Personal Governance 7 - Principal 6: Personal Interests and Passions

If your Personal Governance is in good shape, your life will not begin and end at the office. You will be known as someone who cultivates strong interests - passions, even - besides your heavy professional commitments. You may also be a rarity.

Outside their professional framework, too few senior executives set aside enough time for family and friends, let alone for deep personal interests or passions. It follows that just as few are consciously structuring their personal time. It’s time to bring some balance into the equation.

Personal Interests and Passions are a Professional Must-have

Interests and passions walk hand-in-hand with our Life Plan. They fascinate, enthuse and drive us. They can also be political, social, cultural, or linked to our profession. They counter-balance the professional commitments that all too often dominate our lives. They should be considered in an addition to basic human necessities such as families, health and fitness. And as interests evolve into passions, we feel totally compelled to make time and space for them.

Personal Interests and Passions Are Part of Professional Risk Management

Good Personal Governance means being able to shift our emotional focus towards personal interests and passions when things aren’t running well on the work front. And if we cultivate at least one deep interest or passion to a high degree, it could even be an additional – or even alternative - career track.

An Early Start is Your Best Guarantee of Later Excellence

Becoming proficient at any activity implies years of practice. So we should ideally start to cultivate our extra-professional interests and passions as early as possible in our lives. Yet for many leaders, personal interests and passions lie neglected at the bottom of the in-tray until retirement day. Still, even if we leave it late, there is still hope. We can re-discover former interests and passions, re-ignite them, and re-integrate them into our lives. This can be an exciting journey and a powerful de-stressor. It’s like falling in love with something new for the very first time.

The Competition Between Private and Professional is an Inspiring Dynamic

Just as competition catalyzes business, professional and extra-professional interests can be set up to dynamically compete with each other. Managed well, both fields can work to our advantage. They can be handled in a balanced way, one which feeds creativity and innovation: experiences and signals from one world inspire approaches and behaviors in the other. Either consciously or unconsciously.

In the full article you can find Self Check Opening Questions for Extra-Professional Interests and Passions.

Flow Activities Can be Tapped Any Time By Skilled Practioners

A deep interest or passion has a high chance of taking us into a state of ‘total dedicated immersion’ (TDI) in a ‘flow’ experience. Experiences like these absorb us so powerfully that we no longer think about ourselves, or anything else, when we are performing them. This is a highly regenerative state, and what’s more, when we learn to re-create it, one which we can access whenever we need. In this way, a true interest or passion becomes a reliable personal resource.

In the full article you can find Self Check Questions to help you detect the vital signs of an activity that brings TDI – and build on it.

It’s Time to Plant the Flag

Senior managers who take time for their interests and passions, (and state openly that they do), act as an inspiration to their professional entourage and staff to follow in their footsteps. A skilled, healthy and permanent relationship with personal time is as essential to leadership as professional time. It deserves to be taken just as seriously. It’s not enough to squeeze our interests and passions into an annual vacation or other rare windows of opportunity. As senior managers, we actually enjoy relatively high autonomy in the way we plan our personal time. And when an interest becomes a passion, it’s even easier to keep it on our radar.

Digital Appendicitis Needs Surgical Intervention

As a leader, how often do you slip into a mode of ‘can’t not be reachable’ or ‘can’t not look’? As communication modes go viral, switching off is getting more difficult than ever. Voicemail and email have now been joined by WhatsApp, Messenger and a host of other apps, all fighting for our attention every minute of every day. Just as it can take an appendectomy to deal with an inflamed appendix, APPendicitis needs dealing with. Disciplining our mobile devices, rather than being led by them, is a pre-condition for Personal Governance. There was a life before the smartphone – the office didn’t burn down.

See the Full Article for Self Check questions to assess how well you claim your personal space and time.

Socio-political Engagement and Business Leadership are a Vital Symbiosis

Leaders have a wealth of knowledge and experience that politics and social organizations are in serious need of. In turn, for those who engage socio-politically, (and who are intrinsically motivated to do so), multiple benefits await. The perspectives, experiences and contacts gained from socio-political engagement enrich leadership, personal governance, and by association, corporate governance. Abstaining from organizations that do good could even compromise the ability of leaders to do good in business, blinding them to societal engagement and wise decision-making. Many are understandably cautious about taking on socio-political engagements. Yet there are numerous ways of engaging in local or regional associations and organizations. And a gradual approach can make the journey manageable.

In the Full Article you’ll find Self Check Questions to break down socio-political engagement into manageable steps.