OK! So, this topic could be construed as a little ambiguous ;), but let’s play anyway so please keep on reading to the end!

I have just returned from a whirlwind business trip to the UK to roll out a program called ‘Think Like A Customer’. Whilst it was a pilot, it absolutely worked a treat not just because of the brilliant content but because of the amount of ‘adult play’ that was involved, and how much that resonated with the group (a collective group of different roles and companies), creating immense impact and stimulation.

So clearly that part of ‘adult play’ is important to our learning because it triggers the right side of our brain, which we know is where our creative and innovative juices flow from, and god only knows, businesses need more of that today in order to come up with different approaches to the market.

What is key, as we are aware, is to give ourselves permission to think outside the box sometimes and even remove the box completely to create an environment where crazy ideas bring out the best innovation for businesses and individuals.

But the second part of the importance of ‘adult play’ centres round our own lives and the game of make believe.

We can tend to be so busy, having to do more with less, working long hours, having the wrong spotlight on us, stress levels maxed out, job positions uncertain, tension nowhere near relaxing its grip on us and many pretending to the world that everything is hunky dory.

So my question is, ‘How often do we as adults, actually play?’

Sure there will be corporate golf games, Friday night drinks, a few glasses of wine to wind down at night and then the 3am body clock, wake-up call we never wanted, where we wonder and worry and plot and plan about what can go right and what can go wrong around the challenges that work and life present.

But when your life starts to be run by these things and your relationships, values and lifestyle are compromised then it’s a great idea to take a moment, step back, regroup by asking yourself some honest questions, then make a conscious decision to shift your priorities – not necessarily a lot, just a little.

And if you are reading this far and you think this is not you, then keep reading because it might relate to the person you are sitting next to or the person you live with and that might be handy for you to know.

People want to be valued, they want validation, there is a need for external recognition that we all have, we want to contribute and help others, we want to know that what we are doing is working and worthwhile with most people having a need for challenge and growth and difference. But on so many occasions too many environments won’t allow this to happen. In this instance we may feel something is missing or that what we are doing has no purpose and as a result we might tend to second guess ourselves and end up resentful or feeling unfulfilled. As a result many people put bandaids on their pain, frustration and uncertainty and hope like crazy the condition goes away or fixes itself. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t.

And this is because our expectations are not equating to our current reality creating stress and tension. So we can do a couple of things to fix it:

A) Leave the situation entirely – walk away and change our reality

B) Do something about it.

If you choose the latter and want to do something about it then YOU take responsibility!

Responsibility for what you are saying and not saying, for what you are doing and not doing, seeing and not seeing, choosing and not choosing – I think you get my drift.

So where does ‘Adult Play’ come into this….. Well, to play is to not work or according to the definitive meaning to play is to “engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.” and how serious and practical is what we do for most of our life?

Take a look at these 5 B’s and check in with where you rate yourself on a scale of 0 – 10. Ten being on top of it all:

Be Daring – Take a break, stay home and look after the kids, take a holiday, read a book, go find a rock pool and see how many tadpoles you can catch, say ‘No’ more often to some things and ‘Yes’ more often to others, learn to do ballroom dancing (well maybe not!), capture all the sights and sounds and smells that you would have when you were a kid.
Be Curious – Look into every little nook and cranny of your life, take a trip down a path you can’t see an end to (like this path in Warwickshire England I tripped across last week), look at life through a different lens, ask ‘why’ and ‘why not’, see what is out there that you can step into or turn a hand to right now and bugger what anyone else thinks! After all, when you know who you are, what you want and what you like about you, then what other people think is not worth changing for!
Be Bold – Ask those tough, unanswered questions of yourself and of others that might appear basic and obvious at first but will give you the answers you want and need to catapult you forward. After all, many times it’s simply asking for help so repeat after me, ‘be gone ego’! WARNING: this comes with the added bonus of sleeping through the unwanted 3am involuntary body clock, wake-up call – Trust Me!
Be Game – Share your fun with others and if they don’t want to share your joy and new findings then that’s OK. It’s just that they haven’t reached the stage you are at – there is no less than or greater than another – they are simply following in your footsteps and will knock on that tree-house club room door one day – The Authenticity Club door, that is, where the stickers ‘Keep Out’ ‘No Entry’ and ‘Members Only’ have been removed 🙂
Be Prepared – Pack well because you never know if you will be on time, miss your bus, lose your wallet, find a new friend, get sick or lose a job, so your sense of humour and the ability to reframe a situation is critical. In true style ‘Dyb dyb dyb’.

We are all kids at heart, we just got taller and bigger and bolder and wiser. But we are still who we were when we were six years old. Let’s never forget that, because it pays to turn back the clock every now and then and see what we really were, who we really are today, and who we are capable of becoming tomorrow and that might be enough to help you make the difference you want to and need to make.

Let’s not just work big! Let’s play big as well!

Be Bold and Brilliant!

Bernadette McClelland - Keynote Speaker

Bernadette McClelland is the author of the recently published book, ‘The Art of Commercial Conversations – When It’s Your Turn To Make A Difference’.

Image Courtesy of Bernadette McClelland’s camera (This article was inspired by my recent trip to the UK where I not only walked my talk above, but walked the bejesus out of London, Exeter and Warwick and nearly broke Facebook by publishing my adventures as a result! 😉
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