"To get away from one's working environment is, in a sense, to get away from one's self; and this is often the chief advantage of travel and change."
-- Charles Horton Cooley
I have taken the last two weeks off to visit beautiful Hawaii. I thoroughly enjoyed the time away, not from writing this column, but to have new experiences and just absorb a new environment in Maui.
It was refreshing to watch the humpback whales frolic in the Pacific Ocean with their babies. To see the freedom of the whales as they seem to fly out of the water or breach was transforming as they weigh up to 40 tons. We saw the whales both playing in the ocean and also saw them fighting to claim a female to reproduce. We were lucky enough to go on a boat to watch the whales from a prescribed distance, as well as seeing them playing from our hotel room balcony.
Another neat experience there was to go snorkeling (the water is not that warm there either) and see the beautiful fish on a coral reef right next to a 300-foot drop off. On the way back from the snorkeling trip we stopped at a tortoise cleaning station where we saw very large turtles up close and personal. Many times I had to dodge to keep them from accidentally running into me.
We also drove to the top of the Halekala Volcano which is 10,000 feet high.
Visitors have to make dozens of 180 degree turns to get to the top and see this memorable sight. Sometimes words just are inadequate to describe the beauty of this volcano area (there were many volcanos up there) and this is one of those cases.
The final wonderful experience was to see how relaxed and unhurried the people of Maui were. I noticed this initially as we were getting off the plane. There was no rushing at all and people just took whatever time was necessary to exit the plane. The people in so many ways showed me that just enjoying the moment and not hurrying to the next event was transforming.
So by now I am sure you are thinking "why is Jerry talking about his vacation when I thought his column was about small business?"
I have written this column for more than 12 years now on a weekly basis and this is first time that I have taken off time from writing these columns. And I can tell you that getting away and really stepping out of your comfort shoes, is such a wonderful way to both experience something new but also to give your mind a chance to rest and become more creative.
I think the thing that helped me enjoy the wonder of this beautiful island was to not check my e-mails (o.k., maybe once or twice). I just had no tugs to remind me that I am supposed to be doing this or that and could really enjoy being there to experience a wonderful two weeks.
Somehow I developed pneumonia early in the trip but got great antibiotics. It was amazing that while I was not 100%, it didn't stop me from enjoying this very special vacation.
Bottom line is that vacations are magical and are valuable to both your business and staff.
Jerry Osteryoung, the Jim Moran professor of entrepreneurship emeritus, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.