Playforce

Work and play are often seen as distinct and different, but the expectation of top talent has evolved. People crave a connection to enjoyable activities that deliver a sense of purpose and belonging. When work feels like play, the fun environment invites people to take on bigger challenges. To support the future of work, students, educational organizations, employees, and employers must adapt together.

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Welcome to your first taste of a new community-driven initiative that will feature special guests sharing occasional contributions. Interested in collaborating? Let’s chat!

When we think about work that feels like play, it’s not just pinball all day. The definition of “fun” is to spend time doing an enjoyable activity. When a team has fun with satisfying work that matters, the group’s true potential is unlocked and individuals are more likely to become indispensable. This leads to more generosity, laughter, caring, scientific questions, learning, gift-giving, and mapmakers eager to go beyond what’s expected.

A recent study identified 16 trends that are shaping the future of work. It found that, in addition to more flexibility and fair wages, employees want greater autonomy. Employees want the freedom to be creative and to find purpose in the way they spend their time. When this balance is achieved, people are happy and the sense of satisfaction allows them to do their best work. Along with more innovative productivity, this culture also leads to lasting retention.

As today’s workforce is transformed into tomorrow’s playforce, it’s important to consider the difference between work that feels like play, compared to work with playgrounds nearby. When fun activities only serve as a distraction, the facade of fun will wear off. It’s also good to remember that what’s fun for one person could be more of a chore for others. Personality assessments and ongoing interactivity will help you understand individuals and the part they play within the system. The better people know each other, the more inclined they’ll be to act themselves. Acting professionally shouldn’t mean dimming one’s personality. The more comfortable people feel at work, the better they’ll be able to focus on what’s important. Too often, attempts to optimize employees’ work-life balance stem from a flawed assumption that we must create boundaries to differentiate life and our work. Perhaps the opportunity and the future of work, is to create an experience where the two coexist as one?

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This caffeinated contribution was written by Elizabeth Tweedale. Elizabeth has (co)authored six books, exited an AI company called GoSpace, and is now the CEO of Cypher Coders, the UK’s leading coding school for children. She’s passionate about family, preparing kids for the future, and can be found in our Roasted Reflections group.

If the future of work is fun, we must guide children away from an outdated “workforce” and toward a “playforce” to activate creativity, productivity, satisfaction, involvement, and purpose. The world is their playground and no permission is needed to contribute. Education can be about delivering access to skills, tools, and community. When children are encouraged to connect, play games, be kind, and learn with passion, they engage not because they have to, but because they’re having fun. This empowers students and as they reach the playforce, they’ll understand the superpowers they’ve nurtured in their own areas of interest. Beyond the classroom, this translates into employees and employers who are more likely to enjoy their work when given the opportunity to do what they’re best at.

As we see/hear in the closing chapter of YDNTB, “life is too short not to enjoy your work.” Together, let’s change the equation to make work a lifestyle, which sets us free to have fun making a difference.

Perpetual

It’s hard to stop anything that repeats so frequently it seems endless. There’s infinite ways perpetuity could be good or bad, but never ending happiness, trust, love, hard work, fun, generosity, action, wonder, and learning seem like safe bets.

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It’s not whether you know how, it’s whether you will.

Being inspired by so many remarkable people (like you), has instilled a lasting appreciation for consistency within the entrepreneurial lifestyle. Perpetual feels like a cousin to persistence, so without airdropping the final chapter, here’s a short excerpt from the closing moments of You Don’t Need This Book: Entrepreneurship in the Connected Era.

As entrepreneurs traverse through the unknown, setbacks are inevitable. Each conquered setback makes an entrepreneur more resilient. As resiliency bonds with experiential knowledge, focused determination makes setbacks less distracting. Eventually, setbacks become more like interesting challenges for problem-solving entrepreneurs. This hardened mindset welcomes endless suffering. Such willingness to suffer unlocks a key to entrepreneurship. Passion.

Passion fuels persistence, and persistence is a wild card. Passionate persistence combined with obsession, allows anyone to achieve entrepreneurial success.

You’ll build when others don’t. You’ll savor projects longer and you’ll fight through dips that made others quit. You’ll be comfortable with uncomfortable and you’ll enjoy making a ruckus every step of the way.

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Belief in one’s self is contagious.

Hybridize

Think back to when you were a kid. Remember that feeling of waking up to a winter wonderland? It’s a snow day! Fresh powder may cause mayhem for some, but all that mattered back then, was how quickly we could get outside to enjoy the day’s frosty gift.

This week we received a few feet of fresh snow. I love the feeling of a blank canvas this provides. I also like to think that one signal for success as an adult, is found in those who have not lost their childhood spirit, so when our little one gets excited about playing in the snow, I make it a priority as well.

After a rushed breakfast, we spent much of the day on a sledding hill. I found myself reflecting on the interactions of this momentary community. The actors are always different people, yet often play the same roles. You have the first-time sledders who are curious, excited, and afraid. In contrast, the action junkies are pushing to always go faster and higher. The adults are on snow patrol, but the personality that I find most interesting, are the hybrids. These are the kids who appreciate the exhilarating activity, but unite others by creating space to ensure newcomers are safe and also having fun. There’s an empathetic maturity in their welcoming enthusiasm.

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The original title was Snow Days.

Fast forward and these hybrids continues to bring things together. We see them in technology, translating nerd to normal, then back from normal to nerd. They are the teachers who inspire our next generation and encouraging children to think differently. Community builders are often hybrids too, as it takes a metaphoric spider to weave, explore, and tighten a collaborative web of actors, factors, and instigators together.

There are many other examples of hybrids connecting dots in almost any environment and they’re all valuable connectors that play important roles. When we think through the lens of complex adaptive systems, hybrids are those who can inclusively identify all that may be possible. They appreciate the entire spectrum of different parts within the system, as well as, the interactions between everything. Almost like chameleons, hybrids have the ability to take different shapes in order to facilitate positive interactions between different perspectives. When this skill is applied through a holistic, positive-sum lens, the effect can be surprisingly wonderful.

For those already hybridizing, thank you, stay curious, and don’t underestimate the limitless value you bring. For those who may not feel such a blended spirit, continue to lead the tribes you trust, but allow intellectual humility to welcome doubt. Such empathy paired with a genuine interest in collaboration, will inevitably unlock fresh ways for those you care about to achieve even more.

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This year-end Tweetstorm was epic and left behind some updates to my website, including a linked library to explore all my Roasted Reflections – https://BenMcDougal.com/Roasted-Reflections

As we reach the end of this wintry ride, I’m grateful for snow days that provide an unexpected chance to slow down. These cozy times provide us a chance to rest and have some fun, while also reflecting on all that’s good. Cheers to these mini moments chilled in our memories, but also to allowing the freeze to melt as we let thoughts pass and stay open to next.

Santa is Real

Humans tell stories.

Storytelling is the way we communicate and a key to humanity’s evolution. The stories we share come in all genres, but each one builds a different type of connection.

Stories often exist in the moment, but some are passed for generations. The most successful stories humans have ever told may be science, religion, mathematics, or money, but holidays may also land somewhere on this list of extraordinary, generational storytelling.

In the United States, 11 federal holidays are all observed in their own way, but Christmas (and comparable year-end celebrations around the world) creates a special atmosphere. In fact, the entire calendar and our fundamental sense of time seems to revolve around this cozy time of year. It’s when we pause to remember the year that was, and then look forward to what’s next. With such a shared inflection point, the year-end holiday season has created many recognizable symbols. Many holiday traditions revolve around religion, and just as many do not, but the legend of Santa seems synonymous with the holiday spirit. Whether you believe in Santa or not, it’s hard to argue with how well this jolly character embodies the essence of joy and generosity.

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Balancing this reflection made me feel like a scientist without a clear thesis, but watching our little one lean into the holiday spirit makes me grateful and full of pure wonder.

Our generational stories, decorations, music, events, letters, gifts, movies, and all that is the holiday season, can spark an undeniable truth. Great stories bring us together and if the result is anything close to the beautiful innocence of a child’s sparkle this time of year, I’m a believer and thankful that Santa is real.

One & Only

The weight of one is heavy. Something so rare makes us feel like we only have one chance to get it right. If it’s inanimate, we never want it diminished. If it’s alive, we seek the futile tranquility of immortality.

These desires pressed against the tension of time can make the uniqueness of one feel overwhelming. This can devolve into a fear of change and selfish preservation, but perhaps there is freedom within the timeline of now.

Being present is hard when we’re always reflecting on the past and thinking about the future, but what choice do we have? Altering the past is not an option. All we have is now, and yet, the present never stops passing.

Within this endless transition, gratitude provides peace. It invites us to cherish our one and onlys in life. Such appreciation acknowledges the past, allows the present to be a gift, and instills hope for what’s next. For all that is one and only, I say thank you.