After four years of work, I was given the gift of a three-week sabbatical. At first, I was excited about being gone, but that excitement turned to anxiety as my scheduled time away got closer. I had never taken this much time off at once and I didn’t really know how to act or respond to my time away. My time off was incredible and much needed, but during the three weeks, I experienced emotions I hadn’t prepared for. Have you ever had several wake-up calls in life hit you all at once? That’s what happened to me.
After talking out what I was going through with some good friends, it became clear that my sabbatical gave me 3 wake-up calls—wake-up calls in life I think we all need.
1. We don’t really know how to rest.
After the first week, I found myself in a fight with my wife about how I was spending my time off. I just kept repeating, “I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing.” I really didn’t have a clue how to fully rest. The reality is that for most of us, being away from work is like someone telling us we can’t be ourselves. That’s because our identity is wrapped up in what we do. We don’t really know how to rest because no one has ever shown us what healthy rest looks like. When we rest, we must prepare ourselves for it by deleting our social media apps, getting off our phones, and fully disconnecting in order to really recharge.
2. We are replaceable.
One of the hardest parts of my time off was feeling unneeded by my team at work. They continued just fine without me, and my thoughts about that turned negative quickly. The reality is that if I left tomorrow, I would be replaced. Someone else could come in and do my job. Being humbled by the fact that we are replaceable should challenge us to be more innovative, more collaborative, and more connected. Knowing we are replaceable should not make us fearful—it should make us fearless in our work.Being self-aware forces us to look in the mirror and grow instead of making excuses for our weaknesses.
3. We have weaknesses we need to address.
Being out of the office woke me up to a weakness in me that needed to be addressed: I am a control freak. I want to control everything. No one is a perfect leader and we all have weaknesses. If we ignore them, it hurts those we work with. When I returned, I had to share with my team that I will trust them more and allow them to lead without getting in the middle of their business. I have been told that great leaders don’t hide their weaknesses; they use them. Being self-aware forces us to look in the mirror and grow instead of making excuses for our weaknesses.
Sound off: Are there any other wake-up calls in life we all need?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What’s one thing in your life that you wish were different?”