My latest reading of Richard Nixon's 1962 book, Six Crises, was about Nixon's controversial fund, which became an issue in his 1952 run for Vice-President and inspired him to give the Checkers speech on national television. While Nixon was accused of employing this fund (which came from business-people's donations) for his own personal use, Nixon insisted that the fund was purely for political purposes----for such things as travel to and from political events, and mass mailings in which Nixon informed constituents about the work that he was doing in Washington.
In this chapter, as in other parts of the book, Nixon
reflects about how he and others deal with crisis. Nixon states on page
"...it has been my experience that, more often than not,
'taking a break' is actually an escape from the tough, grinding
discipline that is absolutely necessary for superior performance. Many
times I have found that my best ideas have come when I thought I could
not work for another minute and when I literally had to drive myself to
finish the task before a deadline. Sleepless nights, to the extent the
body can take them, can stimulate creative mental activity."
acknowledges that taking a break and relaxing may be helpful after a
"period of intense concentration and preparation [that] stretches into
months rather than days" (page 105). Indeed, as I read in Stephen
Ambrose's Nixon: The Education of a Politician, Nixon sometimes
took vacations, as when he spent time with his friend Bebe Rebozo.
But, in law school, in his work on the Hiss case, in his 1960 race for
President, etc., Nixon worked hard, even sacrificing hours of sleep to
On the issue of taking breaks, I think that there are
times when I should discipline myself and keep on working----staying the
course, if you will. If I'm continually taking a break because I'm
doing a task that I don't particularly want to do, then I'm not getting
the task done, and that's not good, particularly if the task is
important. But there are also times when taking a short
break----particularly a nap----can energize me for my work and can
perhaps allow me to return to it with a fresh and creative perspective.
terms of vacations, however, I find that I don't take them that often.
I prefer to set aside time each day to relax, rather than to set aside
weeks for a vacation. I don't like prolonged periods of not doing
anything, in short. I like to structure my days so that I'm
accomplishing something. But that's me.