Work-play integration is the new work-life balance

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One of the things that I love about my job is working with creative people. I don’t mean just the graphic designers, artists and such, but people with creative mindsets from every industry, who bring their passion and curiosity into their work.

A great living case study is my friend Susan Bennett from MSD. She turned up in my office boardroom last week with her team for a thought experiment.

“We’re just playing with this! It’s a thought experiment and we’re going to find out what happens” she said, as her team was setting up posters with problems to solve (sample – “How can you turn health care into a personal grooming act?”) on the walls of our office and distributing Business Canvas model worksheets to the students that were trickling into the room.

The original venue they had booked had an air-conditioning failure and they had moved into our office boardroom instead at the last minute, but everyone was upbeat and the buzz of energy was palpable.

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Susan’s words, energy and attitude really resonated with me and started me thinking – why don’t we spend more time thinking about work-play integration?

So much of the time we think of work as drudgery or duty. Even the words “workload”, “duties” and “projects” sound so onerous.

The most successful people I know have a quality of lightness about them. Their offices or labs are their playgrounds. Instead of work, they play with ideas and concepts.

Can we mentally reframe our projects into thought experiments that we delight in finding the answers to?

Can we dance with unexpected changes and use them to challenge our creativity?

Can we love the process of creating and not cling on to our ideas of expected outcomes?

In an era when we will all be living longer (till 115 years, some predict!), it is never more vital that we keep infusing our work with joy to keep us engaged, and get serious about play.

 

 

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