#8 – Take a break

This is #8 in the series, “50 Ideas Worth Fighting For.”

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes,
including you.”

– Anne Lamott

If you are reading this on Sunday afternoon, I hope it’s from an easy chair or the sofa. I hope you’ve just returned from a hike, or even a walk around the neighborhood with your pup. Or maybe you just popped in from the garden for a glass of water (a cold beer?!) and took a quick peek at your phone.

I hope you are taking some time today to reconnect to activities you love and to recharge by taking some time to read for pleasure, to call a friend, to watch a great movie. You need that time. We all do.

If you struggle to slow down, you’re not alone. Dividing up a two-day weekend between activities, commitments and relaxation can be tough. The truth is that we are pretty lousy at giving ourselves permission to step away from the grind of our responsibilities.  A quick search reveals that in 2018, the US workforce allowed 768 million vacation days to go unused. Approximately 70% of employees did not use all of the time they had coming to them.

That’s both a waste and a shame especially when it’s a safe bet that you aren’t going to be sitting around in 10 years telling stories about how great it was to do more work when you could have used that time to do anything but.

For our sanity, for our health, for our families, and just for fun, we have to do better. You can start this weekend. There’s just enough time.

woman lying on blanket under man on her legs holding hands during golden hour

Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com

Go ahead, have some fun

W904dThrTz2FVT8azPyfjgI’ve been meaning to sell my son’s car since he left for college last September. He came home for winter break and found it right where he left it. He came home for spring break and found it right where he left it.

Today, as his mom drove him to the airport, I placed an ad on Craigslist to finally unload the oil leaking, teenage boy smelling, no longer welcome around here but super grateful for its faithful service, 1997 Ford Explorer.

I was hoping to just get the process started but in a few hours I had a dozen inquiries and one appointment. The first guy who saw it, bought it. And pretty darn close to my asking price. All on a Friday afternoon.

As good as that is, it’s not the best part. As he’s walking away from our house, money exchanged and title transferred, the guy looks back at me and asks, “Does it have a name?”

This made my day.

I was so glad he would even think to ask, but I didn’t know. As he drove away, I quickly texted my son to discover that, yes, she has a name. It’s “Dora the Explora.” Of course it is.

My son named his car. The guy who bought it wanted to know.

I feel good about that. I feel good that people want to take the transactional and make it meaningful. Maybe its evidence of the faulty wiring of Homo sapiens that we do stuff like that. Maybe it’s evidence of our genius.

It’s hard to say, but it’s fun. And fun, just for the sake of it, is a really good thing.

DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world.

Worth Your Next 5 Minutes

I offer for your viewing pleasure the following video featuring Patty McCord, the former Chief Talent Officer for Netflix. It’s called, “8 lessons on building a company people enjoy working for.” Please take 5 minutes to check it out and see what you think. I offer some personal commentary below.

What get’s in the way of our organizations – our leaders – making sure things work this way? One executive recently told me, with not a moment of hesitation, “It’s ego!” Another says “control,” another says “fear” and yet another says something like “the demands of short-term thinking.”

The common refrain is this, we continue to allow too many of our institutions – and our institutional practices – to be the tail and our employees to be the dog. Enough is enough is enough.

The institution only exists because some talented human beings got together and decided to do something cool, or interesting or worthwhile. That “coolness” is a beacon of effort and energy to which other human beings are magnetically drawn.  We want to experience purpose in our work, to be a part of something larger than ourselves. So, the institution – at its best – is a bunch of people trying to do something they care about.

Everything built and implemented in the name of preservation or protection but that ends up getting in the way of our genuine human drive for purpose and meaning must be stripped away. 

Patty McCord’s closing words are these: It’s a pretty exciting world out there, and it’s changing all the time. The more we embrace it and get excited about it, the more fun we’re going to have.”

Purpose, meaning and fun. Let’s get on with it already.

DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world.