Nancy Steiger, Partner, CEO Advisory Network
A reader’s comment on my last article, It's Time We Embraced Sabbaticals, stopped me in my tracks. Bob Korzeniowski wrote, “Sabbaticals are only for those who are rich.”
At first, I cringed at the possibility I had inadvertently published an elitist article. But it didn’t take long for me to gain
some perspective. Sabbaticals are most common in academia, and most university professors are anything but rich. Sabbaticals aren’t a function of wealth, but rather of priorities.
The fact is that most of us have a greater ability to change our lives than we acknowledge. I recently read an article about Behan Gifford and her husband Jamie, who have spent the past eight years sailing around the world with their children, surviving on about $25,000 a year. They’re not rich, they just decided to teach their kids about the world by wandering around it. Most people would argue they can’t “afford” to sail around the world, but in reality they aren’t willing to sell all their possessions and live on $25,000 a year… in order to spend 100% of their time exploring the world.
It’s not that someone can or can’t take a sabbatical. It’s a matter of choice… how much are you willing to sacrifice for what’s important to you?
So if you value recharging above all else, you will figure out how to take the time to recharge. As this relates to leadership, it’s all about congruency. Are your actions congruent with your words?
Whatever you value should be reflected in two fundamental ways:
1. How you spend your time
2. How you spend your money
Having worked for so long in the healthcare industry, I’ve seen leaders who struggle to model the right behaviors, and I’m no exception. For example, they say they want to improve patient experience, but they fail to sufficiently fund it or to invest enough of their own time in this area.
If you were a leader serious about patient experience, you would model the behaviors you want your team to emulate. You’d make patient rounds most days, rather than occasionally. You’d stop putting most of your capital budget into the likes of the latest technologies and would instead invest some of that funding into quality and training that enhances patient experience. It’s all too easy to blame middle management for falling short of your words and goals, but if you don’t provide sufficient resources - including your own time - how is your team going to move the dial?
You can find this disconnect in nearly every industry. Executives spend money on new technology, but won’t invest in the training necessary to allow their team to fully leverage that technology. Instead, they stop halfway, spending 70% of the necessary funds and investing 50% or less of the time their team needs to master a very different set of processes.
Nearly everything we want has a cost that can be measured in both time and money. Only the most superficial things are free in these regards.
No matter what your role in life, the best way to judge what really matters to you is how you invest your time and money. If you say you want to improve your health, you need to participate in self care behaviors. If you say you care about the community, volunteer your time and contribute money.
What does your calendar and checkbook reveal about you?