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The Permission to Play

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Remember when you were little, and you played in the sandbox with your friends? I know it was a while ago, but just go with it! Deep in your own world, you were fully engaged in whatever silly thing you made up, unconcerned about what will happen when the game ended. You were having fun, absolutely, but you were also learning important skills and growing as human beings. You were figuring out how to share, communicate, work together, harness your creativity, express your feelings and solve problems.

Now that you’re grown up, play probably isn’t as big a part of your life, but I’m here to argue that it should be!

Exploration, experimentation, and creativity are just as important for us “big kids,” especially if we want to grow, expand and innovate. So, why do adults struggle so much with letting loose, getting curious and (dare I say) acting silly once in a while? Why is it so difficult for us to allow ourselves to PLAY? 

We started playing to “win.”

Somewhere along the way, we learned to associate play with sports or games, many that involve things like strategy, results, and winning. The focus moved away from learning, experiencing new things, growing, and having FUN. Instead, we began valuing concrete, black-and-white results like scoring goals or reaching some sort of finish line. Much of the time, we care more about the outcome, which is honestly not the most important part of playing a game.

The energy of that kind of play is completely different, and while there is certainly tremendous value in competitive sports, that’s not the type of play I’m talking about here.

Play happens in the present moment.

To engage in bonafide PLAY, you need to be fully engaged in the present moment, just like those kids in the sandbox.

Loosen up! Allow yourself to just be in the moment and release your grip on the outcome.

Get curious. Explore possibilities without focusing on a result or destination.

Be SILLY! Be brave enough to get outside your comfort zone – even if it’s only one toe at a time.

Play is a powerful way to create a space of growth and new possibility. It’s the space where we can truly innovate and transform.

It’s easier said than done, I understand. It’s really hard to go from trucking along with our work and bills and chores and then do a complete U-turn into play mode. The “how” of it all is in your MINDSET.

Try something different.

Think of the last networking event you attended. You probably had some sort of end result in mind – at least one new client, one job opening to apply for, one person in your industry to have lunch with. When we are results-oriented in this way, not only does it limit the type of experience we are going to have, but it can totally squash all the joy out of that experience.

Let’s change it up. Grab your free drink and notice the people around you. Compliment someone’s fun nail polish color or interesting tie. Instead of starting every conversation with “So, what do you do?” ask something totally off-the-wall, like “What’s your favorite Zoo animal?” or “If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?”

It will break the patterns and expectations that everyone has, and you just might be amazed at what happens! When you enter an experience with no expectations other than to learn and enjoy, you’ll open yourself up to connect on a much deeper, more meaningful level, and I think you’ll be surprised the opportunities that present themselves.

Live Play your life.

Life is all about experiences. If you choose to live solely by seeking specific results, you’re really limiting yourself. I’m sure you can think of a time when something totally unexpected led to one of the greatest moments of your life. What if you hadn’t been open to that opportunity?

Those are the kinds of opportunities you open yourself up for when you follow a different path, when you try something new, when you PLAY. And those new connections and opportunities are the seeds of positive change and transformation!  

Play > Creativity > New Possibilities > Transformation

So, by the power vested in me as Kerri Balliet, certified transformational coach, I hereby give you permission to GO PLAY!

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