“To move slowly from one place to another has become a privilege, and many people can’t afford it because they need to get from A to B in a fast pace.”
Erling Kagge, explorer and entrepreneur
It’s a Friday morning in November and I’m sitting at the back of a Thames Clipper riverboat as it heads towards Tate Modern. Alongside me is Nick, my client for this morning on one of my recent Fuel Safaris.
My Fuel Safari is a one-to-one walking-based session to help business leaders, entrepreneurs and executives get a new perspective on their work lives. They’re for addressing whatever is pertinent to the individual and their needs: navigating change, reflecting on their story, uncovering what makes them tick and identifying paths towards their “what next?”. And more.
The Fuel Safari gets people outside the office, to wander the streets with a stop for coffee along the way. There’s something about the motion of walking, the striding side-by-side, the opportunity to be frank and open that is so productive. Getting outside and moving around unlocks thoughts and ideas that would probably have otherwise lain hidden.
My favourite routes take in the squares and side streets of Soho and Fitzrovia. Today I’m in a different environment — out here on the Thames — and one much better suited to my client.
Until recently Nick had taken the riverboat to his office at Canary Wharf where he was VP, Talent & Development at Thomson Reuters’ technology & operations division. After nine years he’s decided to leave to embark on a new chapter in his career. I’m here to help him press the pause button, uncover his story and review his career. So for Nick’s Fuel Safari, I wanted to take him back on the boat.
Today we’ve travelled from Tower Hill to Embankment, and by the time we disembark we’ve pretty much covered Nick’s life story. Next we walk over Hungerford Bridge and head east on foot along the south bank of the Thames.
But the aim isn’t to get from A to B as quickly as possible, it’s the journey we’re interested in, not the destination. To walk slowly and give ourselves time and space to explore the themes and ideas that arise. To notice the urban scenery and people around us. It provides a valuable time out of our busy lives, to focus on ‘you’, something that’s so important but also so easily overlooked.
I’m carrying a notepad and pen to make sure I grab the thoughts that matter, scribbling down a reflection or idea before moving on. As I do on every Fuel Safari, I have a pack of cards with questions to guide me. But also, like any good exploration, we often go off-piste, which allows a deeper probing at certain points to elicit more relevant information. As we pass behind the Financial Times building at the southern end of Southwark Bridge, I reflect on my own experience, having written articles for the FT. We start talking about the importance of space and place. It unlocks a revelation for Nick who acknowledges he needs the right environment in order to do his best work.
What’s great about this process, outside in the fresh air, is that we aren’t confined by walls, or stuck to one view as we might be in an office or boardroom. Outside, there are no barriers to our thinking. Ideas can rise up freely, there are no restrictions to limit where we go with our thoughts. It enables themes to emerge that otherwise would not have done; we can connect the dots to frame a new vision of the future.
By the time we reach Tate Modern the rain is falling so we speed up and head to Borough Market for a coffee. Finding my usual place full, we head to The Gentlemen Baristas and sit up at a bar in the window. Over our americanos we have an opportunity to discuss more about what’s next for Nick career-wise. We’re really on a roll now: the coffee and walk have fuelled us and we’re coming up with ideas that spark off each other.
By 1pm, we’re done. It’s been quite a journey this morning, we have travelled not only from Tower Hill to Borough Market, but we have journeyed through Nick’s life: starting at his childhood where his family moved around a lot, via a student summer job selling encyclopedias in Chicago to a senior role at Thomson Reuters.
We wrap the day and go our separate ways. But the Fuel Safari doesn’t end there. I take my notes away so I can create Nick’s ‘personal roadmap’, a report that captures his brand values and outlines the opportunities that lie ahead.
A few weeks later and I’ve delivered Nick his story and personal roadmap. So what did he think about his first Fuel Safari?
“I found it really valuable stepping back and reflecting, in a very different context than I normally do. I also really, really liked the output — but what I found most valuable and enjoyable of all was the actual Fuel Safari itself.”
Need some of what Nick had? Get in touch to book a Fuel Safari in 2019 or to find out more: firstname.lastname@example.org