Hobbies Disguised as Big Ideas
Having a job, for most people, means you have a “work” life and a “personal” life. Your personal life consists of all the things that generally make you happy: family, friends, and hobbies. Your work life is, well, work.
Everyone’s ultimate goal is to be in a line of work where you are pursuing a passion while getting paid a nice salary. More often than not, your work ends up being just a job that you clock in and clock out of every day.
Are you working at your dream “job”?
My guess is no, and the main reason is that your job is not something you do for fun. You won’t stay up until 2AM trying to figure out why the text boxes on your PowerPoint don’t line up. What you will stay up for is a hobby that you do for fun when you’re done with work.
Perhaps it’s figuring out that guitar riff in that Pink Floyd song you want to play, or tweaking the gauges on your vintage BMW to make it look the way you want. Your hobbies allow you to get deep into one subject where you are the master of your world.
Coincidentally, the most disruptive ideas in the history of mankind started out as hobbies. For me, it was turning my hobby of blogging into a marketplace business. Revolutionary technologies were borne from experimenting and tinkering around for fun until someone realized this idea could be useful for society.
You might not know it right now, but that hobby of yours that keeps you up at night might be the genesis of a grand idea. When you pursue a hobby that may seem irrational or boring to others, you are on the verge of doing some really disrupting.
Today’s Disruptive Ideas
Today’s Disruptive Ideas Were Unscalable and Unsexy Ideas. Do you know how the first Mesopotamian wheel for transportation was conceived? Through the fine art of pottery. Potters realized wheels helped them create more symmetrical pottery and 300 years later, the potter’s wheel was configured for transportation.
The wheel was simply used as a way for potters to create art. Little did they know, this object would transform the way people moved around for long distances.
Fast forward to today, 3D printing has become a booming industry that all started from one employee’s weekend project in 1983. Chuck Hall worked for a company that used UV lamps to create tough coatings for tables, and was given a small lab to play around with different applications for UV lamps. This hobby eventually turned into the rapid prototyping technology that is 3D printing today.
There are many more examples of disruptive ideas that started off as hobbies, but the main thread that ties all these hobbies together is that they were not necessarily rational pursuits for gaining fame and fortune. In fact, these hobbies were very impractical and not scalable beyond their original application.
In the tech world, especially, working on a project that doesn’t scale means you are wasting your time or going after a small market. Disruptive ideas, however, must start off as a non-scalable super manual endeavor, which makes your hobby an interesting starting point. Paul Graham famously wrote that many startup founders are afraid to do the non-scalable work because of laziness and shyness.
You want to be disruptive and change the world with your idea. The question is, should you continue working, or go after your hobby that generates no income? If you are not the type of person who likes climbing the corporate ladder and have the resources to pursue some of your hobbies full-time, you should play as much as you can and you never know where that hobby will lead you.