Category Archives: Play

Tighten Up

Overhwelmed? No motivation? As Archie Bell and the Drells sang, “it’s time to tighten up.” When you tighten up a boundary, the playing field gets smaller and there’s a jolt of energy. Today, try tightening up the time frame you work in. What can be done in 30 minutes? What can be done in 3 minutes? What can be done in 30 seconds? And what if you play the game in that tight time frame as if your life depended on it? What if this game was the last game you were going to play ever? And at the end of the game, you put it down, take a break, walk away.

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Deadline vs Game Over vs Finish Line

What’s your energy right now? Enthusiasm? Excitement? Or is panic? Be careful with slinging the word ‘deadlines’ around if it’s panic. Using the word ‘dead’ rarely helps relax and liven things up. Try the more playful term, “Game over.” Or if that’s too stressful? Try, “finish line.”

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A New Way to Assemble Mr. Potato Head

“The arm goes on the second hole up on the left side! No, one hole lower. Turn the arm around!” And so it goes in the ‘Assemble Mr. Potato Head’ team building activity. One person is blindfolded, the other team members look at a picture and tell the blindfolded person what piece to pick up and where to put it to replicate what’s on the picture. It’s a fun activity, and great for honing team communication. The attempts and results in many team building activities are often fairly predictable for me. But part of what I love about this work is the innovation that shows up unexpectedly. I worked with Kaiser Permanente recently and they did it differently. In all the years I’ve seen groups assemble the venerable plastic spud, they always verbally tell the blindfolded person where a certain piece is and then where it goes. This time, they let the blindfolded person pick any piece at random, then told them where it went. Every piece was ‘the right one to pick up’. The person without sight is given a 100 on the test. The most vulnerable person is in charge, is ‘right’. This is a simple tweak of genius. If we want to influence someone to do what you want them to do, if we want to change the world, we start where the other person is, not where they should be. We visit them in their “home”, their most comfortable way of doing things. We tolerate discomfort in the service of change. Brain science tells us this is true for the brain as well. If we want to help an emotionally hijacked person out of it, the first step is to meet them, without fear, in the hell they have entered. Then we can show them the way out.

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Where to grow

There’s only one place for you to grow. It’s at the intersection of the avenue of ‘the strengths you were born with’ and the street called ‘where you are, right now today’. “Grow where you are planted.” ?St. Francis de Sales

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How to overcome overwhelm with play

Overwhelm is ready to take over any time we try to accomplish something big we (or someone who signs the checks) care about. The solution? Make it as small and meaningless as you can. Small: Tight boundaries make the best playgrounds. Limit yourself to one thing, one minute, one task, one day, anything. The words ‘limitless’ and ‘overwhelm’ are practically married. Meaningless: We play best when it doesn’t matter. If you break something big down into small enough chunks, each separate little chunk feels like ‘no big deal’. For example if that giant chocolate chip cookie is overwhelming, try breaking it down into 2,000 chunks of 1 calorie each. See? No big deal. Play your way through overwhelm – keep it small, keep it meaningless.

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Shake It Up

You need to establish routines to persist, to make something you desire unconscious. But what about when the things you do are unconsciously bad? You do things automatically but they don’t work. They don’t help. They may even make things worse. Then you shake it up. You change it up. You break the routine. For example, if sitting at your computer is not working for you, stand up. Go outside. Try doing what you do in the morning in the afternoon, and vice versa. Rip up your To Do list. Try walking sideways to get the coffee. Try anything, anything that will shake it up. Any kind of change. What happens when you change something? You come at it with a fresh perspective. Everything is new again in that moment. You are innocent again. And you are more able to play your way into doing what you are passionate about. Learn more:  Change Up! – Teams master change with a mix of team building and training.

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The two illusions of being behind and catching up

Being behind feels bad. Catching up feels great! Both are powerful feelings, and I wouldn’t deny you either of them. But what are we actually behind? Who decides that? And have we really caught up? Every new moment brings new opportunities and new possible tasks. It may be more helpful to remember that these feelings are illusions. We are neither of them – neither ahead or behind. We’re just right here, right now.

Also posted in Resiliency | Comments closed

Where feet hit the ground

Our bodies are meant to move. But we don’t just get physical rewards. In the office, leaving the house, walking our errands, leaving the car alone and using our feet instead. Where our feet hit the ground? That’s where adventure and connection happens.

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Discomfort is how you learn

“Have you only comfort, and the lust for comfort, that stealthy thing that enters the house a guest, and then becomes a host and then a master?” – Kahlil Gibran We have low tolerance for discomfort. Really low. As in, a few seconds in and we’re looking for the exit. Emotional discomfort, physical discomfort, the mind doesn’t seem to differentiate. But discomfort is how we learn. We enter a situation that we haven’t mastered yet and practice it. We expose our blind spots, our lacks. We see clearly the distance between where we are and we wish we were. So it’s helpful to work with discomfort. One way is using physically uncomfortable moments. We can start with the obvious (physical discomfort)and move to the subtle (emotional discomfort), we start with the easy (physical discomfort) and move to the hard (emotional discomfort). We can train our minds to rest in the discomfort. Mindfulness meditation and Buddhist practices help us with increasingly being comfortable with our discomfort. We can practice when we exercise. We can let the feeling of discomfort in a little bit, then a little bit more, aiming towards welcoming it fully into the guest house. And we can simply just keep going. Not grimly, but with a sense of humor at our infinite capacity for trying to duck out of discomfort. And not stopping. “If you’re never able to tolerate a little bit of pain and discomfort, you’ll never get better.” – Angela Duckworth (PS: If you’re wondering, this thought came to me on the treadmill.) A note: physical discomfort is different than strong physical pain. Especially sharp, stabbing pain. Stop what you’re doing as soon as you feel that.

Also posted in Persistence | Comments closed

Do you suffer from progression obsession?

“Life, to be worthy of a rational being, must be always in progression; we must always purpose to do more or better than in time past.” – Samuel Johnson   I used to live by this quote. Throughout High School and into college it was always somewhere inside influencing decisions. It didn’t end well. There’s nothing wrong with progression. The promise of progression helps us through many hard times. And when we progress, we get a jolt of positive energy that helps us persist. That’s why I counsel teams to break big projects into small gulps and to start with the easiest part. But how much allowance is made for the shadow of progression? The opposite of ‘more and better’ – less and worse? These are scary words for companies, teams, stock markets. But not for the seasons. Not for night where there’s less daylight and worse ability to see things. In fact animals prefer the night – 90% of animal activity happens at night. The tides are also fine with less, so are moon phases. And ‘less and worse’ is not scary for people relaxed enough to see the big picture, the larger purpose. We will get sick, we will age (if we’re lucky), we will die. Others will be born after us and they will live this cycle again. More of our projects won’t be completed than will be. The moon wobbles. We will only progress – today and always – to the extent that we become friendly with failure.   “Winning does not tempt that man. This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively, by constantly greater beings.” -Rainer Maria Rilke   Learn more: Emotional Intelligence Works - EQ is twice as important in contributing to excellence as IQ and expertise combined. Learn how to effectively manage your emotions and those around you for sustained success.

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