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Lessons Learned From My Recent Family Vacation

Lessons Learned From My Recent Family Vacation

In a recent presentation on self-leadership, I mentioned that in the last 4 years I have discovered the greatest leadership challenge: Parenting! I discussed that this is the most important leadership position anyone could find himself or herself in and that I still have a lot to learn in this aspect of leadership. Here are a couple of lessons learned on a recent vacation. 


Shawn Stratton

© Adam Rifkin

Use systems to avoid doing business activities on vacation. It is important to me that I publish my blog weekly. I haven’t missed a week since I started publishing weekly 7 months ago. Most of my blogs feature value-added leadership content that could be written and published at a set date and time. While I managed to write drafts of my blogs before the vacation, I still ended up devoting time to them, which could have been avoided if I was organized and posted them to be published at their scheduled time before going on vacation.

Avoid Mixing Business and Vacation

This may sound like a no-brainer but when important business opportunities arise, it is hard to pass them up. A couple of months ago, I was asked to be the opening speaker for Dr. Wayne Dyer at an event hosted by the I AM GENIE Foundation in St. John’s. This would be an outstanding opportunity for me and it just happened to land on the last day of my vacation in St. John’s. This meant I was spending a good portion of time on my vacation thinking about and preparing for the talk. With the talk on my mind I could not totally relax.

Lessons Learned

© Alick Tsui

Lesson: I need to avoid booking business obligations on vacation and stay away from Wi-Fi and cell range or go to places that make them expensive to use for me so I can totally unplug on vacation. This may limit me to backcountry wilderness and sailing vacations and I am ok with that but I don’t think the grandparents will be.

Be Prepared

Make sure you have the most important things covered. By this I mean a baby’s bottom. We did not pack enough diapers to cover any potential delays in our flights. We ended up being delayed 24 hours on our way to St. John’s and slowly ran out of diapers as mild panic set in. Luckily, a mother in the check-in line in was nice enough to give us a few diapers to get by. Oh, the stress. Lessons: when traveling with kids, pack way more diapers and snacks than needed. I figure this is the equivalent of going on a backcountry expedition and running out of matches.

Lesson Learned

Kids Need to Play

Despite having no play area for kids (a little shocking) in the hub of Canadian Air travel, Air Canada’s terminal in the Toronto Airport, kids will find a way to play. Lessons: kids can make a Jungle Jim out of anything structure.


In a few weeks I will be taking another vacation, this time to Brazil. Hopefully I will do a better job of disconnecting. Are you able to disconnect while on vacation? Tell me the trick and tools you use to cover your work responsibilities while on vacation in the comments below.