Play As A Success Strategy

To make impactful changes in thinking and imagination, let's get silly and see what happens.

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Lets have some fun.

In the last few weeks, we have presented people who were very successful in both their personal and business lives who shared a common trait of being very playful people. Coming up we have Bill Bensley, who is probably the most fun and carefree big-time architect that ever lived. Also next level playful. (Check out his Instagram feed with his dogs.)

I just recently finished the Resilience Course as presented by Chosen Experiences and booked through The Wylde. They are interested in making impactful changes in people’s lives through a combination of information, introspection, and play. The play part can seem a bit unusual at first for people who are used to reading big-brained books- it was a bit weird for me in the beginning. It took me a couple of weeks to understand why I was being asked to do some pretty fun and goofy stuff as part of the program.  But then I got it. Play is the key that unlocks the resistance to real change. Intellectual analysis may work for some people, but the high-speed autobahn to changing a life point of view is play. Boom goes resistance and suddenly what was unimaginable is now a clear pathway to something new.

Kathy Smith, the fitness icon, and I had a nice chat recently for an upcoming SuperAge podcast. During the conversation, she called me out about me describing as having a strict work out program. Although she is the fittest 68-year old I have ever met, she was telling me she doesn’t work at it- she plays at it. After a moment of somewhat embarrassing self-reflection, I realized I do the same thing. I want to call it hard work, maybe it is my male protestant upbringing, but really it is play for me. In fact, most all of my life has been oriented to play. Before I start something, one of the values I weigh are not how much money or success it will bring me, those are important also,  but how much fun it will be. This is how a 21-year-old me decided to become a fashion photographer rather than a mechanical engineer. It was clearly a lot more fun.

I don’t suggest that everyone use fun and play as the sole deciding variable to life’s great decisions. What I do suggest is that play has a way of unlocking understanding and creativity. I can’t ever recall being in a conference room with “very serious people” and ever coming up with an inspiring idea. It was too heavy in those environments and my internal editor was working overtime to keep me from saying something foolish. As someone once told me, you can not be both a creator and an editor at the same time, it is one or the other. 

Leslie Blodget told me, if there was no laughter in a meeting, nothing good would come out of that meeting. She would hold plank on the conference table and force people to work around her. FYI, she was CEO of her company that sold for $1.7B, so something about her method was clearly working. She also seems to be one of the happiest people I have ever met. 

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There is certainly someone out there who has created some sort of grad school-level study on the effectiveness of play in learning and creating. No doubt there are stats on this somewhere that would be of great interest to someone. I’ll leave the neuroscience to someone else. I would rather take a break and try and juggle with just my left hand and see what sort of ideas come to me. Most likely ones that I never would have imagined.