Living as a Leader

Working like Churchill & Hemingway

What do Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway and Virginia Woolf have in common? They worked, and in particular wrote, standing up.

I became aware of this fact back in the late 1980’s while working at Steelcase, Inc. The idea of working at a stand up desk caught the eye of some office furniture executives including one from Steelcase who put it into practice.

The first time I saw this executive at his desk I asked why he worked standing up. He answered “if creative and brilliant people like Churchill and Hemingway worked and wrote while standing up then it might also help me be smarter and more creative.”

That’s all the reason I needed to get myself a stand up desk and begin working on my feet (I need all the brilliance and creativity I can get). That was over 20 years ago and I’ve been working at a stand up desk ever since.

Now I won’t claim that I’m brighter or more creative as a result but I’ve seen a number of other benefits that come from working standing up.

First, I tend to work faster because I am more focused on the task at hand.

Second, it’s made a difference in my health. I burn more calories and save my back working on my feet.

Third, when people unexpectedly stop by my office and we’re both standing it tends to create a more succinct and to the point conversation.

Finally, it meets my need of being in perpetual motion. I don’t sit still well for long periods of time and prefer to rock if I do sit (typically not many rocking chairs in offices and conference rooms) so standing is my best option.

So I’ll be standing doing my work as long as my body allows so that I’ll continue to be more productive, healthier and, God willing, maybe even a little more creative as a result.

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