Make Sure You Recognize How Your Hobbies Contribute To Who You Are

Leadership Lesson: Make sure you understand that the true value and benefit you gain from the hobbies you explore can cross from one area of your life into another, serving you on all fronts.

I recently came across this Harvard Business Review article which covered CEO’s and how much they devote to their hobbies, or what the article calls serious leisure. The article provides a few examples of CEO’s going off in their spare time, leaving their executive duties behind, and being full-fledged DJ’s, pilots, and marathon runners, among other hobbies.


Now, although the article is about CEO’s, and because leadership development doesn’t begin only when one attains a leadership title or rank, like most other leadership lessons, the scenarios (and benefits) outlined in it need not only apply to CEO’s.

I want to remind you that the benefits a CEO takes away from what they are trying to achieve can provide some insight into what you can achieve for yourself, others around you, and your mission.

Leadership and management lessons can apply to anyone, albeit on a different or smaller scale. So, why would you not be able to seek the same benefits a CEO may get from his or her hobbies from your own?

Related: The Strongest Aspect Of Leadership is Not About Them. It’s About You!

Let’s see what those benefits may be for you. The list below outlines some of those benefits. A few of these were mentioned in the article — as I want to reiterate their importance by providing a different take — while the rest were not.

You Get to Step Away From the Grind

Although covered in the article, this one definitely bears repeating. The most important thing about the hobby — the biggest benefit we can attain if we’re busy professionals and people in general — is the benefit of stepping away from our work, or those things that stress us out, take up a lot of energy, or are time-consuming.

Think about how often something may seem fresher, newer, and seemingly appear different once you step away from it, returning to it at a later time. When you step away from something, you leave everything related to it there, waiting for when you come back. And you gain new eyes, focus, and maybe understanding for it after that time away.

It’s beneficial to break up the time you spend working on something. Stepping away to a hobby does just that.

It Recharges You

Obviously — or hopefully — the hobby you have is one that you’re passionate about and love to do. Doing what you love is a refresher. The stress you may carry in the workplace is offset by, and melts away due to, the excitement you might have for your hobby. Even if the hobby is high-energy, if you love doing it, it’s a refresher for your mind and a recharger for your soul.

That recharge pays dividends. You’re utilizing and building energy, instead of having it siphoned off by your more stressful or tedious undertakings.

You Build and Create Something

People may underestimate what kind of satisfaction they would find in creating and building something. It’s one thing to contribute to something that’s already existed, such as work. In work, you’re playing your part and definitely adding value, but for most people, creating something away from where we spend most of our time, to take on something of our own doing, builds lasting satisfaction. And a hobby can do just that.

And, as for hobbies in which you can create and build, they are not limited to the physical; the creating and building can take the shape of tactics in hunting, or chess, or dancing, for example. It’s preparing for something and seeing it through.

You Attain Genuine Fulfillment

There is nothing like absolute, deep-down, and genuine fulfillment. It’s almost a feeling that nothing else needs to be done because of the satisfaction you carry with you after completing a task, whatever it may be.

Even if we do feel accomplishment and fulfillment at work or in our profession, people may derive different levels of fulfillment from those responsibilities. Also, there’s a difference in feeling fulfillment when it’s as part of a team effort versus when it’s enjoyed as a result of a side project, effort, or passion. The hobby is all you, no matter what that hobby is. It is your accomplishment, and it may serve a closer purpose to who you truly are than your 9-to-5 work.

You Can Be Selfish

This is one of the biggest benefits: It’s all about you. The previous point of fulfillment is one step into satisfaction, but being selfish is the ultimate satisfaction. It’s about you!

So often, we’re giving away so much to help others in our various roles within our personal and professional lives that very rarely do we take time to just do what we want, all for us and no one else.

Yes, selfishness is traditionally looked down upon — but that’s the problem. Unfortunately, it’s looked down upon in our society because there is no sense of moderation, so we either give or take away too much.

There needs to be a balance, especially to selfishness. Selfishness is good – in moderation. You need to satisfy your own needs before anyone else’s. If you’re not getting enough to be your best, you can’t do squat for other people. You won’t be able to deliver your best. 

Related: Before We Can Find Balance With Others, We Need To Keep Ourselves In Check – Part 1

A note: The right kind of selfishness means to satisfy, build, and develop yourself — but not at the expense of others.

You’re In Complete Control

Another one drawn from the article, this benefit works in the same vein as fulfillment and selfishness — it’s about you.

In building fulfillment, you’re making sure you’re reaching satisfaction. In selfishness, you’re making sure to meet your needs, desires, and milestones through that hobby. Finally, when it comes to control, you’re fully in it. You control everything that happens in your hobby. Compare that to the role of the CEO of a company, where he or she will never have full control of everything going on, especially when stakes are so high. In our hobbies, we control as much as we want to do, learn, or create. Full control is a powerful freedom.


Another point to consider, not part of the above list, is that you might find these rewards listed above in what you already do full-time. In that case, the only point above which wouldn’t apply is the stepping away from the grind.

So, you may already be taking care of yourself, feeling genuine fulfillment, feeling selfish, creating and building, and feeling completely in control in the job you do all day.

Current fulfillment — and the need for fulfillment — will always vary from person to person, so no advice can be cookie-cutter. It works differently for everyone. That’s how unique we, our current circumstances, and future desires are.

But, for yourself, at the very least, make sure to understand what it is you truly take away from those things you consider your hobbies.

We tend to silo our lives into compartments. Rarely, do we take into account how our role in one part of our lives contributes – and provides enormous value and insight — to our role in another area.

Related: In All Your Endeavors, Where Do You Stand On The Bridge of Leadership

You are cross-functional. Realize that you can get better overall by doing the things you love 100%, even if they are for leisure.



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