Take a Vacation, Dude!


The Vacation-Deprived Leader

by Meredith Kimbell
Eric hadn’t taken a vacation in much too long. He’d tried, but something always interfered. Too often, he sent friends and family off without him. He knew he was tired and far from his best, but didn’t see any hope that the demands of work would change soon. What could he do?

What Worked

Stop Acting Like a Victim: Eric was shocked when I called him a “victim.” He protested. He was a leader on top of things and the one to make things happen! Perhaps, but he wasn’t using these attributes on his own behalf. He realized that he had fallen victim to an insidious organizational culture in which bragging about how much you overwork was normal and indicated your commitment to success. He hated admitting the truth, but it was his first step to changing.
What You Can Do: Do you take care of yourself as well as you care for your people? They want you in great shape. Show them how to balance work and life. Schedule all of your vacations on January 1st each year. Buy the tickets, make deposits that lock you in, and then unplug and go!
Give Up Your Grandiosity: Eric was the “hero” in too many crisis situations. He realized that he liked the adrenalin rush and being so valuable, but also resented that he “had” to save the day. With more reflection, he discovered a deeply seated belief that he was responsible for everyone’s well being and success. In addition to its impact on him, Eric also realized how his approach encouraged a culture of crises rather than quality. As he understood how his unquestioned beliefs locked him into an unwanted future, he began shifting his beliefs and choices.
What You Can Do: If you work through weekends and vacations, question your beliefs about your professional goals and obligations. What “have to’s” and predictions of doom drive your choices? Notice the impact of your assumptions on your personal fulfillment, happiness and productivity, on your team and family, and on work culture and success. Think again and open a foundation for new decisions.
Decline and Delegate Aggressively: Eric discovered he was consumed with doing the wrong things. He knew his job was to think and act strategically, but he constantly collapsed into putting out fires. Reviewing his calendar showed that he spent almost 80% of his time on tactical issues of limited value. He re-set his priorities and schedule.
What You Can Do: If you could only work 4 days a week – no more, what would you stop doing? Stop now. Decline and delegate aggressively. Delegating, even when you can do something faster, better or easier, helps others develop their capabilities and contributions. Declining can help everyone focus more clearly on what is most important. Direct your personal efforts to building client relationships and staff and leading organization changes that will free you to rest as well as build a platform for new business success.

Business Impact

Eric created a win-win-win impact. Personally, he slept better and found new support and appreciation from those he loved. His team gained new focus, skills and energy as he set clearer priorities and they, too, took regular recovery time. Over time, with consistency and mentoring, his approach cascaded across his team and strengthened their organization culture and business results.

What’s Next

Use and share these ideas. If you or someone you know is suffering from unrelenting demands and not taking consistent, complete breaks for renewal and re-connection with loved ones, a coaching program can help you take back control of your life.
If leaders you coach want to improve their work-life quality, suggest they call me. I am never too busy for your referrals. Our first conversation is always without charge.?

Posted with permission from Meredith Kimbell’s newsletter: Leadership Coaching Notes 7/7/08. Visit www.corporateadventure.com. Contact Meredith at mkimbell@corporateadventure.com.

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