Spring is always a great time to walk around the streets. And when the weather is warm and sunny, it’s a bonus.
We gathered in a lovely little marketplace called Elisabethplatz and from there wandered the streets enjoying all the birdsong, flowering trees (those with pollen allergies didn’t seem to suffer too much) and warm sun on our backs.
The group were a lovely mixture of people from all over the world: Kenya, India, Czech Republic, France, Germany. Everyone came with curiosity and a willingness to explore.
When we met back up at the local wirthaus (that’s German for “pub”) the group were still contemplative, so responses to the experience were thoughtful.
“There’s a constant fight for questions in my head. One leads to the next. The walking actually seemed to unlock them.”
“I’m looking for something perfect (job), but should I? Or maybe I should just accept it?”
As one person shared that they had intentionally gone and walked the streets given as boundaries, it inspired a thought in another. “Having boundaries without purpose is freeing – like when we were children and our parents told us to go out and play, but not to go beyond a certain street.”
Still, another was taking up a leadership position for a team that she helped to create. She wasn’t confident that she had the skills to guide them and felt the pressure to make them happy, especially since she had recruited them. After the Street Quest, she realized, “You don’t need an answer, you just do things – be an example. For me, that is just being there, listening to them and seeing what I can do for them.”
In an hour she had come to understand what many leaders I coach struggle with for a long time – that “being” a great leader doesn’t mean you are busy “doing” leadership. It’s about being present and making decisions in the moment.
This thoughtful, diverse group of strangers left the adventure still talking and walking – slowly back to the subway. Each of them had arrived at a calmer, more reflective pace, ready for the week ahead.
My favourite insight, and the one I’ll end with: “Step by step – one way or another – it will lead into a direction.” And sometimes the practice of slowing down and being mindful enables you to end up in the right spot.
This concept was developed out of the idea that our environment - the streets around us - are a rich source of wisdom and insight that we ignore. Street Wisdom allows us to tune into this rich stimulus. The originators of the concept say, "Answers are everywhere - you just have to ask."
The technology was developed by a group of people in the UK (David Pearl and Chris Barez-Brown). They provide the shareware to anyone who wants to offer an event. I am trained to use the concept and in turn host events for the public when I happen to be in a large enough city that supports the exercise.
I offer it to my clients and tailor it to fit a specific objective.
The process involves tuning into your senses, stretching certain perception muscles and then using this sharpened awareness to:
- Answer important questions
- Unblock thinking and get into flow
- Spark imagination and new solutions
- Re-energize during a long day of meetings and training
- Gain deep insights easily
Street Wisdom is designed to work anywhere - but it works best when:
- there are enough people and activity to provide stimulus and allow participants to disappear in the crowd.
- there isn't too much traffic so participants are not dodging cars. Market streets work great as well as pedestrianised areas.
An event can run up to 3 hours - this is the optimal length to get tuned-in, allow our newly sharpened muscles to discover the wisdom on the streets, and get back to share and exchange insights with others. However, it can be done in other formats to fit into team building or vision and alignment events. Ask me how this might work for you. Or, you can watch this Ted Talk, where David Pearl himself explains the process.
1 Year Wander-versary
Standing at the meet up point I had a sudden insight – not only was this event part of a World Wide Wander, a collection of groups exploring streets all over the world, but it was also an anniversary. This event marked the 1 year anniversary of Street Wisdom being held in Munich.
I was reminded by the arrival of a familiar face – one of the participants from last year had returned to help me facilitate!
Despite all the registration support, I never know who is going to show up – until we get started. Once again, we had 8 curious and adventurous souls, ready to explore and gain insight (or at least a nice walk). As it’s still Tourist Season in Munich we weren’t the only groups walking this part of town. So stopping to take photos, look more closely, or going slow wasn’t so unusual. Everyone was able to quickly stretch certain perception muscles. I so wished I could have recorded the brilliant things people were saying each time we stopped to exchange.
Then everyone was off – eager to test the new tools and see what the streets had to tell them. Once we met back up and had warm drinks in hand, conversation and sharing flowed. It was a time for many people to actually stop their busy striving and just Be. Read more here...
Maxvorstadt (Schwabing): Summer Quest
There is a first time for everything, and this was the first time I was late to a Street Wisdom event. Luckily I had some on-the-ground support (friend back up) and by the time I arrived everyone was already getting to know each other. I could tell immediately it was going to be a fun group – open, curious, ready – all on a Sunday morning.
Once we found a warm patch of sunshine (summer temperatures having decided to take a vacation) and got warmed up we took off stretching our perception and being mindful.
Everyone was drawn to a large fountain, including two young women posing and taking photos of each other. While we all enjoyed the white noise of the falling water, some noticed details like... (find out by reading more here.)
St-Anna-Platz: Spring Street Quest
As the weather was still cool, we decided to keep this a somewhat shorter version of Street Wisdom with a quick round of introductions and two perception tuning exercises before heading off on our individual quests.
With two photographers in the group, there was definitely a focus on visual information and the practice of “looking at something in a new way” – which made for a lot of fun when we met up at the café in the Bavarian Baroque Museum to compare shots.
Everyone’s street quest was uniquely different. Read more
Pre-holiday Street Quest in Haidhausen
It was the perfect Sunday afternoon in November for a quest. Sunny, crisp air, and lots of curiosity.
In preparation for the up-coming time of pre-holiday hectic we gathered in the lovely neighborhood of Haidhausen in Munich. After sharing our favourite streets and where we got inspiration (lots of people mentioned “the shower!” and “outside in nature”) – we took our first stretch and tune-in while wandering through one of the many Christmas markets being set up all over town.
Since it was a chilly afternoon, and people looked eager to keep moving, everyone could either choose to slow down or look for patterns. Some people even combined them!
The results of this exercise revealed how hard it can be to slow down, but once you do, what you notice is so different. One participant commented, “The pattern of the tree branches made me think about my body, the veins that are like that, and how it’s all connected. I’m connected.” Read about other's insights HERE.
Pioneering Street Wisdom in Munich - Our First Quest
Just in time for the rain to pause, but the chilly temperatures of autumn to begin, we held the first Street Wisdom event in Munich. After the crowds of the Oktoberfest, it was wonderful to meet up with 7 pioneers and watch the streets wake up.
After each “tune-in” exercise we shared a bit of what we’d noticed. It was a joyful experience for many to discover hidden courtyards (Munich has a lot) movie theaters, and to extend our views UP. Up towards copper rooftops, or scalloped building edges.
Lots of senses woke up along the way. Our sense of smell woke up, as we had accidently stopped to share about “going slow” behind a lovely bakery. See what else we discovered HERE.
ALE 2016 - Sharing is Caring: Street Wisdom in Paris!
At an open conference everyone is a presenter and participant. You never know what someone will offer and who will come to a session when you put it out there. Which is why I love that they also say, "Who ever shows up are the right people. And what ever happens is suppose to happen."
I had 7 deeply curious and reflective folks join me in an exploration of the approach to gain insight from the streets around us. Check out the write up and photos of what we discovered HERE.
Find out about the NEXT Street Wisdom Event using the link below to register for the mailing list.
(Street Wisdom can be integrated into team buildings, strategic meetings, innovation summits, and conferences - just to name a few! If you're in the Munich area or want support in Germany, just contact me through the button below. I'd love to show you how this powerful technology can boost your creativity and unlock all kinds of solutions!)