Our nine month old lab puppy Gravy has found the pile of mulch we had delivered. He is ‘king of the mountain’ and having a blast playing with his sister Biscuit. Climbing, jumping, frolicking, just being silly and being a puppy. No rules, no expectations, no deliverables and nothing to worry about other than how long he can remain at the top of the heap.
As adults I think we forget the power of play. We get so bogged down in getting things done and living our lives that we never really make time to simply play. Notice I said ‘make time’ as there is always the excuse that we do not have enough time. We all have the same amount of time and it is what we do with it that makes the difference. If you want to play you need to set aside time to simply play.
I work with lots of leaders and executives and one had a great plan for this with his team. He ‘scheduled’ a play date for each person once a month. On their play date they were to take no phone calls, have no meetings and simply do something fun to help them think new things and experience new ideas. He told me about how one guy spent the day at the zoo to see how the animals interacted with each other, it gave him a great idea for a software program he was developing. Another person simply went to the beach to build sand castles and have time to think. These play dates gave the employees time to relax, have no deliverables, and let them remember that having fun serves a purpose.
Playing reminds us of our childlike enthusiasm and why we do what we do; and it allows us to clear our minds and allows creativity and innovation to flourish. It might sound funny but it takes practice to play. If all we do is get things done it can be difficult to switch your thinking and simply have fun, be silly, and find new ways to do things. Maybe today is the day you decide to play or that you realize you need more play time. Maybe it’s your turn to be like a dog and a mound of mulch!