I just got back from the longest trip away I have ever taken. I was in Europe for ten days with my wife. The first two days were spent visiting our 3Pillar office in Romania. The balance of the time was spent on a pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi with a nonprofit organization that I support.
How was it that I was able to get this time away? How was it that I was able to break away and get away to refresh myself?
Not only was I away physically, I was away mentally. I was able to check out and immerse myself in the time with my wife and my pilgrimage and with an organization that’s close to my heart.
Here’s how I managed to get “all the way” away on vacation…and how I think you can, too.
The recipe is one that I’ve been working on for a long time. You see, it’s not a natural tendency for me to break away. In fact, I have typically loathed vacations. My rest and my most peaceful moments are when I’m working.
I enjoy progress. I enjoy getting things done. Being productive is what gives me the most rest, the most peace, the most fulfillment, and the most joy.
But I was able to dive into this experience for the following reasons.
1. I have surrounded myself with great people.
When you’re surrounded by people who are better than yourself, you are able to confidently check out and go away. You trust those around you. They are competent, they are talented, they are experienced. They have good judgment. They hold true to the same values that you do.
Every single decision that’s made while you’re gone may not be identical to what you would have done. But you can be assured that the team has the expertise necessary to move the business forward without you. The team members have the judgement necessary to make the decisions and they have the ability to carry not only their weight, but yours as well.
2. I set clear objectives.
The vision of what we are trying to accomplish at 3Pillar is clear. The outcomes we are pursuing in order to get there are defined. The strategies we are pursuing are not only rolled out and communicated, but are well underway.
By having clarity, the organization has guiding principles upon which they can always go back to. By inculturating the organization with this clarity, it becomes a living and breathing organism within the organization. Thus, I do not need to be present to remind people where we’re going and how to make decisions.
3. I’ve delegated.
Once you’ve set clear objectives, the vision, the outcome, and the strategies, the best thing you can do as a leader can is to get out of the way.
Leaders who try to determine how things should be done or make day-to-day decisions aren’t effective. Those who empower the people who report to them excel. They empower their reports so that they can accomplish the vision, pursue the outcomes, and deploy the strategies, using their own initiative, creativity, and judgment.
When this becomes habitual within an organization, you are no longer required to be around.
4. I have a life plan that clearly defines what I am pursuing.
Until this trip, for me, productivity meant getting things done for work. My accomplishments and my peace came from the joy and the fulfillment of getting things done in a professional sense.
But by defining a full and comprehensive life plan, I was able to step away and get things done for my marriage and my philanthropic efforts. I was able to get things done for myself.
I was able to recharge my batteries, work on my personal development, engage with others, and make progress in ways I never have before at such great speeds. This progress was weighed against the vision and outcomes and strategies in my entire life, not just in my business.
That life plan is so important. As I come back and as enter back into professional life on a daily basis, I’m realizing that my time away was not time away from the business.
In fact, it was time to ponder, to think, to connect the dots. It was time to engage in a holistic life that brings me back to work with not only recharged batteries but new ideas, a fresh lease on my professional life. Because of this, I will be a much more impactful leader, a much more creative thinker. I will be much more innovative and strategic, because I had time to think and ponder and enhance my own skills by taking time away.