My Grandpa Nye was 67 years older than I was, and he came from a different world, pre-electricity, pre-autos, pre-indoor plumbing. This man who quit high school to work on the farm taught me countless valuable lessons. Years later, many Fortune 50 executives have told me how powerful these same lessons are to them.Grandpa Nye lived in a trailer 200 feet north of our farmhouse, and he worked on the farm with my dad, so I was with him a lot. When in his presence, I felt like the most important person on the planet. He was my Yoda in overalls.
High Performer Ahead of His Time
If the term “high performer” existed in his day, Grandpa Nye would have earned that label. Never hurried, he rocked from side to side as he walked because of advanced arthritis in both knees. But he and my dad farmed a large acreage across 3 separate farms using modest machinery compared to the monster farm implements of today. But they always got it done and did it well.
Grandpa’s High Performance Hack
Grandpa Nye wore blue and white striped OshKosh B’Gosh overalls over a long-sleeved green shirt every day on the farm. If he went to town, he’d change into his green work pants that matched his shirt with a nicer pair of work boots. On Sundays, he wore a suit and tie to church, then he’d come home and change into the green/green combo for the rest of the day.
There it is! Did you catch his high performance hack?
His hack was this: He knew when he wasn’t working. The clothes he was wearing were his reminder.
High performers know that regularly stepping away from performing is a highly productive move. You know this. Even when you’ve stopped working, your brain keeps subconsciously chipping away at unsolved problems, your body and brain get to recharge, and you gain a perspective that you can’t get with your nose pressed against the glass.
Grandpa Nye’s hack amplified both high performance and happiness. His dry laugh sounded more like a wheeze, probably from so many years of inhaling dust in the fields and barns, but he laughed often.
Old School Common Sense for a New Day
He’d laugh hard if he knew I was sharing this as a big idea. Stepping away from his work was just common sense for him. But due to technology that lets us even take our work to bed and a world economy that never sleeps, it’s hard to know when to not work. Maybe you need some old school wisdom for your new year.
Practice the Hack—Now!
With holidays approaching, you’re probably taking time off soon. Can you seize this opportunity to really not work? You know it’s worth it.
If it helps, hide your laptop. Go extreme and remove the email app from your smartphone for 24 hours. Remove the temptation to bypass his “not working” hack. Change your wardrobe if you must!
Maybe You Don’t Need the Break?
Are you feeling fully charged for 2016? Have you thoughtfully mined your 2015 experiences to bolster your clarity, strength and wisdom? If so, then maybe you don’t need a real break.
If you answered no to either question, trade your constant connection to work for some highly unproductive but enjoyable not working activities. You’ll raise your performance in 2016, and maybe you’ll even laugh like an old farmer.
Share your experience with us so we can learn. What are your common sense high performance hacks that you use—or that you plan to use? Comment below.