I recently went on vacation with my grandkids, ages 6 and 10. We spent our time at the beach fishing, kayaking, playing in the ocean, swimming with dolphins, and just relaxing. Time away with no immediate tasks allows for reflection. It provides an opportunity to escape the busyness of a typical day. It lets you observe and pay attention to life as it happens around you. 

What struck me, as I watched my grandkids play and explore,was their innocent curiosity and pure joy. They seemed to have no worries. They were in the moment, allowing themselves to play freely without a care in the world. It made me curious about how and when we lose that sense of innocence. Why do we feel the need to become so serious about life and forget to play, have fun, and feel joy?

Remember how much fun it was to play as a child? We invented games, made-up rules, fantasized and allowed our imaginationsto run wild. Have we lost our ability to be playful on our leadership journey?

I believe as leaders we need to renew ourselves. We need to start playing more. We must let go of the notion that our days should be organized, prioritized, filled with goal-directed activities and competitive strategies. We have fallen into a belief system as adult leaders that suggest if an activity does not teach us a skill,make us money or advance our careers, we should not waste time doing it. We have come to believe it’s unproductive. 

We underestimate the positive energy of play. Play is not only essential to being happy but also to be a fulfilled human being. Play supports social relationships, inspires creativity, and makes for more innovative leadership. Play will lift you out ofmundane routine work activities and provide a sense of joy even in the little things. 

Play nourishes trust, compassion, and sharing. One of the greatest benefits of having a playful mindset is that it stimulates creativity. Playfulness leads to new solutions for old problems, resourcefulness, and using one’s imagination to dream. 

How will you start to play more? What will you do to let go of your structured days to be free to explore and experience pure joy? 

It’s Spring break time and many of you will be going away to spend time with your kids, family, and friends. I want to encourage you to really disconnect. Free yourself from the grind of daily life and make time to play. Have fun, dig in the sand, jump, skip, and explore. Let your imagination run wild. You may be surprised how reenergized it makes you feel and the new thoughts and ideas that emerge. 

Allow yourself to feel pure JOY again. 

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