The Power of Walking Meetings

I recently was pointed to this article by Virgin's CEO Richard Branson, who stands and walks for meetings as much as possible.  In Sycamore Way's history, I have always encouraged walking sessions with clients, whether it's city sidewalks from their workplace, local walking trails, or if we are fortunate, a local city park.  It is good to ask, why do I encourage this?  Is the sweat worth it in stifling humidity, and the numb fingers from freezing cold?  Yes.  This is why:

1. Breathing "fresh air" - Sometimes urban air maybe not be the freshest, but breathing air outside enlivens and wakes us up.

2. Noticing beauty - When we're outside, we notice beauty in nature, architecture, art, and people.  This is comforting, inspiring, and generative.

3. Exercise - When the majority of one's work is sedentary, it is good for the body to get out and walk.  We burn calories, and increase our energy.  We are not tempted to eat calories we do not need, unless you walking path takes you by the smells of a local bakery!

4. Creative Renewal - Sometimes when you are sitting, staring at a screen, or in meetings in uninspiring conference rooms, creativity is blocked.  The above three points have the power of un-blocking your creativity, renewing it.  

Take a walk!  Take a hike!  Your next brilliant idea or creative breakthrough is down the block and around the corner!



Soul Care - What is it?

Many writers have articulated their definition of soul care, and entire books have been devoted to the topic which a quick Amazon search will reveal.  With a mission statement urging organizational cultures to adopt soul care principles and practices, it is vital for Sycamore Way to articulate a definition of soul care in its own words.  This definition must then prompt leaders to ask, "does my organizational culture embrace soul care?"

It is pertinent to first define the word soul as simply as possible.  The soul is what houses and integrates the entire human experience - mind (thoughts), body (physicality), and heart (emotions).  In other words, human vitality resides in the soul. To experience this definition, imagine yourself in the most beautiful, peaceful place that you have been in nature.  This might be sitting on a beach, at the foot of a mountain, or on a remote lake surrounded by forest.  Before you arrived at this place, thoughts were racing through your head; now. they have slowed down, or completely stopped.  Your emotions transition from anxieties about life to calm, rest, and peace.  Your body experiences this peace as your breathing slows down and becomes deeper.  Your whole person is engaged in this experience.  You are experiencing the activity of the soul.

Like a plant needs water and sunshine to grow, the soul has to be nurtured. Soul care, therefore, is the nurturing action that nourishes and sustains human beings to be fully alive - creative, hard-working, joyful, and passionate.

If you ask most people what nourishes their soul, they can tell you without skipping a beat.  A few examples might be going on a hike, photographing beautiful places, reading fiction, physical labor, creatively cooking, or playing the guitar.  The challenge in considering soul care for organizational cultures is how do the principles behind these personal activities apply?  Clearly, most workplaces are not going to give normal work time for an employee to cook or play the guitar.  However, there are ways that soul care can be promoted within an organizational culture in order for human beings to flourish.  The following is a list of five ideas that I have tested personally in my work:

1) Build a process for team members to discover and articulate their passions and creative energies, and partner with them for these to flourish in their work.

2) Promote lifelong learning by investing in the ongoing education of your team members, granting them time and money to pursue training, certification, or advanced degrees.

3) Encourage intentional disconnection from work in order for team members to be fully present in family and friend relationships, recreation, and other restful activities.  Create boundaries and expectations for work communication outside of normal work hours.

4) Take teams on half or full day retreats to beautiful, restful places specifically for the purpose of soul care and relationship building.

5) Cultivate intentional time and space within the work week for team members to build relationships and be known for more than what they do for the organization.

Are any of these ideas ones you can test in your organization?  Are there any other creative ideas sparked to consider for your context?

Welcome! Creativity and Soul Care

Creativity is a primary soul care principle, providing a foundation for Sycamore Way's philosophy.  Keep reading to learn more!

Welcome to Sycamore Way's blog!  The hope for this blog is to engage clients and friends of Sycamore Way and other readers in topics relevant to soul care.  In my own learning and practice of soul care, I will post thoughts, questions, and articles from other soul care practitioners and authors.

Creativity as a foundation for Sycamore Way's philosophy is represented in its logo. On the Mission page, insights into the name Sycamore Way are offered, providing a background for the logo.  In my search for a logo artist who would engage with me in a creative process and draw or paint the logo, I was recommended by a friend to Whitney Watts of The Wells Makery.  From the beginning interactions to the finished product, Whitney engaged me with a creative synergy and patience - a generative process for me.  Often I wondered if I was testing her patience by my ignorance in logo artistry, my crazy requests, and revisions.  For anyone not wanting a standard graphic design computerized logo, talk to Whitney!

In the beginning of the logo process I envisioned a sycamore tree rooted next to a stream, but not much more than this.  I wanted the character of water color painted by a human being, not a computerized image.  The colors of the water and tree needed to be vivacious, inviting the viewer to be drawn into the the sycamore way - planted along the riverbank.   What I ended up with exceeded my expectations, and the creative process was incredibly generative.  It felt like a drink of water in the desert, as I do not oft engage in the artistic process in my work. 

In engaging this process, I was reminded that a foundation of soul care being co-creators with a Creator God who has invited us into creativity!  Genesis 1 in the Hebrew Scripture is the basis of this statement.  Furthermore, creativity is stifled when soul care does not exist in a person or in an organizational culture.  People and teams are relegated to completing tasks, and leaders can become micromanaging taskmasters.  Meaning and passion in one's work is lost.  Sycamore Way was created to respond to this reality, offering creative renewal through soul care.  Its logo (and the process behind it) is representative of the invitation into the way of the sycamore.

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