The Great Hunt - Chapter 35 [#100Days, Day 61]

Everyone Needs a Break

    "Just smell this air, Lord Rand," Hurin said, filling his lungs with a smile.  His feet dangled from one of the chairs at the table; he swung them like a boy.  "I never thought most places smelled bad, but this ... Lord Rand, I don't think there's ever been any killing here.  Not even any hurting, except by accident."
Hurin, The Great Hunt, p. 431

    Rand, Ingtar and the rest arrive in Stedding Tsofu in their hunt for another Waygate.  The place of peace has a profound effect on Hurin.  Imagine, being able to smell violence after it's been committed.  It's clearly an ingrained ability, he can't simply switch it off.  Does he feel pressured to be "on the job" all the time?  Is he on the verge of burning out? Can he block it out, even a little bit, in off duty hours or while he's sleeping?  In the stedding, Hurin is able to breath freely, such a respite from the near constant assault on his nose rejuvenates him.

    Leaders need to be attuned to burn out among their team members as well.  Significant periods of overtime, especially on normal days off, grinds people down very quickly.  High stress projects or demanding customers can also wear teams down quickly.  Product quality drops, as does mental resilience.  Overtime is usually the critical metric used to gauge the relative stress of an organization, but it's not the end-all, be-all.  Vacation policies can also provide some insight; particularly if an organization has a use-or-lose vacation policy (e.g. only a limited number of vacation days may be carried over year to year).  One of the favored sayings at my current organization is: "schedule the maintenance, or it will schedule itself."  This can easily be applied to the people within the organization: take a break or an injury will force you to take one.  Take a break or product quality will drop so far that company revenue drops, forcing lay-offs.  As leaders we are fond of saying that people are the greatest asset an organization has.   This is absolutely true; part of respecting that tremendous talent pool is providing time away.  Whatever the method, time away from the team is just as critical as time on the job. 

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