If you are a business leader, then taking a year away sounds decadent, if not irresponsible to your employees, customers and staff. There is the fear of losing your place in the market: Competitors known and unknown could catch up and take over. Your own ego comes into play, too, as you're looking at others and don't want to be judged as not hustling as hard as them.
So when Tom Peters, the father of modern business culture discussions through his seminal book In Search of Excellence, says that he took a year off of his business, then it is worth paying attention hard.
Why Peters unplugged
In a conversation with Distrupt Yourself author Whitney Johnson, Peters said he took a year away from his in-demand coaching and speaking schedule to do one thing: Study. Even deeper, he took time away not to study business and flow charts, but to study virtual reality and artificial intelligence.
Because he knew it would be the future of work and that it would profoundly impact culture. And, as he shared on Johnson's podcast, you have to continuously study to be at the top of your game.
So he took a year off - cut down his work and speaking down by around 70 percent, which, for his organization, would likely be a massive R & D investment - and spent it studying the latest technology.
Mind you that he is 75.
How to stay on top
Peters virtually invented the discussion around business culture forty years ago. He is years into the typical American retirement age. The discussion started in the seventies can likely financially sustain him well beyond his seventies. And yet, here he is, learning about technology with the same fervor as me, about half his age, doing late hours and early mornings doing the same thing for my now-acquired startup.
It also wasn't a public pursuit, with Peters shouting on Snapchat or jumping on TV talking about his AI mission. As I talk about in The Ultimate Bite-Sized Entrepreneur, your private growth is just as valuable as your public growth, if not more so. Peters says the year has already influenced his business in a great way.
Here's the lesson: You sometimes have to stop to grow. Grinding it out and hustling every day will only get you so far and, at worst, will burn you out. Sacrifice some profit and glory today to make yourself better prepared for tomorrow, or you'll be sacrificing tomorrow for today's ego comfort.
It's awesome that Peters is humble enough to know when he needs to know more. We should all follow his example.