was successfully added to your cart.

Back in the 70’s, Cheech & Chong put together a shtick entitled: Sister Mary Elephant. The good sister was substitute teaching for Sister Rosetta Stone, and the class’s assignment that particular day… report on their summer vacation.

The first young man (in a deeper stoner voice) replied with these classic lines:
“The first day on my vacation, I woke up (long pause)
Then I went downtown to look for a job…
Then I hung out in front of the drugstore.

The second day on my summer vacation, I woke up (long pause)
Then I went downtown to look for a job…
Then I hung out in front of the drugstore…

The third day on my summer vacation, I woke up…”

Vacation as a kid is loads of fun. All you have to do is show up and hang out. Mom and Dad do all of the hard work. Kids are just along for the ride. Vacation as an adult is another matter.

Recently Laura and I spent a week in South Carolina. For a leader, going on vacation presents concerns: will everything fall apart while I’m gone? Will I miss a great opportunity? Will clients use my inaccessibility as a reason to find another work partner? Will I be able to disconnect? And—is it worth all the effort?

As we prepared for the trip, those questions pounded my brain. Thanks to helpful associates, and giving advance notice to key clients, and the trusty out-of-office message, I found it possible to not think about Converge Coaching for an entire week. And here is what I learned:

Disconnecting is a choice

But it’s not easy. Before the vacation, I could list a dozen reasons why I wouldn’t be able to separate. The good people in my life did a great job dismantling each reason. Every week I encourage leaders to avoid opening their emails or answering their phone on their day off or when on vacation. Being disconnected for a week was not only not fatal (bad English construction, I know)… it was freeing.

If you don’t come apart you’ll fall apart

More than 40% of working Americans didn’t take a single day of vacation in 2014. A variety of reasons exist: fear of losing their job, or missing out on a promotion; fear of being viewed as a slacker; brutish bosses who think they own their employees 24 x 7; etc. Vacations during the year are not a luxury, they’re a necessity. If you don’t periodically get away… you’re playing a risky game with your long-term health.

We don’t need electronic gadgets during all (or most) of our waking hours

A week with limited use of a mobile phone, iPad, TV, etc. was actually refreshing. I learned that removing electronic clutter for a week didn’t kill me. Rather, it was a pleasant change of pace.

The company didn’t fall apart

Yes… a pile of work was waiting for me, but three days later I caught up, and Converge didn’t miss a beat. No angry customers wondering where I’d been, no crises that couldn’t wait until we returned. If the company fell apart due to us being gone for 8 days, something is broken organizationally.

I love what I do

After 8 days of vacation… I was pumped to get back to work. Loving what you do for a living is sweet, rewarding, and fulfilling. And last but not least…

I have an awesome wife

Laura is the best. Sweet, kind, frugal (yes!), faithful, fun, etc. Nothing like 8 days of reconnecting with your spouse, with nothing else competing for your time and attention. Disconnecting from work allowed me to remember how much I love her.

So to sum it up… if Sister Mary Elephant asked what you did on your vacation, what would you say? I’d tell her what I learned on vacation: There is life outside of work. Even work you love. Retreating from it to rest, relax, and recharge is what responsible people do.

John Opalewski

Author John Opalewski

John Opalewski is a graduate of Oral Roberts University. He served as a pastor for fifteen years. He has worked in the business world for nearly two decades, serving in multiple leadership roles. John's experience as a leader in both the church and business arenas has made him a sought-after international speaker, coach and mentor.

More posts by John Opalewski

Leave a Reply