“What’s the #1 obstacle to fun in your business?”

I asked this question of my amazing Play Circle members and the answers have been rolling in.

I was surprised to note that:

No one gave the same answer.

It seems each of us has a different experience of what keeps us from having fun, but there were a few buckets of similar obstacles that emerged.

Bucket #1 – Having an expectation or agenda makes things less fun.

This might look like needing to be perfect and control the outcome, and judging our progress accordingly.

It might be a desire to push for more speed, money or clients than we currently have.

Expectations seem to make us less happy with the results we get and the process of getting there.

Bucket #2 – “Shoulds” make things less fun.

Thinking you should be:

  • Working hard(er)
  • Focusing on “what matters”
  • Doing it “properly”
  • Creating more money, results, progress
  • Moving faster
  • Following the rules

When we pile “shoulds” onto ourselves, life gets less fun.

Bucket #3 – Focusing on what other people think sucks the fun out of it.

This might look like fear of rejection, disapproval or judgement. Or whether or not you stand out from the competition.

When your focus shifts away from what you’re creating and onto what other people think about it, the fun factor decreases.

There is one factor each of the obstacles to fun had in common:

PRESSURE.

Each obstacle creates pressure within us to be different, better or more than we are. They add tension and constriction that inhibits performance.

And yet…

There’s a pervasive belief that we need pressure (or at least “good” pressure) in order to perform.

Because without pressure to motivate me, I’d just sit on the couch eating potato chips and binge-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, right?

It makes sense that we’d hold onto pressure as long as it looks like I need it to take care of myself, create the things I desire, and be happy.

This is a well-practiced theory that just doesn’t look true to me. At least, I think it’s worth testing to see…

Is pressure really necessary? Does it help me perform better or worse?

I have two hypotheses that I’ve been exploring both in my personal life and with clients.

When you have less pressure, you have more fun, which results in better performance.

I’ve noticed that the less I pile on shoulds and expectations, the lighter things get. It’s more enjoyable, which enhances my ability to know what to do and perform at a high level.

And this is the one that gets me most excited::

You are born inherently creative and playful; pressure is something that gets added.

It means that there’s nothing missing.

You don’t need to learn the skill of creativity and playfulness. You don’t need to learn how to be happy.

You were designed for it.

It wasn’t until you learned how to “should” all over yourself, judge yourself according to expectations, and worry about what other people think that you stopped playing.

So when you drop that pressure, you’re back to your natural state of creativity and play.

Now, I’ve spent most of my life creating pressure in various forms in order to stay motivated and it worked (or seemed to) — so you better believe I had to test it out for myself.

My results so far show that life is definitely more fun and enjoyable without pressure. In fact, I continue to test the extremes to see, “How little pressure do I need?”

I invite you to test this out for yourself, in whatever way feels good for you. That’s one of the things I’ll be inviting people to do with me in my upcoming “Playing In Business and (Un)Marketing” experience.

I submit these questions to you for exploration this week:

Where are you creating pressure?

What if you drop it?

You might notice where there is pressure in your life, and inquire. Do you actually need it? What would it feel like without it?

Yours in creative play,

Steph