DAD.CEO met up with a truly interesting and successful business leader and coach who has developed a unique way for parents and their kids to bond in what he calls the Walking Mentorship program. We ask João to help explain it better by sharing a page from his recent adventure.
The Benefits of a Walking Mentorship
Seated on the upper deck of the ship connecting the Cies Islands with Vigo in Galicia (Spain), I looked back to what was probably one of the most incredible weeks of my year.
The challenge was a Walking Mentorship program for Parents & Kids along the Sand Trail, a coastal route between Portugal and Spain, a stone’s throw from the Atlantic Ocean.
We had prepared a unique blend of dynamic games, adventure moments, walking trails that would lead us through unique landscapes, and also a cultural, historical, and gastronomic immersion. All our activities had been “wrapped” around the survival kit methodology, where the ultimate objective was to support developing the core of the relationship between parents and their kids
Besides the logistics, weather, and group safety, I had the feeling that the biggest test for me was going to be a different one.
How was I going to deliver exercises based on walking, thinking, and talking when the first thing a teenager (and many adults) do when they stop is to grab a mobile device and switch off from being present?
Let the journey begin...
Let me share with you an episode that happened to us on this journey
On our first day, the weather seemed to be extremely moody, which is not strange to happen near the coast. Somewhere midway into our journey, we decided to stop for a quick bite to eat and grab some refreshments for the journey ahead.
One of my favorite experiences every time I go out for a “long walk” is the capacity that we humans have to let serendipity take control and change courses from what we have already planned. The more you resist it, the harder it is to proceed. On the contrary, if you allow what unexpectedly happens to become part of a new strategy, even the most challenging event cannot take you away from a positive experience.
Incredible views, conversations, and most importantly, bonding!
While we were waiting for our food, the wind picked up and started to blow quite hard and within a few minutes, a sudden rainfall made us rush inside a small store that was nearby. The sky turned dark and something in my mind told me that we were not going anywhere soon.
Time for a change of plan
There was slight unrest among us but what could we do? Order more food? Talk? Hide inside electronic devices or simply wait out the unknown?
While I was quietly fighting with my assumptions, the kids saw what none of the adults could see.
We were inside a typical tourist beach store, which was a mixture of Chinese Disneyland knock-off toys, ice cream, and a memorabilia museum from previous summers.
In a spur of the moment move, the kids in our group picked up a fashion dummy that was not in use and proceeded to refit it with a jacket, cap, and other trinkets.
What they had created was a hilarious new version of a beached alien which turned a gloomy afternoon into a happy playground. The result of their spontaneous action created an atmosphere where clients and the shop owner could not help but suddenly smile and the mood was instantly changed for the better.
We stayed for almost three hours until the rain decided to let up so our journey could resume. The week went on and the weather got better and I learned a very important lesson that my assumptions can sometimes be changed with little more than a spontaneous act of fun.
During our journey, I became overwhelmed at how teenagers (and adults) would rather first connect with their mobile phones rather than communicate with other people, thus losing focus, attention, and the opportunity to “be in the present” and experience what is happening around them.
I asked the kids the following question:
"Why do you have such an uncontrollable urge to use technology, all the time, everywhere?"
The reply was direct and without much drama. I was told that if it was a problem, then I should feel comfortable enough to tell them that technology gadgets and mobile phones should be off at all times during the key parts of our journey, but that I should give them the opportunity to connect with their friends in the evenings for a set amount of a few hours.
To make it even better, the youngest in the group, told me:
“When a person is happy, being happy is enough. Simple, right?”
I guess we are too often limited by our own beliefs and preconceived ideas which in turn do not allow us to take a clean slate approach in every new situation.
The week and our adventures went very smoothly, parents connected in a new way they had rarely done before with their kids and thankfully the weather was near perfect. But, I learned a very important lesson that my assumptions, like in life, can sometimes be changed with little more than a spontaneous act of fun.
Let me share with you 5 things you can do with your kids at home to replicate some of the experiences we do at the Walking Mentorship.
1. Choose a place to go
Any route is better than no route. If you are out of ideas, you can always agree that it will be an exploration into the unknown land. They will love the idea of walking even before starting.
2. Bring a set of questions
Kids love to learn new things and hear stories about their parents. Make sure the rules are clear and everyone answers the questions when asked. Rotate around the group and you will see that no one will count the distances and ask: “how much further till we get there?”
3. Be open and attentive to what emerges
Remember what happened inside the beach store? Changing plans might just be the best thing that can happen. Don’t be a stickler for exact plans and enjoy a new surprise twist to your walk!
4. Just go with the flow
Most likely you are the only one worried and upset about something that did not go according to plan. Stop and join the fun, you can always regroup later and everyone will be happy, including yourself.
5. Create a regular practice
Walking with your kids will trigger experiences that you can turn into memories that no one will ever forget and create a bond that is more meaningful, personal, and long-lasting. Collecting moments like these are what matters most in life. Agree?
If you are curious about the Walking Mentorship programs for Parents and Kids, please visit the website and João will be happy to tell you more about it - https://walkingmentorship.com/program/parents-and-kids/
Keep walking with me,
João Perre Viana
About João Perre Viana
João is the founder of the Walking Mentorship and can be described as a "glass-half-full” type of person. Raised in Portugal, he quickly called the world his home. He completed high school in the state of Montana in the United States, studied law in Lisbon, Portugal, and ended up selling his first digital company to an advertising group just before the bubble burst in 2001
João is an advisory board member in different organizations and also a guest lecturer at EADA in Barcelona and Lviv Business School in Ukraine.
For many years he has been a business mentor at numerous pre-accelerators, incubators, and entrepreneurial programs.
Bringing 15+ years of international background, João has a strong focus and experience in Change Management, Business Transformation, and Individual mentorship, he developed a philosophy of self-development coined Walking Mentorship. A fresh breeze to drive individual change and impact organizations from within.
João is also an Associate Mentor of the International Mentor Network.