For years I felt taking a vacation was for sissies. I could not understand friends and colleagues who would go off for a couple of weeks -- or more -- to get some "much-needed" rest and rehabilitation. That kind of thing just didn't interest me. After all, I had personal and business matters to take care of that were too important to let a few days of rest interfere. I was on a treadmill and didn't even know it. Consequently, I had lost my perspective on the merits of an occasional change of venue.
With the passing years I've grown to understand how important it is to charge one's batteries by literally "getting away from it all." It's never been easy, and it's even more complicated now because cell phones, e-mail, pagers, fax machines and other high-technology communication methods enable people to track us down anywhere.
In spite of the growing demands of the nonstop, high-pressure business world, most of us enjoy our work. I know I do. I've been in the publishing business for more than 40 years, and I wouldn't change places with anyone. Of course, I've attained a measure of success in my profession, and that helps keep things interesting. But to be creative, to keep a fresh perspective and to maintain a high energy level, from time to time we all need rest -- and more than just a day here or there.
Probably the most important reason to take a vacation is to break away from the day-to-day grind of any job. When I go away for a few days, things I viewed as very important 24 or 48 hours before seem almost inconsequential from a distance.
By the way, it has always amazed me how smoothly and efficiently things run when I'm not there to advise my colleagues. Without me, they seem quite capable of doing their jobs and doing them well. Sometimes we forget our colleagues need a break from us. We may feel we are indispensable, but none of us is. And if we have hired capable people, we should be able to have peace of mind when we vacation.
It is imperative to surround yourself with quality people. After all, good people are what make any organization successful. Some executives still don't understand this critical precept. Out of insecurity or ignorance they hire average -- and sometimes even below average -- people who simply don't perform well. No one can enjoy a respite from work knowing the people running things at the office are, at best, performing at a mediocre level.
So it boils down to this: Give everyone, colleagues, family and yourself, a break by occasionally taking some time off. Among the rich dividends you will gain are better health and the opportunity to bond with your family.
None of us are superwomen or supermen. We can only handle so much stress, and when we push the envelope too far, something has to give -- usually us. We've all heard the old idioms: Life is short; we only go this way once. They're shopworn for a reason: They contain a great deal of truth. But sometimes we get so caught up in trivia we lose our way. As a physician executive it is important for you to lead by example. Take time off, and make sure your colleagues do so as well.
Enjoy yourself, Charles S. Lauer Publisher