Being a dolphin can be hard work. Every day, a dolphin needs to eat 5% of its body weight. That means it needs to find and catch a LOT of fish. I've been watching a pod of dolphins swim up and down the coast, hunting and feeding as they go. They are busy, AND never too busy to play. It seems dolphins cannot resist a fun wave to surf or a somersault now and again, just for fun.
Dolphins play while they work. On the other hand, humans have split play and work into two very different categories. Work is serious, and play is for fun. While we use the word "play" a lot: we play with numbers, play with ideas, play with scenarios ... we don't actually play, mainly because we believe that play doesn't belong at work.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Many of the things we seek in our organisations, like innovation, engagement, and belonging, are enabled and enhanced through play.
"Along a spectrum of rough-and-tumble games, ambushing, chasing, and hide-and-seek, every mammal in its own way knows how to play. Play has its neurological substrate in the thalamic region of the limbic system, and its contribution toward the survival of each mammalian species is a profound one. Looked at a little more critically, play is about affiliation and bonding, about prowess, future ranking, and the honing of skills. It is also a mode of self-discovery, of finding one's physical boundaries and limitations, of games that end in tears, and of establishing rules—ask any child who grew up with brothers and sisters. Play and learning go hand in hand. Through play we stretch not only our muscles but, through wordplay, our vocabulary, and our imagination as well. And lest we forget, wordplay is central to political and economic one-upmanship. Let no one say there is no point in play…" - Ian McCallum (Ecological Intelligence)
We create, learn, connect and rejuvenate through play. So, the bottom line: be more like dolphins.