Reinvigoration of a Sabbatical

I recently returned from a month long sabbatical. That is a term that is tossed around but may not be fully understood. A sabbatical is “a period of paid leave granted to a… worker for study or travel”. It is meant to be a time to refresh and renew a person and reinvigorate them for the journey ahead. Too often the term has a negative connotation.“ My pastor was burnt out, so he took a sabbatical.” A sabbatical can be seen as a remedy for destructive overwork that is taking its toll on the person. And while it can be a remedy, that is not its primary purpose.

As people, we work. And most of us work hard. Even at a job we enjoy and find meaningful, hard work is hard. If there are not equally meaningful and enjoyable down times we are at risk of developing callouses. Callouses on our mind, the ideas start to flow less freely. Callouses on our emotions, relationship inside and outside of work begin to feel distant. Callouses on our vision, the future can start to look less and less bright. Without downtime that is reinvigorating, we put ourselves, our jobs, our companies, and our families at risk.

The primary purpose of a sabbatical is to keep us invigorated. Time of rest, learning, and experiencing new things and places enriches us and adds new energy to our lives. Though these kinds of times are undervalued in a work culture that seems to only reward “up time.”

I am fortunate to have an immensely skilled team that I trusted to take care of things while I was gone. Furthermore, I am fortunate to have a family who supported my need for a three-week road trip to clear my head. Being surrounded by people in a culture that cares for not just for my output, but for me as a person allowed me to leave the firm in confidence. In fact, my greatest struggle was the question “what if they don’t need me when I get back?”

While that started as my greatest concern, it ended up being the greatest revelation. My team is more than competent – in fact, they are pushing the boundaries on what it means to be a legal service provider. My absence only allowed the practitioners and operations team to demonstrate their skills – without the firm missing as a step. In fact, it started moving faster. The greatest revelation I’ve had as a business owner is: the greatest benefit I can be a to a well-designed team is to get out of its way. They do almost everything I did in the past and in so many ways better than I did. And that is amazing.

My sabbatical reinvigorated me to reach for what was next for me and the firm because my team has where were are now well in hand. It renewed my mind and let me get rid of some of the head trash that was holding me, and the team, back. It refreshed my relationships, by letting me see how talented the people I work with really are. It refocused my vision, to see that a new horizon that is beyond what we have achieved.

In the short time that I have been back, I have felt so much pride for the people who are dedicated to the success of what we are building. Moreover, I have felt the need to step up into what will take us further. All because I took time – time to study, listen, travel, and experience.

Do you feel like you have been working hard for a long time? Are the ideas coming slowly, relationships feeling distant, and the future looking dimmer? When was the last time you took time to reinvigorate yourself? Not a vacation. But a time to “study and travel” into things that will challenge and inspire you. I cannot recommend it enough – not just as a remedy for the exhausted, but also for a time of inspiration for those wise enough to take it.

I was once told that a smart man learns from his mistakes, but a wise man learns from the mistakes of others. What did I learn? It was a mistake to wait so long to take my sabbatical. If you recognize you need some time to study and travel or you are considering a sabbatical, reach out to me at cmw@eques.lawI would be happy to share with you how as an owner and practitioner I planned for it – and commensurate on the anxieties that come with it. Trust me – it is worth it.

Christopher M. White
Managing Partner/Mediator/Title Agent

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