As I made my way from where I parked to my office this morning I encountered teams of people moving in and out of shops and stores. I stopped to ask someone what was going on, and she told me their company was engaging employees in a team building experience through a “goose egg” scavenger hunt. As I looked around people were laughing and seemed to be having fun together.
Dr. Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute of Play, says “There is good evidence that if you allow employees to engage in something they want to do, which is playful, there are better outcomes in terms of productivity and motivation.” His research shows that play is so much more than fun and games. Through play, our stress response system is calibrated, motivation and optimism increase, and we develop our ability to adapt to all the changes life brings.
Recently I was facilitating a team building experience for a staff team from a local college, and we ended our time together using a picture as a touchpoint (metaphor) for a goal or dream we had for this summer. Mine was a vivid circle of colored pencils, and I shared that a goal was to fully engage with my grandchildren through playful time at the beach during an upcoming vacation. In essence, I shared that I want to feel the joy and freedom, and childlike wonder that comes with playful engagement where you let go of all the stress and simply be.
Do we understand how powerful play can be? What if, in all our efforts to be responsible and productive, we are neglecting something that has the power to transform our thinking, feeling, and being? This summer whenever I hear, “Grandpa, come play with me!” I plan to drop what I’m doing and join the fun.
Ritch Hochstetler, President and CEO at ULEAD