ArticlesFeature Article

Tim McDermott “What Every Leader Needs – Rest”

What every leader needs – rest.


I remember I had just started in my new job as CEO. I was young and healthy and I loved what I did. It wasn’t a job. It was my passion and I was living my dream. So I worked and worked and worked. After a couple years, I started noticing it felt as if my body was leaning to the left. Eventually, it got so bad, I went the doctor to have it checked out. After a lot of medical tests including an MRI on my brain, it turned out to be…nothing physical…just stress. The doctor asked me when was the last time I had taken a vacation? Well, it had been a couple years.


As leaders of organizations we are being drained every day. Hard decisions. Financial pressures on our shoulders. Employee drama. Working with a lot of different personalities on the board. Yes, it’s hard and that’s why we need to rest. But how, in a world where we are attached to our work via our smartphone. Here are some ideas that have worked for me.


  1. Go on a cruise. No cellphones. No email. Unplugged from the world. Plus, I love having everything there – food, entertainment, etc. so I don’t have to make a lot of decisions. No traffic jams. No employees coming to me for a “quick question.’ Yes, cruises are great.


  1. Find a secret spot. It took me a while, but I have one. I go there on my motorcycle. It’s by a lake, but that’s all I can say. If I tell you, then you’ll go there too and it won’t be a secret! I have made major decisions there. Got angry with God there. Listened there. Journaled there. Whenever I leave there I feel recharged.


  1. Schedule meetings with yourself and keep them. If we aren’t careful, we can fill our day with meetings with everyone. Every leader needs time in the office to recharge. So schedule a meeting with yourself. Use that time to read a great book (I try for a chapter a day), listen to a podcast or take a training course on the web. If your office is secure, maybe you can just take take a quick power nap in your chair. But find something to recharge your mind.


  1. Exercise. Our bodies can only take so much stress – even if we are young and healthy. I used to work near a gym and everyday I would take the time to go play racquetball. It was a great stress break. Later on, I picked up the sport of cycling. I have spent hours on the bike – just me, my thoughts and God.


  1. Block out vacation for the next 12 months now. It seems at the first of the year, my calendar fills up for the entire year. So before it gets booked, I block out vacation for the next 12 months. Sometimes I will block out an entire month. Then meetings can be scheduled around my vacation. As the months get closer and I know more what my plans are, I will release those times back. It’s a great way to make sure I make vacations a priority and get the rest I need.

Tim McDermott lead KSBJ for 27 years.  He is now the COO of PraiseLive/Praise FM in Minneapolis, MN. He can be reached at tim@timmcdermottcpa.com