How do your hobbies make you better at your work

I came across this question from Dave Kerpen on LinkedIn; How do your hobbies make you better at your work?

Exercise, reading a book, painting picture etc things we associate with winding down, relaxing and forgetting about work. Many of us try so hard to keep our personal life separate from our work life that we don’t always realise that experiences in our personal lives can actually make us better at our jobs. This question got me thinking about how my own hobbies and without realising how they have helped me in my work and shaped the person I am.

Kickboxing

Over the years my range of hobbies have varied, up until the middle of last year I regularly attended a kickboxing class. Finding the right class with the right people is important, the activity itself is a contact sport but it also teaches discipline and respect for each other. We don’t all walk into the class as black belts, it takes hard work, determination and practice to get the moves right. None of this happens if you don’t have the support of your club, your team and your instructor. Everyone at all levels working together to encourage and teach, you have no idea the positive effect a few words of encouragement can have when you think you haven’t got enough energy to survive that last minute in a round of sparring or if like me your lower body isn’t very flexible when you can finally get your round kick that little bit higher. It is those qualities that can be transferred to the workplace. Support and encourage your team, we all fall down sometimes and need a little help to get back up again knowing you have your team in your corner can make all the difference to how you progress, handle certain situations and projects.

Reading

My other hobbies include reading. When needs must, I have resorted to reading a book on my mobile phone using the Kindle app, but you can’t beat reading from a physical book. Yes they take up space and to the untrained eye can be seen as clutter, however there is something about a good book that can help you escape from the drama of life and help you relax. I’ve recently discovered audio books on YouTube and when I want to block out the world oddly enough having my headphones on and a book playing in the background helps me to concentrate, maybe I’m just odd like that but whatever works to help make me productive can’t be a bad thing.

Yoga

I’ve not ever been a fan of yoga until I discovered the online videos which I can do at my own pace and to my own ability. I’ll not ever be able to move in those pretzel shapes but just doing the short bedtime and morning yoga videos help me feel a lot calmer, the tight muscles and knots get stretched out and I feel much better within myself. The breathing techniques learnt from yoga help me bring myself back to a much calmer place when I’m feeling stressed at work. I have been known to have essential oils at my desk like peppermint to help my sinuses and altogether feel ready to tackle the task at hand. The office can smell of peppermint but who doesn’t like that scent?

As individuals we are always learning and changing, I’m a believer that depending on the job role our personal and work lives can and do influence the other. I know from working for the NHS has benefitted me and changed my thinking for the better.

So, how do your hobbies make you better at your work?

We’re all misfits

I came across this blog piece from seventhvoice; People with Autism want real friends too. The blogger talks about how her daughter has to make extra effort to fit in with her friends but would like friends who would fit in with her or even just accept her for the way she is. This child has autism, situations many of us may find ‘normal’ can be exhausting and boring for her. Her current friends see the character she plays to fit in with this group, being herself could risk no longer having these friendships which are important to her.

The way the child in the article plays a character in order to fit in doesn’t akways change as we get older. Think about the different characters you play depending on the environment. An article published on HBR.org; Do You Really Want to Be Yourself at Work? discusses being yourself vs playing a work version of yourself. How many of us are truly comfortable enough to be ourselves at work and believe our true personalities are strong enough to forge a successful career?

I want people at work to think I’m better than I am; I don’t want them to see how I really am!

Depending on the situation, with age many people can eventually become tired with having to play a role finally deciding, good or bad, to let their true self shine through.

Through experiences and society we’re taught about the importance of trying to fit in, fit in with people at school, at social gatherings, at work. If you don’t fit the mould then either you keep searching for where you do fit or fear being ignored.

‘Fitting in’ is not only exhausting but overrated. Society is so focused with trying to fit in, don’t rock the boat, don’t do anything that is considered a deviant from what is considered the norm is frowned upon with suspicion or disgust. It is almost like we’ve become programmed to not be accepting of others and to not see how the differences could actually make us better people.

It is not just as people we could improve with embracing a bit of ‘different’. How would a business grow if they kept hiring the same people with the same views and opinions? Having someone with a different perspective could bring a new lease of live a business and take it to the next level.

Through campaigns and the media we are being made more aware about mental illnesses and how suffers are affected by it. The importance to not ostracise or look at them as if they have some kind of disease but to show support and kindness. Whether we like it or not we all have some kind of defect, some just need a little bit of extra help now and then.

Those who do feel socially awkward doesn’t mean they don’t want to have others to talk to in those rare moments where they feel comfortable around others / situation. It’s about taking the time to understand others instead of just thinking they are a bit weird and keeping your distance. I know people who some would consider weird  (and/or even think the same about me!) but think it’s a part of their personality that also makes them that bit more interesting. If you were a biscuit would you rather keep it safe and simple with a Rich Tea or be a bit different and go for a Bourbon or a Jammy Dodger? Personally I’d got for a cookie, maybe a chocolate chip or a cherry and chocolate.

Let’s face it there is no picture perfect image of what is ‘normal’, we’re all a bunch of misfits who have the illusion we’re normal because we’re mixing with similar misfits. Break out of the cookie cutter mould and find out what biscuit you are.

Do we choose our careers or are they chosen for us?

There are personality assessments out there to determine which jobs are suited for your personality type. Are 23you a ‘thinker’, ‘sensitive, ‘extravert’, ‘introvert’ etc?  There are plenty of online assessments you can take to decide which group you fall into. I took this online personality assessment on the website http://www.careertest.net/. The assessment and results are based on MBTI assessment, a psychometric questionnaire designed to measure psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions.

According to the results my personality type is; INFJ: “Author”. Strong drive and enjoyment to help others. These are serious students and workers who really want to contribute. They make good therapists, general practitioners and ministers. 1% of the total population.

CareerTest

In reality I have mostly worked in admin and gradually moved into a mixture of admin  and Social Media Marketing related work with the occasional dabble in baking.  I’m also left handed and a Scorpio, if you’re to believe the theories on how the dominant hand and star sign can also affect our personalities which in turn could be linked to our careers choices.

Whether you are an Introvert or an Extravert by nature it doesn’t mean you cannot learn to adopt certain traits from each personality type to further your career. It may not always come naturally for an introvert to be engaging with people on a regular basis or being the centre of attention but it doesn’t mean it cannot be done. Have a look at some of the posts written by Bob McIntosh, he draws on his own experiences as well as how both introverts and Extraverts can go on to have successful careers in environments that may contradict certain aspects of a person’s personality.

If we were to go one step further there are companies who use Psychometric testing to determine if an individual is the right fit for the company / job even before meeting them.   This type of assessment includes the measurement of knowledge, abilities, attitudes, personality traits, and educational measurement. Does ‘failing’ this type of test mean you are not suited for a career in that industry or just not a career with that particular company? The MBTI assessment was created during a time to determine what type of war time jobs women would be the most ‘comfortable and effective in’. and considered effective for its purpose. Moving forward to today how many of these personality traits have been created by society, society’s idea of what personality type is expected to work in which environment? We know different personality types exist, our personalities are shaped by many external and internal factors, look at those with certain types of autism who have exceptional talent yet may struggle with the social aspect of the world they find themselves in.

Just because an individual is deemed to have a particular personality does not necessarily mean they are restricted to jobs commonly associated with that type. Passions, determination and that ‘one person’ seeing the potential in you can override any results of a personality assessment.

You can also view this article on www.jobserve.com.