Dr. Stuart Brown says play may be most important to achieve business success

And now I know why

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When I came across Dr. Brown’s book “Play – How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul” I was curious. The back cover claimed that play is as integral to our health as sleep and nutrition, and that it’s the very means by which we prepare for the unexpected.

How is it possible that the seemingly purposeless act that most of us view as a way to waste time, can have such impact?

The book’s blend of cutting-edge neuroscience, biology, psychology, social science, and inspiring stories of the transformative power of play offered a compelling argument to give it a try. And so I did.

As a kid I used to play jigsaw puzzle with my dad. Working on a 3,500-piece world map, I remember assembling the pieces for South America while dad was in charge of the ocean with its thousands of arrows illustrating the current patterns. With those fond memories I got myself a 1,000-piece puzzle and went to ‘work’ (or should I say ‘play’). Not being able to focus on anything but where each piece was meant to go…

I discovered profound parallels to the way I should view my business and life.

1. There’s no success without preparation and doing the mundane.

Before you ever get to connect two pieces together you need to sort them out – by sections, by color, or whatever way to narrow down the choices of matching pieces. Like in business it’s the grunt work we don’t like to do, but without it you rarely get to the good parts.

2. If you can’t see the solution to a problem, look at it from another angle.

Sometimes I’ve to look at a puzzle piece from a different side to find where it belongs, turning it and focusing on different aspects of the image on this tiny space. It’s the same with challenges we face in business and life. Before making a decision based on my one view of the situation, I know there is always another angle. It’s validation that asking others for their interpretation is key to my success.

3. If you still can’t find the solution to the problem, put it aside.

We all feel a sense of urgency to make fast decisions, but sometimes giving it space is the only way to make the right decision. When I put a puzzle piece back down, not finding its rightful place, I often find that when I pick it back up, I immediately see where it belongs to. I equally can feel relaxed about setting challenges aside, knowing that allowing time to pass will give my subconscious a chance to deal with it and offer up a solution in due time.

4. We, our collective society, needs each other to succeed.

When I started JOYVIAL I had the urge to show the world that I could succeed on my own, that I didn’t need help. But I now know that our communities are meant to operate like a big puzzle. None of us are perfect. None of us have all the skills and solutions to succeed by ourselves. Each of us brings our unique gifts into this world allowing us to collectively make the difference we crave.

Now you might say that these revelations aren’t as new to you. That’s okay. The question is, what revelations would you find if you gave yourself time to engage in playful activities that nourish your soul?



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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


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