I have a neighbor who works in the financial services industry by day and plays in a rock and roll band at night, well, on some nights anyway. Music is his passion and it´s a trend that´s catching throughout a variety of professional ranks. A Wall Street Journal article over the weekend featured rocker CEOs including Paul Allen, founder of Vulcan Inc., Jimmy Kuhn, president of Newmark Knight Frank, and James Dolan CEO of Cablevision.
What they have in common with my neighbor and probably thousands of others is a love for music and a dream to play on stage. I´ve played the kazoo on stage and even that was a thrill. Of course there was a professional piano player and expert guitarist to keep things, well, listenable, but I digress. The point here is that professional men and women are setting their briefcases aside guitars, pianos, drums, and other musical instruments. It´s their passion and they spend hours at it. Does it make them better executives? I have to believe it does.
For some, moonlighting as a rock star is a little like leading a secret double life, yet great joy and satisfaction can arise when you share your passion with the rest of the world. Even the music industry is taking notice of these weekend warriors. NAMM, the International Music Products Association, has started a program that for a price will provide space and musical coaching to rock and rollers who just want to have some fun. My question is: do employers have a responsibility to encourage their employees to make room for their passions? Would we all be better off if we had the blessings of our bosses to pursue our dreams whether it´s to play "Stairway to Heaven" or climb mountains in India?
In some cases, it´s a matter of timing. For many of us, pursuing a dream while working a job is simply out of the question. Money might be tight and time, too, is way to precious to squander on something as frivolous as a personal dream. But then the decades fly past and you´ve got the work thing down pretty well, but there´s still something missing.
So maybe you grab your old six-string out of the closet or think about taking a few piano lessons and discover along the way that some colleagues and friends are doing the same thing. Somebody tosses out an idea about getting together to practice and soon the word gets out that you´ll play bar mitzvahs, weddings, and even the occasional corporate gig.
You may not get asked to play at the local high school dance, but your foray into a long-lost dream could be just the kick you need to find some satisfaction at work, too. You don´t have to be wealthy CEO to create a life that integrates day-to-day work with a hobby. Too often, we forget that outside our 9 to 5 opportunities exist for re-invigorating our work lives. Can companies do a better job of encouraging their employees to find something that brings them a lift? Sure, it´s not exactly training in the conventional sense, but maybe, somewhere, a human resources professional recognizes a worker´s need for something more and simply asks the question: "Is there something outside this building that might make your time here a little more enjoyable?" It sounds a little counterintuitive, but at the end of the day if we can somehow combine what we love to do with what we have to do we´ll all probably be a little more satisfied in our jobs.