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'My journey to your community' by Matthew Hoddinott



I remember the summit feeling when I took my dumpy unfit body to the top of Ben Nevis. I went with one of my closest friends, who 8 years beforehand had employed me as a green ambitious Country Manager. The feeling of elation, achievement, success and happiness all rolled into one. I thought then, surely everybody, who can, should do this.


We undertook another journey a year later, coast to coast along Hadrian's Wall. This time another dear friend joined us as well. We chatted about our lives, our work, nature, life and more. We learnt from each other, and I remember what a truly rewarding experience this had been. We created lifelong memories, inspired and motivated each other and pushed ourselves beyond our comfort zones. I imagined then that if we could create similar experiences with a group of diverse and likeminded people, it would be such an amazing experience.


Fast-forward four years and I’m sat in a coffee shop, recovering from having walked 'The West Highland Way' with one of my Hadrian's Wall colleagues.


You see, the thing with undertaking these adventures, is that the day the aches and pains leave you, you want to go again. The friendship, the learning and the connection are almost addictive.


And so, back in the coffee shop, I was sat contemplating my next adventure. Through the corner of my eye, I saw a hardy northerner in shorts wandering down the high street. A quick text to tell him he’s “mad in November”, led to a cup of coffee, and Andrew indulging me, whilst I chatted about journeys, paths, comradeship, life journeys, etc.

And hence the birth of the fledgling TheNetwalk.life.


I undertook a 90 day 'Create the Impossible' challenge (search Michael Neill) in January. The idea behind the challenge is to create something which you consider impossible. I’d imagined business walking groups, talking about ideas and inspiration in the wilderness of Cumbria, but never had the time or inclination to make it a reality.


My discussion with Andrew, and Michael Neill’s day-by-day inspiratio, led to a draft outline. Andrew filled in the blanks, created an identity, and put in a bucket load of hard work. I, on the other hand, made him laugh with the groups first proposed logo (walk with us long enough and we may tell you what it was), irritated him with my stream of off the wall ideas, and generally smiled a lot.

Andrew and I have history too.

When I was learning to run, after 25 sedentary years, he encouraged me to “run like I had a helium balloon on my head”. I did. And I subsequently fell over and tore all my ankle ligaments.

(Andrew posing, unknowingly, where I had fallen and torn my ligaments – he didn’t smile so much after I told him!)


Additionally, Andrew is one of the two last people I had an alcoholic drink with. He is probably the last person to see me drink. That’s a real accolade, as I had made a career from drinking with a lot of people on a daily basis.


Andrew and I come from different backgrounds, we have different ideas and different compasses. But that’s the whole point of what we are trying to create. A group where we can bring diverse ideas to the table to solve tomorrow’s problems. To make a success of all our todays, and to give back to our communities. A group where we can have safe discussions, where everybody can help each other be the best we can be, whilst helping each other.


Originally the community was going to be branded as The Institute.Life but bureaucracy won through and the rest is history.

In essence, we want disrupters, entrepreneurs, leaders, future thinkers, shepherds and guides, any person with a passion for their professional life to come and make The Dot Life community, theirs, ours and yours.


Come and contribute, whilst exercising in the fresh air, be heard, be helped, be inspired and be you.

Matthew (June 2020)

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