Find time to get away, and return as a better leader

Do you ever feel guilty taking time to golf, fish, dance or engage in another favorite hobby? You shouldn’t. Effective leaders “give of themselves in the service of the cause, but they also care for themselves, engaging in renewal to ensure they can sustain resonance over time,” says Richard E. Boyatzis, a prolific author on organizational behavior and a Distinguished University Professor at Case Western Reserve University. 

Indeed, when you make time to renew yourself, you are better equipped to cope with the inherent challenges and personal sacrifices required of a leader. 

Here are seven more reasons to find outlets away from your work to nourish your soul.

1. Reduce stress

Stress is a constant companion of leaders. It affects your physical, mental and emotional health. Research shows hobbies counteract the emotional and physical exhaustion that stress produces. 

2. Increase creativity

Divergent thinking is a creative process in which you explore many ideas that are not the usual or most obvious answer. Its key is creativity. A recent study found that those who have more creative hobbies were better divergent thinkers.

3. Build self-confidence

Hobbies help reveal hidden skills and offer new challenges. When you learn new skills and overcome related obstacles, your self-confidence increases.

4. Promote “flow”

Can you remember a situation when you lost track of time? Were you highly focused? Was your thinking clear? If so, you experienced flow. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi popularized the term, which is, “A state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”

Boyatzis adds that “leaders must be resonant to create a resonant organization.” Following this logic, it makes sense that leaders must create flow in themselves before they can create an environment for employees to experience the same.

Hobbies that stretch your skills foster flow. When flow exists in a company, both business and people flourish. Csikszentmihalyi says an “organization with happy employees is more productive, has higher morale and lower turnover.”

5. Provide opportunities to meet new people

Hobbies such golf, singing and dancing require others’ participation, forming new social connections and friends. 

6. Slow down your mind

If your mind is constantly working, the focus that hobbies require forces it to slow down.

7. Help you thrive

Thrive means to flourish. Its hallmarks are purpose and passion. Survive means to live or exist. Some people fill up their lives with obligations and responsibilities and lack a personal life. As a result, they end up merely surviving. My own hobby provides me with the above benefits and more. I create unique jewelry art that springs from my imagination, and I experience joy and accomplishment.

Hobbies improve our lives. Dedicate time to yours.

Cheryl B. McMillan is Chair, Northeast Ohio, at Vistage