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Brake Day: Focus on What You Can Control

It was the start of February 2020, and one of our largest clients, who always had a huge presence at MWC in Barcelona, had just pulled out of the show (following a stream of other big brand dropouts including many of our other clients). Knowing that everything we’d been meticulously planning and working towards needed to be reinvented overnight was making me very anxious. “It’s out of your control” my boss, Henry Brake, said to me. I was to focus only on what I could control and let the rest go.

The next day, he was gone.

Today is AxiCom’s third Brake Day, where we celebrate Henry and all he gave to the agency and our people. He believed strongly in the power of giving yourself the space and time needed to overcome a problem or challenge. The time needed to refocus and reassess where you are and where you’re going. Brake Day is his legacy and the day we give all AxiCommers the time to focus on their unique journeys, to help us all move forward with more purpose for ourselves, our clients and our agency.

So many industry peers have agreed with me that 2023 has so far been pretty relentless. It gives and it takes away. And it just hasn’t stopped. Now that the 15 Mondays in January are over, I feel shattered. I need to take this time to remind myself why I’m here. What did I set out to achieve in 2023 before the pace of it blew me sideways?

And that’s what this day offers. It’s time to pause, but not to stand still. It’s about reminding ourselves what we set out to achieve before we got caught up in the unexpected twists and turns of the real world. The unplanned and unstructured world we must operate in. The world where we have to work out which parts are in our control and which parts we need to accept and work with.

By focusing on what we can control, and reminding ourselves what we set out to achieve, we will never stand still.

On Brake Day we give our people time, and in return we ask a lot. We ask them to dig deep, and do something that makes them better, smarter and sharper. The task is to end the day better than how you walked into the day.

When we give ourselves the opportunity to refocus, we reenergize; we come back stronger and can progress further.

We’ve come a long way since our first Brake Day. This year our teams around the world are using this time to do some volunteering, some training, and some reading. Some plan to reconnect with old contacts and mentors, whilst others are taking the time to clear the admin that’s clogging them up. Each manifestation of Brake Day is as unique for each person as the day is for AxiCom. But whatever we do, we don’t stand still.

Written February 10, 2023 by

Kate Stevens