Playing for Fun

     Daniel H. Pink outlines six senses in his book A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age
     The six senses are the skills and mindsets he believes Western society requires in order to move forward successfully.
     He examines how abundant choice is changing the way consumers make purchasing decisions; the automation of many 20th century jobs; and the migration of simple jobs which use technology to other parts of the world.
     The work and culture that remain, require a different outlook than was needed in the past.
     Pink's list is: Design; Story; Symphony; Empathy; Play; Meaning.
     Play is defined as an activity engaged in for enjoyment and recreation, especially by children; the word is not often used in interactions between adults except in the highly structured realm of sport.    
     Professional sport: the most visible “play” is usually associated with “players” who have completed their education. Their game is their work, and therefore not recreation.
     The importance of children's play is frequently diminished. Something we call child's play easily accomplished: it fails to be serious or hard-working. Play, however, is a key to physical development; to understanding the world around them; and to expressing personality. Dr Wayne W. Dyer wrote that children play for fun: Not to win or to beat anybody or to confront. There is no referee or umpire to enforce rigid rules. While they are having fun, all the other benefits manifest unconsciously.
     As adults, bringing play into the way we express ourselves may be difficult to imagine. While most adults have learnt to say that they love their jobs, they are not likely to suggest that they find they are playful at work. Play has been segregated from the important parts of life.
     Brian Sutton-Smith of the University of Pennsylvania has noted that The opposite of play isn't work. It's depression. To play is to act out and be wilful, exultant and committed as if one is assured of one's prospects.”
     Loving what we do has replaced the idea of doing what we love. An open heart can find gratitude for a job, and a thinking worker can find value in the work in order to connect to a willingness to keep returning. This compromise does not feed personal growth, it is, by its nature, a cause of stagnation.
In The Play Ethic author Pat Kane writes: “Play will be to the 21st century what work was to the last 300 years of industrial society – our dominant way of knowing, doing, and creating value.
     Staff events which explore life outside the office can bring people into the mindset of play. Retreats into rural areas, visits to parks and hiking trails can ignite playfulness that transmutes to new ideas which ultimately will serve the business and its clients.  This is not always about exertion and heavy boots: there are facilities with office spaces and classrooms and informal lounging rooms to be accessed. The play of invention and brainstorming and skill-sharing can be enhanced by leaving behind the rigid limits of a city office and spending a day with trees and lakes and fresh air.
     As I write I am at the edge of Gatineau Park, close to Canada's capital city. It is autumn here, and the changes in nature are inspiring. I am reminded that nothing stagnates; everything adapts and becomes new.
     There are opportunities to visit me and nearby for working retreats and staff fun (play!) days.
     Make a plan for the Spring, or do it now! Go outside and play: you might be surprised by how much you can progress on your ToDo list when you do what you love. 
     Jo Leath has been supporting clients through change and growth since the 1980s.
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