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Sitting in an Italian Palace

italian palaceI was sitting in an Italian Palace in a state of bliss and thinking about how much flack I had gotten about going on sabbatical. All that hullabaloo was ALL from my dearest CEO friends (and my Dad) who had thought that I was committing myself deep professional harm with the term “sabbatical”. Apparently that translates to baaaad juju.

Sabbatical to my well educated and corporate minded fellows was a sign of weakness and they begged me to stop talking about it. Especially in the hip, fun, openly giddy way that I kept bringing it up. They wanted to shush me in the most loving, rapid, and direct way. I was not mentally disengaged, no cancer, or in grief. As leaders they were hearing alarm bells at the flippant use of my desire to unplug and I was unplugging. No emails or phone calls. My friends care deeply for me and this is crazy stuff to take weeks and weeks and WEEKS off to do NOTHING and as a CFO this was really sounding quite a bit like I was losing my mind.

Was I losing my mind?? It took 18 months to plan my work load, staff hand offs, travel itinerary, kids in duress, two dogs, house sitters, and my financials. I even had to lose a few pounds to be cuter.

Wait a hot second;  You guys go on trips for weeks- how does that not look like sabbatical?  They all sputtered back something very similar “We never TELL people we are going to have fun or do NOTHING! “. They stay emailed, hooked in and I also found out that they blame the whole trip on their wives having distinct needs to travel and they were obliging.

I was incredulous and impressed at the same time “You guys are awful and sorta sad at the same time!”  Yeah, whatever… I’ll be in Italy and I am going as a human experiencing the world. .

And here I was, in bliss, looking up at a ceiling fresco that Napoleon himself had sat under. I stared up at the chandelier of French cut glass and thought about how many people enjoyed this room.

I felt something DEEP in my leadership mind.  I was definitely not going to forget how to forecast, do strategy, or do math like a CFO because I was silly enough to be lollygagging about in Italy and Paris for no really good reason.

Here is my French cut glass knowledge I will share with you: We all have outdated ideas on how leadership should act and too many times we are willing to play the actor instead of being our best selves for the sake of being.

Perhaps the best part of the sitting in an Italian Palace was that I got to be me in a palace and did not have to play an American CFO away from their desk.