Play Time

I’ve had a tough few weeks.

Nothing life altering, but mentally challenging nonetheless.

I’m doing some strategy consulting with a company, helping them on a very open ended problem related to their product/market.

The work started in earnest a few months ago. I was excited. They were excited. It was new. Lots of progress made in those early days.

Until I/we hit a wall about a month ago. Suddenly, the answers weren’t flowing as easy. New insights seemed to dry up. I kept pushing through, trying different things, new ideas. Some sort of panned out, but most were just dead ends.

That initial rush of enthusiasm seemed a distant memory now. Each weekly progress sync up felt a little more…meh. We told ourselves we were making progress, it was a difficult problem. But the energy of stagnancy was palpable.

Then an old friend reappeared. Someone I thought I had shaken off long ago.

Doubt. Shame. The voice of failure. Telling me I wasn’t good enough. That I was way in over my head. That this wouldn’t work. That the client was going to fire me.

I kept working anyway, dragging this inner dialogue with me like an anchor tied around my neck. The harder I tried, the more hopeless it felt.

Wow, I was spiraling. Over this??

That’s when I hit pause. I decided to step away and not do anything for a few days.

During this timeout, I was reminded of a commitment I made to myself a couple years ago.

That I would only do things that felt like play.

For me, that meant saying no to a 9-to-5, saying yes to investing, writing and product/strategy consulting (with ample time to loaf / do nothing / spend with loved ones).

Right now, this assignment felt like anything but. I was taking it way too seriously, too worried about outcomes, and too worried about how I was being perceived.

So I had a choice. Fire myself because I wasn’t enjoying the work. Or step back into it, have fun with the process, flow with it (good days and bad), and surrender all worries about outcomes or how it all looked.

I chose the latter.

We’re not out of the woods yet, but since that mini reset, I swear it’s felt like we’ve made more progress in a few days than we did in the past month.

Kids get this. That’s why they have seemingly endless energy.

Everything is play.

And we shouldn’t stop just because we grew up.

“This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”
- Alan Watts

Have a wonderful weekend,

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