As kids, we go out to play. Later in life, we play sports or play music. But then, in sharp contrast, we leave our homes each day and go to work.
The term “work” implies uninspired, tedious and generally yucky things. Parallels of going to the dentist, waiting in line at the DMV or filling out endless forms come to mind. Trading our souls for money is not the ideal career choice.
The elements of play include being present. Enjoying the intrinsic value of the moment. Using imagination. Savoring the experience. Being creative. Seeking fresh approaches. Funny enough, these are the exact skills that lead to growth and success in today’s business landscape.
What if we flipped the terminology, and started calling work something else: play. Instead of a workforce, our companies could have a playforce.
OLD APPROACH: “Ugh… I have to go to WORK!” (shoulders down. sullen. exit stage left).
NEW APPROACH: "Bye honey, I'm running off to play!" (chin up. smiling. skips off stage right.). Response from spouse: "Okay my love. Have a great time at the playground. Hope you have a very playful day!” (smile with pride and admiration.)
Have a conflict? Maybe you should play it out.
The research consistently shows that elements of play drive the most creativity, the currency of success in the new, post-COVID world. Play stimulates the mind and the soul, and allows us to break out of the drudgery. Work is about completing tasks, maximizing efficiency, and delivering outcomes. Play can do those things, too, but we add fun, imagination and movement to the mix.
The average first-grader laughs more than 300 times a day while the average adult laughs only 17. No surprise that kids are more creative than adults.
Even if you can't force a company-wide change in terminology, go ahead and make the swap in your own mind. You'll notice a new bounce in your step, and a renewed sense of energy and excitement about the day ahead.
Forget about working through your next tough business challenge try playing through it instead.