I always look forward to reading new posts on Rand Fishkin’s personal blog. I was stoked when a new one hit my inbox a day or so ago. I finally got around to reading Generosity & Entitlement and I read something that resonated with me so deeply, I had to share it.
I felt so bad about taking a few hours away from my computer that I didn’t even check-in on FourSquare. I didn’t want other Mozzers seeing my time-off.
That sucked, and it was totally wrong. As Jerry, my CEO coach, would say, “if you don’t show other people that you take breaks, they’ll never feel like they can take a break, and you’re not being truly empathetic.”
Normally, I’d share this stuff on Twitter, but it’s well over 140 characters (obviously) and I felt that shortening it in any way would hurt its message. So, here I am putting up a quick blog post when I have a thousand other things I could be doing (not to mention at least five other blog posts I could be working on instead).
While Rand’s full post talks about much more than just this small quote, I can really relate to this part as a “senior” type person at a small startup. I dedicate a lot of time to self-reflection and critique with the goal of hopefully becoming a better manager and mentor to the people on my team. It’s easy to spend a lot of time thinking about the more concrete aspects like “how can I train people more effectively?”, “should I rework scheduling to make sure workloads are balanced?”, and “do people on my team have access to all the resources they need to learn and grow?”. It’s much harder to reflect on how your behavior and attitude inside the office and outside of it can impact your team and the culture you’re trying to foster.
As with nearly any startup on earth, we work long hours at SwellPath. I’d like to think that most of the time, things are pretty reasonable; we are in year five now, and we’ve learned a lot about scaling and we hope we’re getting better at minimizing the madness.
However, everyone has faced their share of late nights, early mornings, and weekend work. Rand confessed that after putting in 12 hours and realizing his productivity was virtually zero, he took a break to see Star Trek (awesome flick, BTW). He admitted that even though he needed the break, badly, he didn’t check in on FourSquare because “I didn’t want other Mozzers seeing my time-off”. As soon as I read that, I realized I’d done that, too. I too had felt guilt about publicly taking time to do non-work stuff.
Rand immediately opens the following paragraph with, “that sucked, and it was totally wrong.” And Rand is totally right. I’ve done that, a number of times, and a part of me always knew it wasn’t being honest. Time off is important and necessary it creates balance and promotes a healthy work-life blend. From now on, I want to commit to being “okay” with giving myself a break and being public about that.
Thanks, Rand, for the nice eyeopener this morning.