Each month in this column series I ask a different question to you, the ExitEvent Entrepreneur. Thought provoking questions that are meant to get you to sit back and think. Each month I offer insight into the question, along with common mistakes made by (us) entrepreneurs, and a key take-away for you to think more about. My goal—to increase your self-awareness as an entrepreneur and a leader.
Insight— Summer is coming to a close, darn. For all of us in North Carolina, that means our annual trek to the beach has come and gone (or maybe you go to the mountains, which is another fantastic choice our state offers).
I have been going to the coast since 1990 when I became an official NC resident. We went there in the 90s with young children, when building sand castles and deep holes in the sand were the activities of choice. My wife stood guard with her hands on her hips, watching intensely as any (or all of us) of us ventured out into the ocean. To this day, I can picture her meaningful arm movements indicating that it was time to come to shore NOW!
As our kids got older, we were able to sit a bit more in our chairs, and now that our kids are grown adults with their own children, they have replaced us as builders on the beach. And we have graduated to book-reading with a purpose, and a certain serenity I might add.
Oh, I almost forgot…during each of those stages, as both a budding and seasoned entrepreneur, the decision had to be made whether or how often to check in on the business during vacation. I think you know exactly what I am saying.
Common Mistake made— When I started my first business in 1990, smart phones were nowhere on the radar and computers were not truly mainstream enough for me to have with me at all times. Phone charge cards, you bet (anyone out there remember phone booths at airports?)! Today, well it goes without saying that the signal strength on the beach is pretty darn good. Four bars, sand and sunshine—does it get any better?
Well…that is where we are potentially at risk. As entrepreneurs, we think of ideas all the time; that is just what we do. When we get tired of something, we decide to move onto something new and exciting. Our job is to think and create and we can do that from just about anywhere, especially at the beach, or in the mountains, and especially on vacation.
But if we work when we are on vacation, and we work when we are not on vacation, then when do we get some needed free time to simply enjoy life outside of our entrepreneurial ventures? When do we truly recharge?
Key Take-away— As I always admit, I am as guilty as any of you of being drawn to my IPhone no matter where I am. But I learned something really important that I want to share with my entrepreneurial peers as you begin to change the world.
We need ‘free days”. Dan Sullivan runs the Strategic Coach program based out of Toronto and he implores successful entrepreneurs to take free days. That's defined as a full day completely away from business. His 40-year track record of success in coaching has proven that we need to recharge, and the best way to do that is to be completely away from business.
My challenge to each and every one of you— Assess this summer, look back at what you did on your vacation and write down what you want to do differently next summer. Then commit to the changes. I also want you to try free days— entire days without work—and that includes the books you read. I am into a new series of books I never would have read before seeing the value of free days. It also includes keeping your laptop shut and your IPhone at zero bars.
Here's to our beautiful state of North Carolina—may your next vacation include more free time for you and your family, friends, etc. By the way, my free days are already scheduled for next July, and my schedule will be built to ensure I enjoy them.