Susie Ellis | Crain's Miami

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Susie Ellis

Background:  

Susie Ellis is chairman and CEO of the Miami-based Global Wellness Institute and heads its annual Global Wellness Summit. Ellis also is president of Spafinder Wellness Inc. and directs the company's annual Spa and Wellness Trends Forecast.

The Mistake:

For a long time, I did not manage my time well and made the mistake of overworking.

One day about 12 years ago, my ear suddenly started ringing with a high-pitched sound — called tinnitus — just after receiving some bad news at work. The sound did not go away for days and then weeks.

After an examination at an ear clinic, [the doctor] said that stress had caused the tinnitus. And I thought, how ironic; I’m in the business of helping people de-stress! I’m absolutely passionate about what I do. But I absolutely needed to slow down.

So I did. I found that when I relaxed and took some time off and got more sleep — all the healthy things we know we’re supposed to do — the tinnitus went away within about three months. I wish I could say that from then on out [things were fine].

But a few years later I started working too hard once again — not taking a day off, staying up late. And this time, I started losing my voice. I was diagnosed with laryngitis that I got not from yelling or even speaking a lot but from stress. So once again I had to relax [to recover].

When you step back and take time off, you are more creative and more productive.

The Lesson:

I have learned that there’s just no shortcut; you just have to put in the days off, which I do now. And I have a much better balance now. I notice I’m more alert. All the [healthy] things we talk about really do make a difference.

For example, years ago I would be emailing everybody all weekend, all night, whatever. Most of the time I don’t email in the evening now. And I’ve found that because I don’t do that, the rest of the team doesn’t, either.

With [today’s] technology, working 24/7 is the norm; I think it’s an epidemic. And yet the research proves that when you step back and take time off, you are more creative and productive. So we need to make a purposeful decision to step back from our work for the sake of our health.

Follow the Global Wellness Institute on Twitter at @Global_GWI.

Photo courtesy of Susie Ellis

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