breakthrough Archives | Underwood Executive | Executive Search & Talent Management

Empty the cup…are there benefits of time-out?

By | Change, Strategy, Success

Last week I left my job after 10 years (see quit while your ahead…10 tips for going out on top) and since I announced the decision I have had lots of well wishes, feedback, new business offers and advice.  My head has been swimming to say the least.  Then one clever person said to me stop! You need to empty your cup.  My blank look obviously prompted him further…his philosophy is that good ideas, innovative thoughts and break through moments can only happen once you are clear and have emptied all your thoughts, emotions etc that are tied up with your current/last situation.  In my case, 10 years of “stuff” to un-learn and let go of.  Hmmm easier said than done!

So day 3 of my ‘time out’ – I’m struggling. I have cleaned out my office, re-organised files, had meetings with a web designer, accountant, photographer, business mentor, attended a committee meeting and updated my social media profiles. Did I mention a journalist rang, I’ve been invited to enough coffee meetings to last the next few months, I’ve given advice on an execs resume, signed my business registration docs and applied for a range of insurances? There is no time to empty my cup!

Or is there? If I do “nothing” for the next 2 – 3 weeks, what will happen? I’m sure I won’t evaporate or my networks will forget me? Worst case? I miss a few opportunities.  And that’s it. I can’t honestly think of anything worse.  On the flip side, what are the benefits? I take the opportunity to refresh and recharge.  I might be lucky enough to spark some new ideas, gain a different perspective or clarify my business plans.

So that being said, I am going to attempt to ‘empty the cup’. I have committed myself to a week away and I am looking forward to the opportunity to re-assess my goals and see what comes up for me. Wish me luck!

Have you ever taken time out to empty your cup? What benefits did you receive?

Health 1st, Family 2nd & Work 3rd ….What’s Your Order?

By | Results, Work Life Balance

Last week a candidate of mine become ill only 2 weeks into her new permanent job.  She felt terribly guilty about taking any time off believing that she would not be creating a great first impression.  She spoke to her new boss and surprisingly he said to her “take off as many days as you need to get better – health comes first, family second and work third”.  How many bosses take the same approach I wonder? I was certainly impressed.  So, this candidate took 3 days off getting herself better and returned happy, confident and not at all guilty.

I am not sure this case would be overly common in the business world.  As this week, I caught up with another client who complained that “Sally” was off sick yet again – her 5th day in only a matter of months.  He felt that it was disrupting to work flows and she was becoming unreliable.  I enquired if she was really sick and he admitted that she wasn’t well and hadn’t been for several days – ‘isn’t it better that she is at home and doesn’t spread it around to everyone else?’ I enquired. He wasn’t overly convinced and mumbled something in his coffee about ‘yes but….”.

So saying health first, family second and work third – is this just a new employer saying the right thing to impress a new recruit or is it firmly held value and belief that is practiced as well as preached?

I personally can relate to this new order.  After my second child in August 2009, I returned to work in early 2010 with the all the gung-ho spirit and energy to conquer the world.  In reality what was happening was I was struggling to get enough gas in the tank just to get out of bed in the morning.  No amount of coffee, self-talk or sugar-hits could make me physically replicate what I mentally wanted to be – the energiser bunny!   I put it down to being a mother of 2 under five, wife, career woman, the baby waking in the night, not getting enough ‘me’ time etc etc.  Not once did I consider that it was potentially a health problem.

Months and months of “running on empty” with all sorts of self-diagnosis, friendly family advice and incorrect GP conclusions – led me to make health a priority to figure out what exactly was going on.  A long story short was yes in fact I was suffering from hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The results came in a matter of weeks all from changing my priorities to making health number one and it positively impacted on all the other areas of my life.  Suddenly I could read bed time stories without yawning, the business revenues increased and I was able to successfully juggle all the things on my plate.

This breakthrough moment has certainly reinforced to me that health must come first to enable me to make family a priority and only then can I be truly effective and productive as a leader in my business.

What’s your order?