What is play fundamentally?

Play can easily get short-changed in daily work. Like music and arts education in schools, when budgets, deadlines and tempers are tight, it’s the first thing to go. Play is so important to me and yet I notice the number of posts I write about persistence go up and up…but not so much about play.

Play getting short-changed may have to do with a misconception about it. Play is not fundamentally about being happy, smiling and laughing. That may be (and often eventually is) an enjoyable by-product of play. But play goes deeper than that.

Think of how the word play is used in the arts. Musicians play music. Actors act in plays. When I look at these disciplines I notice they are not in any way limited to being happy. Plays can be serious, silly, energetic, puzzling. Music encompasses every known (and unknown) emotion humans can experience.

Play fundamentally means expression, feeling, connection and communication. When we play our work and our life we’re transforming it into art, moment by moment. We do this simply by aiming towards expression, feeling, connection and communication. And like most things that are simple…it’s not easy! But like most things that aren’t easy, the more we play the work, the better we get at playing the game. And also like most things that are challenging, it’s worth it.

What in your workday is looking for expression? What feelings – wonderful and icky – are asking to be expressed? What vital connection do you have with the work? What do you want to communicate?

There is an energy in play that you and I both could really use – especially this time of year. How will you unlock the energy of play today?

Quixote Consulting’s team building activities help teams play. I recommend charity team building, music team buildingcollaborative team building, group fun and celebration or culinary team building for maximum play opportunities.

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