"From de-stressing to being more creative, my work has benefitted from spending time around a fire with other business people," says Amy Lishman of Brighton Chamber of Commerce. "Here's how it helped me..."
I’m lucky that in my job I’m not constantly stuck in front of a screen for 8 hours a day. I get out and about and meet people across Brighton and attend networking events in venues across the city.
Most of these events and meetings are indoors though - in offices, coffee shops and co-working spaces like Platfr9m and Freedom Works.
So when I was invited to attend Mentors Go Wild, a session run as part of the NatWest Business Accelerator programme and facilitated by School of the Wild, a morning of conversation, teamwork and communication – all outdoors in the beautiful Stanmer Park – I literally jumped at the chance.
We did a number of exercises throughout the morning led by Nigel and the School of the Wild team. All designed to help the group get to know each other, discuss challenges and opportunities, and bring a group of seemingly disparate individuals together.
I’m not going to spoil the surprise of the innovative exercises we did, but instead I offer three things I learnt from working outside for the morning.
1. Being outside instantly relaxes you
Fresh air and a sense of open space are two ingredients that make for instant relaxation. My shoulders slowly dropped, tension disappeared, and I felt calm and energised about the morning ahead.
There is something about being in nature – the smells, sights, the sounds, the calmness – that offers a chance to get a different perspective.
I now walk more during my working day and notice the natural world around me. I try and take a walk around Preston Park in my lunchbreak and I feel more relaxed and ready for the afternoon when I manage to do it.
2. Campfire conversations are the best
Sitting around campfires is usually only reserved for boozy weekends camping with friends (in my case), so sitting around a campfire with a group of business people, most of whom I’d never met was a new concept.
We started by introducing ourselves by talking about each of our names for 60 seconds. It was brilliant! Talking to others and being asked insightful questions around a campfire helped clarify a few ideas I had.
Having a fire to watch also removed any of the usual awkwardness if there is silence, and legitimises silence as thoughtfulness.
I know I can’t go back to the office and start a fire in the car park, but this is where facilitated sessions like this in nature can really add value.
3. Nature inspires creativity
After a morning with complete strangers, I came away feeling inspired and thinking creatively about my role in the Chamber and what I do every day.
And I've come up with a more creative yet still genuine narrative about who I am and what I do.
We’re all used to making introductions at networking events, or standing up and pitching a business concept but how often does this sound rehearsed and lacking any personality?
By listening and thinking more creatively in a relaxed, outdoor setting – not across a conference table in a stuffy boardroom - I've found a way to talk about the meaning and purpose behind what I do, giving my role and job a personality. This helps me connect with others in a more productive and enjoyable way.
I still haven’t quite put my finger on how the session did this, but I think it’s a combination of great facilitation, nature, and doing something different.
If you’d like to find out more about Creative Campfires, and how School of the Wild can help you and your team, get in touch here.
Author & Curator
Nigel Berman is the founder of School of the Wild.