Finding Answers in Nature – Why I Coach in the Great Outdoors

As is entirely evident from this page, I am a passionate outdoors-enthusiast. Spending time outdoors is the single greatest intervention I undertake to look after my own wellbeing.  In two decades of career and business ownership,  getting outside has proven to be the best antidote to stressful days and the place where I’m likely to do best thinking.

My motivation to train as a coach was twofold. To bring a more collaborative approach to the teams in which I worked and to help other women navigate the tricky course of work/life balance. When I started my practice, I realised that the ‘usual’ coaching locations were indoors or via a screen. It didn’t sit right for me and while I wanted to take clients outdoors, I needed a bit of guidance to help me. I joined a bespoke training programme in 2020 to learn more about coaching outdoors, logistics to think about and how to leverage the surroundings to deliver best outcomes for the client.

The opportunities for metaphor and analogy are legion and I’ve yet to have a session that hasn’t resulted in some ‘a-ha’ moment.  There always seems to be something that pops up at exactly the right time to tease out the innate knowing of the client.

I am reminded of one client feeling overwhelmed as she navigated change in her business.  As we walked in a sunlight park, she was stopped in her tracks by a caterpillar crossing the path.  She just burst out laughing and acknowledged the changes were transformative; the new version would be more beautiful than the last.   I couldn’t have planned it and yet here was a serendipitous intervention pointing to a new way of thinking that immediately shifted her mindset.

Since then, coaching outdoors has been my default setting and I integrate outdoor work with every client. I find it creates space like no other location – the physical space creates the mental space for reflection, free-thinking and creativity.

Like everyone else, coaching in a pandemic has brought new challenges and the reset back to online was significant. Even where face-to-face sessions are not possible, I still make a point of bringing outdoors into them. I will often ask clients to bring found natural objects and use these as a tool for reflection. Without exception, this has lead to more insight and more reflection than the inside of any meeting room ever could.

I view the surroundings now as a great wingman. My clients hire me to help them find answers to challenges that come up. Coaching in the natural environment is a huge support in that. There is a natural ease that flows from being in nature. It brings out the best in me allowing me to bring out the best in my clients. Stepping out of the usual surroundings brings fresh perspectives.

I think sometimes that we forget that we evolved in the great outdoors, far away from central heating and blue screens. That we are part of nature not apart from it. Getting back to nature connects my clients not just with the outside space but also with something a little deeper in themselves. And that of course is where the real magic happens.