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 has led to an increase in heart attacks, strokes, and an overall decline in our national health. For many of us, August is a time for a vacation. It is the time of year when we schedule time with family and friends and some of us even venture to far away places.
I recently read a CNBC report that only 28% of Americans will use all of their vacation days this year and of those, many will work from home on their days off. It is difficult to shift gears from our fast-paced work lives to the lazy days of summer. It is a challenge that is so foreign for some, that we would rather not take the time off because of the uncomfortable jolt in the change of pace. That jolt is the very reason it is imperative for leaders to take a vacation.
Maintaining focus on having fun isn’t just about rest and recuperation: When you go on vacation, your routine is interrupted; the places you go and the new people you meet can inspire you in unexpected ways. 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
Time off can be the perfect time to practice our 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, try the following strategies to help you ease into your vacation while bringing the best of who you are to those that matter most.
Here are Four Ways to Develop Leadership Skills During your 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 a foundation 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 A 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 …
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
Want to learn more? Contact us for a complete list of feeling words, needs and triggered body sensations to help you build your leadership presence at work and beyond.