When Great Trees Fall
Forget your troubles, come on get happy. My last post was about playing your way to purpose at work. Since play is critical to innovation, not to mention well-being, today’s post suggests practical ways to enter the joie de vivre zone. Goodness knows it seems 98% of the people I talk to express significant feelings of stress and/or ennui; most of us could use a little more ‘chill’! It’s actually not an impossible feat. There are things you can do that are really pretty easy. Here’s what I’ve learned from a variety of experts, with my own twists:
|Image from Gaping Void|
The wonderful Hugh McLeod of Gaping Void suggests this metaphorically as a way to bounce ideas around your office. What if we take him literally? Consider bringing one of those portable nets into your conference room; then taking turns batting the ball back and forth across the table. Each time the ball comes to you, throw out an idea. It’s fun, you’ll do it without over-thinking, and everyone will cheer you on! (Or just toss a beach ball around; for extra fun, go outside and toss a Frisbee). Redefine brainstorming as “play-storming.”
- Designate a “Play Time”. Just like parents set up “play dates” for their kids, how about setting up a regular play time for your work group? This promotes a playful atmosphere, integrating playfulness into the work week rather than making it a new job (it’s not going to work if you compartmentalize, stopping “business as usual” to say “OK team, stop working. It’s time to have fun!”). The goal is to get to a new normal. One group I worked with had a regular weekly meeting they called “Cocktails and Creative.” It gave them permission to kick back and get a little loose, and they came up with amazing ideas during this period. Play time is something to which folks can look forward during the rest of the week.
- Write a Funny Thank You . We don’t always have to be so stuffy. Shannon Doolittle shares ways to thank our supporters that are warm, playful and, above all else, joyful. Remember, hopefully your supporter was coming from a place of joy when they gave. Help them stay there. If you chuckle just a bit when you’re writing, then you’ve hit the sweet spot. Nothing crude, mind you. Here are two from Shannon that particularly tickled me: (1) If it wasn’t weird, I would have sent you a picture of myself. Because I look totally grateful, and (2) You’re kind of a big deal. Don’t believe me? Ask our clients. Think about ways to bring a smile to your reader’s face
- Set Fun Goals. I know an E.D. who agreed to be dunked if his team reached a specific financial goal. And another who agreed to shave his head. When a target is not just about numbers but is also about play, staffs enjoy the journey more.
- Personally Commit to Doing Something Fun Each Week. It can be as simple as turning on music and having an impromptu dance party, or bringing in donuts for an unexpected coffee break. Give people permission to dress up (or dress down). Above all else, give permission. Anything that’s spontaneous and disrupts the routine can begin to create a culture of playfulness. There’s no shortage of ideas once you begin to let your playful, creative side show.
- Consider a Play Retreat. There are numerous resources out there to bring facilitated and interactive play experiences into the workplace (check out interplay.org; innovationgames.com; Lego® Strategic Play® ). I don’t endorse any in particular, but pointing folks towards the available resources and demonstrated successful outcomes could be a good way to get started and introduce the concept to your group. One person playing is good. A culture of playing is transformative.
- Share a Few Chuckles. I recently came across this Nonprofit Humour Blog. I happen to find it hilarious. You might want to consider sharing it with your colleagues. A laugh a day keeps the doctor away?
Make work play. Remember, there are simple ways to be playful, laugh, enjoy your life more and feel more relaxed at work. We do have choices we can make to bring balance into our lives.
And, as the brilliant sociologist and futurist Brian Solis reminds us, with balance, generally, comes greater clarity, equilibrium and productivity .