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Ruminations on work life balance August 22, 2014

Posted by Edwin Ritter in Behavior, Grab Bag.
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Labor Day is right around the corner as we approach the end of another vacation season.  Taking time off is an important part of the balance between work and play. Going on vacation is beneficial for multiple reasons and mental health is a primary one. Companies like to proclaim how important employees are and that having paid time off (aka, vacation) is a benefit they  (sometimes grudgingly) provide. We all look forward to the annual summer sojourn to a familiar place. Or, the thrill in going to new places while taking time off.

So I find it interesting the strong reaction people have when the media reports our elected officials have vacation plans. Not only plans, but, actually going on a trip for vacation. The shock, the disappoint from people when a state senator, city mayor or even the president takes a few days to recharge.

summer_vacation-5188Why are we surprised by this? Do we really expect politicians to work all the time? Of course not. However, there is perhaps an unrealistic expectation that a politician will stay at work during a crisis or when there are lots of events that may require their attention.

Consider the furor from two recent events. One involved NYC Mayor, Bill DeBlasio. He and his family planned a trip to Italy.  The timing of this trip upset many residents who use mass transit. The nerve of him planning to leave the country while there is the threat of a transit strike. He should be at work!

A second event involved the POTUS. Aka, the President of the United States. Critics state he should not go on vacation while there are issues in Ukraine, Middle East and Ferguson, Missouri. He needs to be in the oval office. Taking vacation now is in poor taste, shows bad judgement.

Hold on. Everyone likes to go on  vacation. We eagerly look forward to taking time off. Studies clearly show the benefit in maintaining a work balance with life outside the office. This applies to everyone regardless of their job. Also, our elected leaders are never really out of touch with current events. Not anymore. They may not be in the office yet staying connected has never been easier. Politicians, like the rest of us, can and often do, work remotely.

Taking a few days off is not so dire. Consider a vacation from 1927 with then President Calvin Coolidge. He and his wife spent three months in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Three months!  Taking that amount of time off today is unthinkable. How times change.

Great leaders can, and should, delegate effectively. When done well, we do not notice a difference. How many times has a co-worker post poned vacation plans to stay at work? Was it really necessary? I say, enjoy your planned vacation and let our leaders do the same.

By the way, how was your summer vacation? Do anything exciting?

Enjoy the long Labor Day weekend and the time off. Comments always invited!


Training pays off in Boston on Monday April 17, 2013

Posted by Edwin Ritter in Behavior.
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I need to stress the positives in this post about the bombing in Boston on Monday. Let me be clear  – it was awful. But I want to focus on and highlight the good here. The first responders reacted immediately. No hesitation. Civic leaders quickly communicated to the public and worked with local, state and federal officials. Their impressive response was the result of proper training conducted via simulations. The pay off from those drills was clearly demonstrated as we watched, posted and reacted with our comments.

I see it as a positive that there are overwhelmingly more good people among us than there are evil ones. That was evident  right from the beginning. From those acts of bravery and kindness, we should be confident and committed to belonging to a society willing to assist others. We immediately put aside our differences and acted as one community that went beyond the borders of towns and states to show support.

Previously, I wrote a blog post about disasters after the tsunami in Japan. That piece talked about how you would respond if you were there. Today, I saw this piece from the Harvard Business Review on how leaders emerge from these crisis events. It prompted me to post this article. I want to relay my gratitude to all who responded. To those who spontaneously helped out others who happened to be near them and provided comfort, food and shelter. There are good people among us and they will help us get back to normal after this.

The Boston marathon will be held again. Good. The runners will train for that day and the city of Boston will prepare for the 2014 race. They will be well organized as they usual and they will update their plans based on learnings from what happened Monday. They will also revise their training to be ready for anything and everything that comes their way.

In the grand scheme, my ramblings here will not change anything. I am grateful to the kind and helping people assisting others in a dire situation. Going forward, let’s not jump to conclusions to quickly. This event should remind us not to rush to make brash or grandiose statements but instead to observe, collect some facts based in reality and trust those in authority to respond correctly.

To respond as they are trained to do.