COACHING ON YOUR FEET
There is a curious link between the mind and the feet. Since the time of the Greek philosophers, there have been writings expounding on a deep intuitive connection between walking and thinking.
A well-reasoned article was published in The New Yorker last September titled “Why Walking Helps Us Think.” The scientific answer given was this: When we walk, the heart pumps faster, circulating more blood and oxygen to all organs in the body, including the brain, thus promoting new connections between brain cells.
My clients are benefitting from this insight too, since my main work as coach is to support clients in thinking through issues and thinking up options on how best to move forward. A walk in the park with my clients actually increases coaching efficacy and get them to their next breakthrough.
Henry David Thoreau penned in his journal, “Methinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.” Walking and movement promotes clarity of thought and encourages creative brain work. I would also add that the endorphins produced during a physical workout give off a feel-good effect that often leads to a more positive and progressive mindset. So many have experienced and reported how things just feel more possible, and obstacles that much less daunting, after completing a physical activity.
This drew my thoughts back to a workshop I ran two years ago in Germany. Mid-way through, as I asked the delegates to discuss an assigned cross-cultural topic in pairs, I spontaneously decided that we should get out to the nearby park and complete the task while strolling in twos. As we got out into the sun and the surrounding greenery, there were smiles and laughter, and a lightness of heart soon took over. We quickly felt more relaxed and less constrained, and proceeded with our conversations. Many new ideas and possibilities emerged out of that short walk together that day. A growing collection of studies suggests that spending time in green spaces – gardens, parks, forests – can rejuvenate the mental resources that man-made environments deplete.
I say, the best mode of coaching in future may well be a “walk in the park,” beating all the usual alternatives like sit-down face-to-face conversations and calls made through the various online chat facilities. Coaching while walking helps the client do his best thinking, and the coach her best coaching.
In living and working in a beautiful countryside it lends itself to stepping into a larger, organic space, so that we correspondingly embrace a bigger heart, say yes to trying new things, feel more comfortable in our own skin, and learn to take things – and ourselves – less seriously. This is where coaching becomes play, serious play, and this is just what will lift our craft, and our clients, to the next level of accomplishment.
So, let’s have our next coaching appointment arranged outdoors and see where that little adventure takes you!