Purpose and Play Walk Into a Bar
Play is a topic close to my heart.
I learned some great lessons on the subject from my father who was, among other things, an itinerant play pig. Not to the exclusion of his responsibilities. Just the opposite. I think he saw enjoying himself – and taking his family along for the ride – as a responsibility.
Sometimes taking us along for the ride was interpreted literally. For instance, he rented a sailboat on one of our family vacations to Maine’s Little Deer Isle. The boat was a small daysailer, a red-hulled number just large enough to fit all we kiddos, Mom, and Captain Dad.
Eventually, long after that vacation, he learned to sail…
And yes, we did end up pinned to the rocks that day, in need of rescue by a guy in a small outboard. It was instructive. Fodder for great stories, too.
On the professional side, I saw Dad step away from the leadership of an organization he’d been instrumental in building for decades. The company had been bought several times by a series of larger and larger businesses. The ongoing shifts in culture, to say nothing of increased demands on my father to travel greater distances and spend more time away from home were slowly chiseling away the enjoyment level.
Work was ceasing to be fun. With no signs of improvement on the horizon, Al stepped into semi-retirement at 55.
I never discussed purpose with my father. Not in any explicit way, that is. When he retired, though, he was clear that his decision was driven by two strong desires: to do his own thing, and to bring fun back into the work equation.
I’m freely extrapolating from the available data. My working hypothesis is that, whether he would call the thing that drove him “purpose”, Al was committed to play. If he was going to work, any acceptable gig had to be meaningful and feed his inner play piggy.
If you know me, you know this apple didn’t fall far from that tree.
We’re almost halfway through this year’s IAM Mastery course, and we’re spending this lap around the Sun digging into the topic of play.
At the same time, I’ve been plunging into purpose. I’ve been reexamining my own, fishing for clearer, more useful language to describe what I, and my work, are about.
Not long ago it hit me that, rather than play and purpose being separate tracks, they are rails heading in the same direction, and I’m on a single train that needs both those rails to get anywhere.
While it might fly in the face of puritanical precepts concerning work – for which I never cared much – some very cool stuff happens when purpose and play walk into a bar, share a few drams and, a couple sheets into the wind, discover they’re long lost fraternal twins.
I’m not positing this to suggest purpose isn’t a serious thing. I think it’s vitally important – well worth figuring out and finding language for.
At the same time, I think we do a mighty disservice to ourselves, our children, our educational institutions, and our workplaces when we relegate play to after-hours, weekends, vacation time, and “only after you finish your homework.”
To paraphrase the good folks Down Under at “Build a Better Brain,” play lowers cortisol levels, raises dopamine levels, integrates different parts of the brain, helps us learn, solve problems, and a whole lot of other good stuff.
This isn’t to say that we, as responsible, conscious adults, should no longer tolerate serious moments or eschew facing things we perceive as less than fun. That would be silly at best, dangerous at worst.
What I am suggesting is that when folks begin doing their own purpose work, (or revisit their purpose) they pay as much attention to what unlocks joy as they do those things that provide keys to meaning. I also encourage unboxing play and giving it room to expand, to see it in fresh ways. Adult play doesn’t only happen on golf courses, racquet sport courts, card or board game tables, at parties or, for that matter, in bedrooms.
Nothing wrong with any of that, but I’m of the opinion that most of us miss the abundance of purposeful, playful opportunities that surround us, just waiting to be engaged with.
And yeah, you might bump into a few rocks. Like my dad and his sailing, I think it’ll work out – and make for some great stories.
Let me know what you discover!
Coming Down the Pike
Jump over to kenmossman.com and check it out!
Please pass the link on to friends – with my sincere gratitude, of course!
Let me know what you think, too!
Big thanks to the folks at Arcbound for their effort and support. Huge appreciation to Leif Alexander at Leiflion Portraits for his masterful, soul-reflecting photography! Have a look and let me know what you think!
David Goldsmith, much beloved mentor and one of the early founders of the coaching profession, digs into more of his work history – and the history of coaching. He shares how he met the late David Peterson and how the two of them created an extraordinary partnership built on the foundation of growing great coaches… because good enough won’t get the job done.
As was Act 1, Act 2 is dedicated to the memory of David Peterson, with deep gratitude.
You can find every episode of Mojo for the Modern Man on the podcast page of my website as well as Mojo’s home on Buzzsprout. You can also find and subscribe to Mojo for the Modern Man – and leave a review – on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Spotify and Amazon Music…
Work One-to-One with Ken
Yes, we can work on your purpose while making sure you’re not forgetting about play. We can also work on play without losing alignment with your purpose. In the spirit of great improv, great coaching is also about “yes, and.”
I have one opening for a new client beginning in June – why not you?
Even with limited space, jump on my calendar and schedule a “Wake Your Mojo” conversation. You’ll get a great sense of what working together looks and feels like – and when more spots open, you’ll already be at the front of the line!
Got questions? Drop me an email.
Thursday Men’s Community Connection Calls
Join an extraordinary group of men for our weekly Thursday Men’sCommunity Connection Calls!
These are free, open, one-hour calls for the purpose of connecting and being in conscious community and rich conversation with other men.
Come join us!
Thursdays at 11 AM Eastern, 8 AM Pacific Time.
IAM cohort # 11 launches in September, 2023…
And it’s never too early to start planning and secure your place.
Here are just a few examples of what men who’ve been through IAM walk away with:
· A stronger connection with their own creativity – and a commitment to get into action and create something. From works of art to new businesses, and everything in between.
· Deeper, more satisfying relationships.
· An increased willingness to face and work through conflict and discomfort.
· An appreciation for the full range of emotional experience. That’s a big deal for those of us taught to avoid and suppress our feelings, and IAM grads report that, along with learning to allow their emotions, they’ve grown to actively seek and invite them for the information they provide.
· Freedom from the burdensome weight of shame.
· A powerful experience of community, of being in rich relationship with other men, and a sense of real belonging, free of the need to earn, impress or prove.
If even one of the above points whispers (or shouts) to you, reach out this way and get this thing done! Now is the time.
We will be running an evening cohort beginning in September! Days, dates, and times TBA. Meanwhile, get more information here:IAM 2023.