How to walk into the hearts and minds of your team


We at YourStory began the year with a walk. We met at Cubbon Park in Bangalore, went for a brisk walk in the lush green setting and talked about our plans for the year ahead. During the walk, the newbies among us learnt about the history of YourStory and its culture, ongoing activities in the startup ecosystem and what's ahead. The old-timers learnt about where the newbies came from, their value systems, goals, and even hobbies. This act of bringing business out of the office into a tree-laned, fresh and open space broke the ice, revitalised us and made friends out of us all more than just teammates.

The bonding made us a more effective team, and part of the credit goes to the act of walking itself.

Image credit: Sarah Nichols

The simplest of all exercises, walking is underrated despite research proving again and again how it can make your body healthy and your mind active. Here's a quick refresher on the benefits of walking:

* Makes your heart strong

* Makes your brain fit

* Gives you a serotonin boost, which makes you more energetic

* Relieves stress and anxiety

* Improves your balance and circulation

* Flushes out toxins from your body

* Ups your mood and self-esteem

* Boosts your immune system

* Prevents, or at least delays, major diseases

* Reduces blood pressure, cholesterol and the risk of stroke

* Strengthens joints and bones

* Makes you shed flab

If all that wasn't enough to make you walk, how about this? It can also make you a good leader.

Recently, Louis W Sullivan, former US Secretary of Health and Human Services, wrote about how he used walks to promote "a healthy lifestyle, while facilitating my communications skills and leadership efforts". He made a habit of conducting meetings with his staff over long walks, which proved to be very popular. "My life has been and continues to be enhanced by this activity, which is readily available to almost all of us," he wrote.

Lately, netwalking -- combining networking with walking -- has become a trend. It's being increasingly used as a way to develop new business relationships, reflect upon your own business, generate new ideas as well as de-stress and re-focus. The outdoors relaxes people. And therefore, netwalkers find it a platform to have more open discussions, and forge better relationships than they can in drab indoor meeting places.

As an entrepreneur, or soon-to-be-entrepreneur, walking is one of the simplest tools you could use as an inspirational way to grow your startup. Take your team for a walk. This requires no fancy gear, no huge bills to foot, and hardly any elaborate planning. Yet, it is one sure-shot way to bond with your team.

Maybe it's too simple for its own good. We take walking so much for granted that we forget how much good it can do to us. So the best way to incorporate netwalking is to make it a daily, thrice-weekly or at least a weekly routine.

Coming for a walk, anyone?

(If you have a netwalking experience to share, please post it in the comments below.)