Peter takes his laptop on holiday
Today I want to share with you a little story about one of my very good friends – let’s call him Peter. Peter is an owner of a successful growing business. But Peter hasn’t taken a proper break in many many years. He takes his laptop with him when he goes away on holiday with his family and checks in on his emails and the office at least once a day to ensure that everything is running smoothly. His company’s staff turnover is very low and the vast majority of his employees are really high performing, extremely competent and experienced dream team members that have been working for him for many years.
Peter and I have had various discussions over an extended period of time about his desire to let go of the reigns a bit more and the importance of him taking a break. As with most entrepreneurs, Peter’s journey originally started with a vision of creating a life worth living for him and his family, but he became so entangled in the day to day operations of his own business that he can’t seem to free himself even for a single day. Although being involved is not necessarily a bad thing, Peter’s position is very risky from a business sustainability and business continuity perspective and it has reached a point where it was limiting his business’ ability to grow.
I was having a telephonic discussion with Peter only days before his next attempt at an annual holiday away with his family. But like so many times before, when I asked Peter whether the laptop would stay at home this time around, his answer was no.
Peter was quite taken aback when I told him that he was being incredibly rude. I explained that he had such wonderful team members and that if I were them, I would feel quite insulted if after so many years he still felt the need to check up on me every day. As long as they knew how to get hold of him in the event of a crisis, I do not understand on what basis he still doesn’t trust them to get the job done. Not to mention how discarded his family must feel that after all the support, understanding and sacrifice they have made throughout the entire year, when he was continuing to work long and hard on his business, they were still not considered worthy enough to receive his undivided attention even for this short period once a year. My views were met with a very long silence and eventually a soft spoken admission that he had never considered such a perspective.
Over the years I had quoted many studies on burn out and the positive impact a well-balanced lifestyle can have on your personal productivity, but these never appeared to even make the slightest impact on Peter’s apparent self-image of invincibility. For the first time I got Peter to open his eyes to the potential impact his actions were having on those around him and it became the very first holiday (of many) that the laptop was left off throughout his entire annual break.
Peter is not the first entrepreneur I have come across that face these challenges and I am grateful for the opportunity that we have had to assist many of them to make a positive change, but the very first step is always that they themselves need to want to make a change. If Peter’s story sounds way too familiar, then I challenge you to start taking action and make the necessary changes to reinstate balance in your life and get assistance if need be. If not for yourself, do it for your family and your team.