do?
  3. What is it that you need to do?

Now find a quiet place and write out your answers to the following questions:

  1. What are you really thankful for in your life?
  2. When, where, and doing what, do you find yourself pushing yourself the hardest?
    (i.e. what is that purpose in your life that you really value?)
  3. What enables you to feel the greatest sense of space in your life?
    (i.e. in what place – and under what conditions – do you feel at your best?)
  4. What stops you being present?
    (i.e. what are those things that get in the way of your doing what you really need to do?)
  5. What or where do you experience being in the moment?
    (i.e. what in your life do you really value? Perhaps days out with the kids, walking in the woods in autumn – and that moment where ideas come to yo – perhaps the smile of a friend in candle light?)

Capabilities: Third Stage

Modifying the landscape

Choose a specific time frame – e.g. 3 years from now.

With some chalk, draw a circle on the floor and physically step into that circle.

Decide what part of the landscape of your life you wish to address – e.g. your work, your family, your interests, your home.

Look out from inside this circle and scan the landscape of your life. How would like to reshape it?

Write down your answers to the following questions:

  1. What would you like more of?
  2. What do you want less of?
  3. What would you like to be best know for?
  4. In an ideal world, what will your typical day/week look like?
  5. What is most satisfying about the choices you are making or have made?
  6. To what do you attribute your success in achieving exactly what you want?
  7. What is absolutely essential that you retain for the future?
  8. If there were no constraints and you could obtain everything you want from this landscape, what would you really like to happen?
  9. How would ideally like to reshape the landscape of your life?

Capabilities: Fourth Stage

Now begin the ground work

Summarise what you will do to realise your changed purpose – i.e. what actions will create that landscape you saw when looking out from inside the circle?

  1. What is the step you will take tomorrow?
  2. What are the steps you will have taken by next week?
  3. What are the steps you will have taken by next month?
  4. What are the steps you will have taken in six month’s time?


Now write down everything else that comes to mind – that occurs to you at this moment.


The Features section of this website is regularly updated with different approaches to assessing and improving both your life and your creative work.