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Scott Eblin offers his take on lessons in the news and his advice on your pressing leadership questions.

Put the Phone Down, and No One Gets Hurt


If you’re reading this while you’re on vacation or getting ready to go on vacation, this post is for you.

Please, please, please, give yourself and your family a break.

As I wrote a couple of years ago, the Europeans have it right. They don’t go on vacation, they go on holiday. Here in the States, we don’t holiday, we vacate. As in vacate the office and take your work with you.

I hear way too many stories from clients who insist on checking in every day and keeping up with their email and conference calls while they’re gone. I hear too few from people who actually let their team and colleagues handle things while they’re away for a week.

Can’t image not taking your work with you? Consider this story.

Back before iPhones and Androids had BlackBerry for lunch, I used to talk in leadership programs about a story I’d seen in The Wall Street Journal. It was titled “BlackBerry Orphans” and was about how upset kids were with their parents about checking their email at all hours of the day. It was accompanied by a drawing of a little girl in pigtails throwing open the closet doors in a rage as her dad cowered inside with his device.

As I showed the picture on screen one day, a guy in the group got an “I’m busted” look on his face. I saw it and asked him what was up. He said, “That happened to me.” I asked him what he was thinking, and he said, “That happened to me last year.”

Being a good sport, he shared with the group the story of how he and his family were making a connection in the Miami airport on their way to a Caribbean vacation. As they were waiting on their flight, his 10-year-old daughter asked, “Daddy, can I see your BlackBerry?” Thinking that she wanted to play a game on it, he said sure and handed it over. She then opened up the zippered pocket on the end of her duffel bag, stuck the BlackBerry in it, zipped it up, and said, “You can have that when we get back, Daddy.”

When he shared what his daughter did, the whole group pretty much asked at once, “Whoa, what did you do?”

“For the first few minutes, I panicked and debated my options,” he replied. “Then, I thought, ‘OK, let me just give this a try one day at a time.’ I never asked for it back that week and had the greatest vacation with my wife and kids that I had ever had. When we connected through Miami again on the way home, she took it out of her bag and gave it back to me.”

Thanks to his daughter, he ended up with a holiday and not a vacation.

Why not give it a try this year? Put the phone down and no one gets hurt.

Can’t go that far? What are you willing to try to make it more of a holiday and less of a vacation?

(Image via haveseen/Shutterstock.com)

Executive coach Scott Eblin’s goal is to help you succeed at the next level of leadership. Throughout the week, he’ll offer his take on the leadership lessons in the news and his advice on your most pressing leadership questions. A former government executive, Scott is a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and is the author of The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success.

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