Last week’s post on virtual coaching got me thinking about the similarities to walking coaching. I live in the New Forest, in Hampshire, which is the perfect place for walking in nature – and therefore for walking coaching.
What’s different about walking coaching?
Walking coaching creates forward motion, physically and mentally
Henry David Thoreau who said: “Methinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.” Many people have used walking as a way to gather their thoughts, and then move them on, including Charles Darwin who walked on his “thinking path”, as he pondered evolutionary theory. Roberts Dilts talks about Somatic Syntax, the “study of how movement may be used to help bring knowledge into the muscle, and to help draw out knowledge from the muscle.” I’ve seen this over and over in action, as people have aha moments as they walk.
It get us away from our normal workplace, where our thoughts can become a tangled and perhaps samey. By breaking out of the office, and going somewhere new, we are more likely to have new thoughts, new ideas, see things differently, make a breakthrough. It opens up new horizons, as we look forward at the horizon while we are walking.
Walking coaching uses nature as inspiration
The natural world goes through a yearly cycle of transition, birth, growth, fall, renewal. It is a parallel process to our own life transitions, which require all of those phases to create a transformation. By walking in nature, we experience this cycle and that can be a powerful metaphor to inspire our own thinking and beliefs. Research from Stanford found that walking boosts inspiration and creative output by an average of 60%. That’s not to be sniffed at!
Walking coaching is good for our physical and mental health
Last but by no means least, think of all the steps you are taking while you are out walking, burning off a few more calories. And it boosts our mood too, so that we can go back to the office refreshed and rejuvenated.
And how are virtual coaching and walking coaching similar?
Walking coaching quiets the mind, just like virtual coaching
Nature helps us feel spacious and allows the mind to quieten down. As long as we aren’t worried about getting lost, or worried for our safety, we have nothing to take us away from that quiet mind.
Walking coaching creates strong presence, just like virtual coaching
A great coach will pay attention to creating a positive energy field between them and their client. When we are walking side by side, that positive energy field can be very powerful. Our presence together can lead to real honesty and depth of thinking.
Walking coaching heightens our listening, just like virtual coaching
Walking side by side takes away the distractions of facial expressions, body language, etc. We are both looking forward, with little if any eye contact. Coaching can be transformational when we can focus without those distractions. Somehow, I hear more when I am not looking a person in the eyes, perhaps because I am blocking out any of my own visual distractions. I hear what is said, what is not said, the choice of words used, the sighs, the changes in tone, the changes in pace, the quality of the silence. The less we need to pay attention to, the more effective we can be.
Walking coaching heightens our awareness of our own body’s signals, just like virtual coaching
Great coaches access data from their own somatic intelligence. And without the overwhelm of the face-to-face distractions, that data can be easier to access. It can be very powerful to offer up to a coachee that my chest has suddenly tightened for example, and ask them whether that offers them any insights. It doesn’t always; but more often than not, that is useful data and moves them forward as they reflect on it.
So we’ve discovered that both virtual and walking coaching are powerful ways to support and challenge your progress.