I recently read this excellent article by David Lancefield in the Harvard Business Review https://hbr.org/2021/02/how-to-reinvent-your-organization-in-the-middle-of-a-crisis and it made me think about an important principle during times of high stress, that of self-care.
David talks about ideas to “refresh yourself and others” on your team. What do you need to do in order to refresh yourself and others on your team in order to re-energize after a prolonged period of high stress?
This reminded me of a particularly stressful 6 month period during the turnaround of my family’s $120M business, my mentor and business turnaround expert Frank suggested taking some time off. He recognized that I, a young CEO of a company in crisis, was running out of steam and needed a break. I had no idea just how mentally and physically exhausted I was until I was able to step away from the business for a week with my wife and young kids.
I do recall sleeping a lot during that week! It was just what I needed – it enabled me to return to work with a renewed sense of purpose and a clear head about the next set of challenges in front of us on our road to business recovery and profitability.
In much the same way as athletes look to peak for major tournaments or championships and then have a period of rest and recovery, this experience taught me an important lesson about taking regular breaks as an executive. This may be counter cultural, especially when many of us are already working from home, but I have found regular short breaks to be essential for managing stress, improving decision making and maintaining sustained high performance.
So do yourself and your business a favor. Plan a few days off, turn off your devices and then come roaring back with renewed energy and enthusiasm.