Timothy Leary’s infamous counter-cultural phrase was made 50 years ago this summer and is useful to help those in business wasting energy when they should be relaxing in the sun (hopefully).

Strategy is, or should be, a creative process of self-discovery and exploration of the outside world.  To achieve the best results this needs to be ‘free’, that is objective and relaxed. Some are tempted to use their summer fortnight as a conscious period of discovery/learning.

Here’s some do’s and don’ts which should significantly increase your chances of creative strategic thinking AND having a good holiday!



Set off from home with your suitcase stuffed with a holiday reading list – certainly not if they’re management books. You’ll never have time to read them, and if you do, you’ll only digest and remember a tiny fraction of the content.

Be tempted by quick fix airport management literature – you’ll probably be trapped into the current conventions of business thinking and get distracted by the literary ‘noise’.

Put pressure on yourself to solve a problem or resolve an issue; the danger is that a focus become a preoccupation, especially when there’s less of the day to day stresses and strains to compete for attention.



Be realistic – you are probably not going to forget about work, but you can put it in its rightful place – the sub-conscious.

Relax – creative analysis is much better in a relaxed frame of mind. Embarking on a break with a reading list applies self-observation and assessment, this type of pressure limits rather than unlocks creativity and potential.

TURN ON  – read something unrelated –  if you read at all. Rather than imbibe the latest famous CEO (auto) biographies, try histories, novels, novellas and poetry. Take your conscious attention away from the treadmill of vision, values, mission, goals, strategies…

TUNE IN – open up the possibility of absorbing your environment without conscious direction.  Your sub-conscious will do the rest; percolating away and surfacing the connections and solutions when you least expect it – wandering the site or an ancient ruin, by the hotel pool, waiting for the train or pitching the tent!

DROP OUT – doesn’t necessarily mean rejecting business or your company etc, it can mean finding an alternative path – in today’s parlance ‘disrupting’ an industry or market. This is where you come to an unexpected conclusion for an opportunity you didn’t know you had!  Congratulations – you are enjoying your holiday and being strategic!

Most of us do get trapped into the routine of the other 50 weeks of the year.  This does produces results, sometimes very good results, but not necessarily creative or game-changing.

The advice here provides an alternative for two weeks a year to de-stress your time away, do some creative discovery and ultimately enjoy the break.

It could and should however be clear that this is a recipe for all year round, so de-clutter and relax!

See more on: Business Strategy, Discovery