Are you a leader who takes your job very seriously but believes that work could be more fun?

Maybe you’ve noticed that when you bring a sense of lightness and play to your work, you’re way more likely to bring out the best in yourself, and in others.

Perhaps you’ve experienced the realisation that it’s not enough to love what you do – that you’ve also got to love who you’re being while you do it.

Or maybe you know that the only way to give your people permission to ‘bring their whole selves to work’ is for you to go first.

We are conditioned to believe that work is the opposite of play – but this is a lie.

In the words of Brian Sutton-Smith, “The opposite of play is not work – the opposite of play is depression.”

In his wonderful book Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul Dr Stuart Brown shares the indisputable evidence that play is a fundamental human biological drive.

Play is just as essential to our ability to thrive as sleep or nutrition.

As humans we are designed to flourish through play. Play is essential to our social skills, adaptability, intelligence, creativity and ability to problem-solve.

And in tough times, we need to play more than ever because, as Dr Stuart Brown explains, ‘”it’s the very means by which we prepare for the unexpected, search out new solutions, and remain optimistic”.

I hold an intention to experience my work as a form of purposeful, productive play. Bringing lightness and play to my work does not mean that I did not take my work seriously. It simply means that I understood I am at my best when I am in touch with my essential, playful nature.

I was interviewed this week for the NSW Department of Transport’s leadership podcast series. The episode was about being caring as a leader (one of my favourite things to talk about). The final question I was asked was “Is it hard to be true to ourselves?” My answer was “Often it’s quite easy actually – the hard part is remembering.”


Dr Charles Schaefer the ‘father’ of play therapy, said “We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves than when we are playing.”

Sadly, Dr Schaefer passed away suddenly in late 2020. His obituary describes Charles as a person who was “Profoundly gentle, unfailingly kind, deeply thoughtful, and always funny “.

When it comes to great ways to be remembered, these nine words are hard to beat.

This week I invite you play around with writing a nine word description of how you hope to be remembered.

Perhaps you might like to write these words on a post-it and keep it somewhere visible to help you remember the person you choose to be.


When we play, we are engaged in the purest expression of our humanity, the truest expression of our individuality.

The road to mastery of any subject is guided by play. To become a master, the pupil has to go beyond what’s known.

Dr Stuart Brown