As the producer of films including Rain Man, Batman, The Color Purple and The Kids Are All Right, I always wondered what the compelling value proposition was that habituated audiences to the theater? Yes, there’s a star and a story. But most importantly, the experience of going to the movies provides a giant pattern interrupt. You walk in with the challenges of daily business life, become immersed in the film’s narrative and its emotional transportation, and when you leave, your problems seem diminished and you’re able to view opportunities in whole new light.
Separating yourself from the anxieties and drama generated by the trials and tribulations of your business life refreshes your brain, catalyzing the breakthrough thinking required to innovate and lead the pack.
This is why turning off and taking vacations is a crucial ingredient to business success. Separating yourself from the anxieties and drama generated by the trials and tribulations of your business life refreshes your brain, catalyzing the breakthrough thinking required to innovate and lead the pack. In our world of disruptive, non-stop invention and reinvention where originality has become the litmus test of successful strategy, innovation is the only way to outperform your competition. Neuroscience even supports that turning off and removing external stresses is necessary for the body to relax enough for this critical restoration to take place.
If you think you’re a hero for not using vacation time or if you’re a business and you think you’re rewarding people for not taking a vacation, think again. The truth is, you may be damaging yourself and your organization. An ethos of “all work and no play” may leave you stressed, burned out, unproductive, less creative, angry, prone to mistakes, sick (and absent from work more frequently) and unmotivated (and searching for other opportunities) – all of which drain your spirit, energy and passion and negatively impact your organization’s bottom line.
The power of taking vacations is one of the most over-looked and under-valued tactics of competitive advantage whether you’re a manager, athlete, professor, artist or inventor. While many organizations will pay you for your vacation time if you stay at work, this is a disastrous corporate and personal strategy. A vibrant work force needs time off. Employees in the U.S. in 2013 amassed 428 million unused vacation days according to a survey commissioned by the U.S. travel Association and completed by Oxford Economics.
What could have been gained if these days were used? Consider this: Former NASA scientists, working on behalf of Air New Zealand and using testing tools normally reserved for astronauts, found that vacationers experienced an 82% increase in job performance post-trip. How can you turn on by turning off? Here are my top 5 tips:
- Realize the world or your company will not come to an end if you take a vacation. Get over yourself. No one is that indispensable.
- Plan several weeks ahead who is covering your responsibilities, checking your business email, and that they understand the chain of command. If you’re reading your business email while you’re on vacation, then you’re not on vacation and you might as well stay home.
- Go silent for a week (or weekend) – no words, no media, no technology – and see what epiphanies result.
- Set goals unrelated to work. Is there a mountain you want to climb?Language you want to learn? Take time off to train and go for it!
- Believe in the famous three-letter word that motivates everyone. It’s called fun. That’s what vacation is for. If you miss vacation, you get the four-letter word – work.
Vacations are undeniably critical to success. That’s why I’m officially turning off.I’m going to Spain and Italy with my family. See ya next month!
Photo credit: Passion Images / shutterstock