It’s worth making time for creative work (no matter what you do)

My friend Dorie Clark recently shared a piece published in by Anne Sugar about How creative hobbies can fuel your business success. Dorie’s reputation as an author, expert, and entrepreneur precedes her. She’s written several books with another on the way (The Long Game is available on pre-order). Entrepreneurial You was named one of the most important business books of 2017 by Inc. Magazine. Of course! It’s Dorie.

But here’s what you may not know about Dorie: She’s also a stand-up comic. When I started doing comedy years ago, she asked me about it, and I recommended she try it, and she did—and, no surprise, was amazing at it (and she even gave me a spot in the comedy lineup for her last book launch!).

Is she trying to make money doing comedy? No. But she studied it, performed it, and can add it to her portfolio. Anne Sugar makes reference to another creative project Dorie took on that’s way outside of what you might think a marketing consultant would take on: Writing a musical. Yep. Dorie is working on a lesbian-spy musical called Absolute Zero (check out a clip here) and it’s currently being incubated in a prestigious program (of course it is).

Dorie takes her hobbies seriously AF. Of course, she doesn’t do anything half assed. But that’s because she knows that where you spend your time matters, or should matter, to you.

There are lots of good reasons why we should take our hobbies seriously, and it’s not because on the off chance we might make money doing it. That’s not the point. The point is that exploring lots of different skills and hobbies and interests adds to your depth and breadth as a person AND a professional.

One of Sugar’s reasons to explore creative hobbies is also one of the most powerful I have experienced:

Identify unexpected connections.

“Innovation is much prized in the business world. How can we create new ideas that will give our company the edge in a competitive marketplace? It turns out, immersing ourselves in outside hobbies can often spark new ways of thinking.”

It’s the same reason I tell financial advisors to stop looking at other advisor’s websites in order to figure out what makes them different. That’s like doing the same weight lifting exercises every day, or painting with the same three shades.

Sugar says she took a poetry class to see if it would help her own business writing. And it did. This is the same reason I take professionals of all stripes to the page, whether they consider themselves writers or not—because tapping your inherent creative ability, exploring memory and language and imagery, enriches your work, no matter what you do or make or sell.

So make time for your own creative work. Protect the margins of your time—what Dorie and others refer to as 20% time—to explore the parts of you that your workaday stuff doesn’t touch. You want to innovate? You need to make new connections. Ask yourself what are you making time to connect to?