Last week I had a Near Drowning Experience.
On a family vacation we were on a boat in the gulf coast, anchored about 250 yards from the small island that was our destination. Having been a distance swimmer in college (50 years ago, mind you) I decided that rather than wait for the skiff I would swim to shore. I dove in and started swimming. About halfway to the beach, I hit a wall. My heart was racing and I couldn’t catch my breath. Weighed down by a long-sleeved t-shirt, I could barely tread water.
Fortunately, the man operating the skiff saw me floundering and raced out to throw me a flotation device. Following instructions I’d heard from a thousand flight attendants, I hugged it to my chest until I could breathe again, and then dog-paddled to shore.
It was a wake-up call that crystallized a decision I’ve been pondering for a while. For the second half of 2023, I will be taking a sabbatical. I’m not checking into a monastery in Tibet and will continue working with current partner organizations and honor all existing commitments, but I won’t be looking for new work until after the first of the new year. Think of it as Sabbatical Lite.
This will give me time to dive more deeply into the impact of the pandemic and its aftermath on organizational culture, and think about how my work on Values & Culture can best be adapted to help meet these challenges.
It will give me time for research and writing on new editions of two previously published books, and begin work on a new book that’s been on my back burner for too long, on a topic that is now more important than ever.
Readers of my Spark Plug newsletter (which I’ve been doing for 20+ years) will see it transition to a new format and title: Proceed Until Apprehended! For both cultural and personal transformation, just having a “spark” is no longer sufficient; changing one’s life, and changing one’s organization, requires both the spark of initiative and the driving force of sustained commitment.
Finally, it’s pretty obvious that a former collegiate swimmer who nearly drowns trying to swim the equivalent of eight laps of a swimming pool needs to spend less time sitting in airplane seats and more time at the gym.
I will continue to respond to email and LinkedIn messages (I’ve dropped all other social media). If anyone needs to reach me more urgently, you can text or call me at 319-389-3889.