The Great Escape

Pardon me for being so late to weigh in; not sure where I was when Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott announced he’d be taking a four-week vacation.

Oh, right: I was working.

Let’s ignore for a moment the ensuing flap over whether the CEO of the world’s largest retailer should be leaving the store for so long–though to my mind, it’s a sign that he’s doing something right.

My question is this: What would it take for you to take a four-week vacation?

Here at Fast Company world headquarters, it’s become increasingly rare for anyone to take even two weeks off at a time, despite company policy that, on paper, let’s us take as much as we want. With regular deadlines and a lean staff, it just seems hard to abandon work and colleagues for that long. One of our staffers just shoehorned a vacation to Vietnam into a one-week window, when just getting there takes nearly a day.

Yet we all understand that a one-week break doesn’t really cut it. It takes that long just to unwind, to really relax. Two weeks, three weeks–that’s when the restorative powers of vacations really start to kick in.

We haven’t read much about how Lee Scott is managing his break–except that he’s taking his Blackberry along when he goes fishing. It may just be that a CEO, whose job should be to focus on the long-term, is just better placed to take a longer vacation than the rest of us.