Come and join us in the playground.

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The need for playtime is not limited to creatives or young children at school. As experienced coaches we know the effect of confinement and restriction on the human spirit. Extensive studies on people working in highly controlled, rule-bound, ‘enforced’ environments show that people HAVE to have space to use their creative potential to stay sane. Forced to conform, they will eventually suffer breakdown and insanity – or start breaking the rules. The more rules that are created (3500 new laws introduced in the UK in the last 10 years?!) and the more they are enforced, the higher the rates of absenteeism, physical and mental illness and unhappiness – and rule-breaking. Order is one thing. Oppression is another.

I’m intrigued that as a society we react so strongly to the confining of animals yet fail to see how utterly entrapped some people are at school, at work and at home.

  • How is it that we’re shocked by young people preferring to live on the street, easing their pain with drugs, than to spend six hours a day in a tatty stress-filled classroom with peers they have grown to hate, being told what to do by someone who they no longer respect?
  • How is it we are surprised when Social Workers, having spent years training to care for others in need, decide that they can no longer handle the sleepless nights, the multiple case conferences and overwhelming paperwork and finally the blame placed upon them personally when they have been unable to prevent injury to one of the vulnerable people in their personal ‘case-load’, and for their own sanity, they leave the profession for ever?

Roy and I are creatives. I think the reason we get on so well as business colleagues may be that we understand what being ‘a creative’ entails: space for thinking and room for mistakes, approval, praise for the attempt – even if the initial result isn’t quite what you want – and a readiness to allow for an intuitive response to those inner prompts and to the

Southern foothills of the Pyrenees

world around us. Although our respective wives and children may raise an eyebrow from time to time (often!) and our colleagues in Powerchange may have need of the occasional bout of added patience, when that creativity matures, it’s life-changing. Awesome.

Roy’s ‘out of office’ passion is music – he has a huge personal library of songs, and a mass of detail about each song in his head. Mine is my motorbike (complete with my tent and clever little stove!) – I love the freedom of the road, the sense of isolation inside a crash-helmet, the solitude of more remote destinations, and camping alone.

Completely different? No. Music and motorbikes provide us with the ‘other-world’ thought-space we need to live and breathe. They provide psychological ‘downtime’ for our brains to rest and play. Both of us find that this downtime is often when we get our best inspiration and results in our finest work. We may tease each other about the other’s taste, but we both know how important it is to live with a ‘playground’ close by and go there often.

Every human being needs to play.

For those of us who have forgotten how, now might just be the moment when you decide to put playtime back into your life. Just a little warning though: to do that, it is more than likely that something else will have to go – maybe several things – and you’ll need to be strong. You will need to reorder and simplify your world and stand against the huge pressure most people experience to do what they are told by some ‘expert’ or other.

Roy and I both know about that. We’ve both reordered our lives, and continue to do so, and now maybe you want to do it too?

Come and join us in the fresh air of the playground! You’ll learn a lot of good things out here. We’re happier than ever we used to be in those stress-filled days.

And more useful too.

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