Experiencing experiences: how time away from the industry can make you a better part of it

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Luke D'Arcy, Momentum Worldwide

Luke D'Arcy, UK President at experiential advertising agency Momentum Worldwide, understands the power that sabbaticals can have. Step away from your business to gather the kind of new ideas and perspectives you can implement later on.

With summer holiday season in full swing, everyone's champing at the bit to enjoy some family time, chill out and recharge. And with that, companies are increasingly offering employees the chance to take extended periods out of work.

Whether it be to accomplish a side hustle, dive into parenthood, or try something new away from the industry, more and more people are jumping at the chance to further enrich their lives through experiences that provide something different from their usual job.

But what important lessons can be learnt from taking time away from work and then implemented in not just your personal life, but also your job when you return?

Bold moves lead to bold decisions

Having time away myself last year to attend Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program supplied me with a first-hand experience into the positive impact a break can have.

Bold breaks lead to bold moves being brought back into the business. This was made clear when our UK Operations Director took time off to pursue his lifelong dream of swimming with sharks. He returned all in one piece (thank goodness!) and with a no-fear attitude.

It's not that we all need to jump in with the nearest Great White Shark we come across, but since his experience I’ve seen new ways of working from him, and the bold suggestions he’s made have paid off. During my time off, being surrounded by powerful people in their industry, I gained the confidence to initiate my bold move when I returned, restructuring the UK Board of Directors - and I haven’t looked back since.

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The much bigger picture

It’s also key to take a step back every now and again. I learned this from a former NASA Space Station Commander on my break away.

As you can imagine, seeing the entire world from space makes you look at the bigger picture, and this is an important life lesson for any situation that comes my way. I spend a lot of the day being surrounded by numbers and data, but that’s not a true reflection of what life is. It’s people and experiences, and being able to keep that at the forefront of my mind ensures the human element is always increasing.

Meet people with different perspectives

Stepping out of your industry also increases the chances of conversations with people who don't think like you.

Being exposed to people from different backgrounds, and with different skillsets, makes you a more rounded person at work. At Harvard, I also had the chance to speak to a US Marine General about how he reintegrates with his team after periods away, and the importance of how you do it.

It supplied me with the knowledge and skills to approach situations in a different way in my own agency. I realised that it’s OK if processes or ideas change when I’m away. I trust the people I work with, and I’m always happy to try new ideas. This mantra applies for my family too; having periods away with work, I need to be able to slip back into their routine seamlessly.

Stepping away makes coming back easier

I found that just by being away from my industry gave me greater clarity, perspective and passion for what I do.

It gave me a chance to miss my job and resulted in me falling even deeper back in love with my role when I returned. This cemented the importance of sabbaticals for me - and I made it an official initiative at the agency when I returned to support others who may want this opportunity.

I think it’s important to have a holistic approach to life. Work is just one element of who we are, but it's easy to get wrapped up in it and forget that there's more to us. It’s important to work with an employer that reflects and supports this - valuing all of you. 

In order to show the employees at Momentum that their lives outside work are important too, I launched our new flexible hours ‘Agile Working’ programme, giving them power to decide when working best suits them.

Don’t just take my word for it - do it! Gather your thoughts and decide what you want to do, and find out how you can make it happen, because it’s guaranteed to change and influence all the different elements of your life - including your career.