Return from a Short Hiatus

If you’ve wondered why there hasn’t been any new content posted on The Leaders Locker or new emails in the last couple weeks, it’s because I was away on vacation.  And the kind that doesn’t allow you much contact back with the digital and social world.  While this is always a shock to my system for the first few days, it starts to become kind of nice when you detox a bit because you lose connection with the outside world (namely the workplace).

Going away for a bit is always a great idea.  It’s always good to let your batteries recharge a little.

While I was hanging out on the deck of the cruise ship, my mind went to a place where it could free flow ideas. This “place” was mainly due to relaxation and not caused by some artificial state of induced euphoria – in case you were wondering.  It was that state where your worries and stress just seem to melt away.  Fortunately, I had my iPhone close by to take notes and jot down thoughts and ideas for future posts and articles.

I thought this would be a fitting first article upon my return, because it highlights a key (yet often forgotten) tenet of being a leader.  What is this great piece of wisdom you ask?  It’s not so much great wisdom as it is common sense – and here it is:  Leaders need to take breaks.  If nothing else, to refresh the mind.  However, there are many benefits of vacations or “time away” from the daily grind.

In doing a little research, I pulled these thoughts from an article written by Elizabeth Scott on the importance of vacations for stress relief, productivity, and health.

  • Vacations Promote Creativity: A good vacation can help us to reconnect with ourselves, operating as a vehicle for self-discovery and helping us get back to feeling our best.
  • Vacations Stave Off Burnout: Workers who take regular time to relax are less likely to experience burnout, making them more creative and productive than their overworked, under-rested counterparts.
  • Vacations Can Keep Us Healthy: Taking regular time off to ‘recharge your batteries’, thereby keeping stress levels lower, can keep you healthier.
  • Vacations Promote Overall Well Being: One study found that three days after vacation, subjects’ physical complaints, their quality of sleep and mood had improved as compared to before vacation. These gains were still present five weeks later, especially in those who had more personal time and overall satisfaction during their vacations.
  • Vacations Can Strengthen Bonds: Spending time enjoying life with loved ones can keep relationships strong, helping you enjoy the good times more and helping you through the stress of the hard times. In fact, a study by the Arizona Department of Health and Human Services found that women who took vacations were more satisfied with their marriages.
  • Vacations Can Help With Your Job Performance: As the authors of the above study suggest, the psychological benefits that come with more frequent vacations lead to increased quality of life, and that can lead to increased quality of work on the job.
  • Vacations Relieve Stress in Lasting Ways: It should come as no surprise that vacations that include plenty of free time bring stress relief, but research shows that a good vacation can lead to the experience of fewer stressful days at least five weeks later! That means that vacations are the gift to yourself that keeps on giving
There are two things that I would like to add to this post about vacation.
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The first is that of duration.  One of my mentors told me once that while the short 3 or 4 day weekends are great to help give you a little extra rest, extended vacations (week or more) help you really relax.  While I am sure that this is different for everyone, I must admit that my experiences support my mentor’s comment.  It seems like its usually day 3 or 4 on my vacation before I can truly start to relax.  Its the right amount of time for me to get past the anxiety of having to know whats happening at work.  And while I usually don’t take my company Blackberry on vacation anymore, there is still that nagging voice in my head that wants to know what’s happening at work.  He goes away after 2-3 days, which is when I really start to relax.
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The second is that of perspective.  While vacations hopefully allow your mind, body, and spirit the opportunity to relax a little, I always find that my mind becomes less noisy.  And when there is less noise, I have clearer perspective on life.  Things that may have had me wound up at work, just don’t seem as important any more.  It allows me time to help assess my current priorities and reprioritize if necessary.  I know I did a little of that in this last trip.
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So, with the vacation season upon us, I hope that you are able to slip away and enjoy some nice quite relaxing time that allows you to enjoy family and friends and lets you shed the worry and stress of the daily grind.  Hopefully, those quiet moments will also grant you clarity and perspective as well.
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Now that I’m back, I’ll probably get back in the regular cadence of weekly posts and articles.   This week, we’ll also be closing out our series on Mentoring Basics, so make sure to keep a watch out for that.
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I’ll close by borrowing a Swahili phrase made popular by Disney:
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Hakuna Matata (there are no worries)
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~Jason
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