Ability to play

Are You Playing Enough?

Following is a guest post from Rich Largman.  Rich is someone I have collaborated with for 15 years in working with clients.  He is also my personal coach and one of my dearest friends.  It is my pleasure to share his insight and writing with you here.  This topic is so perfect as a first post for him here because he brings the energy of curiosity and play to everything he does, especially his work.  His presence is a gift in every dimension of my life.

We’ve all heard the familiar scoldings growing up such as…

…Quit fooling around.
…Will you please grow up.
…When will you stop acting like a child?

Well if it were up to me, the answer to that last question would be NEVER!

In an effort to eliminate the childish qualities from our behavior as we race toward adulthood, our child-like qualities often become part of the collateral damage. And that is too bad. By losing our child-like qualities, we lose an immensely valuable resource – the ability to play.

The value and benefits of play cannot be overstated. Studies have found that fun and play are foundational elements in unleashing a person’s creative powers to think differently. They are a critical ingredient in connecting people, improving relationships, increasing productivity, breaking down communication and personal barriers, and alleviating stress and tension.

Unfortunately, all too often I find that many “grown-ups” shun the idea of having fun and playing, especially at work. It is as if we believe work can’t or shouldn’t be fun . . . otherwise we wouldn’t call it work. Right? You’ve probably heard someone say that at some point in your life.

The only thing that mentality leads to, though, is more drudgery in our workplaces as we slog through the day.

“Seven days without laughter makes one weak.” Mort Walke

But what if we worked differently?

What if we changed our mentality and approach to work and brought more play into our workplace?

What if we addressed “serious” work-related issues by playing games?

That is something I have been doing with my clients for many years now, and if their success is any measure, I would say that playing games actually provides them with a competitive advantage as it unleashes all of the benefits listed above and improves the performance of the employees and the company as a whole.

Of course, these aren’t just any games. It’s not like we break out into a game of freeze tag in the middle of a meeting . . . not that I don’t think corporate America could benefit from a good game of freeze tag.

Rather, these games are customized, non-electronic, experiential games that are designed to further a company’s goals and facilitate the important conversations necessary to advance progress.

And I believe play has a cumulative effect on people and companies.

“The more you play, the more creative, productive, connected and stress-free you become.” Rich Largman – tweet this

So that leaves just one question…

Are you playing enough as an adult in your workplace?


Rich Largman is a speaker, writer and business accelerator who partners with entrepreneurs, business owners and leadership teams who wish to take their success to the next level but are stuck in the inertia of their current business practices and beliefs.  For the past 15 years Rich has helped companies achieve breakthrough results and success in industries as varied as food, automotive, insurance, construction, technology, education , medical, real estate and more.  You can find him online at his blog Empire of Hope.

  • Beth Armknecht Miller says:

    Play is so often forgotten. I find that much of it is because of a culture that believes that fun can’t be part of work. Yet why? If people can play and have fun they often can perform much better as an employee. The key is to understand the individuals around you and what fun means to them because we all have different values which impact what our idea of fun is. Once leaders understand the individuals around them as a person, a human being, that comes to work and wants to perform their best, then leaders can create a culture of play and fun for all.

    • Rich Largman says:

      Hi Beth! I agree 100%. And you are pointing to a very important part of the process, understanding what THE INDIVIDUAL(S) consider fun and meeting them where they are at. I started working with a company recently and when I went to introduce what I consider a beginner level fun activity, there was a great deal of resistance. A culture of fun did not exist in the company, much of which had to do with the recession we all just went through and their need to do a lot MORE with a lot LESS. Their attitude was very much “nose to the grindstone we don’t have time for fun.” And some of the group were “afraid” of the games/fun thinking it would ask them to reveal something personal. Instead of playing the game, I actually stopped the meeting and went to work uncovering what all the resistance was about, for I knew if we could break through that, we would discover some hidden velocity to propel us toward the desired goals and results. I am happy to say that while still not yet 100% comfortable, the team is actively engaging in the games and achieving goals. For me though, the best measure of success is that a great deal more laughter is showing up at the meetings now. They are starting to have fun and enjoy their work!

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