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What do we do outside of work and how does it enable us to do great work?

"Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life."
*record scratch*
*freeze frame*

Image credit: Amy Shamblen on Unsplash.
Image credit: Amy Shamblen on Unsplash.

While some people may have found the holy grail when it comes to their jobs, the vast majority of us have careers where fulfilling our passions every day at the workplace is not as plausible as philosophers or motivational speakers would have you believe.


However, your interests and passions outside of work can enhance what you do in your 9-to-5 and take it to greater heights. I spoke to some of the team members at Hero, a full-service advertising agency in Cape Town, to find out what they do outside of work that enables them to excel at it.

The burlesque dancer


Caron Isaacs is a senior account manager and a burlesque dancer.

"Burlesque has inspired me to stay true to the course I believe in, no matter what others' perception of me might be. It’s helped me realise that there is absolute beauty in imperfection and to be completely cool with your flaws, acknowledge them, work on them, but not allow them to define you. It has taught me to celebrate and highlight that which makes you come alive. I now revel in my loudness and love that I am as subtle as a sledgehammer. Before, I was ashamed of it."

When she's not working as senior account manager, Caron Isaacs is a burlesque dancer.
When she's not working as senior account manager, Caron Isaacs is a burlesque dancer.

One would wonder how burlesque helps fuel one's work life.

Isaacs breaks it down: "Burlesque refines and hones in on my attention to detail, craftsmanship, communication without words, expression and shows me that there are many ways to skin the same cat. There is value in our differences. I use these learnings when approaching both clients and the creative process, of which client service is a vital (though often neglected) part.”

The content creator


Tiido Mogale is a copywriter who does more than just write copy. His scribbles include rap-lines, poetry and short stories. "Outside of Hero, I live multiple lives in that I can be a lover, activist or an observer of life and society through my collection of writings (bkt.writes).”

Tiido Mogale and his poetry.
Tiido Mogale and his poetry.

When not writing, Mogale spends time in the studio with music producer Kay Faith. “Finding time to be in the studio is a different story,” he said. “I’ve had to miss a few studio sessions because of agency life, but I’m working on finding a balance.”

He says that his external passions fuel his work life because he can weave them into the work he does. “By moving from advertising to bkt.writes to working with Kay Faith, it helps keep my mind fresh, allowing me to create work that is not redundant or mediocre. Instead, my mind is continuously renewed, allowing me to constantly approach problems differently.”


The visual curator


Lutho Baba is a design intern who is dedicated to the curation of ideas. He works on the clothing/fashion aspect of Parlé – a creative studio that he co-founded. His definition of passion is “something that you could spend hours doing endlessly just because you know it gives you a great amount of satisfaction – probably what people think love is.”

Lutho Baba and his creative work.
Lutho Baba and his creative work.

He explains that his passion gives him a sense of purpose. That it gives him a platform to slowly and steadily work towards where he wants to be in life. “It is that feeling of living your childhood dream. The zeal I have to learn and grow is the key to my greatness.”

When asked how his love for fashion fuels his day-job, he said that it exposes him to a different set of challenges and inspirations. “It improves me as a person and a creative.”

The musician


Kyle Harker, client service director, defines passion as “that inner drive or fire that propels a person beyond what they think they are capable of. The thing you have inside that, no matter how tired you feel or how bad your day has been, allows you to pick yourself up and give it your all.”

Over the past 10 years, he has learnt to play the guitar. “I play in a worship band and the entire experience has pushed me to my limits. It's something that is part of my everyday routine – preparing for a service or conference or working on new songs.”

Outside of work, Kyle Harker performs in a worship band.
Outside of work, Kyle Harker performs in a worship band.

When asked how creating music for worship helps him find internal greatness, he says, “I see internal greatness as that feeling of accomplishment or being part of something bigger that fills the void inside of you. Having external passions has helped me have a more positive outlook on life. It gives me energy every day to handle the different pressures that come with leadership and being an executive.”

Light your fire


It’s important to ensure that what nourishes your soul continues doing that.
  • Reflect on it. Think about the things that you’ve always done that have been your happy place. Then consider trying different activities or hobbies. You may be surprised at what will give you even more joy.
  • Be true to you. The realisation of your passion doesn’t come from people-pleasing. It comes from being you, which sometimes first requires finding yourself.
  • Consider making a to-do list. A to-do list is very useful for making sure you make time for what’s important to you. If you don’t give the best to yourself, how can you give the best of yourself?
  • Make your passion work for you. Maybe you’re a “they sleep, we grind” type, up before it’s even light outside. Or perhaps you’re a night owl and that’s when your creativity (and inner freak) comes out. That’s all good, nobody is judging. As long as you find a time that works for you to make your passion a priority.


Feeling good is good for business


When it comes to staff with external passions, it’s only in a company’s best interest to support their people in pursuit of their happy place. By encouraging your employees to live their best lives outside of work, they will bring their best selves to work and that will only increase innovative thinking, flexibility, determination, focus and problem-solving among your team.

Definitely assets that any business (and its bottom line) could do with.

About Marisa Louw

I do writing, marketing consulting, workshop facilitation. I am also a #breastcancersurvivor.

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