July 11

Your Most Consequential Hobby (for Life) | WT#59


Consider a hobby you love, and remember the journey you’ve taken to excel in it.

Take soccer, for example. Most players favor a dominant foot to pass and shoot. As a young player in grade school, I discovered I was left-footed. But to truly excel, I recognized the need to use both feet effectively. Achieving that balance was not instantaneous; I didn’t master the skill until my post-college years.

Training my right foot for soccer was far from instinctive. It felt awkward, riddled with missteps and errors. Nevertheless, I persisted, practicing for years until using my right foot became as instinctual as using my left. This new skill, initially so foreign, eventually became second nature.

This metaphor extends beyond the soccer field. It reflects the transition from living instinctively, or with temperament, to living with character. Leading with temperament can lead to impulsive actions, like arguing with the referee, hogging the ball, or losing confidence when situations go awry. It’s similar to the struggle of using my weaker foot in soccer.

But just as I practiced using both feet, we must also practice leading our lives with character until it becomes natural. This shift in approach has profound implications. Transitioning from an instinctive, temperament-driven life to a character-led one paves the way for personal growth and fulfillment. It allows you to become your best self in all areas: work, home, community, friendships, and leadership.

And so, the act of cultivating character becomes your most significant hobby for life. It’s a lifelong endeavor with the potential to elevate your experience in every aspect of your existence.

About the author 

Darren Smith

Darren Smith is Co-Founder of the Authentic Leadership Institute. He is a native Texan and a graduate of Dallas Jesuit and Texas A&M University. Over the past 25 years, Darren has visited 35 countries and led 100 strategy programs. He and his wife have five children.


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