Great Family Vacations Make Stronger Employees and Stronger Families

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Dan McNeill

When we were kids, most of us had great fun taking vacations with our families.

Many of those memories last a lifetime. In my case, with nine brothers and sisters, vacations were difficult for my folks to plan because of both the size of our family and the challenges associated with a 16 year age range. Their solution often enough was to arrange for us to enjoy vacations in groups, but one way or another they saw to it that we had opportunities to shake up “life as usual” once in a while.

I was lucky enough to have two very memorable vacations as a youngster. One was unique and special partly because I was the only one who got to go. To this day I don’t know why I was chosen but I do know it wasn’t as a reward for good conduct.  In this vacation my grandmother, who worked as a waitress at Marshall Field’s in Chicago and was called “NaNa” by all of us, took me to St. Augustine and Daytona Beach, Florida.

We took a Greyhound bus both ways. With the added perspective time provides, I marvel at NaNa’s tenacity and long suffering. Nonetheless, everything for me was exciting and new, surprising, and sometimes even shocking.

I will never forget my shock and surprise upon encountering bus stations with separate restaurants, bathrooms and drinking fountains for “whites and coloreds.” I believe this experience, combined with my parents’ teachings, is what instilled in me a passion for racial tolerance and acceptance.

Other events from that trip have formed sweet and lasting memories. From the time passed at beautiful Daytona Beach to the several day stay at the home of NaNa’s friend, Dobina Jalbert, it was all new, exciting and memorable. Although I know that Mr. Jalbert, inventor of the Jalbert Wing or Parafoil, explained his invention to me in some detail, I remember being much more interested in the monkeys he kept on his acreage in Boca Raton.

The other trip I remember was with my parents, my three oldest siblings, and our friend, Bob Schiller. We left the younger kids at home with a nanny and took off in a metal “Woody” station wagon, so filled with luggage in back that two of us had to travel lying on top of the suitcases. Once we figured out how to pad this bed, it became the most sought after location during our travels.

During this wonderful two week, 5,000-mile trip we drove across the plains to Denver, then up into the mountains through Rocky Mountain National Park where we had a snow ball fight on the 4th of July. From there we drove to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and to Flagstaff, Arizona to visit friends of my folks. Bottom line, we had an unforgettable time.

Why do I write about personal vacations in an article for a business newsletter targeted primarily at people in the world of business?

The answer in part is that my father was an executive in just such a company. In fact, while he was with the company, it grew from $400 million in sales to over $20 billion and, as I recall, was listed as a Fortune Top 20 by the time he retired. And he took the time, with my mom’s help, and often insistence, to see that we had memorable vacations which strengthened us individually and as a family.

My parents’ commitment to vacation time has recently been verified by research by Ramon Zabriskie, a family leisure researcher at Brigham Young University, who found that sharing leisure time improves family cohesion and adaptability. Cohesion refers to the level of emotional closeness in a family, while adaptability refers to a family’s ability to handle everyday and unexpected stresses and strains.

As executive coaches, we know from the experience of working with our clients that strong family life also pays off in the workplace. We strongly urge our readers to take advantage of vacation time to strengthen their families and thus their successes at work. Additionally, as leaders, we strongly urge you to see that those whom you lead and manage take their vacations … for the sake of themselves, their families, and their work!

Dan McNeill, Master Certified Coach, has been the CEO of The McNeill Group since its founding in 1996. He resides with his wife and near two of his grandchildren in Lantana (Dallas Area), TX.

Comments are closed.