It's even in elite sports.
Coaches are sending teams out with the instruction 'have fun'. It makes sense and it's a useful approach for anyone who leads a team.
Here's the traditional way. Years ago, I was a television reporter on the sideline of a provincial rugby game. It was half-time and I could clearly hear a coach haranging his players about their mistakes in the first half. How motivational would that be? Those players may have avoided the same mistakes, but their motivation would be to keep the coach off their backs, not the risk-taking and opportunism that leads to outstanding performances.
The 'have fun' approach only seems soft.
Most people want to improve. They want to achieve. The need to be competent is one of three 'universal motivators'. Universal, because the motivators work regardless of culture.
Having fun in sports or challenging assignments comes with benefits that tap into that self-motivation. Allowing ourselves and others to have fun allows us to relax while focused on achieving more - being more creative, taking reasonable risks, staying motivated when things don't go as planned.
Fun, and everything that goes with it, beats haranging, top-down demands for performance.
Yes, there really is a single thing that accounts for healthier, happier, longer, more rewarding lives.
The objective evidence is compelling. Psychologists at Harvard University have been observing hundreds of people for 75 years – tracking them down at home and in their careers. (One participant ended up in the White House as president, others in prison – as guests.) It’s the longest, most comprehensive study of human thriving the world has ever seen.
The researchers recorded everything they could think of: their subjects’ height, weight, I.Q., their blood tests and brain scans, their success in their careers - even what parents, children and spouses had to say about them.
After 75 years, one single thing stood out above all others. It wasn’t wealth, nor prestige. And it wasn’t I.Q. nor even talent, nor determination. It wasn’t even being unusually tolerant, or a good communicator.
It was high-quality relationships.
The need to develop meaningful relationships is one of the three universal motivators. Researchers have calculated that isolation is about as risky as smoking 15 cigarettees a day.
At home, partners in high-quality relationships support each other through life’s troubles – but especially celebrate each other’s successes. Those partners take a long-term view of their relationships so they see disagreements and even some lapses in behaviour as part of a 'work in progress'.
Couldn't we bring the same qualities to our relationships at work?