When is the Last Time You Took a Field Trip?

Last week I joined a couple of close friends for a field trip to Boulder, Colorado. We spent the day learning from a startup company that helps creatives do what they do better. 

I left with my head spinning on many levels. As a speaker and coach who spends most of my time encouraging leaders and organizations toward high performance, I was grateful to have the chance to be the one taking the notes. 

Field Trip 1

The day reminded me of the importance of field trips. When I was a kid in school the field trips were my favorite days of the year. While most of the fun was missing class, I actually learned a thing or two when we left the routine of the classroom. As a leader it is easy to fall into the rut of the routine. 

For me, I’m glad I took time away from the norm and flew across the country. The field trip forced me to do three things. 

1. Think – The leaders in the room last week were thought leaders. Their intelligence was on full display, and honestly, at times I struggled to keep up. I spent most of the day listening. On the plane ride home I found myself thinking in new ways. Scalable ways. Simple ways. I realized I don’t spend enough time thinking. 

In a blogpost on thinking, My friend Mark Miller wrote, “Leaders are not generally paid for the work of their hands as much as they are for the work of their heads.”

Do you spend too much time working in the business rather than on the business. Leaders who invest time on the task of thinking create a tremendous competitive advantage.

I challenge you to carve out time to consistently think. A field trip can jump start your brain. It worked for me.

2. Question – I was fascinated by the processes of the startup. They clearly have also spent time thinking. Their thinking has led to simplicity and simplicity has become a filter to attack complexity.

Field Trip 2Seeing their systems and processes made me question my own systems and processes. When I started my company the goal was to survive. Now that I have been at it for a while survival is no longer the target. I now hope to thrive. This will not happen and my business will not scale unless I continually work on my infrastructure. Making the visit out West helped me surface several questions that I am confident will force me to refine moving forward.

Are you using a simple strategic process to help you win in today’s competitive world of craziness? If you want to put yourself in question mode, go look at how others are doing things.

3. Learn – My thinking and questioning led to learning, which was ultimately the goal of the trip. I was different when I left than I was when I walked in. I gained a greater appreciation for the link between technology and transformation. And on a side note, I discovered Boulder, Colorado is worth another visit. 

Anytime we travel we open ourselves up to all sorts of learning possibilities. When is the last time you learned something new that forced you to change the way you work? I’m guessing it was the last time you removed yourself from your daily routine.

Thinking, questioning, and learning are all vital for a high performance leader. If today finds you lacking intentionality in any of the three, I suggest you take a field trip. It will make you a better leader.

Leadership Begins at Home,


Can you think of a place you visited as a leader in hopes of learning? What was the result of your visit?

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