Last week I was in West Virginia. For vacation. Not business. (Okay, two days were for business, but the other five were purely for pleasure.) That was five consecutive days of disconnecting from my email, meetings, and my regular routine. I unplugged in order to recharge and it was the best thing I could have done for myself and for my companies.
There is tons of research on the interwebs about the importance of taking time off for increased productivity – just Google “increase productivity by taking a vacation” or “time off increases productivity.” Entrepreneurs are especially susceptible to powering through and putting in long hours. Capital is often low and they do what needs to be done. But the most successful entrepreneurs know this – you get more done when you unplug and recharge. Better yet, when you not only set the example, but encourage and make it possible for your staff to do the same.
Increased productivity for you + increased productivity for your staff = world domination that much faster.
The best way I’ve found to recharge is by shutting down my phone and laptop and getting out into nature. That can be a mountain bike ride on a Wednesday afternoon, hiking with my wife and kids on a Saturday morning, hunting with my dad, or a full week of outdoor activities like I just experienced in West Virginia. Between the golf, fishing, hiking, and Jeep excursions, I gained so much clarity about the direction of my businesses. The most clarity I have had in a while. Clarity is power. My team loves when I come back from these trips, right guys? Foot on the gas. Nails through the pedal.
So what were my big ahas from this trip?
- Create and communicate your companies’ opportunity funnel and always be building your bench.
So what the hell is an opportunity funnel, you ask? It’s simply a model or organizational chart that clearly shows the path of opportunity and growth for each position in your company. Outline that path for each position and make sure you and your leadership team are communicating it consistently.
In order to ensure everyone continues to move up through the opportunity funnel, make sure you (or whoever is in charge of hiring for those positions) are constantly recruiting talent and building a bench. Make sure you have a big bench in order to select the best person to replace your team member when the time is right for them to take on their next opportunity. When you are without a bench, you are held hostage to your team members and your decisions are impaired or fear-based. If you don’t have a replacement, then you keep that employee in the game – even if they are not performing to your standards. Limited options means you avoid the tough conversations and the even tougher decisions.
If a football team only dressed 11 players and someone didn’t show up for practice or didn’t execute during the game, you wouldn’t let them go because you have no one to replace them. You take what you can get. Talk about feeling powerless. However, when you have over 50 people dressed for an 11 player game, you have 2-4 backups for each position. Totally changes the playing field. Accountability increases and the pressure is on (on the team members this time, not YOU)! Those tough decisions just became easier because your business success is not tied to that one individual. Game changing.
- Slow down to speed up.
This is where the idea of unplugging and recharging really solidified for me. This week I was able to take a step back and slow down. I created the space to journal, write, and just think – allowing ideas to incubate in my mind. If you don’t take time to pull the bow back, then you will never hit your target with any real force. Slow down, pull the bow back, and let the arrow rip.
Here’s a great Ted Talk by Adam Grant that I watched on the plane. The part that really stuck out to me was that you must take action. And keep taking action. Fail forward and fail fast. Jump in and get started on your idea. BUT, then take a step back, slow down, shift your attention to another activity, go work out, and let your subconscious mind take over and think about the idea. Your best ideas usually come when you are not consciously focusing your mind on an answer. But when you least expect it, the answer will come and you’ll be able to launch your idea more effectively and achieve results faster.
- Proximity (to the right people) is power. We all know that your level of success will be determined by the success of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Who are those 5 people for you? Are they elevating your thinking or blocking your growth? The key is to surround yourself with people who are always one step ahead of you so that you are constantly increasing your skills, leadership, and mindset to reach their level of success. Proximity (to the right people) is power. Do whatever you must do to put yourself into a situation where you are surrounded by the best people for whatever it is you want to accomplish.
Remember, you don’t need to go on weeks long vacations in order to reap the benefits of recharging. Start with a weekend. Even start with a lunch break if you must! The point is to allow yourself space to think and process. In this world of abundance we live in – we will never have, do, or be everything. So what is most important to you? Focus on that. Allow yourself the space to accomplish those goals and forget about the rest.