1 important lesson from Barack Obama’s kitesurfing vacation with Richard Branson

What would you do if you had the world’s most important job, an incredibly stressful job, but loved beyond measure – and then the time came when you had to go? Would you like to line up a bunch of lucrative conferences? Create a foundation? Sit down to write your memoirs?

These are all good answers. But before you do all of that, you might want to consider doing something you love, just for fun, especially if it’s something your all-important job has kept you from doing for years.

At least, it was like that for Barack Obama. Him and Michelle Obama just spent several days as a guest of Sir Richard Branson in the Virgin Islands, as Branson explains in a blog post. Obama is from Hawaii and like most Hawaiians loves to surf. But it is one of the many things that a US president cannot do. Shortly before taking up his post in 2009, he surfed big dangerous waves in Hawaii, and when he got back ashore, the head of his safety team informed him that there would be no more surfing. for at least the next four years. Now that he’s no longer Commander-in-Chief, Obama was eager to hit the waves.

Kitesurfing (surfing a board while being pulled by the wind using a parachute-shaped kite) is a relatively new sport that is gaining ground, and conditions on the beaches of Necker Island are ideal for this. Obama had never tried it, whereas Branson has been doing it for years. But the two are motivated and competitive, so to make things interesting, they decided to see if Obama could learn to kitesurf faster than Branson could learn to foil. The foilboard raises the bar with a vertical three-foot strut and a horizontal fin (or “foil”) attached to the bottom of the board. As the board moves, the flow of water catches the foil and lifts the board (and the rider) up to one meter above the water. It then comes down again at the end of the race. Branson describes it as a whole new sport, and a sport where a helmet and body protection is really needed.

And you?

You’ll have to read Branson’s post or watch the video to find out which of the two won the contest. But the huge smile on the former president’s face speaks volumes about the importance of letting go and doing something completely different and completely fun, especially if your day-to-day job leaves you with little time for it. relaxation or euphoria. If this is you, it’s doubly important to take time each year to break out of your routine. free time and do something you really love. It doesn’t have to be as breathtaking as kitesurfing if you’re not into extreme sports. It could be an archaeological dig, a cooking class, or just sitting in a rowboat on a secluded lake waiting for the fish to bite.

Either way, it’s important to remember that your career, just like the presidency, is over, and you’ll be sorry that you spent your healthiest years working all the time and never doing the jobs. fun things you like. So go ahead. Book that spa day or camping trip, get your snorkel gear out or sign up for this film festival. You’ll be glad you did and return to your desk with a new perspective and maybe some great new ideas.

As for Obama, those of us who have seen his hair turn grayer and his wrinkles deeper over the past eight years can only be happy with the joy and relaxation he has in the images released by Branson. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen him look happier!” a reader commented on Branson’s blog post. Another replied, “This is what kitesurfing does to any human ocean lover. Welcome to the tribe, Barack! CU on the water.” I bet she will.

The opinions expressed here by the columnists of Inc.com are theirs and not those of Inc.com.