Monday, January 21, 2013

Walk in beauty

There are many charming things about Italy – and for someone who loves to walk, the evening passeggiata is one of them.

The slowing down of pace,  the soaking up of atmosphere, the sense of relaxed dignity.

And this weekend, walking with friends in the magic winter wonderland of snowy London, it reminded me how lucky it is to be able to walk, and that it is amongst the most simplest and special things to do, either alone or in company.

It is a mind, body and soul interaction, a fusion between ourselves and our external environment.  Our minds wonder and wander as we wander.  

A friend tells me smiling that “the more I walk, the smarter I get”; for him it is a creative space, a walk is his ‘innovation’ hub.

In my experience delivering leadership programmes, when you invite leaders to ‘walk and talk’, it can transform their learning. They get out of the comfort of their chairs and move and connect with each other.  It liberates them to listen more deeply, and the rhythm of their walk helps their bond.   Last week, Nilofer Merchant wrote about replacing her office meetings with walking ones.  It doesn’t have to be a sweaty hike; an amble around the block, to a nearby park can be a gentle and equally satisfactory alternative. 

Companies can be extravagant in team building and networking events, but they need not be.  One of the most memorable times I spent as a participant, was when our group went for a day ‘ramble’ in the countryside; soaking up the scenery, stopping to take a breather, regrouping every so often then moving on, intuitively forming another subset and conversation, there was a naturalness to our chat.  The serenity and expansiveness of our surrounds encouraged openness in our conversations, which a conference room atmosphere wouldn’t have done in the same way. 

Similarly, as a coach, I am aware of the value of incorporating a walk into the coaching conversation.  Particularly if the coachee is talking about exploring ways to achieve a work-life balance, manage stress or be more creative,  having the conversation whilst walking, helps them go from talking about it to actually experiencing it.  

The Navaho say “walk in beauty, wherever you are”.  This is not just about physical beauty, but to be in harmony with yourself and who and what is around you.  To be in peace, knowing that you accept and you are accepted, knowing all is well with everything in your life.

Which may mean you walk in beautiful Roma with the one you love, dressed alike...


Image:  photo own

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