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March 26, 2010



The secret to great work is great play

Steve C.

Thanks for this post. I think a mention of Tokushima's awa odori would fit in nicely. Awa odori (fool's dance) is a festival where the general idea is that we are fools whether we dance or not so we may as well dance. Bon odori is not generally just about play, but I think the idea of everyone participating regardless of how you're dressed or how well you can dance applies.


Our little saying is "playing is learning by stealth" - it's one of the chapters in our 'zen and the heart of social media' book and also the fundamental principle of how we create our social media training courses...

As a fellow skin basher - loved the bongos clip :-)

Pamela Meyer

This is a terrific case for the power of play in life and work! Thank you for sharing the images and classic clips. We have been socialized that work and play are incompatible, when in fact, organizations that are thriving today have found a way to transcend the work-play dualism and create "playspace" in their daily conversations and collaborations. For more on the business case for playspace, check out the newly released "From Workplace to Playspace" http://tinyurl.com/yj8vrqa

Maren Kate

Great article! I really enjoyed this one and it has inspired me to go PLAY more today :)


Down-Aging has its benefits. Sounds like we all could use a little more playing!

Alan Schmitt

It's funny, I thought the quote was: "the opposite of play is not work, but depression", not the other way around. But maybe it's because I just want to value playing ;-)

Bruce Post

Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting the comment by Brenda Ueland. Her book "If You Want to Write" simply is one of the best publications ever, filled with practical wisdom about finding your True Self in a culture that wants to force you into some societal-determined conformity. As Brenda Ueland suggested and you are advocating, simply, go for it!


Can't even begin to tell you how much I appreciate the tone, spirit, and path of this post.

As a father (of two lilluns), an educator, a school planner/designer (here in the US and around the world), and founder of "Be Playful | Design + Studio," it hits home in a series of compelling ways!

My only regret is that I hadn't read it yesterday morning when I was working with Bruce Mau (of Bruce Mau Design) on a lovely elementary school in urban Chicago that is just woven together with play and the imagination of childhood. We'd have most certainly shared the post with our colleagues and the school's founder during the workshop itself. I know it'd have been a great idea-companion in the moment. But I'm planning on sharing it with them in the coming days. Know they'll be fans.

If time allows, I'd love to talk to you privately about an upcoming TEDx event (spring 2011) that I'm curating/organizing.

Our theme -- "The Wisdom of Play" -- seems to be something you/I would have a good time exploring together. Love to pick your brain about the actual event, as well as a series of global projects centered on "play" we're spearheading (which are related to the TEDx event itself).

You can track the event/theme/speakers via http://twitter.com/tedxbloomington + http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/TEDxBloomington/106050462750967 -- as well as simply keep an eye on the ever-evolving TEDxBloomington site: http://www.tedxbloomington.com/.

In the meantime, thanks for taking time to write this piece. A great last web-moment for me at the tail end of a full workweek. No doubt my TEDx planning team colleagues are going to be big fans of the post, too! Just lovely timing.

And I'll definitely be kicking around the "we can find inspiration in play itself" line you wrote at the end.



A great post Garr. This is a sentiment that is breaking through (and hopefully changing) much of today's business thinking. The old command and control method simply doesn't work anymore. This is especially true if companies are attempting to hire, retain, and motivate great people. Paying them more doesn't work; the work needs to also have meaning. People must also have the ability to more fully express themselves at work if they're expected to be innovative.


Great post! Sometimes it takes a child, a brief moment, or a blog post to remind us to loosen up and remember how to live. Sometimes we just get too caught up and forget that there doesn't have to be a dichotomy between working hard and playing hard. Thanks for the reminder!

Thu Pham

Dear Garr- my friend just sent me this video, which I think nicely prove how we are born to play: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lXh2n0aPyw It's so brilliant!

I guess once we understand our nature love for playing, our life can get easier yet much better :)

Thanks for the post!


Maybe the Bobby McFerrin clip can also be an illustration of how powerful it can be to find something in a presentation that resonates so strongly with an audience that they can anticipate what will happen and can take in and remember your material better. Things like the consistent use of slide transitions and section divider slides or presenting a series of question/answer, problem/solution pairings.

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