Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Walking and Looking

Today I went for a walk in West Sussex with a pal, to somewhere I've not been before, Burton Mill Pond.  It was (is, still, as I write) a beautiful, warm, if windy, Autumn day. We walked in sunshine and in dappled shade, a gentle level(ish) walk of only 3.5k. And I loved it.

Along the way, I took some photos on my mobile phone, a habit I've developed when I'm out and about. I've shared some already on facebook and Twitter.

Folks who know me here or through social media, will be aware that I've recently taken to arriving early in London for professional and/or networking events and, using an app called 'WalkIt', have been meandering the byways and hidden paths of London as a reflective and non-stressful way of getting there and, more importantly, arriving, calmly and mindfully.

I've also taken photos on my mobile during these walks and posted them on Twitter as I journeyed on, using the hashtag #LookUp. This has become something of a mantra for me, more so since my heart surgery and subsequent events. But it's not new. I first suggested that people would benefit from 'looking up', lifting their eyes from the pavement or just eye level itself, and looking around or indeed, up, in a blog post in July 2011 called Things Are Looking Up!, inspired by a holiday in Northumbria.
Nowadays, in our rush to get somewhere, or in our inability to lift our eyes from our mobile devices, we are diminished by not connecting with each other or with our immediate surroundings. Granted, British streets can generally be a bit samey, a bit mundane; the same shop fronts, fast-food outlets, newsagent chains etc.

But when we look up above, we can see history in architecture, lives in windows and beauty in nature.

An ex-colleague and valued friend, James Dalton (@jimdalton) posted a piece on LinkedIn this afternoon, Connecting to Reality, wherein he commented about how disconnected from each other and our surroundings we seem to be, and he encouraged everyone to go outside, sit in the sun, Look Up, feel the warmth of the sun and the breeze on our faces. I couldn't agree more.

But I will suggest here that the mobile phone camera may also be a way of reconnecting - with our surroundings, with our environment, with other people - by taking and sharing your photos. What did you see when you looked up? What spoke to you? What was revealed to you when you did that?. How did you feel? Who would you like to share that with? How would you like to share it with them - Twitter, facebook, a blog post?

Don't let tech become the excuse for disconnecting. Use it to see things differently, from another perspective, connect with that moment, that place or that thing, even if just for the few seconds that it takes to shoot the picture or shoot that video clip. It will remind you of that moment when you revisit them. And, if and when you share them, you will be offering some of that experience, that reflection, that learning, to others.

That's got to be a good thing, hasn't it?

P.S: Those photos are also a resource bank for that next presentation you have to give.  Instead of using clip art or stock photos, give your presentations authenticity by using your own photos as the visuals or the slide backgrounds. Reinforce your messages with images which speak from your heart. Make your audience Look Up!


  1. Wonderful blog Niall. I love the thought of capturing and sharing the moments on the device, using it for a sharing and reflective purpose rather than as an escape - thankyou!

    1. Thanks James. Your post on LinkedIn chimed with my thinking in an almost spooky alignment yesterday afternoon. Glad you like mine and thanks for commenting.