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Chris LoCurto

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August 11, 2011

Why You’re Stuck in the Parking Lot!

August 11, 2011 | By | 32 Comments">32 Comments

Drivers who won’t let other cars merge in front of them in traffic always get a laugh out of me. You know the ones: The stressed-out motorists who deliberately ride the bumpers of the cars in front of them, simply so others can’t get in between. It’s even funnier when they refuse to yield, and you end up passing them. What’s up with that?

I’m usually the guy who slows down to let someone in. When I don’t notice a driver vying for a spot and I miss the opportunity to give them a break, I feel guilty—only for a few seconds mind you, but still.

On our trip to California to speak, Ken, Teresa, and I were waiting in traffic on a really busy street. I noticed a car trying to enter the road from a parking lot. Since no one was letting her in, I opened up a large gap for her to sneak into.

The driver never saw the opening. In fact, she seemed to be looking behind us instead of in front of her own car. Eventually, we began to move, while she continued to wait on traffic. That’s when Ken said, “She was so busy focusing on the line, she missed the opportunity.”

Ken’s few words resonated with me. You see, I had just spent a couple of days in Lake Tahoe in California simply resting, reading, and praying. The effects from that small down time blew me away. I was much more creative—my mind felt as if it opened up a bit – and I was able to enjoy the beauty around me instead of all of the issues in front of me.

One of the greatest lessons I learned in Tahoe was that two days to myself without a schedule is not enough. I love knowing that Michael Hyatt took a 30 day sabbatical to get away and recharge. (You can read about it here.) I find myself wondering, Why don’t I? If I can become more creative from a couple of days, what will a week get me?

As leaders, I think we have a tendency to get bogged down with the intensity of traffic—spending a lot of time in the parking lot missing opportunities. Do you have to be so exhausted or stressed beyond belief before taking a break? Heck no. In fact, I think taking time off prevents burnout.

So what do you do? Follow Michael’s advice and get outta there! Go spend some time alone or with your spouse with no, and I mean no, schedule. Sit by a pool, get a massage, play Monopoly for all I care. Just go! Who knows what opportunities you’ll begin to see in front of you.

Question: Have you taken a sabbatical, or know you need one?

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  • http://gravatar.com/lgthaxton Louise Thaxton

    For the last several years, I have attended “The Experience” in Oregon with Building Champions, a coaching company. It lasts for several days and it is centered around your life plan, vision, priorities, etc. Last year, Michael Hyatt was one of the speakers and the entire event was life-changing for me. Amazing what time away from work and the stress of life can do to recharge and reignite your vision!

    I’m headed back in September and looking forward to it. Thanks for the great post!

  • http://twitter.com/AccuContrive AccuContrive (@AccuContrive)

    Chris, my 2 biggest turning points in [my professional] life came after 2 week long vacations that were – as you recommended – without any schedule. Looking backwards, I can see the explosion of energy then of action that took place following those vacations.
    But, you know, even though everyone is aware of the benefits of this, it is really hard to get out there.. strong self discipline is needed for this..

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      You are absolutely right!!

  • http://twitter.com/richchristianse Rich Christiansen (@richchristianse)

    Hey Chris! I loved your post on taking time for yourself. In fact, I just got back off a cruise from the Mediterranean with my lovely wife. It was the worst possible time in my current venture to take off, but it was much needed. I came home, hit the ground running and am now accomplishing so much more. Set a goal, work hard, and ALWAYS reward yourself!

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      It’s funny how taking time in the middle of a heavy time actually gives you MORE energy to face the tasks at hand. Good for you Rich!!

  • http://twitter.com/ColetteMarx Colette Marx (@ColetteMarx)

    1st of all, good choice on the location! Lake Tahoe is beautiful! 2nd, I 100% agree that it really can help one’s psyche to step back and get away. You can get a whole new perspective on things in your life that might not be as big a deal as you had once though they were.

    Great post! And thanks for being a courteous driver! lol!

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      HAHAHA…thanks Colette!!

  • http://ginasmom.wordpress.com ginasmom

    I come from a background where the whole country (Regardless of religion) took the Easter weekend off (Fri – Mon), Ramadhan, Christmas weeks (23rd through the 3rd),3 – 5 weeks vacation off, you get the get the idea. I love my adapted country (America), but this is one thing i refuse to change, and one i think we as culture should change. I treasure my time off, and guard it with a passion. It’s one of the few times, i can get my family to myself without interuptions, whittle down my reading list, and simply recharge.

    I have been challenged a couple times about taking all my time off in such a block, and i have had to defend it severally, but i still cling onto it. In digging a little deeper, in our work culture today, not being available 24*7 even when “unavailable” is considered a bad practice, and in some circles a career setback. I think by being firm, and proving i’ll go over and beyond the call of duty, by ensuring full coverage in my absence, has made it a little easier over the years for my leaders to let me have the time, but’s something that we as leaders need to work on a ton. It would be great if we ended up with leaders who are not afraid to let their people take a little time off, and allow them to truly disconnect for a time.

    PS: I love the book “Linchpin”. Got it in the mail today, thank you very much.

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      That must be refreshing to both you AND your family. I think we miss the idea that if we’re slammed at work, we’re usually unavailable at home.

  • Katie

    Hi Chris,

    As a new mother I rarely have the time to read blogs, but your title caught my eye this morning. And I have to say that you couldn’t be more right about this. As the wife of an amazing leader and business owner (David Branch), I cannot say enough about taking time to reflect and pray. Every year David takes a two week trip to wherever his heart leads him. The past two years that has been to Colorado, way way out in the wilderness. As we approach the month for his departure I have become a bit reluctant to help get him ready. As I mentioned before I am a new mother to a beautiful baby girl and the thought of being a single mom for two weeks is pretty scary. However as I read your post today I was quickly reminded as to how important and priceless this trip is for David, us, and his business. Each trip, year after year, he returns as an even better husband, friend, leader, and business owner. He comes home with a renewed spirit. He is refreshed and energized. The rewards of taking time like this far out way any obstacles or trials that may arise because of it. With that being said I think I will start getting his bags together today. :)

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      HAHAHA!!! You’re awesome!! Ok, YOU GUYS HAVE A BABY?!?! Tell that dork he could have mentioned that to me!! I would have asked for pictures when he was up here. Please send me some ’cause I’m SURE she’s gorgeous!

  • http://iheartthechurch.com Justin Simmons

    Good thoughts Chris! I actually just did a post on this a few days back. As leaders, we have to rejuvenate somehow… I work hard, play hard… that’s my motto. Any way you paint it… you gotta get away, mentally and physically, just so you can continue adding value to your work.

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Amen brother! Where can people get your post?

  • http://twitter.com/DrCabler Dr. Jason Cabler

    Since I’m self employed (Dentist) I only take off 1 week during the summer and a few days during the holidays. If I’m not there the office doesn’t run. But when I do get a vacation it’s awesome and I get a great recharge out of it because it’s so out of the norm to be able to do what I want, when I want. I’m not sure I could handle 30 days though, I might never go back!

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      HAHAHA!!! Yeah, I think we all worry about that. I do suggest some long weekends in there somewhere. Maybe a 4 day weekend once a quarter. Thoughts?

    • http://twitter.com/richchristianse Rich Christiansen (@richchristianse)

      Jason, what I learned early on in my career from my mentor is that you can’t sacrifice your health, family, or your trust relationships. I learned that the hard way when my son was 2 and didn’t even know who I was. I vowed then and there to make a change.

      Some people are good about rewarding team members and employees, but they’re not so good at rewarding themselves. I’ve fallen into that trap myself more than once; but I think I’ve finally learned that if I have an emotional meltdown, it’s usually because I haven’t followed through on feeding my inner self.

      There are all kinds of ways we can reward ourselves quietly throughout the day, and they can help us keep our head above water.

      • http://medicalaccountsolutions.wordpress.com medicalaccountsolutions

        Great thoughts on rewarding ourselves Rich!

  • http://medicalaccountsolutions.wordpress.com medicalaccountsolutions

    Chris, this post hit a nerve with me…I don’t want to be so busy focusing that I miss my opportunities. Being a workaholic and not taking time for myself is one of my huge bad habits. In Cancun at EntreLeadership Nov 2009, this is one of the things that Matt pointed out to me is that in the 7 areas of work life balance, I had a flat tire with work, work, work. He encouraged me to work at creating more balance. Sad to say, 2 years later, I am still struggling with this issue. I know it is a problem, I am determined to work on me, but it is a continual struggle.

    So…to answer your questions, No, I have not taken a Sabbatical…but I know I need one!

    • http://joelfortner.wordpress.com Joel Fortner

      I really struggled with balance until my wife graced me with her awesomeness and we started goal setting together. The key for us is actually writing down the goals. The interesting thing is as we cross off obtained goals, we can see where we’re strong and we need to pick up the pace. For instance, we obtained our financial goals early on this year but we’ve struggled in other areas. Because we have a visual reference, we know what to attack. If they weren’t written, we would probably think we’re doing well when in actuality we’re rockin’ in some areas and stinkin’ it up in others. If you’re not writing down your goals and hanging them up where you’ll see them every day, I strongly encourage it.

      • http://medicalaccountsolutions.wordpress.com medicalaccountsolutions

        Joel, Thanks for taking the time to comment on my comment. Maybe it is me…but I don’t see goals the same as taking a break. I set goals in many areas of life and achieve them…that is not the problem!!! The problem is I work all the time. I feel taking time for myself is selfish. I chide myself when “off” that I should be working and making money, seeking something new for a client, developing something new in my business, learning something, improving my social media/blog posts/etc, reading a book to keep me motivated or delve into a new topic, etc. I struggle at saying no to anyone and yes to myself. Does this make sense? I don’t see this as a goal issue but maybe I should think of setting goals for breaks? Is that what you mean?

        • http://joelfortner.wordpress.com Joel Fortner

          That’s exactly what I mean. We write down goals for categories that span our entire marriage to include social. This way we ensure we get the breaks we need to fuel other goals and our marriage. At the same time, achieving other goals fuels our social goals. It’s a beautiful circle that works well for us.

          • http://medicalaccountsolutions.wordpress.com medicalaccountsolutions

            Great idea! Will give it some thought…

            • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

              Joel is absolutely correct. Not only do you need goals for “the wheel of life”, but you need them for taking breaks as well. Even if it’s just taking a 4 day weekend every quarter and…I dunno…doing the Nascar experience.

              • http://medicalaccountsolutions.wordpress.com medicalaccountsolutions

                awwwwwwwwwwwwhhhhh, Nascar??? LOL! Now that…that is/was/would be awesome!!! Guess you & Joel are telling me to fix my flat. :)

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Girl! Take it soon. You will be blown away at what it does for you. And then get the next one on the schedule!

  • http://ericspeir.com/ Eric Speir

    You are definitely right on this Chris. I took about a week and a half vacation last month and felt recharged because I had no schedule and no obligations but to lay on the beach. I had the opportunity to read some good books such as “Quitter.” (The best book I’ve ever read on the subject and I’m not being paid to say this!) I came up with so many good ideas to write about. I need more time like this. For some reason we’ve bought into the idea that real leaders work themselves to death without any time off. It’s sad because it kills us and our organizations.

    • http://joelfortner.wordpress.com Joel Fortner

      I read Quitter, too, and loved it. Besides being insightful on how to “quit right,” I enjoyed the lessons about managing your dream job.

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      It absolutely is!! I was shocked at how much more creative I was with just two days!!

  • Chris Johnston

    Dan Cathy had a similar posting to his blog a few days ago. A couple of sentences caught my attention:

    Servitude is a great thing. Giving is a wonderful thing to do. Honesty and availability can be critical. All of those things can be important, but only if they’re done with moderation.

    The truth is that an empty leader has nothing left to give.

    The rest of it can be found here. http://cathyfamily.com/dan/blog/the-first-decision.aspx

    Powerful. Just as was your writing above.

    Sometimes staying on mission means for a moment stepping away from the mission.

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      So true, so true!

  • http://joelfortner.wordpress.com Joel Fortner

    Man, I couldn’t agree with the power of stepping away from the norm for a while. In “The Little Red Book of Wisdom,” Mark DeMoss talks about the sabbatical options he offers his employees. I need to re-read that book as it’s just full of insight, but that’s one detail I recall well and wish all employer’s offered their teams.

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      I once heard that the French give a month off to each team member after like 4 or 5 years to cometely rejuvinate. Could be a good idea.