Fifteen years ago, circumstances led me to connect with Nancy Palladino, who I now call my soul sister. We decided to form an acoustic duo called ‘Chicks with Picks’. We booked our first gig at a place called Mr. J’s Roadhouse and the rest is history. Since 2001, we’ve been playing guitar, strumming and harmonizing at weddings, festivals, bars, restaurants and private parties.
40-60 hours/week I’m immersed in my full-time job (either thinking about it, working it directly, on the phone…). Having a creative outlet allows me to get out of that head space and focus on something completely different, even if only for a few hours. What follows are the 3 reasons having a creative outlet or any other hobby/passion outside of your work makes you better at your job.
- Networking: Whether it’s painting, music, sports or any other activity, view it as an opportunity to meet, chat and practice your networking skills. You never know who you’re talking to and you never know where a conversation can lead. Either way, networking while having fun and meeting people you otherwise would never encounter makes for an interesting job related benefit. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting nurses (who I, in turn, encouraged to apply to Plan A), talking to individuals in the health care industry (who have given me insight I otherwise would have never considered) and met some interesting people with whom there are definitive synergies. It’s all about taking advantage of every opportunity in shaking hands and having conversations.
- Stress Relief: Sure, having a full plate can be seen as stressful in and of itself. Personally, I play a maximum of 3 times per week (otherwise, I get that overwhelmed feeling). I know what I can handle and to be quite honest, once I start strumming, I’m in a completely different frame of mind. Imagine being immersed in a book or painting and being so involved that nothing else is real (for a little while anyway). When I’m singing, the world sort of disappears for a bit and I’m able to get lost in the music, the lyrics, the applause and the fun of entertaining a crowd. It’s a pretty cool feeling and I love that when things feel stressful, I can pick up an instrument, strum and relieve that pressure.
- Applying Skills Learned to Your Job: I’ve already mentioned networking and it is indeed a fine example of a skill you can learn while partaking in an outlet. Here are a few other skills I’ve learned along the way:
- Commanding an audience: Before we start, we have to introduce ourselves, introduce our songs and come up with some quick quips from time to time. We can either opt to be subtle or take the reigns and have an impact. I prefer impact to subtlety in this case and while it takes practice to get an audience’s attention, it’s a must.
- The fine art of balance: Sometimes, we’re background. We need to read the crowd and determine if we’re going all out or if we’re going to take it easy and let everyone enjoy a meal with some relaxing music in earshot.
- Memory: I need to practice, learn and memorize chords, lyrics, melodies and harmonies. Being able to put it all together on ‘game day’ is a definite test of performing under pressure and remembering your ‘stuff’.
- Getting creative: When we cover a song, we can either cover it the exact way the original performer recorded it OR we can get creative and come up with our own version. It can take time and it can be quite the process but this is the route we usually take. It forces us to get creative and it allows us to practice thinking outside the box.
Agree or disagree? What’s your passion or outlet? How does it help you with your everyday job?