“You are not that important”.
I recorded a quick tip on social media about this topic the other day. I thought it important enough to share in a longer form blog as well. You see this blog is solely inspired by a good friend of mine and a fellow oenophile. We were talking about the year ahead and all the exciting things we both have going on.
I then said, “I am really excited for our family vacation to Aruba at the end of the year.”
His response stopped me in my track as his response was, “You know I haven’t taken a week’s vacation since 2015.”
Now my friend is a highly successful attorney and works his ass off. I totally respect him for his dedication to his craft, his clients, and providing for his family. However, the conversation took an unexpected turn as I gave my perspective.
You are not that important
I told my buddy, “Look I get it and I struggle taking time away also. However, let me tell you something, you are simply not that important.”
As a stunned look hit his face, I could tell he was a bit perplexed. I know what he was thinking, “Andrew, do you know how busy I am? Do you realize I am a partner in a successful law firm? Do you realize I have obligation to my clients, partners, and colleagues?”
Yes, yes, and yes! I recognize all these things, but let me address them one at a time.
First, do you know how busy I am?
Yes, I work in an unusual business where individuals bare their souls to me. I also have seen individuals in all kinds of industries at the pinnacle of success. Now, they all work extremely hard, but the common denominator is not lack of time off. I’ve seen some of the most successful individuals take Fridays off, work 4-day work weeks, go on 3-week vacations every year, and coach all their kids’ sports teams. So, for starters yes, I know how busy you are and respect it along with applauding it. But, no it is not an excuse nor a badge of honor.
Second, do you realize I am a partner in a successful law firm?
I hear this from all sorts of individuals all the time. I’m simply too busy or the optics aren’t right if the head boss is taking off. Let me propose two iron-clad rebuttals. One, try working out every day straight as hard as you can. What inevitably happens? Your body starts to break down and actually needs rest.
Don’t believe me? I suffered from daily debilitating headaches for 3 years because of it. We are simply not meant to run at full octane all the time. Your brain is a muscle. If you want to give the best of it to all aspects of your life you simply need rest. You need to unwind and detach so you can bring the freshest part of you to all aspects of your life, including your work (as do your employees).
This leads me to my second iron-clad rebuttal. That is – monkey see, monkey do. What kind of culture do you want in your company or your division?
Is that one where people are unwilling to take time off to be with their families? One where people are miserable because they feel they can’t take time away or else the optics are they aren’t working hard enough? A culture that has their employees burning the candle at all ends so that they aren’t bringing their freshest part of them to work every single day? Not I said the cat, not I said the goose, not I said the rat. If you want an energized, and happy workforce, lead by example.
My very own CEO works his behind off every day. He hadn’t taken a vacation in way too long. It was the week before Christmas last year and I was on vacation. He had a lot on his plate between meetings and business deals we were trying to get closed.
I sent him a text from vacation and said, Mike, you have to do something for me next week and it is non-negotiable. What’s that he texts back? I said you must take the week off and cancel all your appointments. I saw the infamous three-dot reply for a few minutes and then he simply wrote back one word, fine! When he came back from vacation in the new year he was honestly a new man and has already hit the ground running this year.
Third, do you realize I have an obligation to my clients, partners, and employees?
Sure do! You also have an obligation to your family and yourself. What good are you to any of these people if you are never fully rested or happy? What good are you to any of these people if you drop dead because you didn’t take care of yourself? Be selfish so you can be selfless as the saying goes. I remember to this day reading one of those Chicken Soup for The Soul books many moons ago. There was a blurb in it that said the following.
Even when you die your inbox will be filled. I thought this was an astounding parable, and it was dead-on accurate. Guess what – the day you die you will have an inbox of things that need to be done. This never stops and is a function of life. So, if you don’t get it all done it isn’t the end of the world as it will get done tomorrow and yes, it will be filled again then as well. Remember, we all have an obligation at work, but equally as much, if not even more so, you have an obligation to your family and friends. They likely need you more than that client or partner.
The moral of the story
The moral of the story is the number one job we all have is to be a good parent, spouse, or friend. Those are the relationships that need the most time and attention, as they will be here even when your working lives are done. Heck, they will keep you alive even when your living is done. 94% of parent-child bonding happens from when they are 0-18. These years are fleeting and some of the best years of your life.
Now, don’t confuse any of this blog to suggest you shouldn’t work hard. Also, if you know me, I certainly don’t advocate not being responsive to the people at work and for whom the people you are doing the work. However, I will scream from the top of a mountain top that you are SIMPLY NOT THAT IMPORTANT (at work of course).
So, to my very good friend, and all the others built like him, schedule some time off and make it a regular practice. I assure you that A. your work won’t suffer B. your staff will appreciate it and C. You and your family will thank me forever.
As a wise man once said stay wealthy, healthy, and happy!
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