I am continually looking for opportunities to learn from others, put ideas into action, and experiment with things that may not work. One of the many ideas I have explored of late is that of the walking meeting, or in my case walking mentorship. Many high profile leaders, thinkers, and doers have made walking a deliberate part of their day. For some it is a way to burn a few calories while conducting business, for others it as a way of ensuring the engagement is less formal, thereby inviting more open and honest dialogue, and still, others use it as a means of minimizing interruptions. No matter the reason, the idea has significant merit.
Recently I have had two extremely memorable walking meetings. The first was a nice walk with a friend and college classmate who I had not seen in years. He, with his son nestled in a baby carrier, and I roamed the streets of Alexandria, Virginia sharing our respective journeys. We are both “embracing the squiggle” as we follow our passion, acknowledge our missteps, and learn/share meaningful lessons. We shared our frustrations, our long-term life plans, and ideas about how to achieve our respective goals. We committed to holding ourselves accountable to each other for moving forward on the journey (admittedly he has done a better job than I have) and we both left the walk inspired and properly focused on what’s next. The walk was most enjoyable and the momentum created as a result has helped me to get over many roadblocks.
The second walk was not pre-arranged, but a reaction to a situation. One of my Shipmates who serves in the same office as I do was visibly distraught, frustrated, and appeared to be on the verge of losing his cool. Having personally witnessed the scene that led him to this state of mind, I believe that I would have felt very similarly. Regardless, I simply asked the officer if he would like to go for a walk. He was perplexed at first, but soon responded in the affirmative. He and I left the office and ultimately walked 18 laps around the seventh floor of our building. He vented, I shared my perspective, and our partnership has strengthened as a result. One of the cool things about the walk was that on lap 12 one of my personal mentors saw us and on the 13th, he asked what we were doing, to which I responded, “I am taking the angry Major for a mentorship walk.” He did a lap with us, contributing to the conversation, and endorsing the power of the walk.
Life is as meaningful as the connections we make and we all have our own methods of connecting with others. Personally, I enjoy connecting through reading, writing, and listening because it affords the opportunity to learn how others think. I try to keep meetings to a minimum, as most are wasteful and do not afford us the opportunity to connect. One on one engagement is powerful, but as far as I am concerned more is not necessarily merrier. Walking with others is a recent addition to my tool-box, and one I plan to use a lot more, at home with my family and at work with my colleagues.
Here’s to walking more…
- Who are you learning from?
- Who are you teaching?
- When’s the last time you took a mentorship walk?