The nature of change

As 2019 starts, New Year’s resolutions bring the nature of change into sharp focus.

With the best of intentions, we resolve to make things happen differently. That which we yearn for. That which we so want to happen. That which we feel we should do. 

It’s not so different when we start a coaching relationship. Outcomes often point the direction of travel in how we work with coachees. But long-standing patterns can be hard to shift. The best of intentions don’t always create change. 

What if we did more to stack the odds in our favour of change?  

How coaching outdoors enables change

Nature enables us to shift from having the right answers to creating sustainable change. Coaching outdoors is more than a walk in the park., a nice idea. It is an evidence-based and powerful way into embodying that change. 

On moving outside, coach and coachee will experience an immediate drop in stress levels and an improvement in mood [1].  Positive mental outlook shown to be increased.  Just by taking the session into a city park, or along a riverside walk.

Research [2] shows that walking opens up significantly more creativity, and divergent thinking, than when we are coach sitting down. Coachees can envisage more options to resource their change.

Coaching outside also awakens the senses[3]. The wind on our cheek, the sight of the trees, the smell of the grass. This sensory awareness means both coach and coachee move beyond their logical knowing into a more intuitive wisdom. It awakens our unconscious knowing. We are wiser outside.

This sensory awareness does more than make us wiser outside. It also enables the coachee to embody the changes that arise as we walk and talk. Coach and coachee can move beyond what the coachee thinks, into a felt sense of change. Embodied change is sustainable change.

So, with a client who is feeling better, thinking smarter and creating lasting change, there are powerful reasons why coaches might develop a practice that  works outdoors.  And, maybe, use  a nature-based practice to support their own  self-reflection and development.

This touches on just some of the ways in which coaching outdoors benefits both coachee, coach and the organisations that they serve. It does require some different thinking around how to hold the coaching conversation. In our 2019 Advanced Diploma in Transformational Coaching, we explore how to integrate working outdoors in your coaching practice to create embodied and sustainable change.

Fi Macmillan of Wild Leadership is an adventurer and leadership coach, with extensive experience of coaching outdoors. 


[1] The Brain in Nature, Selhub & Logan, 2012
[2] Schwartz & Oppezzo, Stanford University, 2014
[3] The Brain in Nature, Selhub & Logan, 2012

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