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Time to Refresh, Reflect, Renew

Here’s food for thought . . . A period of rest is wise for a Valley that’s always on the run.
Silicon Valley is always on the go. Yet we can be even stronger if, on occasion, we force ourselves to stop.

Stop to rest, refresh and renew.

Here’s an old word with a new application – Sabbath. For a handful of Silicon Valley employers – venerable firms like Adobe and Intel – this concept is embraced by something called a sabbatical. A sabbatical is an extended time away from work, from stress, from our day-to-day grind. It means setting aside our 24-7-365 lifestyle, further magnified by a social network culture that may make communications more convenient, but also leads to a life that is always plugged in, always jacked up, always racing at full speed.

Five years ago, I initiated a sabbatical policy for my employees. After seven years of continuous full-time service, each employee – myself included – is eligible for a four-week, fully paid, sabbatical. Two weeks of accrued vacation time can be added on, for a total of six weeks.

After 18-plus years as CEO, it is my turn for time away. Five glorious weeks to stop, sit, relax, refresh, renew, reflect.

It means getting off the daily grind, where the only grind in my day will be grinding a daily cup of fresh, French roast coffee for my wife.

It means pancake breakfasts with my two little girls.

It means casual bike rides as a family through Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, floating on a raft and kayak down the Russian River, building sand castles at the beach in Santa Cruz and swimming lessons from a professional coach.

It means lazy days and long evenings with no set schedule.

Here’s my question – what would a sabbatical mean for you? Are you willing to step off the treadmill to take it? To my colleague CEOs – would your culture allow it?

Come on Silicon Valley – it is time we give ourselves a break.

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  1. I was lucky to work at VLSI Technology back in the 1990s. They offered a sabbatical after 5 years of employment. My weeks away gave me time to reflect on the direction of my career. I wrote a business plan for starting my own consultancy, Maestro Marketing & Public Relations. Launched in 1995 and never looked back. A sabbatical allows us to learn what gives us purpose and energy, and the result benefits both the employee and the employer.

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