The LFI Blog


A Brief History of Breaks Leading to Breakthroughs

No. 26 - Mar 30, 2017

So you refuse to take a vacation because what you do is THAT important you can’t afford any time off?

Well, consider this...

In the early 1950’s, Medical Researcher Dr. Jonas Salk was working on creating a vaccine against the viral disease Polio in a basement laboratory in Pittsburgh. When his research hit a standstill, his frustration and discouragement led him to take a break and visit Assisi, Italy. 

It was in Assisi, surrounded by the bright natural beauty of the little Italian hill town, that Salk had a breakthrough leading to the invention of the Polio vaccine and saving millions. 

For the rest of his life, Salk would insist that it was the design of his surroundings, the natural environment, that cleared his cluttered mind and inspired him to discover a solution.

In the late 1800’s, engineer and futurist Nikola Tesla had a nervous breakdown due to an obsession with finding a solution for current design flaws in direct-current motors. It was during a casual stroll through a park with a friend, freethinking, when a vision came to Tesla leading to the design of the modern alternating current electricity supply system.

And that guy who’s responsible for the amazing technology you enjoy today, from your MacBook to your iPhone, found enlightenment and breakthroughs on holiday in India. Thank you Mr. Steve Jobs.

We (especially Americans) fear that taking a break from work will label us as unproductive, replaceable, and not dedicated. Vacation shaming is a serious problem and it highlights our big issue with falling behind.

However, your productivity is not a reflection of the amount of hours you put in at the office. 

It’s time to take a much-needed break, far from the comforts of your daily rat-race. It’s time to plan a getaway not to escape problems, but to open your mind to new landscapes and ideas. 

If you don’t, you could be preventing the world from benefiting from your next great breakthrough. 

Take a hint from history. 

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