I want to tell you about my experience of outdoors coaching.
It may come as no surprise that I enjoy being indoors. Being curled up with a good book, wrapped in a blanket, a steaming hot chocolate next to me and the sound of rain lashing against the window pane is my idea of bliss (sadly since having young children this happens much less than I would like, apart from the rain bit as I do live in the UK!).
However, I have also always enjoyed the outdoors. I'm not a climber or hiker but have enjoyed many windswept walks across sea fronts; meanders around Penistone crags (invoking my inner Cathy); and cycle rides around parks filled with deer.
When I was a child I used to collect acorns. I would fill the tops with water to make fairy cups and mush the remainder to make squirrel food or 'potions'. I've grown vegetables as long as I remember - some years I have even been successful. I take my yoga practice outside when the weather permits and I spend most weekends walking the children through the woods in the hope that the stillness rubs off on them.
I have long been aware of the benefits of being outdoors and I recently had the opportunity to find out how I could combine this with my coaching. I have previously held meetings and coaching sessions outdoors on campus before but it has been an afterthought - the weather was particularly nice or I was unable to find a suitable room. I decided to find out how I could coach outdoors with intention.
I'd been trying to attend Claire Bradshaw's Outdoor Coaching programme for several years but couldn't logistically make it happen. An unexpected benefit of the pandemic has meant that I could finally attend - albeit virtually.
Over the three week course, I was able to reflect on the different types of outdoor space and the physical, emotional and cognitive effects it may have on both myself and those I coach. I considered the impact of coaching while being apart - over the phone or via online meetings. I discovered how the environment plays an active, rather than a passive role. Importantly, I learned about the extra requirements needed when contracting and thinking about the practicalities - we don't want to be shivering with cold or worried about falling when we should be focussed on listening and thinking!
While the course did open my eyes to just how much extra work and consideration goes into coaching outdoors, it has whetted my appetite to keep learning more about it and include it in my toolbox of skills. Since then I have attended a Street Wisdom event which I may blog about next. I have also presented my experiences to the coaching community within my workplace. With social distancing making being in a close space far from ideal, this outdoors coaching may just have legs*.
Would you consider being coached or having meetings outside? Perhaps it's something you do already? If so, what was it like?
*I'm so sorry I couldn't help myself!