Playing At Your Role? Here’s Why That’s A Good Thing
As busy professional women, submerged in juggling the responsibilities of work and family life, and an ever expanding to -do list, we often forget to play, feel we don’t have time for it or somehow believe it is no longer appropriate for us. Instead we are always on the go – hustling for success – and then feel overwhelmed and struggle to achieve all we set out to do.
At the same time we are increasingly being called to step up in our roles and utilise our feminine leadership strengths to help find creative answers to the serious problems we face in our workplaces and the wider world.
Yet these problems, like our lives, are only getting more complex. They cannot be solved with the same level of thinking that created them, as Albert Einstein once famously said.
And this is why allowing ourselves to play is so important to our functioning and our ability to be creative and show up in our work.
The Power of Play
In fact, as Emma Seppala says in her book ‘The Happiness Track’, scientists are now advocating that we need balanced activities – a blend of different things – to enable us to find breakthroughs in our careers and lives – including play.
Play has tremendous potential to boost our creativity and our ability to think inventively – not to mention our wellbeing. The root of the word recreation is re-create which literally means ‘to refresh oneself by some amusement’.
Scientists have found that play has a positive impact on creativity because – in addition to helping us both mind wander and diversify – it stimulates positive emotion, which research shows leads to greater insight, helps us see the bigger picture and so helps us solve problems.
In the offices of forward thinking technology companies and creative industries they are now creating ‘play zones’ with pool tables, slides and games to encourage this aspect in everyday working lives.
So how does this translate to our roles when we want to bring more creativity to our thinking?
1. Give Yourself Permission to Take a Break
It is hard to think creatively and be inspired when you are overwhelmed and your mind is cluttered. So we need to give ourselves permission to step outside of our immediate situation so we have breathing space and time to think.
That might mean taking a few minutes to ‘press pause’ – either by meditating or taking a break to connect with the nature around you or listen to the birdsong– which gives our brains a chance to clear and refocus mentally.
It also might mean literally taking a break to play some music, play an instrument or play a game (real or virtual) and engage playfully with those around you.
2. Choose a Playful Perspective In Your Work
Often we can take ourselves too seriously in our work and this then undermines the very thing we are trying to achieve.
Let me illustrate with an example from my own work life. With the launch of my new website, I set the intention to increase my visibility by writing more blog posts – but then found myself feeling increasingly overwhelmed and under pressure to create and perform. My mind would go blank and my inner critic would bay ‘You’re just playing at this, you’ve got nothing to say…..’
But then I realised my Gremlin critic was actually onto something with this statement because by choosing to see writing material for my blog posts this way I was in fact creating this reality for myself. I needed to explore a different perspective.
In my pressure to perform I was subjecting myself to a Professor Perfect perspective – with his figurative white coat and flip-board analysing my every syllable and sentence. When I explored instead a Messy Play perspective – which allowed me to get my hands dirty, immerse myself in creating a picture on the page and then come back to finesse later – my writing flowed – and creativity emerged.
So rather than berating yourself for ‘playing at your role’ recognise that by pretending to be who you are not (in my case an experienced writer) you grow into being and over time become this. This is how we continuously learn and grow as adults and play is an important part of this development.
Over to You
Where do you feel most called to play in your work? What works for you?
Need more help to create a different work reality?
Take a look at my Master Your Mindset career coaching programme. You can fill in the form here and then schedule a FREE, no obligation consultation to get some clarity on the situation you are facing.