Walking to reflect on failure

SEDA conference walk through Birmingham

We need to fail in order to learn.  Failure is part of trying new things and moving forward.  But how comfortable do we feel talking about and sharing our failures? We (Professor Susannah Quinsee and I) made this the theme of our SEDA conference walk in November: Walking as a tool for reflective practice.  Delegates were invited on a guided walk around wintry Birmingham and asked to reflect on a failure they’d experienced.

We used walking as a means to creating a safe space in which to reflect and share.  Walking side by side, participants were able to quickly build rapport.  The movement and environment gave the conversations and thinking a sense of possibility, positivity and creativity.  The event demonstrated how reflective walking can be used and aimed to inspire the participants to walk and work more with their colleagues, students or as a thinking tool by themselves.

The group wandered through the colourful Christmas market, around the cathedral and past the magnificent library.  They reported a significant physical benefit from the wander such as feeling ‘invigorated’, ‘relaxed’, ‘energised’ and ‘refreshed’.  Despite walking with strangers and sharing difficult experiences, the participants found it easier to talk and felt a sense of ‘collaboration’ and ‘partnership’.  Not only was the walk enjoyable and social, it was productive in that participants gained new perspectives, ideas and solutions.

The walkers were able to look at an event they had characterised as a failure in a new light.  They were invited to review this event as something that had gone ‘wrong’ as well as ‘right’, to learn from it and to consider what they’d like to change.  A number of actions were identified by individuals to take forward.  A particularly positive outcome was the focus on wellbeing and healthy ways of working in the actions identified.  For example, making time to reflect, avoiding perfectionism, being open and honest, importance of sharing issues with others and acknowledging success.

Excitingly the group left with a keenness to implement walking in their own work.  Plans included walking as a means of problem solving and reflecting, a way of running a meeting with colleagues or a part of teaching and learning.

How do you reflect on failure?  Do you use walking for reflection?

Take a look at these TED talks to find out more about the science behind the wonder of walking and thinking.

Anise is here to support you and your team in building your resilience and working in healthy ways.

Get in touch to find out more about how Anise can help you and your team feel energised and confident with strong working relationships: https://walkcoachlearn.co.uk

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