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Sharpen The Saw: Top Leaders' Unusual Hobbies

Posted by Daniel Ku on Jun 26, 2016 7:00:00 PM


Sharpen the SawRemember when you were young and the time for hobbies were endless? Your parents most likely signed you up for swimming, painting or sports. You also most likely developed your own hobbies like marbles, collecting car or even biking. Those were the times when time felt infinite. As we progress throughout our careers as leaders, time begins to feel finite and we think any time focused on hobbies hinders our professional lives. However, research proves otherwise.

Having an opportunity to focus on a hobby outside of work has countless benefits that can help you sharpen your saw by improving your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being, as Stephen Covey puts it. Hobbies help you have a balanced lifestyle, give your body and mind much needed rest and can boost productivity, in which all ultimately affect your professional life as well.

Here’s how some of the top global leaders took time out of their busy lives to reap the rewards of hobbies and how that has impacted their work/life balance.

1. An Addiction For Winning

An Addiction for Winning

What type of hobby would you do with $46.1 billion? Larry Ellison, the CEO of Oracle spends his free time sailing at sea. Ellison is a highly competitive person and known for his sailing his yacht. He’s funded hundreds of millions of dollars towards the America’s cup which is the oldest international sporting trophy. As part of US Team Oracle, he has sponsored and managed the team to numerous victories. In fact, his team has competed and won the Maxi World Championships five times.

“I don’t smoke, but I do sail.”

Is there a reason to Oracle’s dominance in the marketplace? There are numerous reasons, however, having a CEO with an addiction for winning like Larry Ellison definitely helps lead the way. His desire to win and tenacity to succeed helps transcend his passion for competitive sailing towards leading his role at Oracle.

2. Sleeping On The Job

Arianna Huffington

What is Arianna Huffington’s key to success? Sleeping on the job. Well, not to the extent of sleeping at your desk from 9-5 but more so focused on taking calculated naps. Arianna, a sleep expert, with her book The Sleep Revolution discovered that world leaders suffer from a sleep crisis and should all work to improve their sleeping. At face value, this may seem like the simplest hobby to have, all you have to do is lie there and close your eyes.

"Sleep is my greatest hobby."

However, naps can be used as a performance-enhancing exercise. It’ll help boost creative thinking as well as ease any physical tension. Go ahead, take that 20 minute, you deserve it after closing that new deal.  

3. Having A Poker Face

Poker Face

You better put on your best poker face when you’re at the same table as Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh. He’s well known for taking time off to play a few games of poker. Although this may be stressful for some, Tony sees this as a good opportunity to meet someone causally and build a working relationship. Legends say that Tony is a top notch player who has even played in the World Series of Poker before it was highly televised.

“Even if I lose money, I'm still winning."

There are times at work when you’re feeling overworked and just seem like your productive is straight flushed down the toilet. Don’t fret, Tony’s hobby of poker leads to valuable lessons about composure and improve your sense of accomplishment. Having a poker face can develop your ability to keep calm under stressful situations which ultimately help you relieve tension and stress in your daily routine. Winning a hand in poker is great but winning the jackpot is significantly better. Winning can help you cultivate your ability to take risks, solve problems under pressure and understand people, which directly affects how you understand your customers.

4. Bringing Your Yoga Mats

Marc Benioff

It’s time to grab your yoga mats and practice your tree poses. Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce is also a zen master. When the Salesforce headquarters was launched, he invited monks who helped develop mindfulness areas throughout every floor of the building. Marc is known for his practice of yoga which helps him significantly reduce stress. As a sales-focused company driven by salespeople, stress can eat away at productivity. This is why Salesforce holds yoga classes for employees twice a week.

I am very interested in keeping a clear head.”

Meditation and yoga elevates the pressure of having to hit your numbers. Stress can eat away at your productivity which affects your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual state. Taking time away from the constant motion of work to just relax, focus on yourself and meditate has immense effects on your mind, body and soul. Be like Marc and press the hard reset button on your mental state.

Invest In A Hobby

These top leaders have proven that hobbies aren’t just time wasters. They’re truly opportunities to escape the ruckus of daily work with benefits that enhance both work and life. Let’s be honest, there is no such thing as work/life balance, it’s called work/life integration. Just like these leaders, hobbies can improve your productivity, relieve stress and overall well-being. This in return impacts your work as well in a positive way.

You shouldn’t force hobbies to happen because of they’re importance; rather, you should naturally gravitate towards what your interests and desires are. Be passionate about your hobbies and leverage what you can learn towards your professional life.

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Daniel Ku

Daniel Ku

About the Author

Daniel is focused on creating content that inspires conversations within the digital space. With his knowledge of marketing, design, and innovation, he’s passionate about exploring the possibilities of storytelling.

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