The year was 1970 and I was fresh out of college working for a Fortune 500 company as an industrial engineer.
Like many college, technical school and high school graduates, I knew it all—or at least I thought I did.
However, it didn’t take too long to realize the “big salary” I was earning really wouldn’t supply all my wants and needs.
I also realized that those managers, supervisors, and floor workers were a LOT smarter than I was in lots of different areas.
The operations manager, Mr. Currin, took me under his wing.
Although he was in his late 50s and I was barely 20, we became good friends.
As time went on, I learned a lot of things from Mr. Currin about the industry I was working in, but more importantly about life in general.
He helped me learn that life was more than making money and that my relationship with the Lord and my family were the foundation stones of a successful life.
Much of what I learned wasn’t taught, it was observed.
As time went on, I noticed that Mr. Currin, who was second in command of the whole company, would not only take a vacation each year but each year he would take two weeks, back-to-back.
One day, when the opportunity presented itself, I asked him why he took two weeks each year, back-to-back, instead of one week.
His answer surprised me a bit at the time.
He said, “Tom, it takes me a full week to unwind. Usually, about the seventh or eighth day, I can begin to actually relax.” It still seemed odd to me, but I took it to heart and stashed it in the back of my mind.
Some years later, I believe it was the late 1990’s, things had changed.
Grandy & Associates had been in operation for several years, I had been married for about 25 years and had three small children.
I had become Mr. Currin in my little world. My financial position had improved a bit and the pressures of life had increased as well.
One day this thought entered my mind: “Mr. Currin suggested I take two weeks of vacation, back-to-back.”
Our family had made vacations a priority for years but never for more than a week. I made a decision that day.
Next year our family was going to take a full two-week vacation—and we did.
Guess what? Mr. Currin was right!
A little over a week into our two-week vacation something happened.
I began to relax—I mean really relax.
I would feel it. My body wound down and my mind slowed to the point where I spent long periods NOT thinking about the business. My mentor was right. I needed two weeks, not just one week, of vacation each year.
As the years went by, I have learned a few more things during my two-week vacation.
The company could run without me.
I would notice some things that ran smoothly without me and I found areas that didn’t fare as well.
The weak areas were worked on during the year and before you know it, it was “test time” again—off on vacation.
The company was becoming systematized. Systems were taking my place. The system dictated what was done—not me.
I also noticed my attitude changed in two ways.
First, vacation became something to look forward to. It became an incentive for a job well done.
I wanted to take a break and as the systems were developed, I became more and more confident the company would continue without me.
I also returned from vacation quite refreshed, even though the desk was piled high. And my attitude was better too.
I also learned something else very early in my career, years before I started taking two consecutive weeks of vacation.
I learned that if things like vacations were not planned months and months in advance, I would find an excuse not to take one.
It has become “standard operating procedure” each year to make hotel reservations for the next summer before we leave to return home. As the reservations were made the dates went on my annual calendar as a time to be “worked around” rather than pushed aside.
You deserve a break and so does your family. You also need to find out, like I did, if the company can run without you. If it does, great. If not, it’s time to put more systems in place.