Do a sabbatical to clean your mind and free your ideas, but be aware, that this is not just a holiday time
We know this sabbatical thing at least since 5 years, when the innovative CXO's Kai Diekmann, Martin Sinner and Peter Würtenberger created a new business trend, many CXO's followed during the last years. Get a rest, delete your old-business-habits and learn from other entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley or in South-Korea was the mantra.
And yes, this is not just for you, if you are an independent gentleman or CXO with a big bank account, it's more about prioritization, what you really want in your life and how you handle your needs and money the month before, so that you are able to afford 6 month staying away from your job.
In my personal career, I had mostly every 8 years such a kind of 3-6 month sabbatical time, which helped me to bring me again up-to-date and rethink old workflows and business habits, I was used to the years before. As an creative entrepreneur and smart business freak, you need this to stay tuned in this fast moving world, because you can't innovate during daily business work.
But in 2017 you don't have to travel to silicon valley, to find new workflows and rethink your business, it's more about having a time off to read, relax and try some new tools and business models, talk to friends, talk to former clients, talk to everybody, have video calls around the world, writing down your ideas and use this new free time with a time schedule / timeline, getting things done.
Traveling could be a nice inspiration, yes, but please, if you travel, look for real innovative places in the world, not the corny Silicon Valley thing, everybody is talking about now. Real trends and smart people you can find in more hidden places, which are not trendy right now, but with great potential. Nowadays I would say this is CEE, SEE and South Korea, Brooklyn, Iran and Skolkovo or places just Hipsters know.
My personal stations this year where: New York and CEE for learnings and Toscany and Umbria to come down and delete your hard-disk, combined with a lot of video calls around the globe, which is smart-cost-saving traveling and a great feedback tool just via your laptop.
A short 2-3 weeks first relaxing time should be at the beginning of each sabbatical, reading trash novels and watching movies and partying to clean your mind.
Then comes the work and reading stage, where you go through reviews, new books, articles and preparing your reading list for the next month. And then a mixture of reading, thinking, re-thinking and discussions with as many friends you can find, can start for the next weeks, a time of education and feedback from outside. This is very important to have this time of learning and feedback, that you don't walk the wrong path. Yes, sometimes we are industry-blind, especially when we are experienced in our business field since 15, 20 years, so we need 180 degree turnarounds, but take care of wrong-turns!
So, this whole sabbatical thing needs, milestones, tasks, feedbacks and learnings otherwise it's just holidays and playing innovation, going just on a Silicon Valley trip, because everybody does. You ned to explore new steps to be really innovative, not by doing selfies in front of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates garage. This you can do, when you have retired.
The third stage starts the last 2 month of your 6 month sabbatical period. This is the time, where you write down and summarize all learnings, create business plans and measure time and tools, if they are really innovative or just new tools.
You also can fine-tune some learnings from discussions with friends during this time, and before the final role-out.
Another point is the end. It makes a difference, if you return to your old company and find the old environment there and many people who didn't had 6 month for a sabbatical, or if you start your own start-up from scratch with new people.
In the first situation, you need a lot of patience to bring the others - managers, team-leader, etc pp. slowly to the new targets, your experiences, thoughts and changes, maybe together with the change management team, which will support you. Yes, this topic is different regarding big companies, maybe to big for just a small blog post.
The second situation, is the more comfortable one, because you just move on with your learnings from the last 6 month and all this things will grow now and became a big thing, like in a puzzle.
The whole life is change and learning, so be brave to find your own way, you just have this 1 life, so start now to stop your work-to-rule as a human-robot. :-)
Pic: by Thomas Zahlten, Brooklyn 2017
Thomas Zahlten is