I went for a walk yesterday – but not just any walk. This was my pre-event ‘homework’ for the RSA Central event: ‘Bridges to the Future’. We had all been tasked with downloading a ‘Wandercast’ from Street Wisdom, and following the instructions to stimulate a problem-solving mindset, using our surroundings as inspiration. The whole experience was a real energy boost.
A new challenge
Before I even set foot outside, I felt under pressure. I was cutting it fine to complete the 60-minute walk before the event began. So, when the ‘Wandercast’ instructed me to spend 10 minutes walking incredibly slowly, my heart sank. I only have two speeds – fast and very fast. How else am I going to achieve my daily step count? I know from previous attempts at mindful walking that I would feel excruciatingly self-conscious – plus, staring intently at my surroundings while moving at a snail’s pace was bound to look suspicious. But, I did as instructed.
Within the first 30 seconds – taking the time to really look around – I spotted an industrious hedgehog, going about his task in the evening sunshine. An immediate lesson in the power of pause. Hedgehogs have always been a favourite of mine; I would have almost certainly missed this rare spectacle had I been in normal powerwalk mode.
As I continued my walk, senses now highly tuned with the help of the Street Wisdom prompts, I noticed countless things I might normally overlook – and identified some of my work challenges reflected in the environment around me. At times the birdsong sounded chaotic and noisy – too many voices shouting at once. And then it would find a natural harmony and be a pleasure to listen to – much like the contrast between unruly arguments and constructive debate.
Different plants, fighting their way through long-established evergreens, made me think of diverse communities grappling for their share of voice – a reminder to ensure we are doing enough to engage with, and be guided by, underrepresented groups. There’s a difference between simply nourishing developing plants, and being willing to prune established foliage to make space for others to flourish.
I was also prompted to spend ten minutes seeing the positive in everything on my walk – from the bright red, functional dog bins, helping to keep the streets clean, to the exhausted daffodil heads, doing their best to maintain a welcoming show.
When comparing notes with RSA colleagues during our discussion, we were all struck by the positives we can gain from slowing down and appreciating our surroundings. This naturally led on to an energetic and positive discussion, about how we might all contribute to RSA’s role as a network for positive change.
A while ago, I wrote about how running helps me unlock a creative block. What yesterday’s session taught me is that even seasoned plate-spinners, like me, need to decelerate, step off the hamster wheel, take in our surroundings and find inspiration in the everyday. And let’s face it – slow steps still count in Fitbit land.