Cash Flow With Joe

A clarity break

A clarity break


It was around 3:45 p.m. today before I breathed a sigh of relief as Ashley, the family and I headed south on I-85 for Florida. At that time, we weren’t even an hour south of Atlanta despite the fact that we had left Calhoun at 10:30 a.m. That means five hours into a supposed 6 1/2 hour trip, we were no further than two hours away from our house, according to our GPS.


Ashley and I couldn’t tell whether all the things we ran into was a sign we were supposed to stay home or keep going. Let me explain what was going on.


It all started about two weeks ago. I’ve been burning the candle pretty low lately with work and a restless baby. And during a staff meeting with my team, I confided that I didn’t feel I was being effective. It was then I was reminded of how important it was me as the leader to take a clarity break from time to time.


A clarity break is time set aside for the leader of a company to get away, unplug from the daily grind and let their brain rest so that their subconscious can do some problem solving. You have probably experienced the phenomenon of “getting away” to relax and suddenly figuring out the answer to a problem that has been nagging at you. This happens many times to me while relaxing in the shower.


Getting away is not something that comes naturally to me. I feel if my team is at work I am letting them down if I am not. I told this to our office manager Marybeth, and she said I was letting us down more by not being effective. I hadn’t thought about it like that before.


So, I went home for lunch and told Ashley what Marybeth had said, and she had a trip booked for Florida before I got back to work. We had to be rescheduled because I had a commitment that conflicted.


Ashely tried to book it again for the next week. That is when our whole house — except me — came down with the crud. We weren’t sure if it was just allergies or a cold. All this rescheduling would normally be very costly, but we were booking a friend’s vacation home, and they were gracious enough to work with us.


When everyone was better, Ashley booked it yet again. I looked at the weather right after she did and found it was supposed to rain most of the time she had booked. I brought that to her attention and she got so frustrated she was ready to call the whole thing off. But I insisted that we go, thinking we would still be able to unplug, even if the beach was rained out.


We got up, got ready this morning, packed the car and left, like I said, by 10:30 a.m. We promptly hit major traffic at the Adairsville exit. No worries — we got off at exit 306 and jumped on U.S. 41 south. Then, we hit more traffic as we came into Cassville. I knew a backway that got us back to the TA exit, but they were doing road construction at that ramp, so we were delayed there too.


We were supposed to meet our friend to pick up the house keys at 11:30 a.m., but we didn’t make it until 12:30. We decided to eat lunch and let the kids stretch their legs, and that took forever. To make an even longer story short, two missed turns and many, many potty breaks later, I was breathing a sigh of relief that we were finally out of range to turn back home. This fact meant the welcomed clarity break was now inevitable.


I think something important is going to come out of this this time. Ashley and I normally do company and personal reviews during these breaks, as well as goal setting and goal tweaking. And it is hard to get my brain to disconnect enough to be creative when I’m so close to the front line of the daily grind associated with the rentals and flip projects.


We are currently less than 30 minutes from the Florida line. And by the time you read this, we’ll have our toes in the water and other parts in the sand. And Ashley and I will use the clarity break to do some creative problem solving and come back strong for this next quarter.


Joe and Ashley English buy houses and mobile homes in Northwest Georgia. For more information or to ask a question, go to or call Joe at 678-986-6813.


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