"A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts."
--- Richard Branson
When I was in my late teens, I worked for an employer who frowned upon any jocularity of any kind during working hours. He saw having fun while working as a sign that the work must not be getting done if there is laughter. His philosophy was that work should be seen as a curse which meant that it is a punishment that cannot be avoided and that we employees must put our noses to the grindstone and suffer through the workday.
Of course there is some validity to keeping work as work and play as play. When we are hired to complete a project for a customer or one of our employees is brought on to work, it is expected that the time is used wisely and that the work does not become all fun and games. Problems arise though when all fun is stifled and along with it, all creativity.
"The man who does not work for the love of work but only for money is not likely to make money nor find much fun in life."
--- Charles Schwab
Finding the right balance of work and fun is usually left up to the individual. We can all probably recall a recent project that consumed all of our energy. If we really look back at the process, we may remember some little "tricks" we used to make the project more exciting, more interesting, and simply more fun. It is these tricks that allow us to meet deadlines and to be creative in our overcoming of the ever-present obstacles.
Since we know that we allow ourselves to have fun while working, and still succeed at our work, it only makes sense to give ourselves even more freedom to do so. In other words, if a little fun makes the project doable and satisfactory in the eyes of the customer, why not increase the fun in our work?
"You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus."
--- Mark Twain
When you think about the creative folks getting hired by software companies or the artists that are given free range to create sculptures for public parks, it gives you a sense of the fun that you and your team should be having in your business. The tech companies such as Apple and Google shouldn't be the only ones hiring creative, fun people. It is not simply the "artsy-fartsy" crowd that should have pleasure in their work. We all can ease up just a wee bit and take off our shoes for a while.
"I like to build things, I like to do things. I am having a lot of fun."
--- Walter Chrysler
Obviously, work is a serious part of our lives and helps to provide food, clothing, and shelter for our families and the families of our team members. And the service we provide for our customers should be seen as a serious endeavor, performed with honesty and integrity. But we can do all of this with a little fun sprinkled in as well.
This week, think about the places you go to and the services that you use and try to focus in on the businesses that seem to be having fun while serving you. I'll bet that you'll notice that the service is better and the products are top notch. I'll bet you will see more smiles and less anxiety on the faces of the employees. I'll just bet that you might wish your business was like that business.
"I find that the standard of living does not go up in proportion with the cost of living. The trick in life is to do things that are fun all the time."
--- Warren Buffett
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Advertiser - 2011 SGIA Expo - New Orleans
Outside of a craft shop in Illinois:
"Notice to all shoplifters: Please help us by stealing only the crap we cannot sell"
On the fence of a scrap metal yard:
"Warning: Fence Treated with Lubricant!"
Newcastle Tramway Authority:
"Touching Wires Causes Instant Death and $200 Fine!"
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