Episode: How Hobbies Make You a Better Leader

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Megan Hyatt Miller: On May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister did something nobody had ever done. He ran a mile in less than four minutes. Four minutes had been an unbreakable barrier for decades. A few people had come close, but nobody ever quite made it. At the University of Kansas, Wes Santee had come within a few seconds. An Australian, John Landy, ran the mile in 4 minutes, 2 seconds, several times, but he couldn’t seem to close the gap. He said, “Two seconds may not sound like much, but to me it’s like trying to break through a brick wall.” The world record had stood at 4 minutes, 1 second, for nine years.

Michael Hyatt: A lot of people had started to think it would never be broken. Maybe it couldn’t be. Even John Landy said, “Someone may achieve the four-minute mile the world is wanting so desperately, but I don’t think I can.” Four laps, four minutes. It just seemed impossible. So when Roger Bannister ran the mile in 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds, he became an instant celebrity. His name was known all over the world.

Even today, more than 50 years later, he’s still considered the greatest track and field athlete of all time. Well, not really. Roger Bannister was the world’s greatest athlete for exactly 46 days. The very next month, John Landy did run the mile in 3 minutes, 58 seconds. Within a year, four people had run the mile in under 4 minutes. Now even high school kids are doing it. In fact, the current world record is 3 minutes, 43 seconds. Bannister was the first, but he wasn’t the best or the greatest.

Megan: Here’s the really amazing thing about Roger Bannister. Just a few months after becoming a global phenomenon, he quit running. He just gave it up. Like all track athletes at the time, Bannister was not a professional. He was a medical student. He only had about an hour a day to train over his lunch break. He was never in it for the fame, and certainly not for the money. He ran because he loved the sport. He ran to compete. He ran to break the record, but he never wanted running to be his whole life. To him, track was not a career path, and it certainly wasn’t his identity. It was just a hobby.

Roger Bannister went on to have a distinguished career in medicine, and he published more than 80 papers and edited several textbooks. Years later, somebody asked him if the four-minute mile was his greatest achievement. He said, “No. I’d rather be remembered for my work in neurology. If you offered me the chance to make a great breakthrough in the study of the automatic nerve system, I’d take that over the four-minute mile right away.”

Michael: Discipline. Stamina. Focus. Determination. Those are a few of the qualities you need to be a great distance runner. It just so happens you need those same traits to be a great scientist. So, here’s an interesting question…Would Roger Bannister have excelled the way he did in medicine if he hadn’t pushed himself to excel on the track? Or to put it another way, was chasing the cure to rare diseases a result of his love for chasing the four-minute mile?

I’m convinced the things we do off the field, the things we do outside of work have a spillover effect in our careers. When you make the time to explore or create or compete, when you try something just for fun, it makes you better at everything you do. It makes you a better leader. Every leader should have a hobby. Do you?

Hi, I’m Michael Hyatt.

Megan: And I’m Megan Hyatt Miller.

Michael:  And this is Lead to Win, our weekly podcast to help you win at work, succeed at life, and lead with confidence. In this episode, we’ll show you the three surprising benefits of having a hobby.

Megan: We all want to be as productive as we can be. That’s why it’s tempting to pour nearly all of our energy into our work, but neglecting self-care creates a downward spiral of fatigue and low productivity, often ending in burnout. Today we’ll show you how creative activities, like hobbies, sports, or just having fun, can boost your leadership, and we’ll hear from several of our own team members about how their hobbies keep their minds fresh. When we’re done, you’ll have a sure way to boost your performance and help you make better decisions than ever before.

Michael: Before we dive into today’s content, let me ask you a favor. If you’re enjoying Lead to Win, please subscribe to it in iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts. If you don’t know how to do that, just go to We’ve made it super easy. That boosts the podcast in the rankings so other leaders can find it and benefit from it too. Thanks.

Megan: So, Dad, the first thing we need to do here is define what we mean by a hobby. For example, I know a lot of people out there are runners, but I want to be honest. That does not sound restorative to me. I know it might for some of you who are listening, but to me, not so much.

Michael: You know what’s funny about that? I’ve always listed that as a hobby when you do those surveys that ask, “What are your hobbies?” But the truth is it’s not a hobby to me either. It’s a way of…

Megan: Self-care, which is good.

Michael: But not technically what we mean by a hobby.

Megan: So some of you out there who think you have a lot of hobbies, you might not.

Michael: We’re going to whittle it down right here. I would say it includes any kind of creative or restorative activity outside of work. There are four elements that have to be present. First of all, control. In other words, you get to choose it. Detachment. It gets you out and away from work. Relaxation. It lowers your negative stress. And catharsis. It allows you to leave it all behind.

Megan: Okay, I’m going to add another one. This might be obvious, but in case you’re new to this, maybe it’s not. You have to enjoy it.

Michael: I was actually thinking the same thing, especially in light of our conversation about running.

Megan: Exactly.

Michael: You can get this benefit from nearly anything. It doesn’t just have to be something we would technically think of as a hobby, but it could be a craft, home decorating, problem-solving, leisure activities. These activities help you recover mentally, and they release stress. The book Play by Stuart Brown lists eight different play personalities. Check it out in the show notes. This might be helpful in figuring out what hobbies you want to pursue.

Megan: That’s awesome. So, even famous people have hobbies.

Michael: They do?

Megan: Yes.

Michael: Okay.

Megan: Including Steve Wozniak who plays Segway polo. Just think about that and visualize it for a minute. Segway polo. No ponies.

Michael: Well, I guess the Segway would be cheaper than a pony.

Megan: Maybe.

Michael: And you don’t have to feed it.

Megan: Maybe more dangerous? I don’t know. Warren Buffett apparently plays the ukulele. Richard Branson loves kitesurfing. No surprise there. Liam Neeson goes fly fishing, and Tom Hanks collects old typewriters.

Michael: Isn’t Warren Buffett a master bridge player? I think he and Bill Gates travel around, pal around and play bridge in these tournaments.

Megan: That’s so geeky, but it’s awesome.

Michael: Yeah, I know, but it does challenge you mentally.

Megan: No doubt. Alli Oslund, who is our social community manager, loves to take her family on hikes. While that might seem exhausting to some of us, listen to what she has to say about why that refreshes her.

Alli Oslund: What I love to do to just get some rest and relaxation and energize my creative thought processes is to go on hikes with my family. We have lived in Tennessee for about four years, and we absolutely love the beautiful day trails and hikes and parks just a few minutes from our home. We have a running list of waterfalls we want to hit in the next few years, and about once a month we try to go out, drive somewhere, take the day, take a picnic lunch, take the dog, and we go on a great hike, see some beautiful nature, just enjoy being out of the city, away from stress, away from busyness, and have our kids really get to experience that side of life.

We love the coolness of being under the trees. We’re wanting to swim in waterfalls and encourage my kids to have some adventurous spirit. That really helps me totally unplug, where you’re not looking at your phone. No one is on devices. You get to really soak in nature and all of the beautiful textures and colors and sights and sounds. I always leave my hikes physically tired, that really great tired feeling when you’ve worked your body really hard for the day, but mentally recharged and refreshed and just feeling so thankful for our family and thankful for our lives and ready to jump into my week ahead.

Michael: Megan, what are your hobbies?

Megan: I have to be honest here for a second. I had a little anxiety about this episode, because as you know, for sure, and probably many of our listeners know, I am not only leading our company but also have four children, ages 17 to 8, which might qualify as hobby enough. I think a lot of our listeners are probably thinking what I’m thinking, which is, “Well, how the heck are you supposed to have a hobby when you have such a full life in this season of raising kids and running a business and all that kind of stuff?”

Michael: That’s legitimate.

Megan: It’s legitimate, because it’s very different than where you are, where you have an empty nest and you have a lot more discretionary time. My hobbies are cooking… I love to cook. I’ve always loved to cook. That has always been kind of a therapeutic thing for me…cathartic, to use our criteria from earlier. This weekend, Joel and I went to Whole Foods. We kind of talked about, “Remember how when we were dating we used to grocery shop all the time together?” which just seems silly. Once you’re married with four kids it’s just not efficient. But we did a little date. We went to Whole Foods, and we picked out a couple of menus we wanted to make, and we cooked this weekend, and it was so fun.

Michael: What did you cook?

Megan: Okay, what did we cook? I made French potpie, which was so delicious, from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. Basically everything she makes is wonderful. I made homemade rum raisin ice cream, which was really with you in mind.

Michael: Which I ate, and it was amazing.

Megan: It was pretty fantastic. I made fruit pizza with the kids, which is like a cookie kind of thing with a little cream cheese topping, and the kids got to decorate it with fruit. That was great. I can’t remember what else, but it was really fun. For me, that feels very restorative, to just be in my kitchen and kind of putter, I guess.

Michael: In our family you’re known as the pie queen. I don’t know if we’ve ever used that term with you.

Megan: It’s on my business card. “COO of… Pie queen.”

Michael: You make phenomenal pies.

Megan: Well, it’s really fun. For me, that’s a good example of in this season of my life, that fits in. It’s reasonable. I don’t have a hobby where I’m out golfing or something like that hours every week, because that would be ridiculous, but the kids have to eat anyway, so it works out. The other thing I do is yoga, which I love. On Wednesday night I do a low-key restorative yoga class, which I affectionately call “napping with friends.”

Michael: It’s basically stretch napping.

Megan: Right. It’s not even that much stretching. It’s really just finding comfortable positions where you’re taking time to breathe and not do a thousand things at once, which is really good for me. So that’s the other thing I do that I have been doing for a while. What about you?

Michael: Well, I don’t just have one hobby. I have a lot of things I dabble at.

Megan: You’re kind of the hobby king.

Michael: Really? Why do you say that?

Megan: Because you’re always trying things. I feel like you have a new hobby about every six months, and if you multiply that by years, that’s a lot of hobbies.

Michael: Well, I know how to do a lot of things kind of halfway. I think I got that from my dad. My dad is a serial hobbyist. He constantly has something he’s learning. Like now he’s really big into woodworking. I went over there on Sunday. Mom and I went over there for dinner, and he showed me this thing he was carving. He was actually drawing this angel on one side of a piece of wood. On the other side he was carving this other angel. I don’t know how he was going to make those two things work. My dad is 84.

Megan: So impressive. He really is always doing something.

Michael: I think that’s, frankly, what has kept him sharp and mentally present and healthy and all the rest.

Megan: Okay, I have a question for you. How have your hobbies changed through different seasons of your life?

Michael: First of all, I thought you asked me what my hobbies were. I haven’t even answered the question yet.

Megan: You’re right. I have another question before we even got there. Okay, tell us your hobbies, and then I want to know the answer to that question.

Michael: Probably the one that’s the most consistent is golf, but I don’t do it that much. Maybe six times a year, but I enjoy it. Actually, I would say the most consistent hobby and the thing I’ve done more this year than anything is fishing.

Megan: That’s true. You have done a lot of fishing this year.

Michael: I would give myself an A-plus on fishing this year.

Megan: I would also give you an A-plus.

Michael: And I fished with you once.

Megan: That was so fun.

Michael: It was your first fly fishing thing. I just love fly fishing.

Megan: That is my aspirational hobby when I have more time when my kids are a little older and I can be gone for a whole day at a time or half a day at a time to go fishing.

Michael: It’s so great.

Megan: I love it.

Michael: It’s very similar to golf in that you’re doing something but you’re not doing much.

Megan: But it isn’t golf, which makes me like it.

Michael: Two other things before I answer your follow-on question. I know you’re dying to get to that.

Megan: I’m dying to know.

Michael: The other two hobbies, and I do this almost every day, are Native American flute…

Megan: Wow. Every day?

Michael: Pretty much. It’s just my way of relaxing at the end of the day. Then playing the guitar, which I don’t do as much.

Megan: You’re kind of hiding your light under a bushel there. You need to bring it out.

Michael: I don’t know about that.

Megan: How many people can say that they do that? It’s pretty unique.

Michael: Well, yeah. It’s not that hard. It’s kind of like yoga. It’s relaxing.

Megan: Well, you’re also breathing. Right? You have to breathe to play.

Michael: I didn’t think about that. Good point. Okay, so what’s your big question?

Megan: For all of us who are listening and thinking to ourselves, “Well, I could never do that because I have four kids at home” or “My job is too crazy, and I have to travel,” how has this changed at different seasons of your life? This is probably the best it has ever been for you. You’re able to devote more time to your hobbies than you ever have. But what did you do when you were my age?

Michael: Well, I tried to read, and I tried to sneak in reading in the cracks, in the margins of life. By the way, I didn’t mention that before, but that’s still a hobby for me. I think reading is a big thing. That’s a little bit easier to do in little snack bites where you can. I sure didn’t golf when you guys were young, because that’s five or six hours away from the house, and Mom needed me there, so that wasn’t possible. I did start writing as you guys got into middle school. Once you were all in school, then I had time to write.

Megan: I think you probably golfed occasionally and fished occasionally.

Michael: Very rare, though.

Megan: Just occasionally. So that should encourage us. For those of us who are maybe in a different season of life, you can start somewhere and then build on it throughout your life. It’s almost like something you can cultivate.

Michael: Absolutely. I will say that it is restorative and that when I come back from a fishing trip or golfing, or whatever, I have so many ideas. It’s not like I get those ideas on the golf course or when I’m fishing. I don’t. But when I come down, there’s just something about the mental state I’m in that makes it productive for creating new things.

Megan: Right. The good thing is you can get started in as little as maybe an hour a week or 30 minutes a week. It doesn’t have to be a huge commitment. The important thing is to carve out time for something that’s restorative like this.

Michael: And apropos to our premise for this particular podcast, we think there’s a work value in doing this.

Megan: Absolutely.

Michael: It’s not just that there’s value in doing it, which, by the way, would be enough to justify it in terms of living your life, but for those people who feel like they have to justify everything in terms of how it impacts their work, this definitely has a work impact.

Megan: So, hobbies are restorative because they free your mind and relieve stress, but let’s talk about the specific way they feed your work. We’ve identified four benefits of having a hobby. What’s the first one?

Michael: The first one is that having a hobby makes you smarter.

Megan: Oh, that’s a good one.

Michael: I’m all in favor of anything that makes you smarter.

Megan: Especially if it’s fun.

Michael: Having a hobby or a creative outlet does make you smarter, and it’s because creative pursuits activate a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens.

Megan: Say that five times.

Michael: The area of the brain controls how we feel about life, and how we feel about life is important. It’s where we process motivation, reward, and pleasure. We also activate thousands of neurotransmitters that sharpen our focus and become energized around one activity. The result? We’re refreshed and recharged. We’re able to see things in a different way. For example, if I go on a hike… By the way, that’s one of your mother’s hobbies and something I try to participate with her in from time to time. If you go for a hike or play a round of golf, which basically is another way to take a hike, chasing a ball…

Megan: On mostly flat ground.

Michael: You go for a hike or play a round of golf, and the solution to a problem just suddenly appears in your mind. It’s oftentimes when we’re not thinking about the solution that we come up with a solution.

Megan: I find that happens to me all the time when I walk. I walk almost every morning, early. I’m by myself, out in nature, and I have so many ideas and breakthroughs. It’s incredible.

Michael: Right behind me I wrote the name of a brand new product, a name for the product, and I got that on my walk.

Megan: Really? So the moral of this story is take more walks.

Michael: Take more walks. Absolutely. I sometimes do this, too. I don’t know if you’ve ever done this. I have a problem I can’t solve, and I’ll just say, “I want to solve that problem,” and then I… I call it “crockpotting” it. I just put it in the crockpot at night, and then oftentimes I’ll wake up with a solution to it because my subconscious has gone to work. I don’t even understand how that works, but it does work.

Megan: But we’ll take it. Here is a great example of this. J.R.R. Tolkien, who was an English professor… He began as an English professor, not a novelist. He had a hobby of making up languages. I’m suddenly feeling very insecure about my hobbies. They seem very small compared to this. He wrote The Lord of the Rings, and he said, “The invention of languages is the foundation. The ‘stories’ were made rather to provide a world for the languages than the reverse.”

Michael: That is so fascinating.

Megan: Isn’t that fascinating?

Michael: I love the languages that are in the books and in the movies. That’s so interesting.

Megan: I know. We also heard from Deidra Romero, who is our production manager for Platform University. Listen to how that changed her perspective on difficult problems.

Deidra Romero: My hobby is writing fiction. I’ve been doing this for about six years now. After my first child was born, I started doing this as a way to escape, actually. Motherhood and having a young baby is really stressful, and even though I was exhausted, I couldn’t sleep at night, so I would lay awake in my bed and imagine stories and characters and what they would do. I found that it was a really good way for me to escape and transport myself, but also I found that I was working out issues or questions I had in my fiction, which was really a surprising thing for me.

I found that the themes I was writing about, the things my characters were struggling with, were questions I also had. So it became a sort of therapy for me, and it helped me calm down. Then I took it to the next level and started doing it just as a daily practice of writing stories and revisiting things I had written. I’ve never published any of it. I’ve never tried to publish any of it, but it really is just a passion project for me.

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Megan: So, engaging in a hobby frees your brain. It makes you smarter by feeling refreshed and able to see things in a different light. What’s the second benefit of having a hobby?

Michael: The second benefit is that it makes you more creative. I must be honest. Work is exhausting.

Megan: Even when it’s great.

Michael: Right. I really enjoy doing these podcasts, and we’re recording four today, but I will be absolutely exhausted by the end of the day.

Megan: No doubt.

Michael: Hobbies and creative pursuits restore that creativity. They refill the tank. Google has an 80/20 rule to promote creativity. I actually love this. Employees can work 20 percent on side projects, not their main job.

Megan: At work.

Michael: Yeah, at work.

Megan: Wow. Of course, the truth is the research would say that’s happening anyway.

Michael: That’s probably true, but they at least channeled it and see it as an employee benefit.

Megan: Fascinating.

Michael: I think there have been a lot of benefits as a result of that too. A study in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology concluded this: “Creative activities are likely to provide valuable experiences of mastery and control, but may also provide employees experiences of discovery that uniquely influence performance-related outcomes.” I don’t know that we could document this here at Michael Hyatt & Company, but my guess is that some of the pursuit of those hobbies and fun things actually ends up showing up in the business.

Megan: Totally. Well, I have given coaching advice to the folks who are on my team and said, “Why don’t you go out to the batting cage?” or “Go play a round of golf,” or something, when I know they’re stuck. If they’re stuck on a big problem they just need to have a breakthrough on, my advice is always, “Get out of the office, because you’re probably not going to have it sitting at your desk or in this kind of environment. You really need to get in your body. You need to get outside. You need to do something that engages a different part of your brain, probably the right side of your brain, in a way that you can’t at work.”

Michael: I think we have to distinguish here between active recovery and passive recovery. If you’re doing strength training, which I do, active recovery would be doing something like going for a walk the next day after strength training. I think what a lot of people do is they work so hard and they have no boundaries on their work life that they end up exhausted, and all they want to do is veg out.

Megan: Netflix or napping are not actually hobbies.

Michael: Yeah. They’re not hobbies. You could argue, and I obviously do, that naps are restorative.

Megan: Sure. But not in the way we’re talking about.

Michael: But I think vegging out in front of the TV is not really restorative in the way we’re talking about it here.

Megan: It’s also not a hobby. It’s not engaging. That’s not the point of it.

Michael: The other thing about creativity, too, is it’s not only the active and passive restorative nature of it, but it’s also that if you just work all the time and if your hobbies don’t do something proactively, you’re just going to get in a rut, if the only thing active you’re doing is your work.

Megan: That’s exactly what we heard from Adam Hill, who is our director of print products. He has a really unusual hobby.

Adam Hill: Lately, I have been teaching myself to write songs on the banjo as my de-stressor or my hobby. I think it’s important to try to learn how to be creative with new things, because if you get really adept at something you start to rely on muscle memory, and you start to mimic other things, and you get too comfortable or if you get too competent at something you start to lose that creative spark. I think when you’re trying to figure out something new, when you’re first starting with it, you really bring a lot of yourself to it, because you’re holding on for dear life and the competency hasn’t caught up with you yet.

Now, that kind of stuff is immensely applicable to work problems, because the more you work through creative problems and work with creative problem-solving, when you go to work on projects in your day job you have this sort of tool or arsenal in your mind of, “Well, I’ve seen things like this before” or “I’ve had a similar problem,” and you can navigate through it using some of the same ropes and levers you developed working on your own creative pursuits.

Michael: That’s similar to what we heard from Megan Greer, our marketing project manager. She has another one of those hobbies that’s really challenging.

Megan Greer: My hobby is that my husband and I love to do home renovation projects. Our current project is that we inherited my husband’s grandmother’s home in his hometown, and we’ve slowly been renovating it over the last year. After we’re done working on the house for the weekend whenever we go down there, it’s very gratifying. “Okay, we’ve gotten a couple of things checked off our list.”

Usually something is very noticeably different from when we got there to when we finished. It might not be all the way done, but it’s really nice to see this room that maybe looked really dingy and dirty before, and we’ve completely repainted it, and it looks so nice and fresh now. It’s very gratifying. It’s kind of like that instant gratification thing, where something is just completely redone and new compared to how you found it when you got there. That’s really fun.

Megan: It just makes sense. Think about what a hobby forces you to do. You have to learn new skills, try new things, think about problems you don’t usually face, get into a new environment, switch the side of your brain from analytical to creative or the reverse. Stuart Brown, author of Play, says you have to give yourself permission to be a beginner to jump-start your creative pursuits. That’s a really good point.

Michael: It’s one of my favorite things about hobbies. That’s why I’m a serial hobbyist. I like going to the position of a beginner and starting with a blank slate.

Megan: I had to remind myself of that when I fly-fished with you for the first time, because, man, that’s complicated.

Michael: It is.

Megan: There are so many things to remember and synchronize and understand, and it’s not going to come together the first time.

Michael: That’s exactly right.

Megan: The first benefit of a hobby is to make you smarter because it activates the areas of your brain that produce a feeling of well being and helps you think differently. The second benefit is that it makes you more creative by boosting your recovery from stress. What’s the third benefit?

Michael: The third benefit is that having a hobby makes you feel more relaxed. That’s obvious, but it’s one of the benefits. Remember the four elements we mentioned before. You get to choose it, it detaches you from your normal environment, it lowers your negative stress, and it allows you to leave it all behind. All that adds up to is relaxation. Studies show that relaxation can decrease your blood pressure, relieve your pain, improve your immune and cardiovascular systems. You get to clear your mind. You forget your problems. You feel better.

Megan: I have a question. We know that those people who are listening to us are high achievers. They’re leaders, and they didn’t get that way because they were probably kicking back in the backyard.

Michael: Spending a lot of time in the hammock.

Megan: Right. So what if it’s hard to relax? What if you feel agitated or anxious or restless and you just want to dive for your phone and check your email when you’re trying to do something relaxing?

Michael: The problem is that just makes you more anxious and less relaxed.

Megan: Do you get better at it, do you think? Is this like a skill?

Michael: Totally. Think of it this way. If all you’re doing is sitting around trying to be relaxed, that’s the hardest way to be relaxed. The easiest way is when it’s a by-product of something else. If you jump into another activity that requires enough of your focus that you can’t think about work… By the way, that’s fishing, that’s golf, that’s all of the things we’ve been talking about.

Megan: Crafting, cooking…

Michael: You don’t have enough headspace to be thinking about work, and suddenly, without knowing it, you’re in flow, and you’ve forgotten about work and are relaxed. That’s the beauty of it.

Megan: This is actually the secret for people who feel like they have a hard time relaxing. Very often, people struggle if they go on vacation, for example, to really let their hair down and settle into it, but if you schedule things…

Michael: This is hugely important.

Megan: To the same point, schedule your hobbies. Schedule lessons. Schedule group activities, things like that. Then you’ll have to show up for one thing, and like you said, you’re going to be so occupied, because there’s an active nature to what you’re doing, that it’s kind of the antidote to that restlessness you may feel.

Michael: It totally is. The opposite of work is not just doing nothing; the opposite of work is actually play. You have to be active in your play, and you have to plan your play and be intentional about your play. The worst kind of vacation to me… You think you’ll like this on the front end of the vacation. “I don’t want anything scheduled. I just want to veg.”

The problem is your mind drifts back to work, and you start getting anxious or you start actually doing work, but if you have something scheduled, like, “Hey, today we’re going to go fishing all day long. I have some guides hired. They’re going to meet us. We’re going to go fishing all day long,” I don’t have time to think about work. I get to the end of that day, and suddenly I’m amazingly relaxed.

Megan: I love that. So far, we’ve seen three benefits for leaders in having a hobby. It makes you smarter, it makes you more creative, and it makes you more relaxed. What’s the fourth?

Michael: It makes you more productive. There’s a study we referenced a minute ago from the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology. It reported that people who engage in creative activities gain these benefits: they have a greater willingness to take risks, they are able to think of alternative solutions, they’re willing to take on extra responsibilities, they’re more willing to collaborate, and they have the ability to acquire new skills, greater mastery, greater ability to work in a demanding environment, and a better attitude toward the business.

Megan: That’s a lot of things.

Michael: Yeah. If you want to summarize that, you’re more productive on the job. You’re more of value to your company or to your business. It’s really that simple.

Megan: It’s why the hustle fallacy is a fallacy, which we talked about in Episode 27 on self-care as a leadership discipline.

Michael: Right. It’s a really scary thing that a lot of people not only practice but advocate. It’s kind of the de facto standard in the work environment, at least in America at the time we’re recording this. People are caught up in this hustle fallacy thing, and it’s very destructive of work and of life.

Megan: Absolutely. Here’s proof of that idea. In his book Play, Stuart Brown tells about an executive for a high-tech company who had engineering teams in the US, Czech Republic, and China. The Chinese team was not coming up with nearly as many new ideas or technology as others, so he set up a play week on an island off the China coast and invited all of the engineers to a play camp…for grown-ups. After that week, the Chinese engineers showed a bump in morale and productivity, worked better together, and came up with more effective and original design solutions.

Michael: I love that, but that would take a lot of courage, as a leader, to do that. Now we’ve done things like that in the past. We try to do it once a quarter in our team training. We’ll do a team training thing, and then we’ll go play together. I think it’s good for the morale, and it’s good for productivity.

Megan: Today we’ve learned that every leader needs a hobby to help recover from the stress of work. Taking time away for creative pursuits actually makes you smarter, more creative. It helps you relax and makes you productive. As we come in for a landing, I just want to remind you that you have permission to play around. Give yourself the freedom to dabble at something and be a beginner. It’ll do you good. Dad, do you have any final thoughts today?

Michael: Yeah, I do. I would challenge people to schedule one hour a week to do this. I think that’s something almost anybody can do.

Megan: I think so too.

Michael: Our mantra is, “What gets scheduled gets done.” If it’s not on your calendar, it’s probably not going to happen, because you’re going to be waiting for the time to open up on your calendar to do it, and guess what: that doesn’t happen. That takes intention, and it takes putting it on your calendar. So start there.

Megan: As we close, I want to thank our sponsor LeaderBox. It provides automated personal development in a box. Check it out at If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, you can get the show notes, including a cheat sheet on the eight types of play personalities, and a full transcript online at

Michael: Thanks again for joining us on Lead to Win. Also subscribe to this podcast and get actionable leadership advice every week. Just go to

Megan: If you’re a new listener, you may want to check out Episode 27. That’s the one on self-care as a leadership discipline. I know you’ll enjoy it.

Michael: This program is copyrighted by Michael Hyatt & Company. All rights reserved. Our producer is Nick Jaworski.

Megan: Our writers are Joel Miller and Lawrence Wilson.

Michael: Our production manager is Mike Burns.

Megan: Our production assistant is Aleshia Curry.

Michael: Who’s finally back from maternity leave. Yay!

Megan: Yay!

Michael: We invite you to join us next week, and we’ll show you the four greatest pitfalls in decision-making and how to avoid them. Until then, lead to win.