We are now at the end of a journey that probably could not have gone better and should not have been done differently. Like any other Walking Mentorship program, the experience was as unique as the days and hours of our time spent together and we could not have experienced happier times while sharing the road of life together as Parents & Kids.
In July, we had the experience to walk with Parents & Kids from different countries, cultures, and ages.
The program for Parents & Kids always leaves us with a bittersweet taste may be due to the fact that they are growing up too fast at this age or because we now have a clearer understanding that time is very limited. Whatever is the reason, this experience cannot be duplicated. Even if we decided to return with the same people the following year, it is a co-production of an incredible dimension where everyone contributes to the final and unscripted result.
I want to share with you how the program that supported us towards the best version of our relationship between us Parents & Kids evolved during those 8 revealing days together as a group.
Day 1: Starting Point
When we met on our first day, as expected, there was a mixture of excitement and anxiety. The week ahead would hold a significant amount of mysteries, and that is precisely the way it was meant to be. Our starting point was the town of Vigo, Spain on the coastal Galician town that faces the Cies Islands and the mighty Atlantic.
Nothing beats an early start for a great adventure.
Our first exercise was about listening, which is probably the single most crucial aspect of any relationship. Without the capacity to listen, there is no way to know and truly understand what the other wants, needs, or the message they are trying to deliver. It is a rare and generous gift in this media bombarded society we now find ourselves living in – to truly and attentively listen to another person without interrupting and to listen to their point of view.
Good listening is built on three necessary skills: attitude, attention, and adjustment. Also known as Triple-A listening.
Highlights: Each day, our participants had a list of questions to choose from for every conversation. Also, a page to register on what were the key learnings for each interaction and a page with examples of lousy listening habits and good listening habits. It was amazing to witness how the essential aspects of each other’s lives often go unnoticed. A good example would be a kid discovering what his father majored or studied in university.
Day 2: The end of the World
Our second day included an outstanding journey to the original Finisterra in what was once considered the end of the world in the ancient pre-roman era. We began our day by taking the ferry from Vigo to Cangas and walking around the peninsula. In Facho Donon, we appreciated the ancient lighthouse that signaled the beginning or, the end of the world, depending on which perspective was taken. From this point, we had a magnificent view of the Cies Islands and also of our children's lives.
In such a unique setting, we imagined which possible doubts and questions the ancients would have had when looking to this horizon - what fears, hopes, wonder, and amazement they must have experienced. This exercise was an opportunity to relate to our feelings about the future and discover new things about others and ourselves.
Highlights: In a modern era of abundant possibilities, hectic life, and the fast evolution of digital constantly intersecting into our daily lives, we made it a point to learn and practice a period of JOMO. What exactly is JOMO?
JOMO is an acronym for the Joy Of Missing Out and describes the pleasure of taking a break from social activity – especially social media in order to enjoy one’s personal time and space.
The best view comes after the hardest climb.
Day 3: Walking on Water
We started our “walk” sailing on a boat in the direction of Combarro. Once we touched the ground on the other side of Ria de Pontevedra, we walked into the path of Armenteira Monastery. After walking through what seemed a magical forest, we caught a part of the Ruta dos Muiños and arrived on time to enjoy the swimming pool of our Hotel.
Step-by-step, our week continued to unfold. In the first two days, we were focusing mainly on listening and questioning. Today, we decided to analyze the ways how we make better use of our time.
Highlights: One of our participants calculated by checking his screen time, that he was using roughly 47 hours of social media a week! The expression of shock and shame on his face was priceless. This was a signal not only to himself but to the rest of the group who was more or less in the same ‘boat’ shall we say. Something clicked, and we all knew we were in the right direction on our assignment.
He said to me; "I am rarely on my mobile phone! Right:)
Day 4: Rise and shine.
We started our day with a new section in our program on the route of Pedra e Auga. This stretch was probably one of the most beautiful locations we got to witness during our entire week. We walked on stones and water - descending from the mountains to the flat area near the Ria de Arosa. We arrived through marshlands and vineyards to Cambados. There it was decided that we would sleep near the sea under the open stars.
It was time to analyze much of the information we have been collecting along the route during the week. We needed to create a personal inventory of what would be our next challenge. This exercise was an opportunity to reflect on our successes as well as our best qualities. It was also the perfect time to recognize the areas where we believed we were lacking and could improve on.
Recognizing and understanding our shortcomings as well as our strengths is key to helping us approach future situations differently. Self-awareness bolsters our ability to navigate through life and challenges so as to deal with them head-on and to hopefully create a better outcome for ourselves and our situation.
Highlights: During our morning boat trip, the engine stopped, and we became stranded out at sea. The default reaction would be boredom and to escape to our devices, but somehow, we started to make jokes, speak, and play. It became an hour of fun and learning opportunities. The Skipper took the opportunity to point out some historical highlights of the surroundings, including a unique lighthouse with an exterior ladder. Before we knew it, we were on our way again.
Challenges can always turn into opportunities.
Day 5: Great Weather = Great Mood
We kept our walks mainly to the coast and on the sandy beaches of Ria de Arousa. The weather helped to keep our mood positive and there was plenty of swimming until we reached our final destination in Vilanova.
Exercise: Build a Vision
We were invited to listen, question and look at how we make use of our time as well as analyzing our weaknesses and strengths. This was to be a first step at reviewing our relationships between Parents & Kids.
Firstly, we agreed on a common timeframe. Secondly, we looked at the best moments we’ve had together when we had fun. Finally, we pointed out what gives life to the relationship and what is truly essential? What were the common points and determining factors?
Highlights: It was interesting to see what each participant felt a perfect day could be. To understand what it is to spend fully and committed time together. Real change happens in real life and being in the moment. This could be a real chance to starting to improve our relationships immediately between a parent and child.
Day 6: Discovering Hidden Gems
The day started in the footsteps of Santiago de Compostela. We took a boat up the Ria de Arousa into the Ulla river and after to Pontecesures. We then proceeded to walk on a clearly marked route until reaching the Rivadulla and the hidden gem of casa Marcelo, which runs divinely by Dolores and Manuel.
It was time to focus on bringing some clarity to our next assignment. Our first task was to look for activities and feelings in order to try and pinpoint what makes them unique.
In real life, we only have limited time and resources, and we should focus on what are the clear essentials. This exercise was a process of choice - it was not meant to decide on what to leave out, but more so on what you decide to choose and focus on.
Highlights: As the days and walking accumulated, and each destination would get closer, the tension would sometimes naturally rise.
As the old saying goes:
"No pain – No gain!"
Our talks became more in-depth and the emotions became more personal, honest, and sometimes ‘skin deep’ shall we say. Our participants had robust and honest discussions concerning the usage of mobile phones - confronting different perspectives from a tool you use to a brain-washing machine that controls you. It was hard to see eye to eye, but the benefit of respectful sharing and being brutally honest can’t be undervalued.
Day 7: The Final Stretch
Nearing our final stretch, we reached Santiago. The first hours were uphill but under a morning blanket of a pleasant fog and a magical mist, the uphill challenge was somewhat made easier. It would eventually become flat and downhill until we arrived at Compostela. The feeling of first seeing the pinnacles of the Cathedral was a mix of joy, relief, and more importantly of accomplishment!
At the end of the journey, we felt an amazing sense of accomplishment.
Exercise: Detail the future
“The best views come after the hardest climb.”
By now, we had listed 3 to 5 activities amongst our Parents & Kids which we believed would bring us joy and help recharge our relationships. The main challenge was to implement small changes into our daily habits that would have a small but significant impact on our overall day and relationship.
Highlights: Tunnels are often magical for their acoustics and it doesn’t matter if you are singing hip-hop or a romantic song. It reminded us of the uniqueness of our relationships. If you give the best of yourself, all that is left is to enjoy the presence of the other.
Day 8: The Journey Ends While Another Begins
Sunday was to be the last day of our journey or was it the first? Similar to our visit a few days earlier in Facho Donon (remember the end of the world?), it all depends on which perspective you decide to take.
The final task was to be done between each parent and their kids. It was time to bring our action plan to life. We took a moment to do something we both wanted to do together. We could start seeing how small steps that are taken consistently can bring us a long way to new exciting destinations.
The same applies to what we want to improve with our relationships, and with anything else in our life – small steps in the right direction can lead to incredible destinations together!
Highlights: Arriving in Santiago, one of the kids kept pointing out shops and streets with references to Rosalía de Castro. As it turned out, Rosalía de Castro, the famous Galician poet, was very relevant to that particular kid's parent. This was a topic that arose a few times during the questioning exercises during our first days. In what seemed a natural and effortless way, he was now sharing a special bond with his father that would become a special tradition between them.
The cycle was completed, and a new one was about to begin.
Ultreia et Suseia! which means Keep going and let's go higher!
“The end is always the start of something new.”
The Parents & Kids program is part of the Walking Mentorship program. We already have booked dates and unique locations set for 2020. Pencil in 11-18th of July and 1-8th of August and hopefully we will be walking and discovering a new perspective together that will last a lifetime.
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 us!
João and Nuno
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.
About Nuno Santos Fernandes
Nuno was born in Lisbon, Portugal on the 10th of August, 1972.
He likes to think of himself as an early walker in the ways of life, always looking for the path less traveled. During his school years, he walked in his mind, and after graduating with his Public Relations and Publicity degree, 2 internships were enough to confirm that PR was not his way. Not seeing a clear way ahead and having a passion for dogs and nature, he decided to create a dog hotel, which in 1996 Portugal was just a step from certified madness. Besides a crash course on starting a business, this encouraged him to study animal behavior, and in particular to understand why perfectly intelligent and reasonable owners seemed unable to deal adequately with their dogs and to try to help them to improve.
A few years later presented a new crossroad - A challenge to run an environmental NGO that strived to reconcile the economic interests of landowners in the Alentejo region with the social and environmental impact they create. This was a way of learning with the stakeholders in the terrain and the scholars, again trying to mediate changes of behavior. Feeling in need to structure his business and management skills, he enrolled in an Advanced Management Program for Executives at Universidade Católica de Lisboa, focusing especially on leadership and people management and motivation.
Some years ago, disgruntled by the lack of real options from the Portuguese political spectrum, Nuno decided to start a new political party with a handful of other lone walkers.
The party he helped found will be running for the next European and Portuguese elections. Throughout his way, Nuno is also involved in forestry, agriculture, and real estate, but his guiding star is ever more clearly to have a positive impact on the lives of the people he meets along the way, and by this path live a meaningful and fulfilling life.