Five-year-olds must know something we grown-ups don’t. After all, most five-year-olds aren’t stressed out, creativity peaks when we’re around five and most youngsters laugh far more often than adults seem to. Clearly, folks, we have two choices if we want to balance this score card. We can start making our children’s lives a lot more miserable OR we can take a positive lesson from these small people.
Short of us assigning children management positions, what can we take away from these tykes that would help us live a more balanced, creative work life? For starters, how about their toys? No, I’m not suggesting you sift through junior’s sandbox, clearly you’ll have to buy your own toys. And better still, stockpile a cache for your office and share them with co-workers, clients and business associates.
Now this might sound a tad unorthodox, but trust me, I was in senior management. I took my management position seriously, which meant I took my office toys even more seriously. And I took them everywhere I went. I had goofy gizmos hidden in drawers, lying on bookshelves and stuffed into my briefcase. I even crammed the odd (and I do mean odd) item into my glove compartment for the commute home. Yes, just like James Bond (albeit a more fun James Bond), I was prepared for any serious workplace emergency.
What sort of emergency could cause a grown man to reach for a yo-yo? Why on earth would a professional business person need access to a slinky? Here are 10 reasons to take your office toys seriously.
1. Wacky office props are great “humor-aids” (HA’s!) – helping us access our sense of humor during stressful periods. Some psychologists believe our sense of humor is the opposite of stress, so accessing your humor is one of the easiest ways to combat stress.
2. Toys can remind yourself of the number one humor-in-the-workplace credo: Take your work seriously, but yourself lightly.
3. Toys reveal our human side. Some toys create nostalgic childhood memories, reminding us that behind our fancy workplace titles, we are all real, warm-blooded human beings.
4. Need a creative lightning bolt? Using toys to tap into our playful side may be just the thing the creativity doctor ordered. Both humor and creativity are about playing around with ideas, so any time we tap into that playful inner kid lurking inside us, we also tap into that creative child.
5. If you catch yourself saying, “We’ve got to stop meeting like this!” after every meeting, then bring in some toys to break folks out of their rut. Fun toys can turn your “bored-room” into an inspiration room.
6. Looking for a conversation starter? That silly gadget sitting on your desk might be the perfect icebreaker.
7. Adding office toys to a customer reception area can help customers and clients relax, reduce their perceived waiting time and send the message that you are a fun company that cares about it’s clients.
8. Stuck in another traffic jam? Then reach for the bubble blower in your glove compartment and start blowing away your stress.
9. Studies of prison cells, hospitals and gerbil cages all reveal the same thing: our physical environment has a substantial impact on our moods, stress levels and creativity. (If toys can help gerbils grow brain cells, then imagine what they might do for you and your co-workers).
10. Life is too darned short not to have fun at the office! Whoever said work wasn’t supposed to be fun? We know that productive workplaces are positive, and yes, fun places to be. If you are spending 2/3 of you waking hours somewhere then do whatever you can to make your working experience as creative, passion-filled, and as fun as you possibly can.
So take your toys to work with pride. And when you’re playing in the corporate sandbox, just remember to share – a little fun can go a long way.
Michael Kerr is an international speaker, trainer and author of “The Humor Advantage,” “You Can’t Be Serious! Putting Humor to Work” and “Inspiring Workplaces.” You can reach Michael at 1-(866)-609-2640 or firstname.lastname@example.org . For more humor at work articles, DVDs and other humor at work resources, surf on over to www.mikekerr.com .
“Just wanted to say “WOW!” Our group has had many speakers over the years, but none the likes of Mike Kerr.”
Richard Dansereau, President, NAPA Autopro BDG
“Michael Kerr is one of the best speakers I have seen. I highly recommend him!”
Veronica D. Bouvier, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Aspen Properties Ltd.
“Mike held the full attention of our senior management team for a full FOUR hour
presentation – no small accomplishment!”
Martine Rothblatt, CEO, United Therapeutics
“Our participants rated you as the speaker with the highest quality and relevance.”
Lana J. Larocque, Alberta Human Resources