March 31, 2017 Aaron Kessler

Play an Important Skill for Entrepreneurs

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Play is one of the most important skills for an entrepreneur to engage in regularly

Play can increase creativity, reduce stress, therefore, increasing overall performance with improving your overall mood and productivity level. The act of playing as you did as a child could be the difference between failure and success.

Research clearly shows know that kids utilize various methods of play as their brains develop. Play teaches children how to interact with others, how the world around them works and creates healthy neurological connections that last into adulthood. Lack of play results in an underdeveloped frontal lobe and neuron connections.

Want to Be Successful? Have Fun and play; seriously.

A Michigan State University study found that children who participated in playful arts and craft activities were more likely to own businesses or generate patents. According to Rex LaMore at Michigan State University’s Center for Community and Economic Development, “If you started as a young child and continued in your adult years, you’re more likely to be an inventor as measured by the number of patents generated, businesses formed or articles published.”

Play an Important Skill for Entrepreneurs

Play, especially in adulthood, helps to increase innovation and creativity, which leads to business success.

Understanding the brain and how it works is a relatively new phenomenon, but already scientists can determine who has developed “play deprived” and who has not. Researcher Jaak Panksepp at Washington State University noted that “play activates the whole neocortex … and we found that of the 1,200 genes that were measured, about one-third of them were significantly changed just by having a half-hour of play.”

If play impacts at least 33 percent of our brains, think about how much more successful you can be by adding a little playtime to your day.

The benefits of play aren’t exclusively recommended by researchers and scientists in the field.

kids basketball 300x214 - Play an Important Skill for EntrepreneursThere is a reason Google employees are encouraged to play beach volleyball and/or go bowling or rock climbing.  LinkedIn promotes employees to play foosball and ping-pong. Engaging in play helps boost workplace productivity and creativity in every way imaginable. The most successful tech firms take advantage of play to build creativity and productivity into the workplace, and you should do this as well.

No matter how much research supports the benefits of play, the underlying perception in our society is that play is for children. After a certain age we are told to “grow up,” and suddenly play is less acceptable.

Do you ever see adults playing with GI Joe’s or women playing with Barbie Dolls? Just let the image of a professional 30-something woman playing with a Barbie sink in for a moment. If you felt the image was strange or bizarre in some way, you’re not alone. This is how society negatively portrays play.

There are all types of judgments about what kind of play activity is allowed as an adult, but all of these distract us from connecting with play activities that can improve the quality and satisfaction levels of our lives.

clown children 271591 960 720 300x225 - Play an Important Skill for EntrepreneursIf you’re having trouble thinking of what it might mean for you to play more, here are some ways to begin:
1. Take a “play history.”

Consider what you used to enjoy as a child. You probably have some vivid and fond memories of play. Use these as a basis to develop a few ideas for ‘adult’ play. Did you played a sport in high school that you’d like to get involved with again; maybe sketching and crafts were what made you happy as a child or was it playing a musical instrument. Although very much an inactive activity, video games can improve creativity, reduce stress and improve overall well-being. They provide a mental break from the day to day stresses and routines.
2. Learn group or partner play.

Group play adds extra elements absent from individual play. A practice such as a group session of tag or finer fencing not only engages with creativity, but it also creates connection and bonding with others through a brain chemical called oxytocin. The trust involved in some of the poses and activities creates an added benefit of empathy, which is transformative for all involved in the group play session.

3. Practice Yoga or Pilates.

Learning yoga or Pilates can be both humbling and incredibly fun while getting into great physical shape. Not only will your mental and physical healthy improve, but you’ll also add years to your life along with great flexibility. If it seems intimidating, go slow and find a local studio that you connect with and move forward.  You’ll be glad you did. If nothing more, it expands your horizons and opens your mind to a new thought process.

4. Play until you drop.

IMG 6752 300x225 - Play an Important Skill for EntrepreneursThere are no boundaries in play; play is anything that takes you to another place mentally and helps develop skills. One of my favorite things to do is take off on a long bike ride with a group of friends; we’ve gone riding in wine country taking the time to stop and enjoy tasting rooms along the way while getting some great exercise and laughing about the week’s events.

Play is anything where you have the opportunity to stretch your boundaries and become more comfortable with yourself and judgments from others.

Play is more a state of mind than any particular practice. As long as you engage with something in this mindset, you will not have a problem finding ways to play.

Psychiatrist and Stanford researcher Dr. Stuart Brown has studied 6,000 case studies or “play histories” over decades, he states “A lack of play should be treated like malnutrition: it’s a health risk to your body and mind.” It should be a part of our everyday existence like breathing and exercising.

Reconnecting with play is a crucial part of a fulfilling and happy life and being successful in your working lives is a byproduct, of play! Now go play, it does the mind and body good.