Some people tend to think that entrepreneurs have zero free time. No sleep. No recreation. No TV. No eating. No nothing. Just work.

Unfortunately, there's a grain of truth in this. I've been known to hole up for weeks at a time, growing my business, getting meals delivered to me, and not hanging out much with my friends.

That kind of approach to life and business is impossible to sustain. If you do it, you'll burn out pretty quickly. The truth is, entrepreneurs know how to be borderline workaholics, but not get burned out. I work hard and play hard, and many other entrepreneurs that I know do the same thing.

When I have spare time, I like to get together with friends to play sports. This is by no means the only thing I do, and it may not be for everyone. For me, though, I've found that getting involved in sports has huge advantages for me personally, and even for my business.

What sports? Even though I'm not involved in any leagues, I get together with friends for any type of sports. Really, it doesn't matter, but I tend to play a lot of basketball and football. It depends on what my friends are up for, how much time we have, who shows up, and what season it is. The specific sport, though, isn't important. Every sport provides the same advantages.

Here are the advantages that I enjoy from playing sports in my free time.

Team skills.

Since I'm usually playing team sports with my friends, this is a consistent advantage that I enjoy. We play on teams. This means that I have to work on my team skills--interaction, persuasion, leadership, and just getting along in an intense environment.

During these times, I've learned a lot about myself and about how to work with other people. You can't do business, especially as an entrepreneur, without learning how to be part of a team.

Exercise.

Basketball and soccer are great forms of exercise. Even though I hit the gym every day, it's great to put more movement in my lifestyle. Heck, just moving something other than my fingers is a form of exercise!

Regardless of the particular sport, it's an excellent opportunity to get in motion and work up a sweat.

Strategic thinking.

Maybe it's because I'm wired this way, but I can't help but think strategically whenever I play a sport.

That's one of the reasons that I find sports so appealing. Competitive sports is one of best arenas to use strategic thinking to gain an advantage. The strategic thinking that I use when planning a football play often spills over into the way I strategize about a business move.

Bonding

Human relationships are at the core of life, and sports is one of the greatest ways to cultivate these skills.

I've discovered that when I play sports with other people, I tend to bond with them. There's just something about having a competitive spirit together--win or lose--that strengthens relationships.

Stress relief.

Stress is a way of life. Everyone that I know experiences stress, no matter what their job, income level, family situation, and approach to life. Stress is everywhere.

We just have to handle it the right way.

That's one of the reasons I play sports. Somehow, it makes the stress melt away. Maybe it's because we can release our aggression through physical activity. Maybe because it distracts us. Maybe it's because that's what sports is designed to do.

Whatever the case, I'm glad sports gives me yet another way of effectively dealing with stress.

A different way of thinking.

I always benefit from a different way of looking at things. The more things I do and try, the better I'm able to think in different ways.

I like to look at it as just another method of strategic thinking. Thinking strategically is all about thinking differently. Some of my greatest aha! moments come on the soccer field or basketball court.

Who knew that a jump shot on the basketball court could be the best thing that ever happened to your business?

A competitive spirit.

Sports, like business, is competitive. I appreciate the way that sports fosters a sense of competition that doesn't spill over into angry fights and legal disputes. My approach to business is straight-up ethicality and professionalism, and it's been a good approach. I don't have to rely on underhanded techniques and subterfuge to accomplish my goals.

Sports helps to reinforce this approach. As long as you're playing by the rules, thinking strategically, and giving it all you've got, you'll do a great job. Break the rules, and you get ejected from the game.

Final thoughts.

Even though I don't have all the free time in the world, I try to use it in a way that helps me grow as an individual and a businessperson.

Sports is one of the best ways I've discovered to grow my abilities and improve myself as a person.

What activities do you do during your free time

Published on: Dec 25, 2014
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