Lego Nightmare


My Fear of Lego

I suffer from Legophobia. I first realised I had this condition when I attended an introductory Lego Serious Play workshop run by wonderful Lego Meisters Duo Katrin Elster and Jens Hoffmann at the ever playful conference Play4Agile some years ago.

Prior to attending that workshop, I’d noticed in passing that as an adult, given a choice of playing with Lego or another activity, I always preferred the alternative (including doing chores!). And since building Lego didn’t feature in my job description at the time, I dismissed my aversion as simply a personal preference.

It wasn’t until I found myself having to first follow instructions to build a turtle as a warmup exercise and then use it to represent my thoughts that I realised the severity of my Legophobia.

My inner critic shrieked with pain as I struggled to piece the brick animal together. What’s more, I was surrounded by other adults who were clearly more adept than I was and I had to refrain from snapping back at offers of help.

“You’re rubbish at Lego!” my inner critic remarked. “Should have played more with Lego when you were little!” it continued. “Following instructions has never been your strong point!” it hollered. “Everyone will see when you get it wrong!” it sniggered.

“But the hard edges as so constraining,” I protested. “I prefer curves and round edges. I’d much rather be implementing my own design rather than following someone else’s. This feels like handwork. Where’s the fun in all this?”

Not to mention other perturbing challenges such as searching for a particular widgety piece in among a mountain of similar looking bricks which reminded me of searching for a needle in the proverbial haystack or, worst still, looking for something important and not being able to find it because I hadn’t been tidy enough.

Yet in spite of the clamorous voices in my head (isn’t  there an orchestra in yours?), Katrin and Jens had somehow created a safe space for me to first recognise my Legophobia and second to engage as an active participant so that I could learn from the experience.

Since then I’ve attended the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Facilitator Training run by Katrin which was one of the most demanding and draining training courses I’d ever been on, but also one of the most rewarding as it deeply affected me throughout the course and long after the course was over.

Letting It Go with Lego

The course enabled me to experience firsthand the importance of psychological safety (also known as safe play), a key ingredient to true play. True play is the place where deep learning takes place and, if you’re lucky, transformative change happens in what could be described as an enjoyable way. The playfulness of expressing my metaphors through Lego models helped me learn what true vulnerability means among adults and it feels just as Elsa described in her snow song. Who would have thought plastic bricks could evoke such as a sense of ice lolly freedom?

Hope and Play

My favourite insight to date from my Lego Serious Play encounter has been this. Just as Hope research reveals that a person’s past hopefulness in no way predetermines a person’s future hopefulness, we each of us have the choice to choose to play differently in spite of our personal play history. How will you choose to play?

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