This week, I took advantage of a day with no rain in the forecast to walk around a nearby lake with a client, instead of seeing each other on screen. There are great benefits to being face to face or at our respective desks with plans and papers around us. Sometimes you need to be very focused on the task in hand and be in ‘work’ mode. Every now and again however, it is good to go outdoors. This was such an opportunity to meet up with a client, living not too far away, and still socially distance.
Walking coaching sessions are increasing in popularity. There is something about being out in nature that helps achieve clarity of thought and to generate creative solutions. Perhaps it is the fact that coaching is all about looking ahead. Just the act of putting one foot in front of another helps clients to establish the steps they need to take to achieve their goals.
In addition to the health benefits of walking and being in the fresh air, clients experience a lightness that comes from getting away from the inbox, phone calls, social media or their to do list. It separates their coaching from the office/working space, yet another virtual meeting or the geographical location of their stress.
In my early marketing career I was lucky enough to work for a country house hotel set in 200 acres. When I couldn’t see a way forward on a project or task, I would often take myself off for a short walk around the front drive (this was a walk in a suit and high heels remember!). I’d look back at the beauty of the house, the manicured front lawn and watch golfers going off to the first tee. By the time I got back to my office, I had a different perspective on the project in hand. Though working surroundings have changed, I still use a walk to regain perspective.
Try it for yourself
If you have a problem that you are struggling to solve, go for walk. Become aware of the sun/rain/wind on your face, the smells of the city or park and the sounds that surround you. Actively engage your periphery vision. You’ll feel calmer and just the experience of seeing a wider view of the world, opens the opportunity for seeing your problem with a different perspective. Chances are the solution or next action will come to you.
As I reflected on my coaching session and the outcomes from our time together, I realised that we were walking in August and yet the clouds were stormy and we both had our coats and umbrellas. We had what we needed should the rain come and yet there was a belief that the sun would come out at some point. Is there a better metaphor for what we were there to do?
If you’re interested in having a coaching conversation outdoors or in, do get in touch.