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Millions of people are down and out as a result of the pandemic. Each day is a struggle for them, and they have no spare time. Tens of millions stand in line for food to feed their families. Fortunately, there are numerous charities such as America’s Food Fund which has raised more than $37 million to support hundreds of food banks. Websites such as PowerOf.org act as a clearing house to match up volunteers with the many needs, some of them virtual, of people impacted by Covid-19.

Others who are more fortunate and have more time on their hands, turn to hobbies they may have left dormant. I once asked a friend, who had retired from his decades-long career, what his hobbies were. He said he had no hobbies. I asked him how he spent his time. He said traveling to visit with grandchildren is the activity he always looks forward to. Travel is a hobby loved by people of all ages. Grandparenting doesn’t appear in lists of hobbies I have seen, but it is a serious endeavor. It may sound a bit impersonal but, to me, spending time with grandchildren easily qualifies as a bona fide hobby.  Jill Savage, founder of Hearts at Home and author of 14 books, said that grandparenting allows people a second chance to influence the life of a child. Unfortunately, the pandemic has made it more difficult for grandparents and grandchildren to get together.

Many people have one enjoyable hobby consuming much of their time.  For example, more than a few friends of mine have a hobby of playing golf. Most of them say the game frustrates them to no end but, nevertheless, they love it and spend an amazing amount of time at it. One friend told me social distancing is easy in golf, and you benefit health wise at the same time.  There are other similarly engaging hobbies such as gardening, reading, sewing, writing, and many more.

Contributors on Wikipedia have compiled a comprehensive list of hobbies. The list is organized into four categories: General, collecting, competitive, and observation. Each category is further segmented into Indoors and Outdoors. The largest segment is General – Indoors with 148 hobbies. A few examples include Acrobatics, Astronomy, Book discussion clubs, Calligraphy, Djing, Furniture building, Glassblowing, Hula hooping, Knot tying, Lock picking, Poi, Sewing, Taxidermy, Wikipedia editing, and Yo-yoing. If some hobbies in this sample are things you have never heard of, you are not alone. The total list of hobbies includes 367.

In our working lives, we generally need approval for things we do, we must follow certain guidelines on the way we do things, and we get evaluated on how well we do things. Our personal lives are quite different. We can partake of hobbies in our leisure time. It is like “play time” in the adult world. Selecting hobbies is totally up to us, and there are no reviews and approvals required.

Hobbies can add fun, excitement, and enjoyment to our daily lives. Hobbies can bring people together, enable us to meet new people, and help us develop new skills which make us a better person. These benefits help us realize a new dimension to our lives. Even if we really love our job, hobbies can add pure enjoyment to the mix of our activities.

Hobbies can have a positive impact beyond leisure time fun. When Goldman Sachs named David Solomon as CEO, the press covered more than his professional background and executive skills. It also wrote about his hobby as a moonlight bona fide disc jockey. Solomon is known for his passion about what he does at work and in his leisure. In the Harvard Business Review (HBR) article, “Why CEOs Devote So Much Time to Their Hobbies”, it was noted Mr. Solomon “is not an isolated case”. The authors of the article identified dozens of S&P 500 CEOs who have what is called “serious leisure” interests.

The focus of the Harvard Business Review study was on serious leisure. They found some CEO hobbies had their roots in a volunteering gig or other activity which may have started at a young age and continued for many years. The HBR team asked the question whether serious leisure makes a CEO a better leader? The data was limited and showed mixed results. They found “CEOs who are also pilots lead more innovative companies, and CEOs who run marathons show better company performance”.  The authors also noted excessive CEO golfing may actually harm shareholder value. I doubt my golfing friends would agree.

The HBR research team examined why leaders invest time in leisure activities they were passionate about. They sought to learn if the activities improved their job performance. All the CEOs they researched were at companies in the S&P 500. They found 56 CEOs who had a known interest in a serious leisure activity. The researchers looked at thousands of articles and social media posts about them. One of the researchers conducted private interviews with 17 of the CEOs. All of the research focused on hobbies and what they meant to the CEOs and their ability to lead.

There is a lot more to hobbies. I have been working on a seventh book, Hobby Attitude: How Hobbies Can Make Our Personal and Professional Lives Better. It is somewhat of a 75-year biography. I have the outline completed, but writing the book is going to take a long time. I had originally planned to publish it this summer but the lock down slowed me down. The last six months have gone quickly, and my focus has been Zoom board meetings, webinars, and my weekly e-briefs. I hope you are enjoying them.