Play at Work!

More and more people in business, academia and psychology are recognizing the importance of play throughout our life span. Why do adults need to play? We live in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world. In play we create joy and laughter – we can go beyond ourselves.

As a play advocate, I was recently inspired by three days at The Association for the Study of Play conference last week. Sessions like Play Diplomacy; Therapeutic Play; and Physics, Philosophy and Psychology: Play is More Than Everyone Thinks gave expression to the ongoing recognition of the value of play for human beings and our well being.

Why play at work?

Every year Gallup polls show that over 50% of our workforce is disengaged. Research has found evidence that play at work is linked with less fatigue, boredom, stress, and burnout in individual workers. I am an advocate for play at work.

In the abstract of their article, Play at Work: An Integrative Review and Agenda for Future Research, Claire Petelczyc and her research colleagues make this observation:

“Play has gained increasing interest among progressive-minded managers as an important driver of motivation and productivity in work contexts.”

Play at work improves employee engagement and morale, and therefore productivity. When we play, we do things without knowing how. That is increasingly important, given that 85% of jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t been invented yet.

Improvising is a form of adult play. Through improvisational activities, adults cultivate active listening skills and spontaneity, social-emotional intelligence and the ability to think on one’s feet, get out of your head and be present. Allowing time for playful learning and development activities at work opens up new possibilities and unleashes everyone’s innate creativity.

Keith Sawyer, an internationally known scientific expert on creativity, collaboration, and learning argues that companies will struggle to be innovative if they don’t have some ability for bottom-up, collaborative improvisational emergence to take place. In other words, improvisational play drives innovation in the workplace.

Play allow us to be who we are and who we are not, which is how human beings develop. We can create something new from what exists. We can play at being who we are becoming.

For more information on how to bring play into your workplace with ImprovNetworking, a playground for social development, please drop me a note. Join me in advocating for play!

Time to take a shot!

UnknownAfter seeing Lin-Manuel Miranda’s brilliant musical, Hamilton and listening (endlessly) to the score, his lyrics and music have been inspiring me on a daily basis.

Lately I’ve been thinking about the professional and personal activity of “taking a shot,” pursuing a dream or making the choice to change careers or jobs.  In my work as an executive coach I often help people pursue new professional challenges using a performance-based approach.  Many of my clients struggle to fulfill their potential and to see the myriad of  possibilities that lie in front of them.  We can easily become dispirited living in our turbulent and chaotic world and yet we can…

Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now!

Learning to live in the moment means embracing the words that the Schuyler sisters sing:

History is happening.

And we are making history as we create our lives.  We perform in ensembles – some of us perform on the Broadways stage in Hamilton, others perform in ensembles at the office or in our living rooms, but performers we are.

A wonderful thing about being human is that we can (and we must) learn from failure. We can play any scene over or with a new emotion or intention. We can always grow.

Life doesn’t discriminate between the sinners and the saints,

it takes and it takes and it takes
and we keep living anyway, 

we rise and we fall and we break
and we make our mistakes. and if there’s a reason I’m still alive

when so many have died,
then I’m willin’ to wait for it.

Don’t wait too long.  Take Hamilton’s words to heart:

I’m not throwing away my shot!