They say the best ideas hit you when you’re in the shower. I’d like to argue that a whole flood of great ideas can occur when you’re on vacation. The best part is that when you return – mind purged, refreshed and full of energy – your priorities line up and your vision is much clearer.
Maybe that’s not what everyone experiences, depending on how you spend your time or how “plugged in” you allow yourself to be out of the office. But when you approach time off for what it’s supposed to be – time to relax – it’s a wonderful rejuvenator.
If you’re taken some time off already this summer, you know what I mean. If not, here’s a reminder why you should:
Time away helps you reconnect with the people closest to you. It affords time to enjoy nature, see new horizons, learn new things, challenge yourself, talk to people you might not otherwise encounter in your daily life. It opens your mind to new possibilities. (Think you cannot afford to take time off from your business? Then may I suggest you take a least a couple of days off to reflect on how you can change that.)
After recently returning from a rugged, two-week family trip out West, I experienced all this, and more. One afternoon, we enjoyed a cool mountain waterfall after a long hike into a gorge. Another day, we took a 5-hour hike into a canyon in 95-degree heat with a Navajo guide to explore ancient cliff dwellings. Later that day, we hung out with Matt Lucas, “the singing drummer,” who claimed to have performed with “everyone but Elvis” in the 1960s and ’70s. (He popularized the song “Maybelline,” is in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and stopped by to apologize for parking in our spot.)
Picking up a hiking map in Utah, we met a lively, 80-year-old stunt double for famous actresses in popular Westerns, who worked alongside Clint Eastwood and the Rat Pack. We experienced Monument Valley on our mountain bikes. One clear night, we did a little star gazing with families from France, Japan and New Zealand.
Why am I telling you all this? To drive home that fresh experiences await when you check out of your routine. And you don’t have to go far – we have lakes and hiking trails, funky people and music, not to mention the same number of stars in the sky, here in the New North. I’d like to suggest a balloon ride, as described in this month’s Downtime feature on page 60.
What’s the ROI for taking time off? That’s hard to say. But a survey by Accountemps asked executives, “In your opinion, are employees more productive before or after a vacation?” More than half (51 percent) said, “after a vacation.”
Whether you can get away this summer or not, it always helps to surround yourself with people who encourage you to think differently. Bob DeKoch, this month’s Face Time feature (page 17), has inspired countless people with his big-picture ideas for the region. As president and chief operating officer of The Boldt Company, co-chair of New North, Inc. and its Branding Committee, DeKoch likes to coax people out of their linear way of thinking. (I recall images of an emotionally moving sculpture he sent to encourage committee members to think beyond the ordinary.) Building leaders is his passion, and it’s the subject of the second book he has co-authored with Phil Clampitt of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Transforming Leaders into Progress Makers: Leadership for the 21st Century will be released this month. In it, DeKoch talks about the “focused-flexibility” mindset, encouraging leaders to set a tone for productive, open discussion.
Often, vacations or inspirations lead to some pretty deep soul-searching. Barbara Wulf, featured in our small business spotlight this month (page 54), helps people find balance in their careers and personal lives in a process she calls “ReCareering.” It involves “being selective, being creative, being fulfilled and being intentional about how you spend your time,” she says.
What a concept. May you carve time this summer to find your bliss.