This weekend, while hitting some golf balls with some friends/co-workers, I realized a huge resource that is greatly diminishing in today’s busy world. That resource is play. Recently, I was listening to couple of guys talking about their fantasy football league (an ingenious game that is a simulation of pro football with every participant becoming the coach/general manager/ and sports agent) and the one guy was complaining that people don’t know how to trash talk anymore in these leagues. This was a hilarious conversation but it really did get me thinking.
When we were younger we all used to play on a regular basis. As our work and home demands go up, our responsibilities grow, and our free time gets diminished, we forget to play. When clients ask me what I miss most about the fire service, one of the things that instantly pops in my mind is the endless pranks, jokes, and horseplay we used to engage in. This not only created lasting bonds, it also released stress and helped us be able to perform at the highest levels under the most forgiving circumstances. It also created some great stories that are forever etched in my memory and make me smile even years after.
Here we are only 3 weeks into 2015 and already I am hearing from many of our clients how busy they are. They are already feeling overwhelmed with the demands of Q1, and virtually unable to even remember the holiday they just had. They are back in the “grind” and the farthest thing from their mind is fun, play, and even recovery. The creator of Flow (the enlightened, effortless, and thoughtless state of peak performance) Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi once said, “There is no question that a playfully light attitude is characteristic of creative individuals.” There is no wonder, then, that several well known companies that depend on creative solutions try to design play into their workspace.
As we get older, one trend I see in many of the clients I coach is that their social relationships start to diminish, taking time just for themselves or for fun disappears, and the number of times they smile or laugh exponentially goes down. Research shows the detrimental impact this has on health but it also shows the huge negative impact this has on performance. Even working out can become too serious until eventually it isn’t even fun anymore.
This year I want to encourage you all to think differently about your calendar, your life, and your performance. If you really want to amp up your creativity, your sustainability, and your impact, I recommend you take your calendar out right now and do two things. First, plan at least 4 mini-vacations (you don’t need to travel or go away from home) for 2015 so you have built in oscillation breaks to have some fun, recharge, reflect, and re-focus. Second, look at this week and ask yourself, "Where is my fun for this week?" Plan an evening of games with friends, go see a stand up comedian or watch a funny movie, schedule some uncompromised time for your favorite hobby, or do whatever gives you pure pleasure.
If this makes you feel guilty, just reframe your play based on this great quote from Pat Kane. “Play will be to the 21st century what work was to the last 300 years of industrial society - our dominant way of knowing, doing, and creating value.”
As always, I’d love to hear what you think.
by Scott Peltin
Founder & Chief Performance Officer