I just returned from hiking in Southern Utah as part of our annual business partner’s retreat. It was all that it was supposed to be. While the days spent outside soaking up the blue sky and inhaling fresh air were short-lived, the mental and physical benefits I reaped will last for a while. And, that is the reason we make this trek every year.

Ironically, I read an article yesterday written by Brynn Schmitt entitled, Why Kids Need Wilderness and Adventure More Than Ever. I loved this article, and shared it with my network. It speaks to what I so firmly believe. Yes, it applies to kids, but it also, and perhaps more importantly, applies to adults. It applies to us! Yes, you. Me. Your colleagues. Your boss. Your direct reports.

My business partners and I know this and we take a trip each year that requires us to get outside and be adventurous. We recognize the value of getting away from the office, getting away from our technology, and getting outside as an opportunity to hit pause and clear our minds. Some years, like this year, it’s hiking, but we’ve also gone snow-shoeing, cross-country skiing, kayaking, running, bike-riding, and rappelling.

Go Outside and Play!

As adults, we need to get outside of our homes and offices. As kids we are told to “go outside and play.” At some point we stop hearing this. We stop playing. We stop adventuring. We become scheduled and cautious.  Then we become over-scheduled and over-cautious.

Our business retreat requires us to physically get outside and step outside of our comfort zone. When I am climbing up a mountain, and it’s steep and rocky, I really have no choice but to concentrate on where I am putting my foot, and where my next step is going to take me. I find I don’t have the capacity, nor the capability, to fill my mind with all sorts of other clutter. I can’t worry about work, about relationships, about bills, or anything else that is taking up room in my brain. I’m clearing my mind by virtue of needing to focus on the task at hand: staying safe while I scramble up the side of a mountain.

Amazingly, my mind clears. Even more incredible is that while I’m not intentionally trying to solve problems or be creative, I find that problems get solved and I do come up with creative solutions and new ideas. My mind must wander while I am focusing on step after step, and subconsciously, the fog clears and, in it’s place, clarity appears. We don’t force conversation about the direction and strategy of our business while we are on our retreat, but inevitably more effective strategies and new ideas work their way into our minds and into our conversations at the end of each day. Stepping away from the day-to-day allows us to focus on the bigger picture.

Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone!

Adventure doesn’t have to be dangerous, but it does have to get you outside of and away from your comfort zone. For me, the key is getting doing something active, getting my adrenalin flowing (at least a bit), taking in incredible views, and breathing in fresh air. A sense of adventure brings out all sorts of great leadership qualities that can be carried back to the office. Think about it … an increased sense of self-awareness, strategic thinking, confidence, risk-taking, decision-making, judgment, etc.

Ditch the Screens and the Greens!

We spend too much time in front of our “screens” and sitting in our chairs. We wake up every morning and immediately review our calendars and our to-do lists. Siri alerts me prior to every call and meeting. I use my drive time to catch up on phone calls or podcasts. When do we get a chance to think? For me it’s clear: I need to get outside to clear my mind!

Many people insist that they do “get outside” to clear their heads regularly, but I’m sorry, playing golf every Friday afternoon, and talking business the entire time, doesn’t count. Other people say, “I can’t take the time away from my home/the office for ‘fun.’” Are you serious? You can’t afford NOT to take the time to do something like this. By the way, getting outside and being adventurous doesn’t have to cost you anything. We all have an “outside” to go play in, no matter where we live!

The bottom line is this: Get outside. Get outside of your comfort zone. Allowing your mind and body to be quieted and to be challenged by getting outside and experiencing a little bit of adventure does a world of good for you (and those around you)!  What do you think? Is it time to go play?