In 1940, King George VI had an interview with Winston Churchill towards the latter becoming the prime minister of the United Kingdom. The king asked, “Shall we talk daily at around 4:00 pm to get updated on the state of the war?”
Churchill famously declined, saying that this was the time he took his afternoon nap, to regain strength and think.
The UK was then in its darkest hour. The German troops conquered most of Europe. The British army in Europe has almost been wiped out. There were no allies, and Churchill was carrying the future and hope of the free world on his shoulders almost by himself.
How could a leader of a nation at war say “No” to his king? How could he take a daily nap and think in the face of a raging war?
Well, how could he not?
We are all often under a lot of stress. The daily avalanche of events, the heavy responsibility, having to make crucial decisions.
All that necessitates a time and a space to retreat, to zoom out, to review things with a wider perspective.
Failing to do that, you will continue with your routine activities, but without much overview of your decisions and delivering on your strategy.
The word “Strategy” comes from the Greek word – “Strata” which means “Plain”: a leader needs to stand on an elevated platform, so that they could see the entire plain – the whole battlefield.
In a similar way, in order to follow your strategy you need time and space that are “elevated” from the daily hustle and bustle. Only then can you can relax, think strategically and make major decisions.
Retreats can take many shapes. It could be a daily break like Churchill’s. It requires a quiet place with no interruption and with the conditions that allow the leader to contemplate.
It could be done over a weekend when you take a longer time off to review and work out the current situation, the trends and the changes you need to make.
Make it your part of your routine to take time-outs that allow you to pause, review, rethink, recreate. You can do it daily or weekly. At the current speed of changes and events once a year is a must, but not enough.