All photos courtesy of Tini van de Wetering/Shofukan Coaching.
INTERVIEW BY MIRTHE SMEETS
TRANSLATED TO ENGLISH BY SOPHIE VAN DEN AKKER
With winter’s arrival it has gotten colder, wetter, grayer, and gloomier outside. And yet, it is still wise to go outside—whether you’re a job seeker thinking that you should instead be sending out another application letter today or if you just have little energy.
Walking coach Tini van de Wetering from Shofukan Coaching is convinced that everyone benefits from a daily walk. You take in oxygen. It is conducive for your brain, for your mental well-being, for your creativity and productivity. A walk combined with coaching is even more effective: It is an accessible way to talk about all kinds of topics. And you often feel more aware of yourself in nature. Moreover, within no time you will feel less stressed.
It’s time for an interview with this walking coach, for the long-awaited inspiration in these dark days.
Tini, what is your view on nature when you go for a walk with clients?
I visit the nature reserves and make people aware of what we encounter while walking. I provide individual coaching as well as group coaching. Recently, I was out with a group and we met a shepherd. I asked them: What will happen to you when you see this? And which role do you fulfill? Do you join the herd? Or are you the shepherd? This often results in a nice mirror. People then realize: Oh yes, I am docile … And subsequently they think: How do I draw more lines? That is complicated. You talk about it or you let people discuss it with each other.
That is very different from completing an online skills test.
Exactly. I take people out of the grid of always looking at vacancies, checking LinkedIn … I try to break through those fixed gridlines. At the start of a coaching session, I let people enjoy the moment with their eyes closed in the sun.
Many people are not used to this. They feel guilty when they are not busy with work for a short while. I take them out of that sense of necessity. It is a good thing for job seekers to realize that exercising, practicing a sport, and eating good food are also important. You’ll feel energized. It is a necessary break that makes you feel less rushed and more inspired for new ideas. A benefit of group coaching is that you have the opportunity spar with all kinds of people. That often gives you new insights.
While walking, people discover what they no longer want in work. For example, they discover that they did not like the atmosphere of an open-plan office. Thereafter you look at the possibilities. There is a trumpet player who no longer had work in the music world due to the coronavirus perils. He decided to become a teacher, but he got stuck. Nevertheless, he discovered something in the world of education: He loved janitorial work!
You use walking inspiration cards on a regular basis. These are cards offering inspiration related to collaboration, natural leadership, reflection and tranquility, development, creativity, wonderment, energy, and action. You use the cards during a walk while being focused on a theme such as collaboration, personal development, idea development, or just friends and family. I understand that you read and view the cards while you’re walking along the way?
That’s right! These cards are also for sale. I noticed that the cards work so well and that they make people so happy. So why shouldn’t I make them available outside my coaching walks? To explain the use of the cards, I plan to organize sessions.
How do you gain the trust of clients during walking coaching sessions?
First of all, a green environment helps. You feel tranquility, trust, an intimate atmosphere. Furthermore, it goes without saying: I always tell something about myself first—which path I have followed—and I am vulnerable. People realize that things sometimes don’t work out for me too. I’m only human.
In addition to this, I first create one-on-one situations. This is less threatening than sharing something in a group.
Tips for job seekers
What would you recommend to job seekers who need walking coaching but don’t have the money to pay for it?
If you are still employed somewhere or if you are in a transition phase, the company often pays for it. Otherwise, you could see it as an investment to pay off later in time.
Do you have more tips for people who want to try it out first without a coach? How can they get the most out of a walk?
Try to find places where you’ll have fewer stimuli and put your phone away for a while. If not, to what extent are you really outside and not occupied with the maelstrom? Let go of your work or let go of your [job application cover] letters for a moment. Enjoy a beautiful flower, a bird or a tree. Unwind.
Tini van de Wetering has also written an ebook on walking coaching: Natuur Werkt! (Nature Works!). Her walking inspiration cards are currently only available in Dutch, but if you’re interested in an English version, send a message to Tini (firstname.lastname@example.org). When enough people have expressed interest, she will consider translating the texts and publishing the cards in English!
This interview by Mirthe Smeets first appeared in Dutch on the JobOn website for job seekers.