Do you agree that creativity is an essential ingredient to building a business? Well, if you’ve ever wanted to access your creativity more freely and you have kids - you’re in luck. Your creative ideas await you on the playground. 

Stuart Brown, MD devoted his career to studying the effects of play on adults and kids. He writes about the unshakeable link between playing and becoming more creative as an adult, in his book “Play”:

“When we engage in fantasy play at any age, we bend the reality of our ordinary lives, and in the process germinate new ideas and ways of being. For adults, daydreams may give rise to new ways of doing business. Fantasies may lead to new love. Visualization may lead to a remodeled house or a new invention.”

“When we play, we are engaged in the purest expression of our humanity, the truest expression of our individuality. Is it any wonder that often the times we feel most alive, those that make up our best memories, are moments of play?”

“Play is a thing of beauty best appreciated by experiencing it. Defining play has always seemed to me like explaining a joke- analyzing it takes the joy out of it.”

Somewhere along the way, adults forget how important play is, he writes in his book. But they remember when they come face to face with it again later in life and accidentally surrender to its benefits.

I know, I know. When running a business, play may not be the first thing on your mind. I feel the same. But I found that the time I spend playing with my son actually helps me come up with new ideas – if and only if I do my best to not think about work (or my phone, or anything that takes me away from the present moment).

Here are three themes I found in my son’s play that I believe are beneficial for all adults to learn from and adapt to our businesses:

1)   Kids never have harsh feelings

Some other kid knocks them down, something breaks, somebody misbehaves, let’s just say play gets rough sometimes. But kids pick up and continue their play without any harsh feelings. They don’t carry baggage around. They don’t waste energy thinking “does he not want to play with me because he knocked me down?” Kids are compassionate creatures and we could use more compassion in business too.

2)   Kids embrace simplicity

My son was playing with his car on the playground one day. Another kid of around the same age (two at the time) comes up to him with his own toy in his hand. My son stands up, they both look at each other for two seconds and then they exchange toys. No words said, no hands shaken. Just a simple exchange, with trust already built into it.

Kids play with simplicity. Complications were invented by adults.

I haven’t met anyone who never felt overwhelmed in his or her business yet. But overwhelm comes from overcomplicating things, usually in our heads. What helps when you feel overwhelmed is remembering simplicity and going back to the basics. The rules of marketing will never change.

3)   Kids embrace abundance

Kids don’t see much separation between them, others around them and their environment. They act from a sense of oneness. In their minds, everything belongs to all of us. Try explaining to a toddler that what they see in a store or on the street doesn’t belong to them and that we have to “acquire” it in order to own it.

This sense of oneness gives them a mentality of abundance, which many of us bend our heads to re-learn in adulthood. When everything belongs to all of us, there’s no reason to compete with each other.


Cover image credit: Kelly Sikkema