There’s an old proverb that “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. It means that without time off from work, a person becomes both bored and boring. More important, you’re likely to be less successful in your career!
Vistage Worldwide, the premier leader development program, which helps leaders develop themselves and their companies to outperform the competition, recently, reminded members of the importance of engaging in non-work activities. Their research article, 4 Ways Hobbies Can Help You Become a Better CEO, presents stories of CEOs whose hobbies provide space for mastery and passion outside of work.
The leaders credited their hobbies with helping them become better leaders, listeners and creative thinkers. For instance:
- One leader, inspired by her daughters taking dance classes took adult classes and found herself feeling awkward. Embracing the discomfort of dance led to a mindset shift in which she now seeks out challenges and opportunities at work, no matter how uncomfortable/. “Dance retrains your brain” to become more comfortable with being uncomfortable.
- Another leader had a grandmother, an amputee, who played the organ when he was a child, and he fell in love with the sound and vision of her playing; so she taught him. Now as a CEO, he plays and improvises to give himself a break. “Playing the organ gives me creative juice to come back and solve a technical problem. It’s like a “flow state”. I feel like I can get to the same place when I’m sitting in my business as I do in front of the organ.”
- A third leader, an accountant, is an over-preparer- obsessing researching every topic that may come in a meeting. When offered a chance to attend a free improvisional comedy class, he took it, knowing that in Improv, there’s no preparation, just listening and reacting to the others. It changed him by freeing him up to listening more closely to others in meetings. “Now, I see myself more as a facilitator than being in charge of a meeting.” And the best part: “it relaxed everybody.”
- A fourth CEO also took a childhood interest – photography – and began using it to relieve work-generated stress at his customer support company. Moreover, he uses it to help employees realize they can use hobbies to do the same. “One of our core values is personal growth. If you give everyone the opportunities to develop their professional and personal passions, they’re not going to want to leave.”
A major tenet of Age Brilliantly, is that it would be ideal to find job/careers that are at the intersection of passion and purpose. When that’s not possible, the second best thing is to engage in passionate hobbies which allow for growth by reducing stress, allowing you to pursue curiosity, learn new things, and stretch you mind and body. Both ways, you will do better at your job and enjoy life’s journey.