Getting Serious about Fun
This is the sixth installment in the series I’m calling “Alphabet for Leaders.” Today it’s the letter “F.”
Fun = what provides amusement or enjoyment; Playful often boisterous action or speech.
People talk about fun, believe in fun, encourage fun, and want to enjoy fun but they don’t actually have fun. Appointments postpone fun. Deadlines cancel fun. Deliverables delete fun. Problems push out fun. Frankly, I don’t see enough fun in the workplace. Do you?
If you don’t get serious about having fun you won’t have it.
“People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing,” Dale Carnegie.
Fun connects people, builds trust, and enhances productivity. I’m closest to the leader’s I’ve had fun with. Cross-country skiing, over-night camping trips, shooting guns, playing cards, a good cigar, or just hanging out strengthens connections. If you aren’t in a tough situation, it’s coming. Fun builds a foundation that sustains relationships.
In addition, fun builds trust. Fun helps ease the strain of offenses, relieves stress, and establishes “second-chance” environments. Furthermore, Stephen Covey clearly explains that trust enhances productivity in, “The Speed of Trust.”
Additionally, as a public speaker, I’ve learned fun opens the heart and mind of an audience. Fun assists hearing and understanding. Fun is a channel for new ideas.
Having fun at work?
Avoid negative fun like off color jokes or hurtful humor.
Appoint a director or fun.
Begin all meetings with stories about people you’ve helped.
Take off your shoes.
Set up a puzzle or some other game in your office or lobby. (Lego’s or some other toy)
Get up from your desk and regularly take a brisk, brief walk.
Candy dish! (or healthy treat)
Enjoy a group lunch.
If you aren’t serious about fun you’re too serious.
How can people get serious about having fun at work?
While writing this post John Baldoni tweeted “7 Ways to Enjoy others at work,” post by Mary Jo Asmus. I add it here as another resource.
How about instead of a “Director of Fun” that person could be called something else. We wouldn’t want this director to become “The Fun Fascist” of the company, would we?
Perhaps a title more frivolous … Head Jester?
A very interesting and insightful post. I use to think- who enjoys fun. Anybody or everybody? I believe that anyone who faces and fights the problems or challenges, enjoys. Action in time enhances the fun and inaction inhibits the fun. The busiest people enjoy fun the most and people who have a lot of time and don’t have anything to do, never enjoy the fun. Though they think that by not doing anything, they actually enjoy fun, but actually it is perception, not the reality. A key to have fun is to manage your time. Time is the critical factor to have fun. Fear blocks fun and trust enhances fun, so we should create trust in ourselves, our capabilities and in our actions. Fear is a force that motivates negatively. Fight fear with timely action and sharpening our skills.
Therefore, fun is a internal state of mind and those who manage their time and mind well, actually have fun.
Thank you for consistently adding value to the Leadership Freak community.
For LF readers, I’ve added Ajay’s bio to the Featured Contributor’s page. You can learn about him at:
Best to you,
You have added a new twist to this leadership discussion with your phrase “getting serious about having fun.”
In it lies one tip to always having fun and that is: Stop and see the humor in the twists and turns of daily life. Absurdity, politics, unreasonable people — can make you laugh/smile inside and spur you and your teams forward.
That isn’t the same as denial. If co-workers’ actions are truly objectionable, it’s important to speak up and set appropriate limits. Yet, many things are not directed at you and knowing how to laugh about it can bring fun (and inner peace) to your day.
Another interesting post — many thanks!
Love how you bring balance to your comment by explaining that having fun isn’t denial. Great point! I think we make a decision to either laugh or get angry at “work absurdities.”
I’m delighted you are sharing value by leaving comments.
LF readers can visit Kate’s website and see her in action. (Watch the videos!) http://katenasser.com/
Thanks for reminding us of something that is so easy to forget!
A mantra I’ve tried to adopt recently is “enjoy the trip!” Many of us (myself probably more than many) focus so much on where we’re going that we forget to enjoy the trip. We burn ourselves out attaining xyz goal, all the while ignoring people, relationships, and even our own needs.
I’ll never forget a quote I once read on some bathroom wallpaper: “Happiness isn’t a station that we reach – it’s a method of traveling.”
Thanks for the good word. I agree completely. We FORGET to have fun.
“Enjoy the trip!” Life isn’t about arrival.
Best to you,
Kent Williams, a team leader at Thomson Reuters, said, “I work in technical support, and at the end of our busiest time of the year, I received a customer feedback card from a customer that stated I was only ‘average’ in my customer service. I showed this to my team, and they got a great laugh out of it.”
Leaders should be fun, I definitely agree and am glad you wrote about it here. The good times is what people remember.
I, too, am “closest to the leader’s I’ve had fun with.”
Excerpt from ‘The Art of Business: In the Footsteps of Giants’:
“At Southwest Airlines, people are encouraged to express their personalities in their work and savor the individuality of each person. While they work hard for a cause, they also don’t take themselves seriously. In fact, making work fun is a trademark of SWA. [Herb] Kelleher [then CEO] is well known for clowning and bringing fun into the workplace. Nothing is too small or strange to be celebrated at SWA. SWA celebrates milestones, people with big hearts, heroes, and oddities.”
“Don’t take yourself too seriously” like telling others you received an ‘average’ in customer service.
Agreed, we’ll have more fun if we get over ourselves.
I do enjoy seeing you return and hope LF readers check out your business.
Best to you,
Appoint a CFO, not to be confused with a CFO.
Begin all meetings with appreciations of others who have helped you or others.
Take off your shoes… foot deodorizer first please
Set up a puzzle or some other toys…. make a kaleidoscope, mirrored Escher pictures are good for a brain shift! ‘Demotivators’ can spark a laugh.
Convert your desk to a standing work station…burns more calories and is easier to walk away from when you know you need to start your brisk walk.
Dark chocolate anything…and of course diabetic candy too!
Take the people to lunch on their birthday and/or annual performance review time. Another potential shift of the paradigm.
“The true object of all human life is play. Earth is a task garden; heaven is a playground.”–G.K. Chesterton
“You’re not having fun if you’re not falling down.”–me, 2nd day of snowboarding, 22 years ago. Still true today!
I tweeted the Chesterton quote. It’s great.
Time to fall down!
For LF readers, you can read about Doc at http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/featured-contributors/
He’s a featured contributor.
Doc, I like the idea of appointing a CFO. My husband appointed our dog CEO – the chief eating officer…
What a fun post! You bring up a leadership topic that is often considered taboo. I’ve heard the following question in different forms: If people are having fun, how can they be productive? Ha! The reverse of that question would be more insightful: If people are not having fun, how can they be productive?
I like your suggestions for fun in the workplace. I would add that it’s also important to find the fun in the everyday happenings of work. Rather than simply contrive fun, make it a way of being, thinking, believing and acting. Yes, there are times we must be deadpan serious; yet with all the hours we spend at work, there are more times to infuse our humanity, our spirit, our playfulness.
Make it a FUN day!
Love how you bring up the topic of contrived humor vs. a culture of fun where work is enjoyable.
I appreciate how you add value to our discussions.
Best to you,
Jen blogs with her partner at http://theexperiencefactor.com/the-x-blog/
I have always believed that “If you are not having fun, you are not doing it right.” Any job, task or goal is so much more obtainable if one is enjoying it. I have found that even in the harshest conditions there is always something to smile about. What we do in our work if so often such a serious matter (at least in our own minds) that the tension builds. By allowing myself to enjoy my work, even for a small moment, gives me the energy to carry on. When this is applied to a team it is infectious. Of course there is a balance but I for one always want fun to be a large part of any job I do and for any of those I supervise. Take the time to see what is fun each day. Mike
I get from your comment the idea of giving permission to have fun. It may sound simple but it’s definitely needed.
Love your perspective.
Perhaps it’s your next post, but I’ve noticed some interesting effects when it’s the boss that starts the fun – or makes it an oh-fish-all endorsed activity. Indicating when and what kind of fun is appropriate, and when it’s time to get serious again is tricky when you’re The Boss – so how would that work?
Because sometimes permission toward “fun” gets mis-read as “under-mining respect.”
Also wanted to mention the appropriate use of sarcasm in an office I used to work in. People would use it whenever they talked about falling short or making mistakes – or other people messing something up. So, you had people talking very pointedly about how “Smart! or “Aware!” or “Creative!” “Good at Planning” they were when these things were sorely lacking…it was hilarious.
The other fun use of sarcasm was “who got to the office first” game – it was generally regarded as an affliction. Thus, when someone was late they could verify that they were trying to win the game for that day. The best times were when people were fighting to be last, but right down to the wire of the last moment to get in under par.
Love your comments and question in your first comment.
Just a note on sarcasm. It’s really gotten me in trouble. However, the type of sarcasm that is aimed at yourself is safer.
And what about how to bring humor down. Great topic because it can hurt if you are trying to be funny when it’s time to get to work. I think the topic of the meeting or discussion helps determine when humor should end. ????
Also, I like Jen’s comment regarding contrived humor vs. a fun work culture where work is enjoyable but not necessarily about jokes.
Love what you brought to this discussion.
My gosh…fun is what it’s all about!!
We spend 1/3 of our life at work, 1/3 at home, and 1/3 in bed.
So the moral of the story is have fun at work, enjoy your home/personal life, and buy a good bed!
Buy a good bed! 🙂
What a brilliant post Dan! It is so refreshing to see someone promoting the importance of fun in the workplace. I consider myself extremely fortunate to work for an organisation that shares your view on the importance of fun and lives by the mantra of “work hard play hard”, which is in my view, definitely the best policy. Judging by some of the brilliant comments on this post there are a lot of others that feel the same too!
A wise person once told me that you should laugh and have fun with your work colleagues, because you probably spend more time with them than your families! A leader that can promote this culture, along with a mentality of hard work is a great one in my book.
It is also no coincedence in my view that some of the organisations that promote and boast fun and relaxed cultures are leading the way in their respective fields, I’m thinking of the likes of Google, Zappos and Pixar and so on….
Thanks for sharing such a great post, I will definitely share it the next time someone tries to tell me fun should be reserved for after work.
I used to work for a company that had a required “15 minutes of fun” break at the same time each afternoon. We’d stop in the middle of whatever we were doing, and would participate in whatever “fun” activity was planned. Silly things like playing “Bop-It” or Hangman or chair races… it really was a morale booster & improved our moods on those long work afternoons!
Awesome story! Thanks for sharing it.
An investment in fun pays off in higher productivity.
All the best,
Hey Dan :),
You always make me curious about all your subjects.
Fun at my work? hmm. I have fun in my free time, with my family or friends. I like to play ping pong, to see great movies, to dance, to swim when I have the chance, to play chess, to play in the nature, trips and so one.
At my work, I have fun only when the situation requires. Why I say this: because I have meetings with foreign suppliers for examples, and not all of them or me are being open to be funny some times.
Anyway I am aware of the fact that even we discuss important matters, the power of fun used correctly can make us fell more relaxed and productive in the same time.
When I was a student I made some presentation using funny stories at begging and continuing with serious topics, after that. I had some good results, smiling faces and more attention from my colleagues.
I was very very serious about fun, even more when I was a child, I smiled the most in my family.
I like to make people smile around me , but for doing this, they must be opened, and this is not happening all the time. I can not change people, I can only inspire them positively.
All the best,
I love the concept of ‘fun’ and I try to practice it every chance I get. It seems the best idea’s come to me when I am having fun.