May 15, 2014 by Natalie

Get Away From Your Computer

A couple weeks ago Commerce Kitchen took a philanthropy field trip to a horse rescue ranch, where we shoveled horse shit, stuffed bags with hay, tried to fix a baler, took rides on a tractor, and groomed horses.

Loading hayIt was freaking awesome.

Jamie, one of the CK owners, posted earlier this week about how the outing taught her how to be a better leader. I asked the rest of the staff to give me their feedback, and here’s what they said.

I never thought shoveling horse shit could be so rewarding.” – Kevin

“I learned that we all have different leadership styles and approaches to collaboration. We need to understand each other’s styles, and recognize how we can best work together to be effective with clients (or a horse ūüôā ).¬†And I loved the Colorado sunshine, the views, and the overall mission of Zuma’s.” – Leslie

“Humanity has the capacity to do a lot of good, but our society erects more barriers than conduits. I would not have known or taken part in this powerful day if it weren’t for CK and Philanthropy Field Trips. Step-up humans. Spaceship Earth is not a free ride.” – Russ

“Havana [the horse] taught me trust must be earned, and loyalty is a two-way street.” – Tynan

“When your poop shovel breaks, you just get another shovel!” – Jen

“Something that always blows my mind is how intangible our work is and that we spend more time with our computers than we do with other living beings. So for me, my favorite part was partaking in physical tasks with tangible things (like scooping poop) and interacting with real beings (like horses and you guys!)” – Alex

Like Alex, my biggest takeaway from the day was that it feels really good, like really really good, to get away from my computer and do the kind of work that uses my body, has clear goals, allows me to be outside, and gives me the chance to be close to animals.

New American GothicThose of us who spend eight hours a day on a computer¬†are at much¬†less risk than those who do physical labor. Sure, sitting is really bad for you, but we’re much less likely to be crushed by machinery, inhale toxic fumes,¬†have a horse bite off our finger (it happened several months ago at the ranch!), or lose a few toes to frostbite.

Scientists, doctors, exercise freaks, and everyone else in the world has been arguing for a while now that physical activity makes you smarter, more productive, and happier.

Grooming a horseSunshine also has amazing benefits, like reducing your risk for cardiovascular disease, keeping you healthier overall, and, of course, includes all the great ways vitamin D benefits us.

When we work in front of our computers we get less exercise and less sunlight, the lack of which makes humans more miserable.

Aside from the great lessons we learned that we’ve applied to our work (how to lead better, how to collaborate, etc.), doing something physical just felt good for our bodies, which in turn helps our minds function better.

I’d encourage all business owners to get your staff off their asses every few months and volunteer somewhere that allows them to use the rest of their bodies. Volunteer at Zuma’s, Habitat for Humanity, or any other number of outdoor organizations.

Yes, we also rented a party bus to drive us out there while we drank¬†bloody marys, and we had a food truck cater lunch, so it wasn’t all physical labor. Incentivizing your city-slicker¬†devs with something like that might help sweeten the deal initially, but once they’re out there in the sunshine they’ll love it.

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