Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

It’s summer: Take a day off

Eric Gundlach//July 16, 2012

It’s summer: Take a day off

By Eric Gundlach

//July 16, 2012

In my former career, I worked for a CEO who gave his leadership team a short list of his expectations for the year.

Making his expectations explicit and concise was a powerful exercise that helped guide the performance of those of us who reported to him both as individuals and as a team. Among the list of nine were items you might expect, such as: “Once a month take a key customer to lunch,” and “Make your department managers solve problems. Get rid of them if they don’t.”

There was one of his stated expectations that has stayed with me to this day that you might not expect: “At least once during the year, call in and take a mental health day.”

To a harried business owner, the first reaction to this idea is likely, “There is no way I can do that and no way I want the key people in my business doing that.”

I’d like to suggest that if you can’t walk away from your business for a day, you have a management problem.

What my former CEO intuitively grasped back then was that the occasional break from our work routines increased the energy and creativity we brought to the job. Since then, a number of brain research studies support his assumption with data. The human brain needs breaks from our intense focus on business decisions in order to see alternative possibilities and come to creative solutions.

As much as the tenacious pursuit of our business goals is critical to our success, so is a break in the flow of our efforts.

In addition to business benefits, a spontaneous day off can be of substantial personal benefit as well. Of the thousands of days I reported to this particular CEO, most fade into one long memory stream of that segment of my career.

But I still vividly remember each of the “mental health days” I would spontaneously call in and take once a year.

So take a day off. It’s summer after all.


Networking Calendar

Submit an entry for the business calendar