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Here's a Resolution Worth Working On: Have More Fun

by Ross Smith on December 22, 2010


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Here's a Resolution Worth Working On: Have More Fun

Happy Holidays!

As we close out 2010 and look forward to the New Year, let’s take a look at a well honored tradition – the New Year’s resolution.

Celebrating the New Year is perhaps one of the oldest traditions we know of. Over 4000 years ago, the ancient Babylonians celebrated the new moon on March 23rd.  Years later, in 153BC, the Roman Senate selected the god Janus to represent the beginning of the calendar year. In 46BC, Julius Caesar established the Julian calendar, securing January 1st as the official start of the year.

The Roman god Janus, for which the month of January is named, was a mythical king in early Rome. Janus was the God of Beginnings - of open doors and doorways, and represented the passing of time, as stepping out of one doorway and through another. Janus is also depicted as having two heads, one is said to look forwards, while the other looks backwards, again symbolizing the act of going from the past to the future. Legend has it that on the last day of December at midnight Janus would see the past year and the next year at the same time. Romans began making promises to Janus on the last day of December in the hopes that he would see their sincerity and help them attain their goals. To mark the occasion of the New Year, the Roman’s gave gifts of dates, figs and honey because it was believed that their sweetness would flavor the year to come.

This legend forms the basis of what are now known as New Year’s resolutions.

Superstition has it that one could affect the luck they would have throughout the coming year by what they did or ate on the first day of the year. For that reason, it has become common New Year’s Eve celebrations – so all can spend the first few minutes of the new year with family and friends.

Now, in an effort to break in to the list of traditional top 10 resolutions – lose weight, quit smoking, eat healthier, exercise more, we offer up just one

“have more fun at work!” 

– and offer a few hopefully thought-provoking snippets on the idea of playing at work from some of the most inspiring thinkers in history and the most instructive contributions on the MIX –to carry you in to a prodigious and productive 2011.

James A Michener : The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he's always doing both.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy – 15th century proverb

MIX Story: All Play and No WorkThe CTO decided that he was going to blend work and play to such an extent that people couldn't see the difference. Bring fun to work. He then created an environment that was fun and supported the social values of the people he selected.  Blend work and play. He took away any rules and set long term goals for the firm. He then set his people free to execute.

Mark Twain: Work and play are words used to describe the same thing under differing conditions.

Plato: You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.

Dale Carnegie: People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.

MIX Story: Making Sparks Fly: People won’t work for “nothing.” Sparkies aren’t paid for their efforts. They are motivated by all sorts of intangibles - the pride of being selected as a creative thinker, the fun and stimulation of interacting with other innovators, the satisfaction of having one’s ideas heard, and the opportunity to learn new skills and apply them. The job of Spark Network leadership is to keep them motivated, to make sure that the work remains fun and satisfying, as well as productive.

Zen saying:The bow kept forever taut will break.

Gelett Burgess: There is work that is work and there is play that is play; there is play that is work and work that is play. And in only one of these lies happiness.

MIX Story: Soft R&D: So instead of looking at work as, well, “work,” we started looking at it as an infinite game, a martial art that is permanently under development. Every employee is a “Player” in that game which means they have an unconditional responsibility for inventing new “moves” in response to or anticipation of changes in business context. In high tech product R&D no new product release is the end of the game but a stepping stone towards a new, even better or sometimes radically new solution. Engineers are expected to keep inventing, to keep playing. That’s precisely the mindset needed in the field, too. In that sense, engineers are charged with “hard R&D” and the field is charged with “soft R&D.”

Mark Twain (in Tom Sawyer): If he had been a great and wise philosopher, like the writer of this book, he would now have comprehended that Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do. And this would help him to understand why constructing artificial flowers or performing on a tread-mill is work, while rolling ten-pins or climbing Mont Blanc is only amusement. There are wealthy gentlemen in England who drive four-horse passenger-coaches twenty or thirty miles on a daily line, in the summer, because the privilege costs them considerable money; but if they were offered wages for the service, that would turn it into work and then they would resign.

MIX Story: Foldit Citizen Scientists:  The power of gaming. The prospect of folding proteins could be rather off-putting to your average person. But a well designed game was able to people to play to learn the necessary skills for and spent untold hours on puzzles, for fun and science.

Richard Bach: The more I want to get something done, the less I call it work.

MIX Story – Tongal: “It’s the only place where I can play at being an advertising executive, be creative, make videos, and stand a chance of winning actual money!”

George Bernard Shaw: We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.

Heraclitus: Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play.

Isaac Newton:  “I was like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”

New Year’s day superstitions have it that you can affect the luck you will have throughout the coming year by what you do or eat on the first day of the year. We ask that you kick off 2011 with something fun – bring some playfulness in to work on day one to start things off right!

The MIX continues to build a great community of management innovators – sharing stories that will push forward the management discipline. We would encourage you to start 2011 on the right foot by bringing a little fun, experimentation, play, and collaboration in to your workplace – and making a New Year’s resolution to take the work out of work. If all these great and important folks above are talking about the power of play, wouldn’t it be worth an effort to offer up a promise of your own to Janus to bring more fun in to your work day?

 Brad Colby: “When we come together to play and be we are truly ourselves When we are truly ourselves it is wonderful and when we act collectively in that wonder we do transformative work for our community and our world.”


Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for 2011 !!

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