Sick Days & Time Outs

Remember the good ole days of adolescents when if you felt like you just couldn’t face the world you declared a “sick day”?  Maybe it was the test you failed to prepare for or the ex you just couldn’t bear to face… whatever the issue you, suckered your parents into believing your weren’t well and sufficiently enjoyed a day of relaxation and reprieve from the ordinary.

Ok yeah, you know me well enough to know that there is no way my neurotic achievement issues would have allowed me to avoid responsibility like that!  But man, I wish I had taken advantage of that opportunity back then.

Leaders don’t get to take a “sick day”.

You can’t just call it quits when you’re facing things you don’t like.  You can’t choose to not lead just because you don’t feel like it.

So how do you deal with the days when you want to go hide in a corner rather than answer another question? 

How do you keep from throwing a tantrum when someone expects you to solve another problem?

While you can’t just call it quits for an entire day, I do think you can take a time out.

When you feel yourself pushed to the edge and unable to handle the daily pressures of leadership, it’s ok to revisit your schedule and create a time out.

  • Perhaps you need to squeeze in a little more time for prayer and reflection
  • Maybe you need to carve out 30 minutes to read or go for a good walk
  • Maybe you can post-pone a meeting that isn’t urgent or you’re not completely ready for

The biggest difference between sick days and time outs is that sick days are a “throw in the towel mindset”.  You’re giving up and behaving as if you’re defeated.  Time outs are a healthy recognition that you’re running on fumes and need a strategic break.  Time outs are a way of reclaiming control and being responsible for your part.

Do you need a time out today?  If so, create it.   Don’t succumb to the sick day!


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  • Dkontoudis February 1, 2012  

    Why not, please tell me why not…..
    I was just about to call it a sick day and you ruined it (i don’t say that in a insulting manner – i hope you understand.)When i read your link on twitter, I really knew that this would be trouble, so I haven’t read the post, i save it for later but I am commending without having read it.
    But I know that now i can’t call it a sick day.
    Thank you for ruin it!
    No, I mean it, I am thankful that you ruined it!!!!

    Ο Θεός μαζί σου (God be with you)

    • Anonymous February 1, 2012  

      I hope your day got better Dimitris!

  • Laura Crosby February 1, 2012  

    Love this!  So true!   Another element of facing days you wish could be “sick days” is knowing you aren’t alone.

  • Bettysuebutler February 1, 2012  

    You are a committed and a deep Christian and I admire you. I don’t believe you can know from your walk so far in this fallen world how devastating life can become. Sometimes I need to take time to study, pray, journal and sleep to find the desire to trudge on. Your 30 minute break idea is a good one for many stressors. But in my 60 year walk with Jesus I have badly needed a “sick day” spent in the arms of my savior. Be careful not to put quilt on those who are truly overwheled. We all walk our own spiritual path with Jesus.

    • Anonymous February 1, 2012  

      Thank you for your thoughts. I certainly had no intention of putting guilt on anyone. I absolutely believe in the importance of rest and rejuvenation. I consider sabbath a planned time out… a day of spending time with God that is part of my health spiritually and physically.