Manifesto for a modern flâneur – Why is it vital to become a modern flâneur?

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We all live hectic lives.

We’ve got overbooked agendas with meetings to attend, reports to write, people to meet. We juggle to keep equilibrium between our business and private lives. When we travel for business, we rarely see beyond the airports, hotels and meeting rooms.

We’re always connected, always on.

There are so many reasons, good or bad,that force us to act like hamsters running on a wheel.

But what if we occasionally stopped running? What if we slowed down – just a bit – to soak up some of the life around us? Observing our surroundings, questioning and sampling them could be a pause that refreshes, leaving us recharged, reconnected, and inspired.

What if we adopted a flâneur attitude?

 

What is a flâneur?

 

A flâneur is often referred to as a stroller, a lounger, a saunterer, or a loafer.

But this is too simplistic.

The term dates back from the 16th century but it developed in the 19th century, in the context of the industrial revolution when literary and artistic circles began to consider pointless wandering as a vital response to a thriving capitalistic society driving the focus toward economic ties amongst people rather than community ties.

We discovered that luxury fashion brand Hermès had adopted the theme of the “Flaneur” for a 2015 exhibition in London’s Saatchi Gallery. Hermès artistic director Pierre-Alexis Dumas perfectly summarized what the flâneur attitude is:

Flânerie is an attitude of curiosity, it’s about opening our minds and not taking anything for granted. It’s about always questioning the world we live in and looking for beauty. But being a Flâneur is not about exploring everything and diluting ourselves – on the contrary, it is about actively searching for what’s good for you, what will somehow resonate with your inner self. Flânerie is not about being idle, it is not about doing nothing, it is about actively searching for the essence of things… The idea of Flânerie is deeply human; the philosophy took on importance in France in the 19th century, during the industrial revolution. It was a resistance, a movement looking at how to keep our humanity and our poetic mind in a world that was becoming increasingly rational. There is something about wandering which is about not knowing where you are going, surrendering and accepting that the unexpected will come into your life. As human beings, we have a tendency to try to control everything but I think that sometimes, the best things that happen in your life happen by chance.

 

Dans l'oeil du Flâneur, Hermès - Actes Sud

© Emmanuel Pierre/Hermès/Actes Sud

 

What can we, as entrepreneurs, learn as modern flâneurs?

 

As entrepreneurs, we constantly need to innovate; to do things that haven’t been tried; to rethink new and better ways of doing business; to find niches in which to thrive; and to differentiate ourselves from all others.

In this very “noisy” world, where everything seems to have been done before, and where the lifecycle of an idea is constantly shrinking, the pressure to be creative is getting more intense every day.

We need to constantly cultivate creativity to stay ahead of the game.

Some say that creativity is the ultimate key to success for entrepreneurs and we believe that they are right.

Opening our minds and letting go of the past are the first steps towards being more creative. Wandering and letting our minds wander are paramount in this process.

There is a fantastic article in entrepreneur.com that sums up how we can grow creativityIn a nutshell, it’s all about expanding our horizons, shaking up routines, observing the world around us, and experiencing new things.

In my profession as a business coach and consultant, I would useless to my clients if I was stuck the whole day behind a screen or constantly meeting the same people. I need diversity. I need to be aware of the world around me and of what’s going on. I need to make time to read a book; go to an exhibition; walk the city to observe, feel the vibe and see what’s new. I need all this to remain relevant.

 

Melbourne-street-art

Greville street, Melbourne

 

The flâneur hasn’t got a specific agenda: she lets her footsteps lead her wherever they go. It’s by letting go than we will find our best ideas.

Adopting a flâneur’s attitude can help us be more creative.

And there’s another benefit to it, a more personal one.

More and more voices are heard these days pointing out the absolute importance of rest. We can’t be constantly on without risking our health.

In her book, Thrive, Arianna Huffington writes about how her exhaustion could have cost her her life. Is this the quality of life we want to pursue?

Adopting an occasional flâneur attitude is good for both our physical and mental health: it relieves stress, and makes us happier, inspired and more creative.

I personally think that adopting a flâneur attitude is as relevant now as it was in the 19th century. Adapting this philosophy to modern times will enable us to lead better quality lives and grow better quality companies.

 

How do you become a flâneur?

 

To become a flâneur is quite simple.

It just requires a little bit of discipline.

First, you need to shed the guilt and take some time off, even for half an hour.

Just tell yourself that, at some point, you need to reboot because what’s bad for you is bad for your company.

Then, book this time in your agenda, as if it was another appointment.

Disconnect and leave your workplace. Do something besides your usual business routine. Inhale the world around you and allow your mind to rest by opening it to new things. Read a magazine different than your usual ones. Go to an exhibition, a concert, a lecture, or watch a movie. Try a new restaurant, even if you’re by yourself.

You can do to this in your hometown,  but it might actually be easier to do it when you’re abroad.

You just need to find the courage to try something else, even just for an hour or an evening; and even if you are alone.

There is so much to see in this world that can inspire you and nurture your creativity.

How sad it is to hear that people say they’ve just been to Amman, Jordan (as example) but all they did was attend meetings and return to their hotel to order in room service, continue to work, and then fall sleep, completely drained. All because they didn’t move out of their comfort zone, didn’t risk exploration, and besides, “ There’s nothing to do in Amman”…We are here to show you a better way!

 

Darat AL Funun Amman

Darat Al Funun, Amman

 

That’s why I created Modern Flâneurs.

Each city has its own bubbles of creativity, its unique neighborhoods that excite and inspire. Everywhere you go, there is something to discover and learn about the place and its culture.

Knowing more about the culture and the city’s hidden gems gives you an edge when talking to your local business partners. It demonstrates your openness to their world, and they will appreciate your getting to know them better.

And what if, in exploring that new city, you discover a retail or food concept that you could adapt to rock your business at home?

These things won’t happen if you stay in your room.

We know you don’t have a lot of time.

So why don’t we slightly twist the definition of the flâneur to make it more accessible to busy entrepreneurs? To make it more “modern”?

Although a true flâneur doesn’t care about time and a well-planned roadmap, we will ease your journey by providing hints of what you could do and how long it will take you.

Even if you dedicate just a few hours to explore a city, it will transform the experience of your usual business trip.

And you might finally enjoy business travel, and stay a bit longer next time.

Your first step is to join our movement of Modern Flâneurs by signing up.

Wander to discover a world of wonder. Experience the world as a modern flâneur, that’s what we entice you to do.

Come with us and become a wandering entrepreneur.

 

Cathy

 

 

 

 


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