February 19, 2008 § 6 Comments
I take play very, very seriously. Seriously seriously.
The NY Times magazine’s cover story Taking Play Seriously by Robin Marantz Henig has prompted lots of conversation and questions. My answer to questions I’ve been getting from parents, educators and others who live and work with children – play on! Let the children play and better yet, play with them.
I won’t go into all the educational, psychological, sociological, creative reasons there may be for my reasoning (way too long for a post). During sessions,workshops and classes with adults and children the element that is so glaringly missing from people’s lives nowadays is play (with a capital P). I’m not talking about play for show, for someone else’s benefit, “play” engaged in in order to talk about it at the watercooler or to post about on facebook, a blog or website. I mean the kind of play that rejuvenates and feeds you. Play for its own sake. Play for your sake. Whatever that is and no matter how old you are.
Think back to when you were a child – what kinds of activities made you breathless with excitement? What made you forget who you were and where you were? What made you feel strong and optimistic? What made you laugh and laugh?
Sure, as you get older your tastes change and fun means different things to you but some of the original elements and feeling states are still there and still exist inside you.
One of the first things I do when working with clients is to explore their loves. Then we work to include and incorporate as many of those elements as possible into their daily lives.
You CAN try this at home to get you started.
1. Answer these questions with the first thoughts that comes into your mind.
What do you love to do?
What adds joy to your life?
Who do you love being around?
What do you love seeing?
What do you love hearing?
What do you love tasting?
What do you love touching?
What do you love knowing?
What makes you feel alive?
2. Now, what can you add to your life today or tomorrow or this week to make your life more playful and enjoyable?
3. Do it.
Play. Have fun. I dare you.
February 11, 2008 § 8 Comments
Two issues that have been on my mind lately and manifest themselves in odd ways in people’s lives, work lives and family lives.
Women, Men and Work. Two interesting articles address the topic. The Wall Street Journal article Top Executives Value Advice From a Spouse; Some Won’t Ask for It by Carol Hymowitz discusses different partnership styles among executive couples. The New York Times Op-Ed When Women Rule by Nicholas D. Kristof discusses women leaders and the difficulties they face.
What’s the big deal? Why is the issue of women in the workplace, in positions of power, decision makers and leaders such an issue? Why the talk? Debate? The best person for the job should do the job, regardless of gender, race or religion.
I was lucky enough to be raised in a family that was gender-blind when it came to accomplishments and abilities. I didn’t even realize I might be subject to “ist” discrimination until grad school when a professor gave us an eye-opening assignment. It never dawned on me that being female might be cause for discrimination in the workplace. Needless to say I’ve gotten quite an education on that topic…
When I work with clients who have daughters they talk about how they want them to succeed, to be all they can be, to achieve and do great things. Why doesn’t this show up in more actions regarding the world and the world of work?
The other issue that has come up often during the last few weeks is Heath Ledger, Depression with a capital “D” and depression with a small “d” as described in a terrific article in Scientific American Mind The Medicated Americans. Celebrities have been coming out of the woodwork and going into rehab in the last few weeks. People have been talking about the kinds of prescription medications they’re on and how they’ve become a bit anxious about overmedicating. People seem more comfortable talking about meds then about getting other kinds of help.
Then there’s the very disturbing (yet not surprising to me) research about young children suffering from post 9/11 trauma and PTSD. I hate to be right sometimes and this is one of those times, but after 9/11 when I was working on a joint NYC/NYS citywide Youth Programs initiative this was a major area of concern for me. I asked, suggested, encouraged anyone and everyone to get these children help. I won’t even begin to discuss the “they’re just children” and denial of the extent of the problem responses that I got – that was when people even wanted to discuss it. Or the shortsightedness about how long the effects of trauma of that sort can last. Last week friends and colleagues were sending me the articles “hey- isn’t this what you were talking about way back when??…I remember you saying….” I wish I would have been wrong about this one.
I don’t usually discuss issues of this kind here but there are times I just can’t let things pass. Silence can be seen as agreement as the old saying goes.
For some odd reason many people walk around thinking that a state of constant happiness and excitement is the norm and any deviation from those feeling states is abnormal. In adults and children. So people run around trying to be happy all the time and quite frankly many of them talk to me about how exhausting that can be. People talk about their original attitudes If you don’t deal with something it goes away. People are people, kids are kids, they won’t remember, what do they know? They’ll get over it. Best case scenario, great. But – what if? Are you willing to take that chance for yourself and the people you care about?
When working with clients one of the areas we work on is becoming able to handle the not-so-much-fun-exciting-terrific times that are an inevitable part of daily life, and live in general. Again, clients with children find that educating their children to be prepared to deal with setbacks enables them to be the best people they can be.
So be brave about what’s bugging you. What gives you pause. What keeps you up at night. About the future you want for yourself and those you care about. Next, do something about it in a healthy, productive and constructive way.
Enjoy the day your way,
February 5, 2008 § 1 Comment
Was that a game? I mean was that a game or what???? It may actually have been one of the best games – ever? – and certainly one of the biggest surprise/upsets in NY sports history. It was nailbiting, adrenaline rushing, fun, exciting, hold-your-breath-until-the-last-second (literally). By the way was that the loooooooooongest second in sports history or what?
I’ve always been fascinated by the way that sports coaches get their teams to do their best. To win, to learn from defeat, to change and get better. I’ve read countless of tomes written by coaches and learn from their books, interviews and anything else they have to say on the matter. I think they’re a great way to learn about how to handle daily life work and career issues. There’s always something to be learned about how to set goals, how to train for the long and short term rewards, how to plan and how to get ahead.
This game was amazing. Here was a team who had a perfect streak, the Patriots, – but not perfect if they didn’t win the Superbowl…. (a quick note – I do not mean to be disloyal to New England where I was born but as an almost life-long NY’er my loyalties are here.)Then there was the team that people didn’t think were going to make it, the Giants. Did they listen? No. Did they let it get to them? No. Did they go out there and give it EVERYTHING they had? Yes. Did they beat expectations? YES. Did they win? YES. Are we giving them a great parade in the Canyon of Heroes? YES. Do they deserve it? YES. (Ok – I’ll take my pom-poms off now and get back to the coaching aspect.)
My sister Rachel C. Weingarten(http://www.careerandcorporatecool.com) is an amazing author and marketing and pop-culture expert and she had some great things to say about the game and the coaching strategy and how it can be a great metaphor for anyone. In an article about Tom Coughlin’s Management style
she talks about the beauty, brilliance and down-to-earth smarts of the strategy
“Furthermore, Coughlin and the Giants also did not repeat the errors that beat them in previous playoff games, said Rachel Weingarten, author of “Career and Corporate Cool.”
“The Giants were a marvel in learning from past mistakes, particularly Manning and Coughlin, and not allowing popular opinion or predictions to sway their determination to win,” she said.
Smart words about a smart coach and great team. It’s never too late to change your tactics and remember to trust yourself and what you know you can do.
(If you’re in NYC – go out and cheer our team on at the parade which is today at 11:00am)
Enjoy the day your way,