The best thing I could have ever done for my business was to leave it for a month to let it either thrive or die on its own.
To anyone else, taking a month off from running a business to drive across Europe might sound like a disaster in the making.
But, for me, taking a month off and participating in the Mongol Rally was a huge opportunity to recalibrate my perspective and test my leadership skills.
Even though I was sure that the experiment would prove itself a successful risk, and that it would benefit me as a leader, I was a little nervous about leaving my business and my team for so long.
Taking the Leap
So why did I do it? My motivations were both personal and professional.
When I was young, I wanted to be either a tech entrepreneur or a rally car racer. The first dream became a reality, and the Mongol Rally gave me the chance to live out the second one as well.
From a business perspective, getting away for an extended period-of-time allowed me to think “outside the box.” Visiting several different countries and exploring their cultures gave me new insights and ideas on ways of doing things.
I learned many things there ranging from small details to major life priorities. All of these, it turns out, can be applied to my business.
And, best of all, I had the opportunity to see what my team was capable of without my input.
Cutting the Cord
For most of my trip, I was available for urgent calls, but my team only called me once – the instructions I’d left were clear enough to give my team direction, but loose enough that they could problem solve on their own. Instead of delegating tasks, I delegated responsibilities with key performance indicators; I left a clear list of my priorities for my team.
The KPI made it easy for the members of my team to define tactics and strategies, but it also gave them the freedom to make decisions on the fly. Instead of instructing my team to wait on important decisions until I returned or could be reached for input, my team had to choose without me.
I believed it was more important to make sure none of our tasks were delayed; when I did return, nothing was waiting for me.
Playing Hard Pays Off
Being away allowed me to take a step back, clear my head, and look at my business from new angles.
Thinking outside of the barriers of the office (literally “outside-the-box” of a cubicle or an office!) gave me a new approach toward my business. It helped me realize that we were investing time in some things that were not important, and we stopped right after I returned.
It showed me that my team is capable of keeping the business going in my absence. My team handled everything, and as a result, many of the people who make up my team are now more confident and willing to take initiative. They even discussed and implemented some interesting product ideas in my absence.
I am completely satisfied with the way my team kept my business not just floating, but thriving.
Work Hard, Play Hard
I work hard and play hard. Once I returned from my trip, I learned that my adventurous side is something many people, including members of my team, like about me. I’m more public about my adventures now, which has helped solidify my self-image as a business leader and as an individual.
Taking time off was a risk, but it was a risk I was confident would pay off. The benefits of spending a month participating in the Mongol Rally have outweighed the cost. It was definitely worth the investment of time – both for my business and for me. (Plus, I got to live out a childhood dream. Who wouldn’t want that?)
So what are you doing to stretch your faith in your abilities and take some time to check your leadership skills? How are you testing your perceptions of your leadership skills and abilities in a way that will conclusively test your mettle? What can you do with your team to increase your trust and confidence in them? I would love to hear your thoughts!
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Image Sources: theadventurists.com