Have you ever been lost in a state of play? Consider this, what activity or project have you recently experienced where you were immersed, focused, and fully present? positive psychology calls this heightened state of engagement “Flow.” Companies like Google, Southwest, and Gallup all incorporate play and flow into their workplace culture.
Google provides employees 20% time to work on a project of their choosing which they believe will benefit the company. Southwest understands people rarely succeed at anything unless they are having fun doing it which is a fundamental part of their vision and mission. Gallup is dedicated to helping individuals, teams and managers play to their strengths to achieve optimal performance.
Speaking of, optimal performance is something all of these companies have in common. Google is the number 1 search engine in the world. Southwest is consistently on the leaderboard in airline company rankings and Gallup is one of the most trusted analytics, research and consulting companies globally.
Given the collective success of these three very different companies, one might argue play is equally important as work in any industry. When employees are given the opportunity to play at work, new ideas emerge, engagement increases and areas of stagnation shift to collaboration often resulting in innovative problem solving and organizational growth.
In his book, The Red Rubber Ball at Work, Kevin Carroll interviews dozens of thought leaders about their play histories and how they incorporate play in their current leadership roles. Throughout the book, a consistent theme emerges showing how their childhood play is linked to their current state of play and success in the workforce. He makes a compelling correlation between the value of play for both kids and adults proving play is a powerful force in human development at any age or stage.
How can you incorporate play throughout your work day? What if the next team meeting was changed to a playdate? What if your employer allowed kids to visit more than once a year for “Take Your Kid to Work Day” but instead once a week? What if adults observed the power of play in kids on a regular basis and then incorporated the same state of play and willingness to try new ideas in their next work project? It just might revolutionize the way we work, play and live.
“The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he’s always doing both.” ~ James A. Michener