How to Protect Your Greatest Asset
When did you last take a two-week vacation? One where you didn’t check email and were able to remember who you are as a friend, traveler, lover, partner, or mother? Have you planned any time away from your business this summer?
If your business is only making money when you are showing up, then I have bad news for you… you don’t have a business, you have a job you created for yourself. And one that probably doesn’t even have good benefits! You have a business when you are lying on a beach reading a novel, and you are still making money.
To further illustrate this point, here’s a poem (may thanks to my son’s school principal, Jessica Bagby, who shared this poem) about the importance of the “space in between.”
What makes a fire burn
is space between the logs,
a breathing space.
Too much of a good thing,
too many logs
packed in too tight
can douse the flames
almost as surely
as a pail of water would.
So building fires
to the spaces in between,
as much as to the wood.
simply because the space is there,
in which the flame
that knows just how it wants to burn
can find its way.[i]
Taking a Brain Break
We can get so caught up in the frenzy of building our businesses that we forget to leave “the spaces in between” the logs, and take brain breaks. By a brain break, I don’t mean a weekend without checking email or going to the movies (which I recognize can both feel monumental sometimes).
In the early days of my business, it was really hard to “allow myself” to take time off. I felt guilty and I thought: “I own my own business, so when I don’t work I am losing money?” Right? Wrong.
When you don’t take time off, you are losing money because you risk burning out, you aren’t forcing yourself to create systems and implement delegations best practices that allow you to leave, and most importantly, you are not treating yourself as your company’s greatest asset.
Research has shown that giving your brain a rest allows you to see things differently and leaves you room to innovate.
Check out this TED Talk on how boredom leads to creativity. Taking time off also sends a message to your staff, investors, and advisors that you know you are the linchpin in your business, and you will take good care of that linchpin so that the company can keep growing and paying their salaries — or building value for investors.
Or you can take it from the Apple technician who helped me at the Genius Bar when my iPhone was acting up and freezing each time I opened Contacts. Him: “Every so often you have to power down your iPhone completely.” Me: “Why?” Him: “For optimal performance.”
I remember one year I had been working super hard, not getting enough sleep, and multi-tasking to a degree that was perilous. While I was on vacation, I took email off my phone because I knew I couldn’t trust myself not to check it (I kept social media since I enjoy posting and don’t see it as “work”). I play cards and Boggle with my kids, and relax on the beach. Afterwards, I feel totally re-energized and excited for what’s next, even if I am heading into some big professional mountains to climb.
A day in London
How can you afford not to?
Make sure to take your email off your phone when you do! If you are not sure if you can afford to take time off, consider asking instead “how can I afford not to?” Going on vacation means you have the right systems in place so that not everything depends on you, and that you are taking care of your most valuable resource. Your sustained energy and ability to execute on your vision depends on it. What could be more important than that?
If you want to learn to restructure your business so you can take a two week vacation, knowing your team has “got this,” book an accelerate session now.
[i] “Fire” by Judy Brown