A Break to Relax, Learn and Grow

I recently saw a story in Facebook where a wood cutter starts working for a person. In the first day he gets 18 trees and says that he will try more to get more trees. However, as days passes by he gets less and less trees, even though he works harder and harder. Finally, when he is about to give up, the manager asks him when he has last sharpened his knife. Yes, you need to relax, learn new technologies, and even relearn and research on things you already know.

I have also decided to take a break to learn something new related to technology, conduct few training programs (as teaching is my passion), talk on few meetups or conferences, do some ground work for writing a book and finally improve my skills on areas that would be more used in the new company. I still believe there are more things in the software world that I don’t know than I know. I also want to relax a bit, spend time with friends, and meet old colleagues.

Following are some of the events and thoughts and led me to taking this decision.

I have worked in IT for 8-9 years now, and I had never taken much breaks between companies. In last two companies, I had joined on the next day after I was relieved from my previous companies. While the first one was an ok decision, the last proved to be a wrong one. At the first place, being a product company, I was provided with a product walkthrough and formal training on the company’s products and features initially, and could get enough time to learn the domain. Since it was in the R & D division, learning and research was part of the job.

However, in my last company, it was not the same. The expectations, as in most similar ecommerce or banking companies, was to start working immediately and learn domain while you work. That is not a bad thing, and is expected from a senior resource in most companies. However, I had wrong expectations based on my experience from my previous companies and hence did not take any time to sharpen my skills to match the new role before joining. While few companies tend to invest in their employees by giving formal trainings on the domain and their product, some do not.

I have also heard many HRs asking to join immediately and then to take leaves after that. I did that too, which again costed a bit more than I had expected. People then speak about these leaves all throughout your career. When I reply that it was with permission, the answer was that, anyone will give permission as they want you to come in, but it is expected not to ask or even take leaves. I am not telling that all companies will be the same, but few people might be.

Does being a senior resource means you will not be needing to learn anything? I usually follow the policy of learning and/or researching about the topics I will be working on, before I do the work. This is because of few reasons. Even though I might have worked on those in the past, I might have forgotten the ways or there might be better ways or practices adopted later. I used to follow a similar approach to “the 5-hour rule” (link given at end), which is said to be followed by many successful persons. However, some managers might be against this as well.

Since the company is paying you for every hour you spent in office, they can decide what you do in each hour. Therefore, I had decided not to depend on the next company for sharpening my axe (assuming you still remember the story from the beginning.) The director of the last company could understand me and allowed a faster exit after resignation, so that I could get to do things which I wanted to do.

I hope that the company I would want to join also would agree for this small break. Hoping for the best, I will make a request anyway.