When your business is small and starting to grow, you are the most important person in it and the driving force behind it.  You are the custodian of the vision.  And however well you communicate that vision, you still need to be available to give it life, feed it, tend it, and nurture it, to do all the jobs a gardener does to create beauty in a garden, or it will wither and die.

And in case you’ve never done it, gardening is hard work!  A huge advantage it has over other working activities is it gets you fit while you’re doing it.  You need to stay fit to keep it up with it if you want to create and maintain a beautiful garden.  For your business or your working life to be beautiful you need to be fit and well.

In  work and in business the highs and lows of creating products and services, offering them for sale, doing the after sales service and innovating throughout the business to keep up with market trends are all hard work too.  But in most businesses the effort you put in doesn’t necessarily keep you fit like gardening will.

You need to sharpen the tool…

I once heard this story told by a speaker at a sales event.  He spoke of a presentation he’d witnessed at a large conference for CEOs of big companies.  The speaker asked the audience members to stand if they knew the numbers in their businesses – turnover, sales, costs and so on?  About 98% of them stood.  They were asked to sit down again.  Then he asked this question:  ‘Please stand if you know your own numbers…’ He waited as a few stood up.  ‘You know, your blood pressure, your resting heart rate, your weight, your cholesterol level…?’  A few more stood, less than 5% of the audience…

Like those CEOs, you are, if not the critical element in your business, then at least one of the crucial components.  What would be the cost to the company of the loss of your availability day to day through stress or illness?  If you fail to pay attention to your own numbers this is a real possibility.

Do you at least take time to make certain there is balance in your working life?  Do you take time to eat healthily and to exercise regularly – at least 4 times a week?

There are times when taking adequate exercise can be difficult – when you’re travelling, when there are deadlines to be met, but most people who have ever exercised know that when they do, they feel better and achieve more. Not just at work but everywhere else in their lives, too.

But there are easy ways to exercise that take less time and involve less expense than gym memberships.  For most people walking is the easiest and often most neglected.

Get some easy exercise – go walking

Walking is low impact (the lowest) exercise, but if you walk reasonably fast and walk regularly you’ll get toned up, lose weight and even find yourself less willing to put sugar, carbohydrates and excessive amounts of fat into your body.

In the not very distant past we all walked a heck of a lot more than we do now.  We walked to work, to school, to church, synagogue, mosque… to see family and friends.  Less than 40 years ago in an age before freezers were common in the home, women (especially) walked to the shops almost every day, and therefore also did weight bearing exercise on the way home.  So, going about our day to day activities we exercised without having to think too much about it.

Walking for half an hour 4 times a week will make a difference to your body…

How often in the week could you fit a short walk into your day at lunchtime or before you get home to cook dinner?

Take care of your mental health – go walking

In my opinion the mental health benefits of walking are even more beneficial than the physical ones…  Walking for between 20 and 40 minutes every day or even every other day frees the mind and allows you to shift perspective, whatever is going on at work or in the business.  After walking for just a few minutes, particularly if you’re able to walk unencumbered (i.e. carrying nothing in your hands so your arms can swing freely from your shoulders) you’ll feel calmer, your stress levels will begin to drop and you are likely to gain more clarity in your thinking.

Thom Hartmann in his excellent little book ‘Walking Your Blues Away’ talks of the mental health benefits of walking.  His simple method of taking a walk (or a few walks) to sort out a problem, right up to an including severe post traumatic stress disorder is compelling.   The science behind why it works is the same reason hypnosis works, and a lot cheaper!

Adam Shaw, ‘The Heart Guy’ at www.adamshaw.co  has a wonderful little walking meditation download you can use to help you get grounded and calm while you’re walking.

Have you ever been for walk and told someone you felt better afterwards?

Release your creativity – go walking. 

There are many well documented accounts of some of our greatest thinkers, leaders, artists and entrepreneurs using walking as a creative aid.  A familiar concept in NLP is a pattern interrupt (an instant shift in perspective).  There’s a great little story of the evolution of the ideas behind ‘Glasnost’ that brought about the end of the Cold War. The story goes that a difficult conversation between Reagan and Gorbachev was going nowhere when Reagan suggested they go for a walk.  The shift in perspective allowed them to find a creative solution to the impasse…  and the rest as they say is history.

In his enthralling biography of Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson documents the many meetings Jobs was inclined to hold on foot, where he worked out the business and design problems he was tackling.

The romantic poet William Wordsworth ‘…wrote almost all of his poetry on the hoof’ according to Andrew Motion (former British Poet Laureate) on Radio 4 (UK) a couple of months ago.  In fact the walks he and his sister Dorothy took, as well as those with the poet Coleridge were well documented at the time in his diaries.

A favourite quote of mine from Wordsworth is this:  ‘Never trust an idea that wasn’t got while walking’.

So, do you know your numbers and are you taking care?   ‘We live inside our bodies, take care of your home’ was a public health campaign slogan many years ago, when I was in Australia.

Are you taking care of your home and also enabling your garden to thrive?

Jane Hafren is the Coach for Joanna’s Platinum Mentoring Programme in the UK – the 7 Figure Speaking System. 

She is currently walking the 296 miles of the Cornwall Coast Path a couple of weekends a month. She has walked about 190 miles of it so far and has just rounded The Lizard, the southernmost point of mainland Britain.

Jane has coaching programmes for entrepreneurs and leaders some of which involve walking!

Find her at:  www.potentialworks.co.uk