Published in South Texas Home/Garden & Lifestyle Magazine; Winter 2005
Most of us make our lives more difficult than necessary by getting caught up in insecure thinking and trying to control people and outcomes that we have no control over. This approach results in an endless stream of futile effort that fails to yield satisfying outcomes.
Is it possible that a lighter and more effortless approach to life could allow you to experience more positive outcomes in your business and professional life? Could a childlike sense of curiosity, wonder and humility allow you to see each new day as a blank canvas awaiting your expression of the innate potential that is within you? Consider the possibilities for yourself and others. Could this stance invite insight, inner wisdom and inspiration to see new possibilities that ignite your potential and allow you to appreciate the potential within yourself, coworkers, friends and family? Let’s explore the benefits others have discovered through play.
In the same way that play invites children to be more creative, discover new ideas and new ways of looking at situations, it can benefit adults too. Play nourishes and inspires new possibilities to emerge from the lightness and openness that accompanies this joyful approach to work and to life. Speaking of play in this way actually refers to a state of mind rather than any specific activities related to play. A playful approach to work and to life emerges naturally from the healthy state of mind that occurs when we focus on living in the present. Children exemplify this healthy state of mind as they freely let go of the past, forgive others and move forward with openness and ease into the fresh possibilities of the present.
The magnetism of a playful state of mind draws others to us and invites them to join us in this natural state of exaltation. Play invites and inspires innovative solutions and creates the added benefits that result from creative expression, collaborative teamwork and positive feelings, as well as greater enjoyment of work and life. It generates lightness, invites us to see the innocence in others and release judgments and limiting ways of viewing people and situations. A playful approach to work and to life promotes acceptance of others, supports emergence of the unique gifts within each of us and brings out our innate capacity to express our talents in an array of possibilities.
An increasing number of progressive businesses are demonstrating how inviting and supporting a playful state of mind among employees can actually support customer service excellence and ignite the potential in employees for creativity, innovation, productivity and profitability. Hospitals, technology companies, automobile dealers and businesses in many other industries have implemented play as a part of their work culture to support customer service, productivity and profitability. If you’ve traveled on Southwest Airlines, you’ve probably seen a demonstration of how a playful approach to customer service creates a personal connection, adds to the enjoyment of work and brightens everyone’s day. Any type of work can be approached with appropriate play when we’re open to the possibilities.
Some business leaders would argue that work is serious business---much too serious to involve any kind of playful approach! After all, doesn’t business involve critical decisions and relationships that impact work outcomes, including the bottom line? And all of this is way too important to play around with! Some associate play with frivolous activities that can be utilized only when one is not engaged in the important activities associated with “work”. They consider play as the variety of unproductive activities we can engage in to relax when we’re not “working”. When the stakes are high, such as in business, they prefer a conservative, controlled, thoroughly researched and thoughtful approach as more appropriate.
While this more serious and analytical approach works well for addressing mechanical problems, it fails to address the complexities of human relationships. Instead, it tends to create outdated solutions that fail to address emerging new business realities that have never before been encountered. Maintaining the state of mind of presence connects us with our ability to use our minds creatively and promotes agility for change. Presence naturally connects us with the wisdom, inspiration and freshness that is characteristic of a playful state of mind. This healthy state of mind surfaces naturally when we relax into the present.
Any business can benefit from appropriate play in the workplace. Inviting play into work points people in the direction of a healthy state of mind that unleashes the wisdom and creativity within each individual and supports insight, self-motivation, confidence, productivity, collaboration and peak performance. It provides a preventive antidote to stress and promotes enthusiasm, inner calm, relaxation, optimism and vitality as well as many other positive qualities associated with a healthy state of mind. Just as team sports exemplify, individuals that “play” together can produce winning results.
Naturally, it’s important that individuals find appropriate ways to express a playful state of mind that is respectful of serious business concerns. When the culture of an organization supports the creativity and innovation that emerges from play, individuals and teams will find appropriate ways to exemplify play as a state of mind that’s appropriate for their particular business. A business culture that supports this can provide an infrastructure to unleash the potential in people, create positive business outcomes, enliven workers and enrich the experience of work.
Play helps people to disengage from their habitual patterns of thought. It invites the humor and lightness characteristic of a healthy state of mind. Playful activities naturally point us toward the healthy state of mind that is innately within each of us. This healthy state of mind is characterized by joy, humor, wisdom, creativity, innovation, motivation, optimism, enthusiasm, insight and gratitude, as well as many other positive feelings.
In the state of mind of presence, where our focus is on the current moment rather than the past or future, individuals can connect with their own potential and recognize the potential in others. The same healthy state of mind that invites play also invites respect, appreciation, equality and compassion to support relationships and communication. By experiencing our connection with each other as members of the human race, we tap into the reservoir of wisdom and creativity that’s available to all through our connection with the creative intelligence behind life.
A playful state of mind invites a healthy state of mind that allows us to utilize our natural gifts and talents and develop them in new ways. It invites spontaneity and innovative ideas.
At the end of your workday, you can take play home with you to expand the benefits in your personal life. Enjoy this creative and more relaxed approach to life as you spend treasured time with family and friends and conduct the personal business of your life. Discover how a playful state of mind at home naturally allows you to connect with significant people in your life.
Your state of mind is all that limits your creativity and blocks the full expression of your talents and potential. Your own thoughts determine your current state of mind--- and that can change at any moment! Innate health is buoyant and will continually re-surface. When we let go of the past and place our attention on the present we are naturally light-hearted and playful. Experiment with play and find ways to have fun and enjoy the benefits that will continually enrich both your work and your life.
Look for creative ways to engage in play that enlivens and brings fun and lightness to work and life. Here are some ways to ignite your potential through play:
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to move forward with your life, dust off your dreams and start using your unique talents. Take a fresh look at your work as well as your life outside of work and find ways to start playing NOW!!! The potential within you is eagerly waiting to be expressed. The magic of a playful state of mind can be the fuel that ignites your creativity and wisdom in delightful new ways that produce profound results. Live in the present and play will come naturally, allowing you to enjoy amazing benefits at work---as well as at home!