Spoiler alert: I took the vacation.
But let me start at the beginning. I'm leading a team trying to redefine an industry, to create customer & employee experiences that haven’t existed before. Bringing a group of people around the world together (albeit virtually), with shared purpose and culture has been a feeling like no other.
One year in, it’s not easy, but it’s not meant to be. It’s a meaningful & exciting journey, so we have been going at 100 mph… that’s all part of it, right? Maybe, but at some point, I realized the tiredness hit me from going at 100 mph for over a year. If I was feeling this, Factor team members around the globe were as well.
At some point I realized the tiredness hit me from going at 100 mph for over a year.
The idea of going out to explore, embrace new experiences and have a reset both after nearly 14 months on the job and the pandemic looked increasingly attractive. Was I allowed? Would it be ok?? The thought of taking time off with all that's going on weighed on me, I didn't want to let people down. I reached out to get different opinions, and spoke with my team who were both supportive and encouraging of taking time off. Mark Harris told me our path ahead was a marathon, not a sprint, and it wasn’t going to happen in 10 business days. In our world, the stars rarely align perfectly to prescribe a vacation.
So I did it. I took a two-week vacation and I’m writing this from the flight back. I checked my email from the airport and shockingly, Factor continued to function while I was gone. That worry was my ego talking, and it’s abundantly clear that our leadership team was built to excel, succeed and guide Factor through a few more strides in the marathon.
Our path ahead was a marathon, not a sprint, and it wasn’t going to happen in 10 business days. Taking a rest was critical.
Rest, travel and new experiences are foundational. They give you perspective on the unknown while creating a new perspective on the known. Taking a step back allowed me to see and fully embrace that. Now I can take a more productive step forward.
Here are a few key ideas that I’m going to carry forward with me from my time off:
Vacation Imperative: Yes, individuals need to recognize and raise their hands when they need some downtime, but it’s an organization’s and the leader’s responsibility to encourage & enable breaks and time off for team members. If any team member is in the position of being a single point of failure, that’s a failure of the organization. It’s imperative for companies to be structured in a way that allows for people to take the time they need. I’m even more committed to making Factor this kind of place.
Relax & Recharge: I realized taking time to relax & recharge is important to achieving the mission we’re on. Especially as we continue to work from home and/or move to a hybrid model. This was embedded in my routine as I walked home from the office every day; nowadays the walk from my living room to my study hasn’t been as effective (both physically or mentally!).
Perspective: The time (and distance) away afforded me perspective I never could have gotten from my in-depth, (literally) zoomed in view. I needed to immerse myself in something completely unrelated to work, to allow answers and inspiration to come from new directions and new sources. It turns out the issue of the day may not be the most important one that I need to tackle.
It’s an organization’s and the leader’s responsibility to encourage & enable breaks and time off for team members
At Factor (while I love and admire our teams’ commitment to their colleagues & clients), 75% of our people rolled over a week of 2020 holidays into this year. Everyone I know whether it be clients, colleagues or friends are scheduled back to back. So, I'm sharing my experiences to encourage you to take a break. My hope is that we all listen to that internal (or external) voice telling us when need a break. We should stay connected to those outside nourishments that bring us back to our work better than we were before. My job as a leader will be to create a culture and environment at Factor where the breaks are valued and foundational to our mission.