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Howard Gardner

Howard Gardner

Howard Gardner is the Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Senior Director of Harvard Project Zero.

Find Your Philosophy

This is a smallish but not unimportant issue. All of us know that we need time off to relax, be with family, retool, and also reflect on bigger issues. And yet there may be unrealistic expectations about leaders (they are superhuman, they need to be on 24-7). Also, as we have seen, any decision made about vacations (where they take place, how often, whether family members are included) are subject to criticism and even ridicule from the opposition. I still remember the resentment at President Eisenhower's golfing respites in the 1950s.

And so the challenge for the leader who would vacation is part-and-parcel of the broader challenge of leadership. Put forth your own philosophy of recreation-and-renewal, apply it to the specific situation at hand, and remain as consistent as you can throughout the term of your leadership. Explain how often you have this need/desire, why you go where you go, with whom you vacation, and, especially in the 24-7 news cycle, how you plan to keep up with events and to make consequential decisions, as necessary.

No need to go into excruciating details -- that's not appropriate. No more is needed than,"Twice or three times a year, I like to take off time with my family. We also want to go to a place where we can see old friends in a relaxing atmosphere. I do bring some homework with me, spend some minutes each day with my Blackberry, and of course keep in touch with major breaking stories. And when necessary, I'll interrupt the vacation as long as seems indicated. But despite my wishes, and despite the fears of others, I am NOT superhuman; I need several short breaks (Camp David) and occasional longer breaks. And if I am lucky I will return refreshed and re-energized. I wish you the same, whenever and wherever you choose to take a holiday."

By Howard Gardner

 |  August 10, 2009; 11:26 AM ET
Category:  Leadership personalities Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Found: Courtesy towards women
... is a Kind of: chivalry, gallantry, politesse

Now if finding a woman were this easy, clearly I could go on vacation and I really need a good vacation. July was tough. August is looking rough. September?

Posted by: Dermitt | August 10, 2009 1:19 PM
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