Take Time Off

Don't be afraid to step away; be confident in your team to pick up the slack.

By the time you read this, I’ll be somewhere in the South Pacific. Not lounging at a resort, but volunteering at a sustainable pearl farm 280 miles as the albatross flies from Tahiti. It’s part of a six-week adventure that came up when my partner accepted a metalworking gig there recently.

My first response to his trip was, “Obviously, I can’t go.” It’s an off-the-grid sort of spot. Limited electricity from solar panels goes to a fridge, not your cell phone. And that’s OK because cell reception is possible, but there’s no data. Internet? Dial-up. In practice, communicating with the outside world is not so much a back-and-forth as a “Hey, I got one!”

While the most common questions I get are the basics, an interesting one just arrived through Facebook: How did I get the time off? My response: “Showed them a picture.” Amidst a five-page proposal of details and logistics, I planted a vibrant, full-color shot of the crystal-clear ocean, the tiny atoll and a few waving palm trees. 

Another common response has been, “That sounds great, but I could never do it.” I’ve heard tales of cancelled trips, long weekends spent poring over email. There’s a trifecta – hiring well, nurturing work-life balance, building a mutually supportive culture – that play into being able to step away. There’s also some tolerance for anxiety.

Whether for an hour or a month, we all have periodic chances to step away from work. Take them. Take them because the little ones prepare you to run with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Take them because your talented team will grow and develop in new ways in your absence. Take them because you may one day have to take time off – life is unpredictable like that – and it will drive you to develop your processes and organization.

And finally, take them because life is fleeting. We memorialize friend, fellow editor, artist and sign guru Louis M. Brill in this issue. I know he would have loved hearing about this trip; he went to Burning Man every year. His passing reminds me that we are always more ready than we feel, more prepared than we seem and more capable than we think. Bon voyage!