How I Found Perspective Walking my Dog
Ten years ago, we moved into an amazing neighbourhood. Our house sits on an almost two acre lot and there are rolling hills and beautiful scenery. Before I had kids I used to run five kilometres, five times a week in our beautiful neighbourhood. During each run I was focused on my breathing, heart rate, time and making sure the dog was keeping up. I rarely took the time to look around or even noticed other people, I was focused.
After the birth of my first son, I quickly realized running with a stroller was not for me. I became an avid walker instead and the experience was very different. I found by slowing down, I appreciated my surroundings a little more and started to recognize people I passed every day. I could recognize the changing seasons just by observing the trees and it gave me a great opportunity of reflection. Now that the kids are a little older, it’s back to just me and my dog, Rollo (a Boston Terrier-French Bulldog mix) and I have decided to keep walking as it’s proven to be good for my mind and body.
Tonight, Rollo and I were heading out for our evening walk. We have a couple of “go-to” loops but there is a 5K that is my favorite and we walk it several times per week. The thing is, likely because I am a creature of habit and maybe because I am trying to avoid a gigantic hill, I have always walked this loop in the same direction. Walking by the same houses, the same mailboxes and seeing the same scenic horizons on the crest of each hill. It’s always been the same direction for 8 years.
Change in Direction
Tonight though, I looked at my watch as I was heading down my 200 foot driveway and realized the kids were still at the playground around the corner. I thought it would be nice to walk past the playground on my way back so I can make the dreaded shout out “It’s time to come home!” as I walked by. However, this would require me to walk my favorite loop in (GASP!) a different direction. The hill crossed my mind for a split second but I pumped myself up and turned left instead of right.
A Unique Experience
At first, it felt kind of refreshing but then I noticed something strange. The neighbourhood looked different walking in the other direction and on the other side of the road. I was seeing different houses, different parts of their landscaping, garages and sheds that I had never noticed before. I encountered different people because I was walking towards them instead of half a kilometre ahead or behind them. At one point I felt almost lost, unsure if I had missed a turn. I had to look at the street signs to make sure I has still on track. The hill I had avoided for 8 years wasn’t as tough as I thought it would be, we kept our pace and I felt great when we got to the top. On the back end of my walk, I realized it had been a completely different experience. I could easily argue with my “last week self” over which house is the nicest, what part of the loop is most beautiful or what stretch was most difficult. It occurred to me that I had experienced a completely different perspective. I had figuratively walked in someone else’s shoes.
While we may all have the same start point and end point, the direction we take, the turns we make, the things we see, and the people we encounter are all different. That influences our opinions, decisions, and how we live our lives. It has also created this beautiful diverse world we live in. As employers and professionals, we need to embrace this and keep it top of mind when dealing with employees or debating with a colleague. What have their experiences been? What have they seen? Who have they encountered in their life?
As for my original plan, the kids had already headed home by the time I passed the park but that change of scenery and that gigantic hill gave me something unexpected – a new perspective.
Sarah Mullins is the founder and CEO of uptreeHR, an outsourced Human Resource department for small to medium sized businesses. Sarah and her team are based in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
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