Wish You Were Here

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on August 8th, 2008 in Articles, Thoughts & Commentary

0 comment


Dear Executive Directors:

I am writing to you from summer camp and want to share with you the joys and benefits of vacations. Something all too many of you feel that you can’t possibly take. Why is that? There really is nothing better for the mind and the soul to take breaks, remove yourself from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, allow the gray matter to breathe, the nerves to be released from the tight ball in which they normally find themselves, the blood pressure to drop, and the list goes on. So, why don’t you do it?

  • You aren’t indispensable. Honestly! And you shouldn’t want to be. You should want the organization that you theoretically love to be able to survive and flourish without you. It is a greater testimony to your leadership and management that the organization functions well in your absence.
  • The board isn’t going to decide that you are dispensable. Trust me! The board doesn’t want your job. But maybe, just maybe, the board will come to realize that it does need to know a bit more about the organization it stewards, just in case you decide not to come back. (That is a joke—sort of—the part about not coming back.)
  • Heads of organizations who say they went on vacation and never thought about work are lying. Truly. In fact, they just may do some of their best thinking about the organization while sitting on the beach, strolling through a foreign city, hiking in the mountains. I doubt that many of us go into our daily showers planning on thinking about work. But how often do people say something to the effect of, “When I was in the shower this morning, I had this idea.” When we let our minds go free we often have the best insights.
  • Even the strictest personal coach doesn’t keep a person on the treadmill the whole time. You get off, do different activities, use different groups of muscles, etc. You might return to the treadmill at other times in the workout, but you are not on it constantly. You need to work the other muscles and tone the other body parts of the mind and soul.
  • And yes, you can afford it, even in this economy. Summer camp is where ever and however you want it to be. You can get there via train, plane, car, or sitting in your favorite reading spot in your home with the pile of books you’ve been promising yourself to read. It can be walks in your neighborhood or any other locale. It can be going to La Scala or listening to your ipod. You get my point.

The opinions expressed in Nonprofit University Blog are those of writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of La Salle University or any other institution or individual.