Leadership in a word: Rest

“Rest when you’re weary. Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work.” – Ralph Marston

As summer slowly draws to a close, I came across a rather interesting article about the workplace and how employees are using their vacation time. A Glassdoor survey last year reported that millions of Americans are giving back their vacations to their employers. At first glance, I thought perhaps my eyes were playing tricks on me. Say it ain’t so! But here’s the explanation: “Why don’t they take what’s due? ‘Fear,’ says Scott Dobroski, career trends analyst at Glassdoor. ‘That’s the underscoring theme.’ They fear getting behind on their work (34%), believe no one else at their company can do the work while they’re out (30%), they are completely dedicated to their company (22%), and they feel they can never be disconnected (21%). As workers shoulder a heavier work-load post-recession, he says others are afraid of not meeting goals.” (https://www.glassdoor.com/press/glassdoor-survey-finds-americans-forfeit...)

That millions of Americans are giving back vacation time because they fear getting behind on their work, that no one else in the company can do their work while they are out, complete dedication to their company, and that they can never be disconnected to their work, speaks to the importance of my series theme word this week. While the reasons listed for not taking vacations might sound noble on the surface, it does speak to other underlying leadership concerns such as the need for cross-training, having a healthy work-life balance, and a workload with recognizable boundaries. A hard truth that is lost on many is that we are not indispensable. We can be replaced. And while the above-listed reasons for not taking vacation sound valid, one can do more harm than good – to themselves and their company- by not taking time to rest. I will not presume to say what that should look like. But here are a few simple reminders as to why rest is important.


This is the value-added consequence of taking the time to rest. Your body, soul, and mind can only run for so long and still be useful to you. Rest affords you the opportunity to recharge mentally, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. Recharging your leadership through the lost art of rest will do you a world of good. When you are recharged you give yourself a fresh perspective on the issues at hand and it will give you the energy needed going forward. Rested and recharged, you will position yourself for a great second half of the year.


During downtime and rest is the perfect time to reflect. It’s a time to look back at the first half of the year to see where you’ve come- to put it all in perspective. It’s a time to look ahead, not in the heat of the moment when there is no time to properly absorb what is taking place – but to do so in a state of mind that gives you the context you need. In your time of rest and mid-year reflecting, it’s also important to be present in the moment. “We always project into the future or reflect in the past,” says Marina Abramovic, “but we are so little in the present.” How much do we miss as leaders – family, children, memories we can never have again – simply because we were too busy and missed living in the moment?


The benefits of rest can be substantial. Times of rest are important for us in ways already mentioned. But the good it can do for you as a leader will make you a better one. A rested leader is a more effective leader. Your thinking is clearer, your instincts are sharper, and your temperament is more balanced. Yet, none of these benefits would be possible without making the conscientious decision to rest. Rid yourself of the stigma that to rest is wrong, and embrace this important area of your leadership. Rest is the secret ingredient to your balanced life and leadership. Discover this secret and you will be better for it.

© 2018 Doug Dickerson

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