Permission To Play


As I listened to the long and very drawn out explanation of everything that was wrong with his life and all the reasons why he wasn’t happy, I finally interrupted with a question:

“When was the last time you went out to play and had some fun?”

There was a pause. And then an exasperated sigh.

Then his question followed.

“What do you mean?”

At this point our eyes were locked as we sat across the table from each other, so I just repeated my question to him.

He got royally ticked off.

But, since I do what I do and I ask “hard” questions all the time as part of my job, I pressed for an answer. I wasn’t badgering him, I truly thought it might be helpful for him to look at what he was (and wasn’t) doing to make his life even a little better.

After a few minutes of resistance, he finally decided to answer me and he figured it had been at least five months since he had done anything he’d call play or fun.

FIVE MONTHS! No wonder he was so blue and down and unenergetic in his life.

Everything in his life was suffering. His work was uninspired and felt like, well, work. His relationship with his girlfriend was on the rocks. His body was tired and lethargic. His belief in himself was plummeting. He described his life as having a heaviness to it. He was in crisis and he needed to do something different. Real different.

So I did what any self-respecting coach would do…I gave him permission to play. And I made it abundantly clear that I meant PLAY IMMEDIATELY. Because this, in my opinion, was an emergency.

During the next half hour or so, although it took a little prompting to open up the spigot, my friend thought of several things he could do that would feel like play and that would be fun for him. But he resisted making a commitment to do any of the things he came up with, so I asked, “what do you have to lose?,” by doing any of the things you mentioned. And you know what? The ONLY thing he could come up with was that he might lose some of the heaviness in his life. He even made reference to how good it would feel to smile again.

No, cymbals did not clash and lightbulbs did not start flashing with his realization. What he realized is that he now had a really big choice to make. He could do something different that might just get him out of his heavy darkness or keep doing what he was doing and stay there for sure.

Play and fun were flirting with him. And even though the choice of what to do might be obvious to an objective observer, for those of us who know what it feels like to lose the energy for our lives, we understand that he had to allow himself a little more time.

Well, I am happy to report that he took the permission he had been given to PLAY and stuck his toe in little by little. He did one thing that was fun and that led to another, then another. He started feeling like himself again and he started to do more of what he knew would feel good. He is back on track and that dark heaviness has lifted. All because he took the permission he was given to play and have fun in his life.

Do you need permission to play?

Please give it to yourself.

Or if you need it from someone else, I’m gladly handing you a permission slip.

What could you do that would put a smile on your face and in your heart?

Play in a big way, or play like my friend did, by dipping your toe in little by little.

Go play. Have fun. Your life and everything in it will improve.

What you do next matters…

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