If you sit at a desk all day, this is for you. If you lead people who sit at a desk all day, this is for you. If you are a business owner or a CEO and you want healthy business outcomes, this is for you because that won’t happen without healthy people outcomes.
This past weekend, I attended a movement festival. It was the first time I ever attended such an event and quite honestly, it was one of the best experiences of my life. I played for three days. I challenged every muscle in my body from my brain to my feet and at the end of the festival guess what…I was completely exhausted, physically drained, and overwhelmingly enlightened. I danced salsa, bachata, burlesque and belly. I practiced martial arts, yoga, and acrobatics (my sport of choice). I learned Thai massage, got in touch with my chakras, and did some brain rewiring. I met people from all over the country and all walks of life. I might have even gotten hit in the head with someone’s bra (Burlesque is liberating). The only thing I didn’t do much of was sleep but I’m certain I’ll make up for that in the coming days.
Those who know me know that I’m a physically active person who is very health conscious. I was an athlete in high school and taught aerobics in college. As an adult, fitness has been lifestyle choice. From biking to boxing to balancing, I’ve run the gambit. This said, physical activity has been more of a destination, a way to start the day or end the day versus a way to keep me sharp and fluid throughout the day. I knew I would need a little extra energy for this event but I didn’t expect to end my movement experience barely being able to move. Despite being sore from head to toe I felt amazing. Three days of movement, play, connection and enlightenment that was all about achieving my best version of me.
As I reflected on the toll this event had on my body I realized that like many others, I spend my day in a pretty sedentary state. I wake up in the morning, work out for an hour and then sit for 8-10 hours, sometimes more. If the weather is nice, I might get out for a walk or hit a yoga class but I’m sitting more than anything else…and I’m an adult over 40 athlete. Sometimes when I get up from my desk, it takes a moment to get everything moving. Sometimes my brain starts to fade in the afternoon. Sometimes it’s a little depressing to just be sitting at my desk steadily working, grinding, attending meetings, trying to meet deadlines and make a contribution. Maybe this is why as a society we have developed so many physical and mental health issues. We don’t move! And we certainly don’t play.
Leaders, imagine this as a business norm…organized play time. As children we had gym and recess and sports weaved into our day because we needed the release so we could come back to class and focus. Why does this go away as adults? If anything, we need it more, especially as we emerge from Covid. What if play and movement was part of organizational culture. What if play and movement was a business norm on the path to healthy outcomes for everyone. What if play and movement was at the core of human connection within an organization versus outside of it. Maybe, just maybe we would be healthier, happier, more productive and more connected. After all, everyone can move and anyone can play. It’s not about being bigger or better or stronger or smarter. It’s about achieving your best version of you with the energy, support and encouragement of your colleagues. The very people we spend the most time with and often don’t even know much about outside of a job title.
So leaders, I’m challenging you to build a better business by building a healthier, happier workforce. This will require some thinking outside the box but in my experience, the most purposeful use for a box is for my cat (boxes are a cat’s best friend). Get your people moving. Find ways to play. Do less sitting in isolation and more connecting. Have fun. We were/are designed for this! I can guarantee the work will get done and then some. It may just get done on a slightly different schedule with greater productivity, innovation, and measurably better quality. We are not pushing widgets off conveyor belts anymore. Isn’t it time we abandoned the industrial mindsets of the early 1900s? Our bodies and brains are amazing machines. They deserve to do their best work. Sit less. Play more. MOVE!