Dr. John Cohn is a self-confessed nerd. He already knew he wanted to be an engineer at the age of eight, found himself a nerdy college, a nerdy job and even a nerdy wife, or at least a fellow engineer. As a nerd, he breaks the mold though. Because onstage, with his rainbow-coloured lab coat, his Einstein-inspired hairdo, and his party light headband, he is most of all entertaining and fun. That ties in with his motto: keep things playful. Bring a playful spirit into your work.
John says he is at his most creative, influential, productive and happy when he is playful at his work. With playful, he means being in a state of childlike innocence. So playfulness is not just about enjoying your job, you are even more creative, as studies show. You can also reclaim that childlike state, by imagining you are still seven years old.
Life, however, has a way of taking play away from us. The harder life gets, the more we have to work at staying playful. If work is not playful anymore than it is just work, which is why they call it work, incidentally. Six years ago, life became tough for John, when his son Sam died in a car crash. Sam was an organ donor, and when his life ended, he saved the life of four other people. Needless to say, John’s life changed forever. And trying to get his life back on track involved a playful element, although he didn’t think of it like that at the time. John and his family started making SamStones, small stones with Sam’s name on it. Now, over six years later, some 40,000 SamStones have traveled all over the world, and each stone tells a story. One of them even went to space and back.
Life will give you reasons not to play, and you have to fight back!
The importance of play | John Cohn | TEDx