Where play and purpose meet

20 June 2023

By Linda Ferguson


From the time we are very small, we are taught to see fun and practical as opposites. When you are in school, fun is what you get to do after you complete the work you have to do.

The idea gets set in deeper as we age. “That’s why they call it work,” is something we say to indicate that our jobs are not meant to be fun. Things that are boring or difficult are practical. Things that are fun are rewards for doing something practical.

We’ve got it all wrong. Fun is not something you create to build a team up so that you can break them down again with work. Fun comes from play and play leads to innovation. Play creates energy, openness to diversity, and a willingness to explore ideas which do not, at first, seem practical.

The sweet spot when you need a breakthrough is not to grind: it’s to play with purpose.

Try this: think about something that is stuck: an emotion, a problem that needs solving, a bad habit. Then go do something fun and active: get outside, laugh with friends, dance. Do something that engages your full attention, feels good, and makes your smile.

Afterwards, think about that thing that is stuck. What’s different now?

Summer isn’t just for relaxing: it’s for creating the conditions that make breakthroughs happen.

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