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Anyone who is a part of a small, growing company typically has the attitude of “ I’ll do whatever it takes” when it comes to their job. The stigma is that if you are smarter, put in more hours, work harder and get more done in less time that you will be successful.

In starting a company over the last 3 years, I have done this more often than not. I’m almost embarrassed to say that it has taken me this long to finally realize the formula that sets myself and my team up for success.

Right now we are in the middle of a massive client project that has been crammed into a miniscule timeline. With the right planning and structure it is an achievable goal, however the scale of the project had us all putting in late nights and weekends to get it headed in the right direction and at the same time, to keep up with our existing client load.

This worked great…for about 3 weeks. Then burnout set in.

Even an outsider could have felt the mood of the office change. Stress was higher, tempers were shorter, small issues quickly became big issues…I had no idea what had happened and I knew somehow we had to get back to being “us” in order to deliver on time.

So rather than follow our typical mantra of throwing more time and resources at it, I made everyone (including myself) take a breather and some time off.

Jackpot.

I’ve never been blind to the fact that people need time to rest, recover and recharge. Yet, I’ve also never seen such a monumental shift in a team’s demeanor and performance as I did after calling for that day off and telling my team to focus on what keeps them going.

I guess the lesson learned is that I’m going to stop feeling bad about closing the laptop and getting a good night’s sleep, or taking a day on the weekend to be completely selfish even with a deadline looming over our heads.

And every day when I undoubtedly forget this lesson and just want to work until 3am to get a project done, I’ll come back and read this post.

If you are as hooked on the Jason Bourne books as I am, you’ll remember how he kept telling himself that “Sleep is a weapon.” All this time I thought that only applied to assassins.