Rest and our responsibility as leaders

This past week I turned 37. 

In preparation for turning another year, I decided to take the whole week of my birthday off and use it to engage in the things I love the most. I wrote, I read, I reflected, I hiked, I spent time with my daughters, wife, and friends. It was intentional, regenerative and peaceful.

It was so powerful that I intend to make it an annual tradition. 

When I shared my plans with friends and co-workers, there were several that commented “how nice it must be to take a full week off,” or “I wish I could take a full week.

I’m sure some of those comments were said in jest, but some felt like conditioned response. And if so, what does that say about our culture? Why is the idea of taking time off to prioritize self-care and recovery considered such an outlandish idea? 

If you are a leader within an organization, this is something we must commit to changing. Our people are our greatest asset and this should be considered an investment in their health and well-being.

Thankfully, I work for a wonderful, empathetic company, Businessolver, that encourages employees to take time off – they even rolled out unlimited PTO earlier this year. 

But, what’s interesting is that even before this occurred, I noticed co-workers rarely used all their allotted PTO for the year. 

This is completely unacceptable. 

As a leader, it’s our responsibility to find out what’s preventing our people from taking time off and help them to make it a reality. That may also include self-reflecting on how you take time off. If you are unable to disconnect for a week’s time, what signal does that send to your team? Are you responding to emails while you are out or are you setting appropriate boundaries?

I know the feeling of thinking YOU are the only one who can do the work so you couldn’t possibly take time off.

But, suppose you were to quit or get hit by a bus, I would bet the work would still get done. You’re important, just not THAT important. 

It may feel like working is the right choice to do in the moment, but what’s the cost of doing so – what are you sacrificing? 

Remember, work is an infinite game – no one wins work, the point is to keep playing as long as possible. 

Sustainability is a balance of hard work and effort followed by periods of rest. 

We need leaders who are willing to push back against hustle culture and set the expectation that rest is not a luxury, it’s a necessity to stay in the game for the long-term.

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