Walking Backwards


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Greetings.  At first I thought it was a bit odd that one of our neighbors would routinely walk through the neighborhood backwards.  Zipping past our house with great speed, grace, and determination, then turning the corner and heading up the hill.  Appearing quite happy about his somewhat unique form of exercise and appreciative of the stares and smiles he would find along the way.  And rarely turning his head to notice a parked car or adjust to an oncoming vehicle or creature.  “Different strokes for different folks,” I presumed.  But was he on to something worth knowing?

And so I tried it, but with much less impressive results.  Struggling to find my stride, I found myself walking at a humorously slow pace and turning cautiously to greet each approaching sound while keeping my arms spread wide to guard against any possible collision.  “This is hard work,” I thought.  Especially when compared to the relatively simple task of walking straight ahead and seeing where you were going.  A task I must have mastered as a small child and tweaked only slightly in the intervening years.  But curiosity got the better of me and I gained a bit of speed I also began to do a bit of research on walking backwards–only to discover that it was a much more common practice in Japan and several other countries in Asia.  And that it had a lot of benefits like burning more calories, increasing balance, strengthening peripheral vision, and improving hearing.  It also reduced the force and stress on knees, built stronger abdominal muscles, and improved overall coordination.  And some studies even suggested that it enhanced brain function by making new and valuable connections.

All of which got me thinking about other powerful though less scientific benefits of walking backwards.  Like changing our perspective and the way we look at the world around us.  By looking closely at where we’ve come from before we figure out where we’re going.  Or, learning to rely on other senses in our quest to learn, grow, and innovate.  Or, getting back to the basics of discovering how to walk all over again as the best way to make a fresh start in rethinking about the things that matter most.  

We win in business and in life when we try to walk backwards.  And when we stretch to see our work from a very different vantage point.


Republished with author's permission from original post.

Alan Gregerman
Alan Gregerman is an award-winning author, consultant and keynote speaker who has been called "one of the most original thinkers in business today" and "the Robin Williams of business consulting." His work focuses on helping companies and organizations to unlock the genius in all of their people in order to deliver the most compelling value to their customers.


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