Help Them Run Back to the Barn

horse running in fog

If you want workplace inspiration you must intentionally model it and demand it for everyone by intentionally creating an environment where employees are valued, challenged, and catch the excitement of your vision.

Few places have been as inspiring to our family as the Lost Valley Ranch. In fact, the experience we had there is what brought our family to Colorado in the early ’80’s. A dude ranch in Sedalia, CO (only about an hour from where we live today), the site is a family owned and operated working cattle ranch. Its Rocky Mountains location is gorgeous – but what makes it special is the guest experience. With activities of all kinds (including hammock napping, if that floats your boat), fabulous mealtimes with family, programs for all ages, and great entertainment by the ranch staff, you can understand why our family went three times over six years. These trips helped our daughter fall in love with Colorado. She went to college here, fell in love here, and settled here. The rest of us have followed her lead to end up living in this beautiful state.

At the ranch, each adult was assigned a horse at the beginning of the week. Wranglers would discuss your experience with riding (or lack thereof) and pair you up with a horse that would accommodate your skill level. They wanted us to be safe and have fun on our rides.

I wasn’t an experienced rider. I was assigned a beautiful, big “paint” horse that was steady and sure-footed. As I grew more comfortable with riding those first days, I wanted my horse to gallop a bit. And, my horse wasn’t a galloper. No matter what I tried out on the trail or in the fields, I couldn’t get him to run on command.

However, he did run consistently when we reached sight of the barn, his home. At the end of our trail rides, he’d run back to the barn, every time.

It wasn’t surprising. His barn, his stall, was home. He was fed there. He was lovingly bathed and groomed there. His peers were there (horses are social animals, which I didn’t know). The barn was a cool place to be. So, he ran home – because he loved the barn.

In the same way, you can choose to create a workplace that draws employees in. When their needs are met – that is, if they’re treated consistently with dignity and respect – they’ll thrive there. If they’re given challenging work that makes a difference, they’ll bring their best selves to work. If they’re valued for their efforts as well as their accomplishments, they’ll apply discretionary energy to team goals.

Is your workplace somewhere employees run to? Are they excited to get to work, to serve customers, to solve problems with valued peers, and things like that? Or are they not that enthused about getting to work each day, more listless than inspired?

As the atmosphere is set, peers will also treat one another with dignity and respect, and that’ll be an even greater draw.

Workplace inspiration doesn’t happen naturally. Power plays, politics, and ladder-climbing is what happens in workplaces naturally. Remember, if you want workplace inspiration, you must intentionally model it and demand it, of everyone.

That’ll make employees be excited about coming in to work. They’ll “run back to the barn” at the start of every workday.


S Chris Edmonds
S. Chris Edmonds is a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He shares insights on organizational culture, servant leadership, employee engagement, and workplace inspiration. He writes books and articles and records podcasts. In his free time, he's a working musician with the Brian Raine band in Denver, CO.
S Chris Edmonds
- 2 hours ago
S Chris Edmonds