Have Fun [on DR Thursday]

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I actually wrote and illustrated my children’s book, Play To Play, for adults, for grown-ups who’d lost the love of play in the tangled weeds of incessant competition. At the time I was facilitating workshops for people dulled by the daily grind of corporate America or the under-siege-mentality of education. When I’d scratch their paint, get beneath their veneer, they’d confess to feeling that life was passing them by. Their creative impulse was waning or worse, being snuffed. They’d forgotten how to play. They’d forgotten why to play.

I’d tell my groups that they ought to read James Carse’s book, Finite & Infinite Games. Most couldn’t be bothered. No time to read. Or, possibly, a book recommendation is a lousy response to someone who is suffocating.

In any case, I decided to condense the central idea and draw some cool pictures mainly because I like to draw cool pictures. Drawing cool pictures is one of the many ways I tend my creative flame. I thought that fewer words combined with fun pictures would be a better response to suffocation.

I wrote it. I drew it all. I put it in a folio. I stuck it on a shelf. I’d show it now and again to someone who’d ask, “What’s this?”

Inevitably, I’d ask myself, “Why didn’t you try and publish this?” Drawing the cool pictures, writing the tiny story, must have served its purpose: I took deep long breaths and laughed heartily during the process. I drew pictures to draw pictures. I had fun for no other reason than to have fun. I played to play. In the end, I suspect, this book must have been written for me.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about PLAY TO PLAY

 

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Delight In Delight

Dog-Dog throwing down the gauntlet!

Dog-Dog throwing down the gauntlet!

Tripper Dog-Dog-Dog has taught me a game. The rules are simple: I pick up a stick. He rushes me and snatches the stick from my hands. I exclaim, “Hey, that’s my stick!” (saying my line was the hardest part for him to teach me). And then I give chase. We have a small pond in our back yard and it makes a perfect track for running in circles. The game becomes more fun when I reverse directions and force Dog-Dog evasive maneuvers. Sometimes he drops the stick so that I will pick it up so that he will be able to snatch it from my hands so that I will exclaim, “Hey! That’s my stick,” and the game begins anew. The game ends when I can no longer breathe.

I’m not sure which of us loves it more. I find myself laughing uncontrollably at the look he gets in his eyes, the combination of intensity and glee. He delights in the pure pleasure of the chase. I delight in his delight.

During these bitter cold days, when I am dedicated to warmth and staying inside, he has a specific bounce and shirt nip technique that is the equivalent of throwing down a gauntlet. I know he wants to play THE GAME – not some namby-pamby indoor game, but the real thing. He is insistent and persistent – which has become another game: I pretend that I don’t understand to escalate his insistence. When he is near to outrage at the dull wit of his master, I feign a revelation. His relief is palpable. His excitement is unbridled, bouncing at the back door as I slowly (another game) pull on my coat and gloves.

Dog-Dog is helping me see life simply. Many things that used to seem so complicated now look to me like infinite games (see James Carse’s terrific book, Finite and Infinite Games). There is abundant joy everywhere if the game is recognized as a game, if playing the game well is more important than winning. If the game is not recognized, if winning is all that matters (a finite game), there will be serious faces, an existential tug-of-war, loads of stress, and dis-ease. “Hey, that’s my stick!” but with deep investments in stick ownership and control.

Each day that Dog-Dog tugs my sleeve, throws down the gauntlet, and bounds outside, I find myself bounding outside, too. I find that I am laughing before we start, before the stick is snatched from my hands. If the mark of a good life is the capacity to run for the love of running, the sheer joy of the pursuit, then I am blessed with a master teacher who believes that the best way, the only way to learn is in the doing: play to play.

 

title_pageGo here to buy hard copies (and Kindle) of my latest book: The Seer: The Mind of the Entrepreneur, Artist, Visionary, Innovator, Seeker, Learner, Leader, Creator,…You.

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Learn To Play

Illustration from Play-to-Play by David Robinson

Illustration from Play-to-Play by David Robinson

This is from a yet-to-be-published children’s book I wrote and illustrated based on concepts from James Carse’s book, Finite And Infinite Games. The girl wants to play but the gorilla is reticent to start a game until he knows what she means by the word, “play.” Are they playing to win or playing to play? The gorilla helps the young girl make the distinction and set an intention to play to play.

At first glance this might seem like a ridiculous distinction until considering that one definition of play (playing to play) leads to mastery and the other definition (playing to win) leads to an outcome that might include a temporary sense of gratification (or despair if you lose). Do you remember the school lesson about angles? At the inception of the angle, a single point, vector variance seems minute but the further the vectors travel from their source the greater the paths diverge. Artists that play to win inevitably stop making art: losing is a painful business. Artists that play to play master their technique; mastery, in James Carse’s terminology, is an infinite game. There is no such thing as losing if mastery is the aim. If mastery is the aim, how an artist creates is as important as what they create. A life of mastery is a simple matter of where the focus is placed at the beginning of the journey.

This distinction is at the core of what ails many organizations. When the focus drops to the bottom line and stays there, organizations play to win and lose their reason for being. In fact, in today’s world, the rules of the game modify every few months amidst the rapid pace of change; playing to win is a great strategy for losing everything. Playing to play makes an organization nimble enough to survive and thrive amidst ever changing circumstances. Business, like learning, like art, is primarily centered on relationship and gets lost at sea when the focus becomes achievement. Relationship is an infinite game.

The power is in a choice made before the game begins. Are you going to play to win? Or, will you walk a mastery path and play to become a better and better player?

Go here to get my latest book, The Seer: The Mind of the Entrepreneur, Artist, Visionary, title_pageSeeker, Learner, Leader, Creator…You.