Finding wisdom in the streets

It’s not often you look at a sign like this and feel cheered, or inspired, yet that’s exactly what happened last Thursday in Leicester Town Centre, during a Street Wisdom event, organised by Learn Connect Do.

For those that haven’t heard of Street Wisdom, it’s described as a way to find ‘fresh answers to personal or work-related questions….with a mission to bring inspiration to every street on earth’. Over the last few years it’s really grown in popularity, and you can find events happening in most cities and towns.

I’ve always enjoyed using spaces as inspiration, so I was intrigued to see what came out of the Street Wisdom process, and how it could be used – not only for me, but as part of the coaching, leadership and team development work I do.

There are 3 stages to a Street Wisdom event, which generally take place over 3 hours. The first is:

Tune Up – its like a warm up for your senses, helping you to notice things more readily and connect all your senses together. We had short exercises to warm us up – looking for patterns, beauty in the unexpected etc. I was particularly drawn to this outlet during the tune up…

… I first noticed the marks that had been made by the water regularly flowing through it, and it got me thinking about whether I’m as efficient at emptying old knowledge, habits and thinking? Whether there’s enough space, light and room for new stuff to grow.

The second step is:

Quest – where you take off on your own, for anything up to an hour with a question in mind – something you’d like clarity on, to think freely and unrestrictedly on, or to make a decision on. You keep that question in mind (mine was ‘How do I help potential clients find me quickly and easily?’) as you walk – using buildings, the landscape, the path you’re treading on or even people to stimulate your thinking.

I found myself getting really distracted at first (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing),so found it helpful to have a clear question to come back to after I’d let my mind wander down different avenues (last pun I promise!).

The first thing that grabbed my attention was this set of chairs

I found myself thinking about the conversation these chairs suggest and about what helps us start or continue a conversation:

  • a common interest or shared values?
  • a shared friend or acquaintance?
  • knowing a bit about that person already?

Definitely some thoughts worth exploring further.

Next I noticed these two things, in fairly quick succession…

A Hi-Tech sign on a drain (a weird theme seems to be emerging with drains!), which made me think about the use of technology, particularly webinars – something I’d been pondering on (procrastinating really) for a while. A chance for people interested in a topic to come together and chat in an informal but informative way. This hi-tech sign put it firmly front of mind and encouraged me to give it more serious thought than I had done so far.

A shop display of tea and biscuits, which came immediately after the drain and made me think about how I could create an atmosphere which is relaxed. A webinar that’s more like having a chat and a cuppa with a mentor.

The final thing I saw, directly outside our meeting point at the end of the hour was the ‘Diverted Traffic‘ sign. I attracted some strange looks as I chuckled to myself and took photos of the sign, but it seemed to beautifully capture my thinking about what attracts or diverts potential clients.

So, to the pub – which was where our street wisdom ended and step 3 began:

Share – over a drink we talked through our street wisdom experience, capturing it on paper if we wanted, and sharing the conclusions we’d come to or answers we’d found. We could share as much or as little as we wanted, but the chance to capture our thinking and discuss it whilst it was so fresh in our minds, was an essential part of the experience for me.

Walking back to the car I found myself continuing to notice things I would have just walked past before. I found myself clearer and more ready to take action. I found myself just a little bit inspired by those few streets in Leicester, and that was a very lovely thing.

Street Wisdom events take place all over the globe, and they run frequently.

I’ll be running my own soon in Birmingham, so look out for them

With huge thanks to Helen Amery from LearnConnectDo for hosting such interesting and stimulating sessions that always make a difference, and to Clare Haynes for leading us through it.

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