What is Outdoor Life Coaching?
First of all I suppose there maybe needs to be some clarification about what exactly is meant by outdoor life coaching. Whilst I often blithely tell people it does what it says on the tin – that it is life coaching performed outside – this isn’t always useful. There are many articles that you could go to for a discussion of what life coaching is and the benefits of it; my basic premise is that it is anything whereby I, as a coach, assist you in your performance of life, whether that be in a work or ‘social’ context. This might be through helping you to overcome an obstacle, making you more effective in an existing life process or in supporting you through the practicalities of setting and ultimately achieving an existing or new goal.
A lot of life coaching tends to be done in therapy-style settings in an office, meeting room or similar where a conversation can take place and the coach is able to take notes. It can be very business-like if it is purely work-related or more relaxed if the topic is mainly life outside your job.
Outdoor coaching obviously shies away from these constraints but yet can produce results that are at least as good as those seen by people operating indoors. However, there are several other benefits that coaching outdoors brings.
Whilst the ‘outdoor’ tag accurately describes the location it doesn’t mention the activity involved. Generally outdoor coaching is more than sitting in the fresh-air; it will usually involve walking (or some other form of journeying) and talking.
This will obviously suit those of us who are geared up for active lives. Other people who tend towards the sedentary can also benefit though. Some people who rarely venture outdoors want to but have concerns. However, even for the greatest couch potato, a coaching walk can be organised that is suitable for their fitness level.
The benefits of the activity aspect are obviously that it can provide some form of exercise. Given that you need enough voice to talk though, it’s obviously not at a high level. What’s maybe more important is that it keeps both parties moving. For someone for whom sitting still in a room and talking does not come naturally, going for a walk can be the answer. Because you are physically occupied already, there is less opportunity or requirement to look for other distractions that can quickly become the focus for all your attention indoors. Enough of your brain is utilised already that it has no need of further stimulus, however hyperactive you are normally.
Another advantage is that you no longer feel under pressure to search for an answer. Indoors, with no alternatives but to answer the current question, it can be a bit ‘stressful’ – it’s easy to feel on the spot. However outside there is always the walk to fall back on. There is time to simply walk and it’s amazing how quickly the answers come to you naturally. It doesn’t feel at all awkward to be walking along in silence briefly whilst one of you thinks, whereas in a room it can become a little intense.
It is possible for a meeting in a small room to seem confrontational. This is daft really given that both parties are there for the benefit of the person being coached. However, sometimes when a difficult question is asked and the coach is sitting there expecting an answer, the coachee feels they are being watched, evaluated or whatever. Due to the side by side nature of walking and talking this doesn’t exist to anything like the same extent. Not catching your coach’s eye is much easier and so the coachee can feel a greater degree of comfort.
Whilst this can be good for the coachee there is an obvious disadvantage for the coach – if it is easier for you to squirm out of the harder questions then it is harder for the coach to push you to give an answer or commit to something. If you want to avoid answering though it suggests to me that either you don’t trust your coach enough to answer or you are not committed enough to improvement. No gain without a degree of pain suggests some of the questions you need to process will entail some soul searching. In short, whilst you don’t want to be under pressure to answer, you should allow your coach the chance to use that tool to help you.
How often do we live somewhere for many years and never really know or make use of all the opportunities presented in our local area? By going for a walk we suddenly have time to see what is actually around us. Without the need to concentrate on driving we can notice what has been there all along.
If however you choose to walk somewhere further afield then, unless you choose an industrial wasteland, you can appreciate the beauty of somewhere else. Scotland has so many places to be proud of; places with a peace that allows us to process our thoughts whilst being inspired by their beauty.
Outdoor life coaching is different to the norm. For some of us, we get easily bored and the idea of doing something new is appealing. More than that though, there are tools available to an outdoor coach that can’t be tried indoors. There are a variety of simple but physical metaphors which can be employed outside which can help people to process in a different way. Whilst this might be particularly helpful for people who process things kinaesthetically, doing something that the brain doesn’t anticipate can yield great results.
Whilst you can enjoy many benefits in your life as a result of life coaching, doing it outdoors will reap even greater rewards. Whilst ‘seeing is believing’ for many, in this case maybe ‘doing is understanding’ and you need to get out there and try it in order to really be converted.