Very often, when we think of the word ‘play,’ it generally has a silly connotation or even an infantile one. Your own perception might be similar, if you ask someone what they did with their day and they respond that they ‘played games,’ you might not think of them as being particularly productive. However, games are quite often how we learn best, but with one caveat: We have to approach them with the right mindset.
Games can and should be fun, but if we don’t jump in with both feet and really compete, or fully engage, we will likely miss the lessons available and potentially think of them as a waste of time. I am an intern with EYV, pivoting away from the world of coaching basketball. I’ve spent time in the collegiate ranks as well as time coaching JV and Varsity high schoolers. One of the earliest lessons most of the kids had to learn, and one that the college players all mostly understand, is that a drill might appear silly on face value, but if they commit to it they can reap incredible benefits. Having to dribble with silly glasses on that block the lower third of your vision could just be a joke that your friends record and put on social media, or it can be an opportunity for a player to learn to dribble without having to watch the ball come back up to their hands.
Similarly, when it comes to developing skills around human behavior and practices for presence, things might feel silly as you push your comfort level. Practicing a speech out loud and walking around your apartment by yourself can feel awkward, but perhaps less so than asking to practice in front of a friend before the big day. Many people opt for the safer path, or, like the youth basketball players who don't want to look silly, people will sometimes not engage in the practice at all.
Silly and goofy fun is usually a lot easier because it lacks real consequence to damage our ego, not to mention it tends to be immediately rewarding. You don’t usually have to struggle, or even fail a few times. Your ego is rarely at risk since if you do fail, well, you “weren’t taking it seriously.” But if you only practice the silly goofy type of fun, you are unable to develop the skills that matter when a serious situation arises. In those cases, failure might not only be at the expense of your ego. Additionally, success is far less sweeter. Frankly, you shouldn’t feel a sense of accomplishment for showing up to work every day. It is expected and if that’s all you had to do, it would be quite boring. The hard stuff is gives us a much more profound sense of joy, and makes it so much more worth it when we commit to it. Play. Be silly. Risk failing. Reap the rewards of accomplishment.