The Value of Unplugging, with Jim McNulty, Ep #72

When you hear about someone needing to unplug, you likely picture someone frazzled and on the edge of a burn-out. We can all relate to similar feelings of overwhelm; it seems almost inevitable. However, that outcome could have been different if the person had proactively taken the time to refresh before getting to that point.

Jim McNulty, Sr. Vice President of Business Banking, doesn’t only understand the previous truth, he’s done something about it. During this conversation, we discuss his experience taking a ten-week sabbatical and his journey to that decision.

As I spoke with Jim, I came to understand his heart for people. Throughout our discussion, he kept coming back to that. His hiring process, the way he operates, and his relationships teach us a lot about creating a culture that develops others. 

We discussed the impact that COVID-19 had on Oak Bank and how they pushed through the obstacles presented by the pandemic to be able to say, “Yes” to each person in need. In a matter of weeks, he had to turn his bank into a PPP loan processing station. Every individual who called needing help was met with kindness and understanding. Jim attributes much of this understanding to lessons he learned during his sabbatical. Listen to learn more from Jim’s wise perspective about taking time to refresh.

How does unplugging benefit the workplace?

There were many benefits that came from Jim’s sabbatical, not just for him but for his family and workplace team. Jim and his family grew closer during his time off and he learned to appreciate the benefits of unplugging. Meanwhile, his company benefited due to the training provided and trust granted in preparation for Jim being gone. His employees flourished with having greater responsibility and future leadership potential was developed. 

It’s easy to think that we are indispensable, that the work we do is too important for us to take time off, that no one can do our job as well as we can. The reality is that our businesses should be able to run without us. Not permanently, of course, but certainly for a time. Preparing for someone to unplug is like an emergency drill. We can prepare for the inevitable by preparing for the expected.

What does it mean to unplug?

Many of us think we need to be constantly available and engaged in the workplace. We wouldn’t even consider taking a break. Staying busy and living in an exhausted state has become the norm for our culture. In previous episodes, I’ve discussed the necessity of work/life synchrony. That being said, unplugging also provides an opportunity for great revelations and positive shifts. It allows us to gain a new perspective on every relationship in life. 

Unplugging is different for each individual. Most commonly it means separating yourself from work. However, it could also mean temporarily backing away from a situation or event. Regardless of the reason, great benefit can be attained by stepping away and resetting, and the benefits will continue for years to come in both our professional and personal lives.

Why should you consider unplugging?

Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, “We would do well to slow down a little, focus on the significant, and truly see the things that matter most.” What does that look like? It’s stepping away from the busyness of life to give yourself the time to reset. How long you should unplug is entirely dependent on how long it takes to accomplish your intended purpose. If you’re willing to unplug, you’ll find that you’ll be better prepared to have meaningful discussions with others and that your relationships will grow. These are things Jim has found to be true after he unplugged with his sabbatical. 

What do you think of when you hear the word unplug? Is it something you’ve considered for yourself or your employees? Find out how learning to unplug will make you a better leader with a stronger team. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [3:40] Jim McNulty’s leadership background from flipping burgers to the present
  • [7:03] How to hire employees who care about people
  • [10:02] How Oak Bank stands out
  • [18:50] Jim’s slam dunk achievement at Oak Bank
  • [26:04] Using work successes in personal relationships
  • [29:10] Struggles during the pandemic
  • [33:20] Jim’s ten-week sabbatical
  • [40:37] What Jim learned during the trip that benefited his work
  • [46:13] Two benefits of unplugging to keep in mind 

Resources & People Mentioned

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