“I have traveled extensively in Concord.” — Henry David Thoreau
I’m just back from vacation. Thoreau’s words came to me: he chose to go “to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” His classic work, Walden, describes one of the classic exercises in getting away. It is interesting to note that Thoreau chose to stay close to home. George Kateb, a professor emeritus at Princeton said, “I think that is a rejoinder to those who think you have to go to great distances to come across the exotic, the unfamiliar, the strange, the contemplation-worth, it’s right under your nose.” It might be said that Thoreau’s Walden established the “staycation” 150 years before it became popular or a necessity. (Staycation is a neologism defined as a “holiday in which you stay at home and visit places near to where you live”).
On the theme of vacationing, I wrote a blog posting for the Washington Post. They had asked me to comment on how leaders should strike a balance between recharging and yet staying in-touch and available to their organizations. I offered some tips and concluded:
Less is more. The leader’s art of vacationing well is all about setting limits to connectivity. … General Robert E. Lee averred that the art of generalship is fundamentally the art of choosing where to fight your battles. You can choose how much to connect and whether to work on vacation. My advice is: set limits; say when.