The Stress of High Achievement – Observe the Shmita

Can year after year growth wear teams out?



Just got off the phone with a client who has experienced unbelievable growth in the last 5 years – I mean 25%/year – in a $15,000,000 firm.

He just gave everyone the numbers for 2015 and then called me saying, “My people seemed stressed.”

Rightfully so. Twenty five percent (25%) growth on revenues of $1,500,000 is a whole lot different than 25% on $15,000,000. And if the growth percentage stays at 25% every year, you will have issues.

My Simple, Biblical Answer
My answer was simple: “On the 7th day, God rested.” Or, as my Jewish friends would say, “Observe the Shmita.”

The Shmita is the release of work, or, ‘the sabbatical year.’ It’s the 7th year of an agriculture cycle mandated by the Torah. It allows the land to lie fallow as it rejuvenates itself.

Should businesses be the same way? Maybe.

When there is a constant drumbeat of growth, it can stress the systems. When systems are stressed, people feel a little of the stress. Worse yet, when there are no systems, (more often the case) the people feel all of the stress.

An example is in sales. You might have the systems to generate leads to get you to $15,000,000. But what about the system to get to $20,000,000? Is it exactly the same – just more of it?

Dan Sullivan ( addresses this in terms of how one organizes his/her days of the week. He recommends “Focus Days” which are those days in which you’re doing the work. Then, there are “Buffer Days” where you are planning the work. And “Rest Days” where you are rejuvenating yourself.

So, if you own a business, you should not give people a year off. That’s no solution.

But, you should be mindful that balls-to-the-wall all of the time, wears people out. A better solution is to take a look at your systems. Maybe that’s the issue. It’s seldom the people – it’s usually the systems.

In your next staff meeting, ask this question: “Do we have the systems to accommodate our planned growth rate?”

This might go for delivery systems or client fulfillment systems – but it also might have to do with ‘lead generation’ or ‘lead conversion’ systems. Any of them can be out of whack – and not up to the challenge.

A ‘system focus’ will help relieve the stress and still get you to your plan.