You’re working hard, doing all you can to build your leadership skills and retain your best employees while simultaneously pouring your all into acquiring customers and building up your company. So it’s no surprise you feel spread thin with little left to offer at the end of the day.
Studies show that people who engage in hobbies, especially creative ones, perform better at work. Many people even report a sudden burst of insight about how to solve work problems while focusing on a totally unrelated activity. Hobbies are highly personal and are based around your interests, but not everyone has a clear idea on where to start. Try one of these seven hobbies that can make you a better entrepreneur:
1. Wine making
Michael Papay, co-founder of employee-feedback tool Waggl, discovered both rest and wisdom while pursuing a wine-making hobby. After being tipped off to the idea by his barber, he found it to be an ideal hobby for entrepreneurs. Wine making is mostly a waiting game and caters to time-strapped professionals. Meanwhile, checking in on the wine helps you feel productive about your hobby, and the finished product is fun and easy to share with others. Papay says the biggest lesson has been patience, which also pays off in spades in his business ventures.
OK, I’m biased, because this is currently my favorite hobby, but skydiving has been a thrill and an unbelievable adventure while teaching me tons about business. Let’s start with the obvious: It’s important to be prepared. If your chute isn’t packed right, and you don’t have the right training, you’re going to have a very bad experience.
I’m also forced to face my fears every single time I jump out of an airplane regardless of how many jumps I’ve already taken. I’ve learned to accept coaching from my instructors to become better at my hobby. All of these valuable lessons from the open door of an airplane have made me a more successful entrepreneur.
3. Playing an instrument
Music is a unique way to express yourself, and often relaxes your mind after a day of hard work. Warren Buffett plays and teaches the ukulele, and several of his instruments have become collector’s items. It may seem frivolous for a billionaire to tinker with a ukulele, but Buffett gets to blow off steam and recharge before taking the helm at his corporation.
Certain types of hunting can land business owners in hot water with the public, but Mark Zuckerberg likes to hunt and prepare his own food. He spent a year eating only meat that he hunted himself to better understand where his food came from and the efforts that go into consuming it. Hunting for sustenance may seem like an odd hobby, but can make a big impact on how you run your business and life. It helps you embrace a new mindset to question what you’ve always done and be more deliberate with your choices.
5. Helping children’s organizations
Thomas J. Watson, the founder of IBM, was a well-known supporter of the Boy Scouts. At one event, he sat by a campfire and chatted with the scouts and their leaders about a range of topics. Despite his standing as an international scout commissioner, Watson was just “one of the boys” for that particular event. Taking the time to help out with young people not only helps you stay young at heart, it gives you a different perspective on issues you face. Suddenly you see the world and your own problems with new eyes.
6. Running marathons
Michael Quinn, president of Yellow Bridge Interactive, swears by marathon running and the lessons his favorite hobby has taught him about business. Running requires discipline and hard work with measurable results by what you put into it. Quinn points out that you can’t fake 26.2 miles -- you’re either ready for it or not. He uses the mental challenges and intense preparation required to run marathons as inspiration in his business challenges. Taking up distance running helps you learn what you’re truly capable of, push through adversity and persevere no matter the obstacles.
7. Playing poker
John Rood, president of Next Step Test Preparation, enjoys poker as a hobby. He credits it as a teaching tool for business. After all, taking calculated action is often required despite the lack of complete information about your situation. You may understand the odds, but ultimately every move is a gamble.
You face the same uncertainty and thrills in business. You don’t really know your competitors’ plans or what your customers will do next, but do the best you can with the information available. Perhaps most importantly, you learn to see when your competition is bluffing and when it’s time for you to fold and come up with a new plan of action.
Hobbies are a fun and effective way to relax your mind and carve out time to do something different than business building. Hobbies can also make you a better entrepreneur through the lessons learned while pursuing them. What will your next hobby be?
What hobbies help you in business? Share your favorites by leaving a comment below.
Related: Why Your Company Needs a Hobby