Leaders Know How to Work and Play

Gerwig 2016-04-26

What does your ideal day look like? Okay, I recognize it’s an unfair question because, like me, you have many “ideal” days and they don’t necessarily look the same. Options? You get up early, have a cup of strong coffee, enjoy your favorite hobby such as golf, fly-fishing, scuba diving, or reading and then wind it down with a nice dinner at your favorite restaurant. Or you might wake up in a tent, do some technical rock climbing, and then eat dehydrated food prepared over a tiny outdoor stove before turning in early. Maybe you prefer sleeping in, going shopping, and then having a leisurely massage before ordering Chinese take-out for yourself and a couple friends who have joined you to watch “The Bachelor” (aka a “girls night in”). There are many, many options. But most of us have an idea of what our ideal day would entail. Adventure or leisure? Many friends or by ourselves? Beach or mountains? Coffee or tea? Kids or no kids?

But how many of you think about whether your ideal day entails work or play? Many people talk about vacations and retirement as an opportunity to get away from something they dislike – work! But what if you had a job you liked? What if you saw your work as an opportunity to create, to grow, to develop, to nurture, to serve?

Did you realize that “retirement” as we know it today is a relatively new concept? For most of our history, unless you were rich, you had to work until you died. You had to work the fields or tend the shop or make clothes or build furniture or a combination thereof. But although technology and advances in the last hundred years or so have allowed current generations to “retire” I’d like to challenge this notion a bit in today’s article.

Now I’m all for vacations and adventures and beaches and scuba diving and massages and camping and coffee and reading and traveling. And I’ve been fortunate to do a fair amount of it. But I’ve also been fortunate to work in the US and Asia, in semiconductors and chemicals, in Arizona and South Carolina, in technical roles and positions of senior leadership. And over the years, my thinking on “work” has changed. So too has my thinking on leisure, retirement, and vacations.

It’s a blessing to have a have a job in which you excel and enjoy. One you’re good at performing and one you enjoy. Yes, you’ll still benefit from a vacation, a time to recharge your batteries and refresh your perspective. But you’ll also make a lasting impact in a job about which you’re passionate. You’ll leave a legacy and enjoy the blessings of serving others.

Great leaders know that their job may, and probably will, change over the course of time. But they also never truly “retire.” They simply change their job, roles, or responsibilities. They may go from being a sales executive to a full-time grandfather, father, and husband but they recognize the importance of those roles and take them seriously. They may also look to serve others at church or in the community. They may go from being an officer in the military to a volunteer coach at the YMCA but they still have a mission and they’re still making an impact. What great leaders don’t do is watch TV or play golf all-day.

Great leaders recognize that work is inherently good. We’re designed for work both physically and mentally. We feel good when we accomplish goals and milestones. We celebrate when we set a new production record. We take pride in the accomplishments of the team around us. We enjoy spending time with our work colleagues.

If you’re retired, great! Remain active and make an impact. Don’t quit doing something that adds value. If you haven’t retired, great! Bring your passion to work and enjoy the fruits of your labor as you serve others. If you’re in transition, great! View the transition as a move from one type of work to another. Regardless, take vacations and recharge. Enjoy your hobbies and time with family. Read, watch TV, fly-fish, scuba dive, rock climb, eat out, and enjoy a nice afternoon at the spa. But remember to work as well. Ever notice how much healthier and more content we are when we’re engaged? Serving others? Helping accomplish something bigger than we are? Being part of a winning team?

How about you? Are you working for a paycheck or making an investment in others? Are you watching the clock or growing the next generation of leaders? Do you use vacations to recharge or are you a workaholic? Do you plan to “retire?” If so, how will you spend your days?

As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.

Dr. is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]LeadStrategic.com.

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