It’s more than the Ping Pong Table…

ping pong

Last month, we talked about breathing. Finding the time to rest, rejuvenate.

If you’ve spent any time with me, you know that I talk about being intentional a lot. Maybe too much? But, honestly, the more you progress in your career and the more complicated life gets, the more you HAVE TO BE INTENTIONAL. Be intentional in making the things that are important to you happen — really happen.

So perhaps you set an intent last month to breathe more. I hope you did.

I have another challenge for you. You have “work hard” down. What about “play hard?”

I’m not talking about stopping by the company ping-pong table. It’s more than that. I’m talking about play. True child-like, let my guard down, be silly, look ridiculous play. For some, that’s improv, for some a tickle fight with your kids, for others trying a new recipe. Play can take many forms.

If you’re a fan of Brene Brown, you may have read her writing around play. She referred to Researcher Stuart Brown, MD… a play researcher. (Hello!? That job title almost sounds better than director of ice cream, which yes, did exist when I was at Starbucks).

He describes play as time spent without purpose. Brene wrote: “To me this sounds like the definition of an anxiety attack. I feel behind if I’m not using every last moment to be productive, whether that means working, cleaning the house or taking my son to baseball practice.” Can you relate?

“But I can’t ignore what the research (mine and others’) tells us — that play, doing things just because they’re fun and not because they’ll help achieve a goal, is vital to human development.” She went on to tell us that Brown believes that play is at the core of creativity and innovation. Play is anything that makes us lose track of time and self-consciousness, creating the clearing where ideas are born.

What’s interesting is how many leaders I know who have a deep desire to be highly creative and innovative, yet think working harder is the key to making it attainable.

My kids have been out of school for three weeks, and they are about to hit camp. Three whole weeks of PLAY. They are masters of play. Wish I were going.

Instead, I have been sneaking in moments of play. I’ve set the materials out, and when I can, I take a moment to play. Play for me is art. I’m not looking to be Picasso. I’m not looking for a gallery showing. I have no purpose but to feel the way I do when I create. And to add to the challenge, I put it up on the wall even when it’s not “perfect” or “gallery ready.” Every day I walk by those reminders that play is important. It’s necessary. And I do have the time.

When is the last time you played?