What I Learned from 7 Weeks Away

Roscoe Klausing on May 18, 2015

My family and I had the good fortune of spending most of the months of March and April in Hungary. We traveled there to adopt our two and a half year old son. Leaving home and work for seven weeks was a wonderful experience but that much time away cannot be labeled as a vacation.

The seasonal challenges of running a landscaping business are plenty intense, and it's unheard of for a an owner to leave a landscape business during the spring. My time away from Klausing Group was not only complicated by the season but also by a new, more stringent, employee screening process that we implemented just before I left town. This made it far more difficult to find qualified employees. Mother Nature also dealt us a blow by delivering Kentucky legendary snowfalls and record rainfalls while I was away. Regardless, my team came through it all practically unscathed.

Here’s what I learned from being so far away from all the action:

I’m not always helping: It’s so easy to operate under the guise of “I’m only trying to help.” The truth is, lots of the time, I’m getting in the way. I’ve got an incredible team and training them to think like me, or arrive at the same conclusion as me, is not employee development. It’s a failure to take advantage their unique perspective. There’s more than one solution to most challenges and there’s definitely more than one way to arrive at a solution. Allowing my people to tackle challenges head on, making them their own, gives ownership and alows them to succeed using their own perspective. By staying too close to the action, I limit my staff’s ability to grow.

Simplicity provides clarity: While in Hungary, we rented a small house. We had no car. We didn’t speak the language. We had no friends, and no family. Our only obligation was to get to know our son and grow closer as a family. It was a very simple time that consisted mostly of walks to the grocery or the park. During this period, I felt less stress and anxiety than I can ever remember in my adult life. It was because I had eliminated multi-tasking from my daily routine and because I was able to be fully present at all times. It’s true that it’s easier to lead a simple life when you are isolated but ultimately, how we use our time is our choice. I can choose simplicity over complexity. When my mind is clear, I see things more clearly, my life is more rewarding and I experience less stress.

Organizations only idle without a driver: My team did an incredible job running Klausing Group in my absence. I’m so grateful for their effort and so proud of their accomplishments. Upon my return I asked a team member what he learned from my absence. His response was both comforting and invigorating. “We’ve got this thing, Roscoe. We can handle the day to day but we need you to lead the charge on our strategic plan implementation. Somebody’s got to be looking ahead.”

My family and I are all delighted to be home and so grateful for the experience we had in Hungary. Our son is fitting into the family perfectly and adjusting to his new life in Kentucky. At Klausing Group, we're halfway through the spring rush and things are going better than I can ever remember. Now, the challenge of changing my behavior to take full advantage of those lessons learned begins.

Tags: Culture

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