Serious about Fun
Woody Allen said, “Most of the time I don’t have much fun. The rest of the time I don’t have any fun at all.”
On the other hand, Thomas Edison remarked, “I never did a day’s work in my life. It was all fun.”
Get serious about having fun or you won’t have it.
People talk about fun, believe in fun, encourage fun, and want to enjoy fun; but do they actually have fun? When was the last time you lightened up?
Appointments postpone fun. Deadlines cancel fun. Deliverables delete fun. Problems push out fun.
The trouble is, “People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing,” Dale Carnegie.
Power of fun
Fun connects people, builds trust, and enhances productivity.
If you aren’t in a tough situation, you will be. Fun builds a foundation that sustains successful relationships. I’m closest to the leader’s I’ve had fun with. Cross-country skiing, shooting guns, playing cards, a good cigar, or just hanging out connect us.
Fun establishes second-chance environments by easing the strain of offenses and relieving stress. It humanize and opens hearts.
Fun opens channels for new ideas.
10 Ways to have fun at work
- Avoid negative fun like off color jokes.
- Avoid sarcasm.
- Appoint a CFO (Chief Fun Officer).
- 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.
- Encourage your resident jester to keep it up.
If you aren’t serious about fun, you’re too serious.
There is debate about the usefulness of having fun at work. What do you think?
How can people get serious about having fun at work?
Or run a laughter workshop over a lunch-break – I facilitate these in the UK and they are a very popular and inexpensive way to “lift” a team.
Hey Mimi, I completely agree. I’ve used laughter in the workplace too as part of team event. Interesting response from participants; some absolutley loved the energy it gave them and others didn’t feel laughing at work was for them. They were an international team…..so I’m wondering how much cultural difference (in the context of the workplace) influences people’s willingness to embrace fun!
Interesting question. Perhaps some LF readers can share some insights?
I agree people have to want to engage in a laughter workshop – it’s not something we can inflict on them (lead a horse to water and all that…). However, I don’t believe it’s cultural: Laughter Therapy started in India, I’m German and I use it to great effect across the UK. Many other laughter facilitators are finding similar results across the world. There are of course always a proportion of people who will say it’s not for them, just like classical music or chocolate ice-cream (really!). I guess the trick in a work environment is to allow them to duck out without stigmatising them.
That’s a great idea! I work with a partner who never smiles and is always a downer! It’s horrible.
I really like to have fun and enjoy life. It’s really not that serious! Laugh a little.
I really believe in fun. I have experienced that people who are always serious, perhaps can not derive happiness from fun. Fun rejuvenates and energizes person.I enjoy even in serious work. Fun is the state of mind and it has nothing to do with external environment. It can be derived and enjoyed even in odd situations.I absolutely agree that Fun builds a foundation that sustains successful relationships. I also agree that fun humanize and opens hearts.
Fun connects with hearts of the people. Seriousness disconnects. Research shows that happier people live longer and also have less illnesses.
people can get serious about fun at work with inculcating tolerance power, humility and connectivity. People with preconceived and stereotype thoughts often find it difficult to have serious fun. The simple and perhaps the best way to have fun is to be human.
Thanks for explaining that a “fun orientation” toward life and work means we can even enjoy serious work. Frankly, engaging in serious work is fun. Perhaps when it comes to serious work, its variety that fuels fun. It is in my case.
I think the real downer on fun is people issues that we let taint our over-all attitude.
Thanks for another useful comment.
Ajay is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. Read his bio at http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/ajay-gupta
This is rich. Thank you for a hilarious photo that drew me right in. A day without laughter is not a good day in my book. Did a workshop last week with about 35 leaders – all from different companies. Asked “how many have had fun in the last month at work?” Not one hand!! I tell people I have a science background, I’m a joyologist… into the science of laughter. Interested to see what comments come forth about cultural differences.
I want your “job!” So glad you dropped in with a powerful story!
Point well-taken – as much time as we spend in our jobs, it’s a pretty sad state of affairs if we arent’ having any fun. I really like some of your suggestions.
Regarding the debate, I think it’s important to define “fun.”
For me, the most fun I could possibly have at work is getting really involved in something that I’m passionate about, that makes a difference to the organization, with other people who feel the same way. If I could spend my days like this, you’d never hear me complain about a lack of fun at work.
I know that not everybody is like this, however. I think an important leadership take-away is that it’s important to understand what constitutes “fun” to different people, and to help create a work environment that helps to faciltate that (as appropriate).
Fun is an absolute necessity at work.
Without it, creativity is caged.
When creativity is caged, it gets grumpy.
And a leader doesn’t want a team of passive-aggressive creatives. Believe me.
After some thought, I decided to blog about this post and push people to read it here. It is so.good.
I appreciate your heart, Dan!
You are a seriously fun people-lifter. Thanks for spreading the fun.
We need “like” buttons for these replies. These are great!
I agree with Reiter! Wish it all the time!
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I think the key here is in creating memories. Just what is the sum total experience peers and employees have on the job? I know how I’d like to be remembered after I’m gone in terms of how people experienced me. As a business owner, I’d like much the same for my business inside and out. Customers, partners and employees. What stories can you tell? When you look back and cherish memories, what is it that still makes you laugh, makes you smile? What are your favorite memories and why do they stand out? You can learn a lot from meditating on that.
My husband’s corporate job, more specifically the department he works in, has encouraged a lighter environment for their employees. There’s a break room with a Wii set up and employees are encouraged to use it when they need a break or to blow off steam. Personalities have also been encouraged (within balance) on the job. I recall sometime back that someone found an inflatable monkey the team decided to turn into a mascot. Jokes were made about it and occasionally one might hear a group of voices stand up and shout “All hail the far-seeing monkey!” It brought chuckles and broke the tension everywhere. The monkey has long since been lost during a re-org, but folks still speak of the monkey with fondness. Many times his department will schedule a team building event at some nice restaurant, or at a gaming place or something to get everyone together for something fun, or to do something they’ve never done before, instead of just work. It’s nice. My husband is a fun loving guy, and he’s so much happier with this group than some of his previous teams.
Now all this being said, I would also point out that people’s definition of fun also range. It would be helpful to employers to take a poll and find out things that their employees would consider to be fun. For me personally, I am pretty serious about what I consider fun. I don’t enjoy some of the same things others do, largely because I don’t find the activities interesting enough. Not matter how much fun everyone else is having, if I’m bored out of my gourd, it’s just not going to be fun to me, especially if I feel trapped into the activity. Oh I’ll try to go along, but the effect for me won’t be as intended. That may sound strange, but different people are different. I find joy in different things. And I bet if an employer polled a demographic of their various departments, they’d find some interesting patterns among personality types and what they’d consider fun.
I do think that overall, the more kinesthetic the activity, the more enjoyable for most people. Just like being talked at is not as effective as being talked with, similarly throwing “fun” at people is less effective. Give them the seeds to mold into their own personalized experience.
I cull cartoons from all my reading matter to intersperse in work. Everything from New Yorker cartoons to snapshots of funny signs in Car & Driver. Once, I had 5 people reading very serious medical literature for hours on end. I seeded the pile of literature with cartoons in between every 3-4 articles. It was fun to watch their reactions when they came across the cartoons and then started circulating them to the other readers. It made the hours go by a little faster.
Thank you for sharing this list and for all of the great responses! One of my favorites comes from Umpqua Bank that asks employees at its more than 175 locations to start the day with a “motivational moment”–can be anything as long as its not political or religious. They once started the day with a rousing game of “marshmallow dodge ball” and they enjoy the energy and engagement the rest of the day!
I love the way you have used cartoons in your office. I actually have 5 Cathy comic strips up at my desk and have often noticed people stopping by just to read them. It’s funny how I never really appreciated the comic as a child but now that I’m in an office environment it’s like seeing part of my life in print! Kind of makes me feel like I’m not so alone. That and a good laugh is always great medicine!
Debate??? And I missed it!!
What’s all this talk about taking the world serious??? (bonus points for identification of that statement)
Not sure if you mean having fun at work or recreation at work…
Sidecar: Having been a therapeutic recreation specialist (seriously) for about 15 years, there can be a distinction between fun (very subjective as others have noted) and recreation…that which does re-create you. It does, as Ajay noted, rejuvenate you. When you have an impairment, that is where therapeutic recreation jumps in and helps you adapt so that you can keep recreating. Or, if you have never had fun (!?) rec therapists can help you identify some options. If your life is out of balance, a therapeutic recreation specialist can help. Having fun may or may not recharge you, it just is…a state of being…anyone feeling funny?
So if fun is subjective, can work be fun? At least some of the time, why not?
If it is your passion, if it is about 1/3 (1/2??–if it is half your life read the preceding paragraph) of your life, how can it not be fun? Are there times when it isn’t, you bet…still…it becomes an attitudinal choice. If you are not having fun, at least some of the time, what is your role in the situation?
So, being the leaders we are, when you leave work each day…do you ask yourself… did I help others have fun today? Did I have fun? If you don’t ask, why don’t you? If you don’t do that, why don’t you?
Do you have a flying monkey?…seriously, do you? I have a flying monkey that does a jungle call. He has rubber band arms so you can fling around the office space. There are net sites that have all sorts of fun office choices.
There just are times when we need to send in the flying monkeys…or the ompah loompahs…still need one of those…
In summary, we need more fun and a lot less violins in the workplace…
Yes,fun will bring good atmosphere between peers! I agree ! Person with laughter and creating fun at right time will have network and edge over others. People do not have humor or fun in their lifestyle, is loosing something both personal and professional front! Forum like Toastmasters public speaking skills movement will train those person who really wants to be humorous and fun! please try!
Reading the blog and the responses has been really fun! Pun intended. Humor, fun, are key ways that we renew/re-create (as Doc says) ourselves. Renewing is the chief component in managing our energy and managing our energy is the key to how we live and work. Moments of laughter, particularly at serious times, are great stress relievers. Laughing at oneself, playing Frisbee in the hall, white elephant gift exchange, bad sweater day, funniest hat day, and the list goes on, and on, and on. Releasing our creativity to have fun at work not only relieves the stress, but improves how our performance.
Sometimes though…having fun is just that, don’t need a reason, don’t need an “outcome” or an ROI…it just feels good. That’s enough value! Jack Bogut (sp?) used to sign off his radio program on KDKA in Pittsburgh by saying, “Smile the fresh airs good for your teeth.” I love that and still use it today. I’m going to take a moment or moments today to have a little fun!! Thanks for the inspiration Dan, and commenters!!
“Fun” is a big important element in my company. I believe that employees and team members having fun are far more productive than people working just for the sake of a paycheck. To inspire fun, it’s important to believe in what you do, to enjoy it throughly and feel yourself appreciated and part of the company’s mission, not just another cog.
Apart from obvious fun inspirations like having company events, dinners, holydays and whatnot, actually having fun in your workplace can hold surprisingly positive results.
Love ideas for how to have fun!
This is SO IMPORTANT! One place I worked had Fun Food Fridays, when we’d all eat lunch together. (In the industry in which I worked at the time, no one ever stopped for lunch. Not ever. This was a huge deal.)
Great post for a Friday Dan. Fun brings smiles, laughter, and bonds. It breaks tension, reduces stress, and gives everyone perspective. I applaud your focus on this.
I would also add a few times when joking is not good — just to ensure that the fun is seen as fun!
– When someone else is truly upset
– When you are delivering a devastating message like layoffs
– When the underlying cause to a serious morale problem is not being addressed. The joking might be seen as disrespectful and diversionary.
A few additional ideas for fun:
a)Fun guessing contests – trivia, # of hits to the website, etc…
b)Bring in a massage therapist to give shoulder rubs. It may not be the traditional definition of fun yet it is so enjoyable!
Great post and discussion topic.
I bid all your readers a fun weekend.
LF Community, I have been out of town today so just checking in for a brief commennt – I think it is in moments of spontaneous and/or planned humor that many tensions between coworkers and acquaintances can be broken. A friend said after today she is installing legos in the lobby – I’ll bet those “kid” toys will help her staff go a bit farther toward serious grown up productivity.
Dan, aloha. Found your post through your tweet; now will have to go back and RT. Enjoyed your article and absolutely agree with your sentence:
“Fun builds a foundation that sustains successful relationships.”
Katharine Graham’s statement: “To love what you do and feel that it matters, how could anything be more fun?” has always resonated with me. Aloha. Janet
Great article Dan,
Given my website (Humor at Work), I am all about using fun and humor to achieve serious results, so I think it’s always great to encourage folks to think about this topic! I remind people that ideally it’s not a choice between fun and work, but a choice for mixing fun with work to get better results.
Companies such as Beryl Call Center, Zappos.Com, Barney’s Motel, Southwest Airlines, and scores more have made great use of fun and humor as a core value to improve customer service, employee engagement, reduce stress and ultimately improve productivity.
It’s also a key trait of many successful leaders – tapping into your sense of humor helps you come across more authentic, which in turn can help build trust in organizations.
So keep having fun Dan!
I think that fun in the workplace is important. Sure, I could toss in the cliche “Once you find your career path that you truly love, it’s not longer “work.” But for those that seem there are time the monotonous grind is just holding them back from productively, after a while I believe it becomes unhealthy.
About a year and a half ago, I posted a brief article on my blog called “Need Some Fun in Your Workplace?” http://www.geoffsnyder.com/need-some-fun-in-your-workplace – it contains a short video of co-workers taking less than 5 minutes to creatively collaborate a fun skit. I think you’ll enjoy it.
You touched on 10 of many great ways to have fun at work. If we remember not to take ourselves too seriously, we’ll live more abundantly and learn more about each other along the way.
Thanks again for another great post, Dan… good stuff.
Thanks for sharing the link to your blog. It’s always great to find new resources especially on a topic that can really impact a business.
I just went to your website (Humor at Work) and watched your demo video and have to say how incredibly funny and inspiring it was! I’m sending it to my CEO to watch and look through so we’ll see what happens from there.
We’ve actually discovered that several in our group enjoy singing Karaoke. So when we have group meetings, you can often find us at a Karaoke bar. It’s amazing to see who gets up there that you NEVER expected and the encouragement that comes from the crowd.
Another great post! . . . Thanks for the inspiration. 🙂
thx for the good word Danielle
I completely agree that fun is essential – I’m sure you’ve seen this video on YouTube which went viral a while back (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lXh2n0aPyw) It’s “Piano stairs – The Fun Theory”). If not, enjoy – it’s “fun”! 🙂
Thanks for sharing an added resources Sarah. Cheers!
Great post! I actually started putting out puzzles in our kitchen which is where the staff tends to hang out the most. It has been a great team building exercise because a couple of people are almost always working on the puzzle together. It also provides a great break in the day for the team. We are trying to be more intentional about having fun together as a staff. It is vital to our success long term. Thanks for the reminder.
Dan, great post with great value! Having fun and enjoying what you do and who you do it with are requirements for job satisfaction. I think it would be a great idea to appoint a CFO (Chief Fun Officer) to an organization. If your not laughing, then your not living!
Hi Scott, Thanks for your encouraging comment. Lets have some fun. Cheers, Dan
OK, I get the point commentators are making, and excuse me, sometimes I’m slow…oh, and the broken hip is a real hinderance. I’m all for fun and a light hearted attitude. I misunderstood: Work is fun. Some people feel uncomfortable, esp. in a scientific setting to feel pressured into …. Maybe it’s my Achilles’ Heel. I want to know the person that’s working for me, and what motivates them. I’ve hired people and taken flack for it, only to be proven that he/she had the right stuff. If it’s the right project for me, I won’t sleep, and it’s fun. When I’m on my feet, I’ll write a post. Because of my relationships with what I consider co-workers, I can lose best talent, esp. when they are young. “I got an offer, and I thought about something you said about loving what you doing, and…Essentially, to me, to steal a tm from the Army, it’s not a job, it’s an adventure. Every time I visit this blog, it helps me refine some plans I have … so thank you all, and whether I misunderstood the intent or not doesn’t matter; I’ve still learned a lot.
LOVE it- I’m with Thomas Edison- I have the privilege of loving what I do and doing what I love! Living in the war torn bush of South Sudan with 120 adopted sons and daughters infant to young adult who are teaching ME new definitions for the word fun, even if they do not have it in their language. Now that is talent! Can’t have too much fun or two many laughs! Both are healing from the inside out.