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  • Vanessa Cullen

Why 'Active Mentoring'?

Updated: Nov 21, 2020

In a nutshell... because science (and personal experience) shows that we do our best creative thinking, problem solving and personal development outdoors, on our feet. Ideally walking or at least moving. Undertaking tasks that get oxygen to our brain and our blood flowing but that don't demand our overly focused attention or significant exertion.

There's something about being outside, sharing an activity, that leads to building faster rapport and really enriching conversation. That's why I offer to take people outside for walking meetings, gardening meetings, beach clean up meetings, hikes, forest bathing, exploration and navigation meetings, laying on the grass or kicking around in the shallows meetings... you name it. And the person, or persons, that I am working with get to take time out to refresh, whilst also still being 'at work' on themselves, their business or project, without feeling guilty about slacking off - boom! It's a win/win.


Personally focused activities, like walking, make for great one-to-one hashing out experiences. Beach clean up and gardening activities create an extra sense of satisfaction in doing good - growing and enhancing whatever we've got going on and the world we share with others. Mentoring can happen whilst sharing these activities in person or via phone or video. You'd be surprised how much sharing a video or photos of where you are walking, or what you are planting or pruning, can create a sense of togetherness even between people in different time zones and on opposite sides of the globe. It's 100% guaranteed to bring smiles and enthusiasm. We humans love to share and create connection.

It's critical to remember the epiphanies we find outside so I encourage my clients to take a small notepad, to jot things down as they come to mind, or consciously commit ideas to memory. To take or be given a memento that can serve as a later memory trigger. I also follow up with a summary email to capture what we covered, to set the actions and accountability upon which we've agreed, and I provide them with connections and resources to take their thinking further.


Studies have shown that the benefits of being outside, and engaging in active meetings, outlast the time of the session. Our brains continue to be more clear and creative as we return to our work and daily tasks. As long as we mindfully and patiently transition from the outdoor activity and back to whatever is next, our mood remains elevated. It's a kindness to our colleagues, friends and relatives that we'll be nicer human beings for at least a little while after.

The physical exercise, the fresh air, the sunshine and Vitamin D, the pauses to connect silently with the present moment and our environment, and the experience of really being heard and challenged by a devoted listener and supporter - what more could we wish for? It's a return to the roots of how we've evolved, collectively, as human beings, and surely it's also the healthiest path we can tread, side by side, into the future?


Can you come outside and play today?


Vanessa :-)


#mentoring #activementoring #walkingmeetings #gardening #natureactivity #volunteering #worklifebalance #personaldevelopment #wellbeing #thewalkingmentor #vanessacullen



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