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How might we "work smart and play always"?

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

Taking the "work smart and play always" approach is an idea that I recently stumbled upon in a Simon Sinek video. He talked about how unsustainable a "work hard and play hard" approach is. Instead, he invited leaders to prioritize strategy and the importance of play as a key to implementation. Considering that play is the biochemical opposite of trauma, this made my trauma-sensitive and healing-informed senses tingle.

To play always, you need to create conditions to help your nervous system live in ventral-vagal or flow state most of the time. This is the nervous system state where creativity, innovation, social connection and problem-solving are more readily availalable to an individual. That is also congruent with purpose-driven work and servant leadership, which resonate deeply. This trauma-sensitive and healing-informed approach is the lens through which I explore the idea of working smart and playing always. Ultimately, I propose that it comes down to consistently do expansive activities or activities that strengthen your capacity to show up over the long-term.

Based on what I've learned professionally and personally, expansive activities are nourishing, growth promoting, and sustainable experiences that you practice on a consistent basis. These activities, practices, approach, or experiences add to your capacity to adapt to change or to your nervous flexibility. This is the case both when circumstances are easy and difficult. These activities help you take care of your physical, mental, emotional, and purpose bodies. For example, these include connecting with friends, family, nature, purpose, interests, community, teams, culture, and places. From my perspective a 'work smart and play always' approach is an example of an expansive activity or approach in and of itself.

I invite you to consider the following 2 components and the accompanying questions when trying this expansive approach on for size:

1. Work Smart Component:

a) What's your North Star or how do you hope to feel most of the time in your every day life?

b) What needs to be made explicit or clear with your teams, with your clients, and with yourself in order to set up the conditions for that to happen?

c) What type of container or process do you need to design in order to connect with your teams consistently and over an extended period of time?

d) What resources do you need to access in order to maintain the stamina required to consistently show up in the face of change, challenge, and opportunity?

e) What might change for you if you develop a type of diagnostic to filter what efforts to put your time, energy, and effort towards?

2. Play Always Component:

a) How might you leverage positive reinforcement to encourage opportunity seeking behaviors?

b) How might you set up an environment that promotes solution seeking behaviors that encourage creativity and innovation?

c) How might you foster an environment that enables physiologically safe connection and psychologically safe socialization?

d) Where might there be opportunities to gamify goals, team-building, and collaboration?

e) How might you consistently recognize and celebrate wins big and small as a way of building morale and momentum?

For more articles exploring self-leadership, team-leadership, and business-leadership, catch up on existing articles here!

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