What!?! Business is serious – um, business. I don’t have time for any foolishness like playing.

Play is just for children

Wrong, wrong, wrong. Play isn’t just for kids. Play is important for all humans. Actually it’s important to all high functioning animals. Hell, it might even be important to microbes, we just haven’t been able to tell when a microbe is having fun. Some scientist somewhere is probably playing with this idea right now and we’ll be seeing dense articles on the evolution of play behavior in paramecium on the internet any day now.

Anyway, back to how play is good for business.

Good for business

What are some of the important characteristics of a successful business person? Creativity, flexibility (of thinking), innovation, team building, problem solving, energy, ability to handle stress, perseverance. You can add your own,the list goes on and on.

What happens when it’s all work and no play?  New ideas are harder to come by, we get stuck (chasing our tails), we become fatigued, isolated, we begin to doubt ourselves and our abilities, we get overwhelmed. Another list that goes on and on.

Benefits of play

What are some of the benefits of play? Creativity, flexibility, innovation, connection,  team building, problem solving, increased energy, stress reduction, perseverance.  Notice anything about this list?  It contains many  of the characteristics that are needed in a success business person

Creativity, flexibility, and innovation

Play stimulates the imagination, helps us adapt and solve problems. It arouses curiosity, which leads us to discovery and creativity. Some of the components of play – curiosity, discovery, novelty, risk-taking, trial and error, games, and social etiquette  – are the same components used to build, grow and maintain a business.

Connection and team building

When we play with others, sharing joy, laughter and fun we build bonds and strengthen our sense of community. Empathy, compassion, trust, and the capacity for intimacy are another benefit of regular play.

Breaking out of isolation, reducing anxiety

Vigorous play triggers the release of endorphins that raise  our spirits. When we play with other people, with friends and strangers, we are reminded that we are not alone in this world. We are able to connect with others in delightful and meaningful ways.


Learning or mastering a new skill or game teaches us that perseverance is worthwhile. Persistent determination is needed to work through difficulties, delays and frustrations of building or running a business, and it is learned largely through play.

Play makes us happy

Beyond all these excellent reasons for playing, there is simply the sheer joy of it. Play is a state of being that is happy and joyous. Incorporating  play into our lives at home and in business on a daily basis can preserve and nourish our hearts, and the hearts of our communities.

Some studies indicate that play is as critical to our health as sleep, eating well and exercise. So just as getting enough rest, providing your body the nutrients it needs to function, and maintaining a reasonable level of fitness is necessary to keep your most important piece of office equipment (you) in good working order, so is play.

Someone once said the opposite of play isn’t work, it’s depression.

Call to action

When you find yourself stuck, frustrated, irritated, anxious, bored or at a point where you just can’t face one more problem, shut down the computer, put down your pen, get out of your chair and go outside and play. Take a walk and smell every flower. Stick your arms straight out to your sides and fly (I like to do this in the grocery store). Skip. Climb to the top of a gentle grassy slope and roll to the bottom. For extra credit, try to get one of the people who stop to watch to join you.

Even if you stay at your desk, you can still play. Take out apiece of paper and doodle. Use all the different colors of highlighter rolling around in the drawers. Build a house of cards from the stack of business cards you keep meaning to get entered in to your data base. Daydream an exotic vacation.

You’ll feel refreshed and renewed. And you’ll be able to return to your work with more energy, a better outlook and maybe even some new ideas. And that has to be good for business.