Playful Mischief and Lighthearted Fun is Seriously Worthwhile
Playful mischief makes life fun. That’s why I occasionally lock my wife out of the house. My recent “hat on a broom” was the best prank yet.
I’ve been known to hide on my wife.
I balanced a hat on a broom handle with the visor visible from the hall. It looked like I was waiting to scare her. She thought she had me!
She crept down the hall and swatted the visor. The broom and hat went flying. I heard the ruckus and then gales of laughter. (I was listening from the kitchen.)
“People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” Dale Carnegie
Seize the opportunity to have fun while facing tough challenges.
Don’t make light of the challenge itself. But give yourself permission to enjoy people even while solving thorny problems.
- Enjoy people.
- Create environments where people enjoy each other.
Learn to do serious work in an enjoyable way.
View hospital staff dancing in an operating room before surgery. Relieving stress improves performance.
Healthy stress increases attention and creates optimal performance. Boredom lowers performance, but high stress impairs performance.
Advantages of fun:
- Stronger connections on the team.
- Robust morale.
- Higher pay. Lighthearted leaders earn more than their peers.
- Faster promotions. Happy leaders move up the ladder faster than grumpy.
- Longer employee retention.
- Better results. Fun pays.
- Increased innovation and creativity.
Bonus: Joyful relationships are a strong foundation for tough conversations. Laughing together makes tough conversations easier and more useful.
Do you see any smiles or hear any laughter at work? I hope so. If everyone’s brow is wrinkled, maybe it’s time for some playful mischief or good ole fashioned fun.
How might leaders promote fun at work?
Why Fun at Work Matters (Monster)
Love the idea of “playful mischief,” and I could not help myself from thinking, “I’d really hate that if I were in his wife’s shoes.” Mischief that is playful or mildly tortuous is in the high of the mischief-ee. I really hate being scared…so that’s not playful to me. AND I really get where you’re coming from – that keeping the silliness and joy and release when having fun together fuels motivation and reduces stress. Keep up the good work, and pass my sincere admiration to your spouse! 🙂
Thanks Human! You bring up an important point. Playful mischief is not playful if the recipient doesn’t enjoy it!
An essential ingredient in fun making is the ability to laugh at yourself first. If you can crack yourself up, then you can genuinely spread around the fun!
Thanks Scott. Ahh! Good point. If you can laugh at yourself, I feel safe when we laugh together or when I do something “stupid.”
Memories of C.W. Metcalf and his keynote presentation I attended years ago.
I actually drove him to the airport, during the drive we had a great conversation…. expanded on the “Lighten Up” philosophy.
Hey Bob. I took a moment to find C.W. Metcalf on youtube. Hilarious! Thanks.
Best prank I ever pulled:
New job in a very small design firm, the office manager approaches me and explains that we are all right knit here, just like family, and that she likes to celebrate each person’s birthday with an event in the office. I told her I sure would like to participate in others’, but I really would prefer not to celebrate mine.
With appropriated charm and warmth, she wore me down, so I asked, “Anyone else got a birthday in April?” … “No.” … “Put me down for the first, then.”
Fast forward … I’d become quite good friends out of the office with a Spanish expatriate and great admirer of the benevolent fascist Franco who was always teasing and pranking me in the office … the manager successfully enforced the tight knit, and we … and the two of them were involved. Come April first, I’d forgotten about my initial deception, and was genuinely surprised with prank gifts and a cake she’d baked. Blew out the candle, and, “Backatcha, guys … April Fools!”
Moral One, “Trust, but verify.” She had my personnel file at her desk, and could have checked it anytime.
She turned beet red, and he slammed the table and left the room amidst my torrent of apologies. He literally refused to speak to me for the rest of the week, and she for a month. I never got their unqualified trust back again.
Be careful out there … in a professional setting, one’s “playfulness” can be anothers’ “hostile environment.”
She’d put April 1st on my health insurance, and I’d never known until I tried to make a claim. Who da fool now, huh?😳
Great story Rurbane and worthwhile lesson to remember. Have fun with people you know and trust and who know and trust you.
I wonder what was so offensive?
Basically, she took it personally and felt humiliated. Powerwise, she and I reported directly and separately to the principal for everyone else – she for office/business and me for design/production. He because he loved to dish it out but couldn’t take it.
I never found out if she had misdated my birthday because of my initial mischievous deception, or after the fact in vengeance, because to mend fences this became “the one thing of which we shall never speak.”
An early education in the passive-aggressive dynamic.
Feeling humiliated is hard to take. You’re reminding me of the challenge of being easily offended. Generally, it doesn’t serve us well.
Part of fun at work must include sensitivity to people. It’s not fun to unintentionally offend someone. (I’ve don it and it feels bad for everyone.)
What are some ideas for having fun while everyone’s working remotely? Your post inspired me and I’m going to try a game of “I spy” during our next video team meeting.
Thanks Wa. What about stupid hat day?
Laughter lightens the load. And goodness knows- we all have quite a load right now. It also puts “the load” back in perspective. Thanks!
Thanks Eileen. Well said. Perspective is so powerful. If we aren’t careful. Problems grow larger than they really are…. and heaven knows they are big enough all by themselves. 🙂
An interesting post with the useful tip of ‘Learn to do serious work in an enjoyable way’! Good healthy organizations have good fun based activities round the year to keep employees motivated and get the best productive results. In the recent years, young HR Executives have tried innovative ways to keep the work environment stress free.
I was impressed to see a few ad agencies playing a light instrumental music in their offices. Similarly, a few MNCs [FMCGs] have kept small pots of green plants in the lobby, reception and cafeteria area along with small waterfalls. Telecom Companies too have tried celebrating the key festivals with adequate arrangements to give the appropriate feel and experience the collective joy. Celebrating staff birthdays on a monthly basis is quite common with youthfl organizations.
Everything is good in limits with good involvement of select staff to bring unity and promoting oneness across the organization.
Thanks Dr. Asher. The lesson I take from your insights is find ways to brighten the environment. I had thought of playful mischief in terms of lighten the environment. There’s also great value in finding ways to brighten the environment.
Another think I enjoy about your comment it that you don’t have to try to be humorous to brighten the environement.
How might leaders promote fun at work?
While I don’t get to do it as often as I would like, I host a coffee/teatime for my team every few months. This is an hour or so set aside where we don’t talk about work or projects. We spend time talking about each other’s hobbies or upcoming plans. Occasionally we will pick a fun game to play – such as “Two truths and a lie.” I’ll reward the winner of the game with a gift card. The game takes a surprisingly long time to play but it’s worth the time to de-stress while having fun with the team.
Also, at the beginning of each project, and when we have new team members, we each fill out a presentation slide about ourselves, our work personalities, our skills, what we are looking forward to doing, how our career journey is going – but also share pictures of our pets, a favorite recipe, what book we’re reading and fun things. In a digital environment where we’re working on new teams with people we’ve never met, it’s even more important to take time out of the week and get to know each other personally.