Do you remember the pure joy of playing as a child? When was the last time you felt that way?
In the next 60 seconds, we will see why even top executives need to make time to play. Ready? Go!
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Nearly everyone starts out in life playing quite naturally, having fun with whatever’s available. We make up rules, invent games with playmates, and imagine mysteries and treasures.
Something happens as we become working adults: we shift our priorities into organized, competitive, goal-directed activities. If an activity doesn’t teach us a skill, make us money, or further our social relationships, we don’t want to “waste” time on it.
Sometimes, executive and family responsibilities seem to rob us of the ability to play.
The Importance of Play
“I have found that remembering what play is all about and making it part of our daily lives are probably the most important factors in being a fulfilled human being. The ability to play is critical not only to being happy, but also to sustaining social relationships and being a creative, innovative person.” ―Stuart Brown, MD, in Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul
Dr. Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play, presents his ideas in this TED video: “Play is more than just fun.” Sprinkled with anecdotes demonstrating the play habits of subjects from polar bears to corporate CEOs, Brown promotes play at every age.
Dr. Brown offers this definition:
“Play is an absorbing, apparently purposeless activity that provides enjoyment and a suspension of self-consciousness and sense of time. It is also self-motivating and makes you want to do it again.”
We underestimate the power of play. Imagine a world without play—not only an absence of games or sports, but an absence of movies, art, music, jokes, and dramatic stories. Play is what lifts people out of the routine of the mundane, and offers a means to find joy in even the little things.
Play stimulates creativity. When we create a safe environment, creativity flourishes. So, make sure your play is safe, and remember that sarcasm is not safe.
No matter the seriousness of your work, you need to find ways of renewing yourself. Play is one powerful tool.
Is now the time to reconnect with your playful self?
How might play make you a better leader?
Could play make your organization more effective?
Let’s connect. If you are a CEO or other bona fide executive, click the button below to schedule your first complimentary coaching session.
For more on the importance of play, see our next post, “Work vs. Play Is the Wrong Idea.”