“We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.” –George Bernard Shaw.
An eight-year-old boy in Idaho named Dillon Helbig wrote and illustrated his own book by hand and simply placed it in the library. Other children found out about it and started reading it. Overnight, the book became a hit and now has a one-year waiting list. Dillon didn’t wait to have a degree in literature, a publishing contract, or a big following and financial backing. He just decided to have fun and take the leap. His book, an illustrated 81-page tale about being transported back in time after the star atop his Christmas tree exploded, has been a huge hit. When a reporter asked him if he had other books on the horizon, he said yes, that he was writing a book about a closet of disappearing coats. Dillon didn’t wait for validation or for accolades. He imagined, created, and thought outside the box with achieving his dream.
Those worries about whether you will fail can be the killers of your dreams. Children have this great capacity to just do something, without stressing over every detail. Dillon didn’t get bogged down with the how or even whether he should or culd. He had no worries, fears, and doubts. He was just enjoying his creativity and playing around with his dream of writing a book.
When most people think about play they describe it as “frivolous”, “unimportant”, “lacking purpose”. We are embedded in a work culture that values hard work above all else. I’m not saying that you don’t put the time and effort towards your goals, vision, and dreams. Doing that doesn’t have to feel laborious. You can be playful in going after your goals, vision, and dreams. When you do that, you are enabling your creativity to float to the surface and then you can tap into your own God-given talents much easier.
Paradigms are one of those leverage points, like we talked about in the last blog, that can move us away from our goals and dreams. What if you could adopt a new paradigm where play is essential to your growth? How would your life change? How would your corporate culture change? How would the outcomes in your life change?
In the field of neuroscience play is seen as equally important to sleep, rest, and food. Play is essential to creativity and learning. Other companies know this and use it in their corporate culture. Patagonia encourages their people to use their gear and hit the beach for a bit. Brooks Sports has activity Friday, theme parties, and group runs. Hootsuite encourages walking, playing tennis, and having meetings outside.
Smart companies are embracing play because they know that it helps the way we interact with each other, build connections, and create trust. In one of my previous jobs, we would go out and do rope courses or go on a hike together. During those events, we would begin to have deeper conversations about our personal lives, which would bring us closer together, and everyone seemed happier as a team. Play at work has been positively linked with job satisfaction, creativity, and reduction of stress, all of which helps people avoid burnout.
Try infusing a little bit of fun and play in your day. For instance, if you are working remotely, have a few minutes where everyone can be silly, trying on different hats or filters or backgrounds. Or take a second to share one awesome thing that happened to you this week.
In real life, finding something to laugh about with others, or playing soccer or a board game together can help lighten the load. If you can’t do that with a team because you are a solopreneur, then go right ahead and have some fun on your own. If I’m not on a webinar or connecting with clients, I’ll take a few minutes to sing silly songs to my dogs. They tilt their heads and give me that what-are-you-doing look, which I find so adorable. Doing that in the middle of the day lightens the mood and makes me laugh. Then when I go back to focusing on work, I’m more enthusiastic about what I’m doing because I took some time to play.
Whether you are a solopreneur or working with a team, you can infuse fun as a part of your day. It’s going to help you in so many ways because it opens up a direct line to all your creativity. Don’t stop playing and don’t stop having fun. There’s so much science behind the idea of having play incorporated into your life and you’ll be able to tap into parts of yourself you didn’t even know were there.
Remember, everything is created twice. First in your mind and then in physical form. Let me know how you incorporated play into your work this week.