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By Johanne Bouchard Explore Big Sky Business Columnist

The world is full of exceptionally driven, ambitious individuals. From the outside, it may appear that those who achieve success in their careers do so by working constantly, but keys to their successes often involve taking time to “play” – refreshing themselves by downshifting to recreational activities.

With an incredible load of responsibilities it’s not easy to make the time, but many high achievers are inspired to maintain balance in their lives. It’s possible when they make it a priority.

Big Sky residents and visitors are thirsty to live and play in the outdoors, and this population includes members of the Yellowstone Club, representing some of the biggest movers and shakers in the business world.

In alignment with ideas like those espoused by Arianna Huffington and the Huffington Post’s Third Metric – which redefines success to include well-being, wisdom and compassion – these successful people understand that working 80-plus hours a week without making time to relax and refresh can lead to burnout, physical ailments or unhealthy relationships.

If you’ve been working hard to get to the top of your professional game, here are some ideas about the value of play I’ve collected from observing high achievers.

Play can be inspiring. “To make an embarrassing admission, I like video games. That’s what got me into software engineering when I was a kid.” – Elon Musk, Tesla Motors CEO

A successful clean-tech entrepreneur I know concurs with Musk’s comment, saying he feels rejuvenated when he allows himself to be playful and has greater confidence and insights that might not have surfaced otherwise.

Play can be healthy. “Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” – Jim Rohn, entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker.

Most successful leaders are very disciplined. One of my clients and dear friends recently turned 70. He’s been a successful entrepreneur and has striven not to take his health for granted. Twenty years ago, he integrated yoga into his routine and found that he was more self-aware, and by being more centered in his body, increased his ability to focus even though he was getting older. He was mesmerized at how innovative he continued to be and how much more effectively he was handling travel to board meetings, overcoming jet lag and feeling fit.

Play can be invigorating. A leading female biotech executive I know makes it a priority to walk or run every morning, regardless of the weather. Her daily exercise is her time to play freely in nature and not solve problems. She says that as she gets ready to go to work after her morning routine, her mind is clearer and she is more effective when she walks into her office.

I often conduct meetings while walking or hiking to give clients, colleagues and mentees an opportunity to incorporate something beneficial while we attend to pressing business matters. The moments we take to relax and recharge, making time to be playful, can increase our ability to confront challenges in our everyday life without resisting them and feeling burdened.

“My general attitude to life is to enjoy every minute of every day.” – Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group.

Live your life with balance in mind. Love yourself, allowing yourself to play and to be playful.

Johanne Bouchard, a former high-tech executive, is a leadership advisor to CEOs, executives and entrepreneurs, as well as an expert in corporate board composition and dynamics. An avid skier, Bouchard and her husband have a second home in Big Sky. See more at

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