On the last, most glorious Monday of Autumn, when the leaves were still on the trees, I had the great good fortune to be able to wander around Westonbirt Arburetum. The weather was perfect and the colours of the leaves were stunning. It felt like a hushed firework display: oohs and ahhs as each turn in the path revealed a new and astonishing display of vibrant colour.
My companion was another coach and as we wandered, we caught up with news of conferences we had attended, books we had read and ideas we had tried. And it led us both to pondering the value of coaching on the move. There are certainly huge potential benefits: walking side by side feel less threatening than discussing delicate matters face to face. There is something about movement that diffuses anxiety. Fresh air certainly helps. And I wonder if there isn’t a subliminal creativity at work that stems from the endorphins of exercise. However, like most approaches, it comes with a health warning. Meeting ‘for a coaching session’ and wandering off could be open to misinterpretation. Essential then, that boundaries are clearly set and contracting is professionally managed. Like most creative approaches I suspect that is ‘single use’: if there is break-though, a transformational shift, then to repeat the experience could be counter-productive. The client may try to re-create what happened before, and be disappointed if there is no ‘aha’ moment this time round.
The perambulatory coaching session is something that I would like to work with, especially somewhere as lovely as Westonbirt. However, as with other creative approaches, it should not be seen as a ‘thing’ or an ‘answer’: the coaching toolkit works best as a rich, varied and extensive resource. ‘One size fits all’ garments and coaching frameworks are equally uncomfortable – even when they involve a cracking good walk in a wonderful environment.