Vacation Lessons You Can Use When You’re Back at Work

A few weeks ago, my family and I spent an event-filled long weekend in New York City. As you do when you go there, we crammed a week’s worth of activity into just a few days–Yankee Stadium and Central Park, Radio City and Broadway, restaurants and bars all across town, wrapped up in a sail around the entire island via the Circle Line.

Once home and back to work, I realized I’d learned a few lessons from that trip–lessons that can continue to help me bring my superpowers to work. Here are my favorite three:

1. Wear Double Socks

The one thing I knew from living in Manhattan years ago is that we’d be doing lots of walking. And the other thing I knew was that I am not in as good of shape as I was in those days. I also knew from other active travel that there’s nothing worse than having your feet hurt–really hurt–when you still have walking to do.

So for this trip, I planned on wearing double socks. (Hate to break it to you, but not everyone in New York wears  Jimmy Choos. Especially tourists, which I was for this trip. So while not stylish, socks and shoes were the fashion for me.)

The double socks worked. Maybe it was the cushioning, maybe it was the protection against blisters, and maybe it was in my head, but my feet never hurt, no matter how far we’d hiked. By thinking ahead about what I knew would happen (lots of walking) and knowing what I wanted (no sore feet), I had a easy, practical plan that worked.

How can you anticipate your upcoming challenges, and what’s the extra protection you can take to plan for it? Maybe your “double socks” strategy consists of things like:

  • Asking for additional help before you go on vacation, so your key project transitions smoothly and you don’t have to check in from the beach.
  • Reviewing your budget and making changes today so you can have a better cushion going into 2012.
  • Investing in better relationships at work now, especially if it looks like you’re going to have a new boss, role, or responsibility soon

Putting on your double socks now can keep your feet cool and dry later. Even if it turns out you didn’t need them, the worse thing that can happen is more laundry.

2. Avoid the BlackBerry Bump

When I lived in Manhattan, I learned how to walk quickly through crowds–a skill that still comes in handy in the occasional concert or ballgame. But what’s now different is that the same fast walkers are armed with their personal communication devices–and trying to text, talk, and walk.

I call this the Blackberry Bump. I know you’ve seen it–even if you don’t live in New York. It’s in your hallway, your parking lot, the cafeteria line, or maybe even your own kitchen. And I think it’s dangerous, and not just when crossing a traffic-filled street.

If you’ve read this blog before, you know that if you want to bring your superpowers to work, I think it’s important you learn to Click Less to Connect More. Avoid the BlackBerry Bump–being bumped and being the bumper. You can be sure you’re missing something when you’re traveling heads-down instead of living heads-up. And you’ll no doubt get bruised, too.

3. Know that Your Superpower Is Missed

My friend Melissa joined us to see the recent revival of the musical  “Anything Goes,” even though she’d seen the same production before. But when she attended the first time, the show’s star, Tony award winner Sutton Foster, was ill, and her role was played by an understudy. And while Melissa enjoyed the show then, she wondered what might be missing.

The production we saw, with Foster, was stellar. The light seems to cling to her; her presence is palatable, her superpower clear.

It made me wonder if Foster really knew that she’d been missed. The night she was sick, the show did go on with a competent, experienced player, but it clearly was different by comparison.

Most of the time in our careers, we don’t get to see what it’s like when we’re not there. Sure, there may be the short-term panic when you are on vacation, or take a sick day, but most of the time, we take for granted all we’re contributing when we’re really in our superpower space.

I’ve watched clients and colleagues pull back on ideas that will use more of their superpowers, editing and censoring themselves by saying, “Well, it won’t really matter” or “No one will probably notice the difference.” But it does make a difference, and whether people can put their finger on it or not, your superpower is missed.

You don’t have to be a Broadway baby to put your superpowers on stage. Bring them to work, everyday you work. We miss you when you don’t.

Like these vacation lessons? Have others you learned this summer? Tell us about them by leaving a reply here, or sharing on Facebook! We love to hear from you!