Renewing Yourself: The Power of Play

What ever happened to unbridled joy in our daily lives? Remember the fun of play as children? Nearly everyone starts out in life playing quite naturally, with whatever’s available. We make up rules, invent games with playmates, fantasize, and imagine mysteries and treasures. Maybe we need to renew ourselves and start playing more. Something happens as we become working adults: we shift our priorities into organized, competitive, goal-directed activities. If an activity doesn’t teach us a skill, make us money, or further our social relationships, we don’t want to waste time being nonproductive. Sometimes the sheer demands of daily living and family responsibilities seem to rob us of the ability to play. “I have found that remembering what play is all about and making it part of our daily lives are probably the most important factors in being a fulfilled human being. The ability to play is critical not only to being happy, but also to sustaining social relationships and being a creative, innovative person.” ~ Stuart Brown, MD, author of Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul, Penguin Books, 2009. Dr. Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play, presents his ideas on this TED TV video: Play Is More than Fun. Sprinkled with anecdotes demonstrating the play habits of subjects from polar bears to corporate CEOs, Brown promotes play at every age while defining it thus: Play is an absorbing, apparently purposeless activity that provides enjoyment and a suspension of self-consciousness and sense of time. It is also self-motivating and makes you want to do it again. We tend to...

Noticing: An Elusive Leadership Skill

“Leaders often fail to notice when they are obsessed by other issues, when they are motivated to not notice, and when there are other people in their environment working hard to keep them from noticing.“ – Harvard Business School Professor Max Bazerman, The Power of Noticing: What the Best Leaders See (Simon & Schuster, 2014) As a leader, you’re responsible for making key decisions each day. But how confident are you in your ability to notice all pertinent information? If you’re like most leaders, you probably believe your perception skills are keen. As convinced as you may be, it’s possible that you’re overestimating your aptitude. What’s in front of you is rarely all there is. Even if you have a superior grasp of common blind spots, you must remain alert for unplanned surprises and acknowledge your cognitive biases. Even the most venerated leaders make egregious mistakes, failing to notice – or even ignoring – essential data. As they handle an emerging crisis, they may ask: “How did this happen?” or “Why didn’t I catch this sooner?” They should really be asking themselves: “What information should I have gathered, beyond the basic facts?” “What information would have helped inform my decision?” Imagine your advantage in negotiations, decision-making and overall leadership if you could teach yourself to spot and evaluate information others routinely overlook. More than a decade of research shows that successful leaders take no notice of critical, readily available information in their environment. This often happens when they have blinders on, focusing on limited information they’ve predetermined to be necessary to make good decisions. What YouTube Can Teach Us...