Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us. -Maya Angelou
The Wall Street Journal reported that “long periods of work without vacation can lead to reduced productivity, diminished creativity, and strained relationships.” The article went on to talk about how fewer vacation days have led to an increase in heart attacks, strokes, and an overall decline in our national health.
For many of us, August is historically a time for a vacation. It is the time of year when we schedule time with family and friends and some of us even used to venture to faraway places. Given the travel restrictions and safety issues associated with gathering with extended family and friends during a global pandemic, perhaps this summer, more than ever, vacation days are essential.
CNBC reports that only 28% of Americans will use all of their vacation days in a given year. With the current situation, many people don’t feel they can take a day off and they are working from home around the clock, seven days a week. It is difficult to shift gears from our fast-paced work lives to the lazy days of summer especially when many leaders are working from home and the line between the “office” and the “family room” is significantly blurred. The truth is, taking a vacation is something that has always proved challenging for engaged leaders even before this chapter in history:
Maintaining focus on having fun isn’t just about rest and recuperation: When you go on vacation, your routine is interrupted. As an entrepreneur or business leader, if you didn’t come back from your vacation with some ideas about how to shake things up, it’s time to consider making some changes … Freed from the daily stresses of my working life, I find that I am more likely to have new insights into old problems and other flashes of inspiration. -Richard Branson
Why take time off when there is nowhere to go?
Taking time off is the perfect time to practice leadership development with the people that matter most in our lives. I sometimes hear from Senior Leaders that they leave the best of themselves at work and personal relationships suffer as a result. Because it is hard to slow down and take time off, try the following strategies to help you ease into vacation days while bringing the best of who you are to those that matter most.
Here are 4 Ways to Develop Leadership Skills During Summer Vacation:
Step One: Listen
“A better idea than my own is to listen.” Mark Twain
Do you listen with the will to learn? It is foundational to your ability to propel yourself and your relationships into the future with vitality. Find out how in this article:
The average person hears 20,000-30,000 words in a 24-hour period. Read this article for tips on listening through the noise:
Step Two: Express Empathy
Empathy is impossible without listening which is why these strategies are in steps. Did you know the word LISTEN contains the same letters as the word SILENT? Read this article for exercises to develop self-empathy as well as tools for building empathy for others:
Step Three: Identify the Feeling
“Experience is not what happens to you, it is how you interpret what happens to you” -Aldous Huxley
Once you have listened and developed empathy for yourself or another, you are ready to dig a little deeper. It is time to identify what feelings are behind our met or unmet needs. Without this step, forward momentum is slow and painstaking. Click on this article for a feeling word wheel and even an app that can help you determine the feeling behind the need:
Step Four: Create Shared Understanding
Once you have listened, expressed empathy, and identified the feeling behind the need, you are ready to create a strategy for moving forward. This strategy is built on understanding yourself first, and then others. Your ability to create a shared vision with others rests in your dedication to practicing Step 1-3 every day. This article will get you started on that framework:
Vacation time with loved ones is an optimal time to apply leadership strategies that will enhance not just executive presence but our ability to be present …
So I leave you with a question inspired by Maya Angelou’s beautiful quote: How will you make time and space to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from you?
Want to learn more? Please email me for a complete list of feeling words, needs and triggered body sensations to help you build your leadership presence at work and beyond.