I think it's fascinating when business owners are able to transform their personal passions into profitable businesses. But this was not the case for me at Blinds.com; I love the products and service we provide to customers, but window blinds and draperies are just not what inspires when I'm at home on the weekend.
Instead, I like to think about what you can learn from your hobbies that can be applied to your existing business and professional trajectory. We normally think of hobbies as a way to detach from the grind of the daily workday, but what if we could use what we love the most about our pastimes to make us better at work?
Harmony, synergy and public performance with barbershop quartet singing
I have spent 42 years singing with the same barbershop quartet group. Perhaps you're an a cappella enthusiast like me (you're out there, right?) or simply remember hearing those harmonies in The Music Man movie as a kid. But there's so much more that goes into singing in this kind of musical group than may meet the eye (or ear)--let's see if you can pick out the skill sets that this hobby has lent my professional career.
First, you must do some extensive research to select your musical repertoire and collaborate with your group to find a suitable musical arrangement of those songs. Then your vocal team must create a 'project plan' of sorts to interpret the piece for each unique voice--mapping out your breaths, crescendos and accelerando as a group.
To be a successful quartet that is confident in performing in front of an audience, there's hours of rehearsal (individually and as a group) to ensure that our voices are synchronized, our vowels match and chords are perfectly balanced. Your performance is only as good as your weakest voice.
The final outcome of a solid barbershop quartet performance is amazing; it's not just an entertaining time, but can create an incredible musical phenomenon called harmonic overtones. This is what it is called when you are so in tune with your partners that you create an additional sound through your voices' synergy (and I don't mean that in a consultant speak kind of way). You can actually hear amplified musical tones that no one voice is singing, created only because the group is entirely in harmony.
Now tell me THAT experience is not something you want to recreate in your office!
Growing stamina, intuition and technique through boxing
In my office is a pair of boxing gloves signed by the employees of a company that we purchased a number of years ago. These new additions to the Blinds.com team wanted me to know that they were now fighting right alongside me, a touching memory that I love to recall. As a company, we truly do stand shoulder to shoulder fighting for our customers.
When I look back to my hours of practice and sweat in the ring, I realize that the boxing experience has taught me so much more about life and business than I had anticipated. While this sport certainly has a lot to do with building strength and speed--I benefit the most from its lessons on patience, stamina and intuition.
Hours upon hours of tirelessly drilling the fundamentals ingrains them in your muscle memory, leaving your brain open to outthinking your opponent during a match. I connect this with the intense training new employees receive, drilling product and service basics to leave their brains automatically open and ready to solve customer challenges.
Before I started to box I never knew just how well I could really take a hit (and that taking a punch wasn't always a bad thing) nor did I realize how far I could push myself through pain and exhaustion. There's something that happens in your brain when you're in the 10th round with 2 minutes to go in a gym that's registering at a sweltering 120 degrees--and that mentality doesn't leave just because you walk out of the ring.
So how have YOU grown through your hobbies? No matter if you're a sky diver or jazz pianist, take what thrills you in those personal endeavors and bring that excitement, skill and perspective into what you do in the office today and the professional spaces you can one day grow into within your organization.