The genius of play
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The genius of play

Written by Floris Koot – Co-founder and trainer at Knowmads.

“You don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.”

George Bernard Shaw


I love methods, strategies and new approaches. Most consultants, managers and leaders do. They are such a nice promise. Use this tool, method, strategy and your problem will be solved. They come in handy packages (buy now ‘the five step plan to..’) and everyone uses them, so they must be good.

I however want to point out a few weakening aspects they bring. Yes, even powerful methods have a weak side. The search for the best method turns many people into hopeful shoppers, hoping that this time they will find the solution. They sign in because everyone has signed in. I call this self induced conformity, sadly strengthened by all those who look down on people who never did follow their ‘solution’ (like Six Sigma, Prince II, Disc, Yoga, Tantra, or whatever). Many also prefer the safety of form, because then change can be approached and applied as a tool, having nothing to do with yourself. This even happens within methods that claim to bring you into contact with yourself. Often people try to be smarter than the exercise. And then when they use the method, it turns them partially into automatons. Why? Because following scripted steps may work in a factory or computer, but when the person doing them, starts to lose awareness and presence within the routine, the whole building collapses.


The thing is, the true power of a method lies often in

  1. the believe that it works,
  2. the enthusiasm it generates
  3. the attention it receives and or is applied with.

Read those three aspects again! And when the fad moves on, people assume there was something wrong with the method after all. No, it was you. It’s like in education: whatever the method of teaching, there are great teachers, who with full heart use it. Yes, some methods may be a bit better, than others or fit you way more, but the key question always is:

How fully present are you in it? Are you present enough to adapt to any new change?

What happens when you play more

And then I believe we all stopped playing too soon. Most people in business hardly know how to listen to their body, how to voice their intuition or even how to relate to others, other than in a ‘professional’ way. But the strongest people in any profession are not those that act their role, but with whom the human inside is fully present. I call this VITAL LIVING. And within it lies the Genius of Play. Start playing with any situation again. It can feel awkward, strange, people will look at you. But when you play, you’ll notice the following after a while:

  • You start to understand things on a deeper and more intuitive level.
  • You learn way faster.
  • Play makes you faster, more adaptable to new situations, and more often you feel in flow.
  • You behave braver, brighter and smarter.
  • You get asked more often if you have been trained in a certain method (I seem to apply NLP, Shamanism, Taoism, Sufism, Impro Dance, Dragon Dreaming and Jung, according to people I worked with)
  • You get away with things others cannot.
  • And I have experienced more gratitude, more magic and more freedom.

Only trouble is, people who stick to methods, think I should be more serious, or perhaps be more able to frame in a certain box. We want to be free, yet we understand and prefer boxes. Play is the way out, precisely because it isn’t a method, strategy or logical.

And those who dare to play, soon will find out, there’s a deeper logic to it too. Play follows very natural laws that all are born out of true connection; a connection that no method can ever fully grasp. “The map is not the land it describes” as Gurdijeff used to say or as Zen says “Do not confuse the finger pointing to the moon with the moon.” I say, try the moon itself for while and see what happens.

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