Thursday 5 August 2010

Walking Coaching

Talking with Liz and Stuart of Coaching Connect the other day, I was struck by how interested they were in coaching while walking.  (Liz has posted a snippet of our conversation about walking coaching on Youtube, here).

I have done this for a while and often find it very powerful.  It can range from simply suggesting to a client that we go for a walk if we are struggling for ideas in the middle of a session (round the streets or ideally into a nearby park) to clients booking a day or half a day for a serious walk in the hills.

Both my clients and I find it a different experience - and it always adds real value to the session.

I think there are many reasons for this, working on many different levels:

  • Walking side by side enables a different type of conversation compared with sitting looking at each other;
  • Exercise and movement stimulate the oxygenation of the brain;
  • Any kind of journey is a great metaphor for almost anything;
  • The larger horizon (particularly from the top of Blencathra, say...) seems to expand our mental field of vision;
  • The difference of the experience, compared to a normal day at the office, makes it very memorable (one client has a picture taken on one of our walks as his screensaver, to remind him of the learning from that day - he can still remember what we discussed on each section of the walk);
  • Silence, and thus reflection, are much easier when out walking;
  • Taking a generous half day, or better a full day, provides the space in time to match the space in the outdoors, enabling us really to explore possibilities in depth - without it feeling too intense (few people could stand being sat across the table from one other person focussing on one thing for a whole day - but when walking it becomes not only easy, but pleasurable).
I am sure there are more reasons for the power of this approach, but these are the ones that strike me at present.

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