The Essential Walks Series: Connect Your Essence, Your Life, and Your Work

Thoughts on Excellence Free E-Newsletter Series
Volume 22, Issue No. 1a
September 1, 2023

By Dan Coughlin


The only source of knowledge is experience

Sometimes in the midst of a busy day people will go for a walk outside. It might be for a block or a mile or three miles. They just put their phone down and walk by themselves.

Why do they do that?

For three main reasons:

  1. To clear their mind.
  2. To see things with a fresh new perspective.
  3. To enhance their health.

Essential Walks are about taking a break in the midst of a busy day and thinking about the non-physical and non-material essential aspects of your life.

The same three reasons remain for taking an Essential Walk inside your mind as for taking a physical walk outside.

Throughout my entire career my focus starting in 1985 has been on helping other people to achieve whatever they want to achieve. I’ve rarely talked about these essentials in my articles, seminars, or executive coaching sessions. However, these essential topics have always played a major role in every major decision I have made in any aspect of my life. So now I think it’s time to offer questions on these essential topics for others to use toward being what they want to be and achieving what they want to achieve.

As I will say many times, these are just my own thoughts and reflections. My ideas on these topics are no better or no more correct than anyone else’s. There is a great deal of mystery and unknown within the topic of Essential Walks, and no one’s ideas are any better or worse than anyone else’s. I offer mine in the hope that they will spur you to pause and reflect on the non-material and non-physical essential aspects of your life.

Throughout this long series of articles on Essential Walks, I will often use definitions from MWD (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

In MWD, the word “essential” means relating to or constituting essence; of the utmost importance; and something necessary and indispensable. That is what this series will focus on: your essence, the part of you that is of the utmost importance, and the aspects of you that are indispensable.

Topics for Essential Walks

In any given Essential Walk, you can only reflect on a few key ideas at a time. Otherwise, you can become overloaded and burdened down. Each article in this series on Essential Walks will focus on a few key words or short phrases.

Here are ideas that we will dive into in this series: essence, virtue, egotism, integrity, discernment, peace, freedom, purpose, joy, gratitude, wisdom, introspection, hope, mercy, forgiveness, justice, fairness, kindness, patience, respectfulness, caring, compassion, calmness, unconditional love, empathy, immediate gratification, instant satisfaction, short-term pleasure, conscience, inner voice, quest, vocation, grace, and many more.

As you can see, these are topics that you can’t hold in your hand or measure or carry around. They make up the essence of who you are as a person.

Each of these Essential Walks will take you away from focusing on your bills, house, cars, material items, title, bank account, and responsibilities at work and home. And then after each Essential Walk, I hope you will take your insights back into those areas of your day-to-day life.

An essential life is not separate from a physical, material, family, community, or work life. The one flows into the others. However, without time for Essential Walks, you can easily lose sight of the connection between your busy personal and professional lives and the essential aspects of who you are as an individual. And that lost connection can keep you from fully being the person you want to be in the future both personally and professionally.

Republishing Articles

My newsletters, Thoughts on Excellence, have been republished in approximately 40 trade magazines, on-line publications, and internal publications for businesses, universities, and not-for-profit organizations over the past 20+ years. If you would like to republish all or part of my monthly articles, please send me an e-mail at with the name of the article you want in the subject heading. I will send you the article in a word document.

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