Laugh in the Face of Fear

Happy Beginnings Start with Proper Endings

Do you sometimes feel stuck in groundhog day in spite of your best intentions? Or perhaps you dream of escaping messy endings and long for better beginnings? According to one school of systemic thinking, the secret to happy beginnings are happy endings. Join us in a laughterful session on the secret to enabling happier beginnings and endings grounded in play science because transformative change happens when we laugh in the face of fear.

Upcoming Workshop: From Halloween to Festive Cheer – Towards Better Beginnings on 15 October 2021

Better prepare for new beginnings by joining us in a playful exploration of the vital themes of beginning, belonging and ending. In this highly interactive workshop you’ll have several chances to play at your edge on professional and personal topics of your choice in order to glean the necessary resources and learnings that make up the foundation of your new beginnings. You’ll be invited to explore core play memories that make up your play history and, in doing so, get the chance to reflect on, restore and resource your playful self. You’ll have the option to work on your own, in small groups as well as the whole group in order to identify and connect with what’s truly vital for you to flourish in your next beginning.

This workshop is part of the Four Seasons of Play 2021 programme. Each workshop can be enjoyed independently or as a combination of modules in a year-long programme where you’ll learn about true play, how to cultivate your play intelligence and shift towards a play mindset as the seasons change. Play your cards right and you’ll grow as a person as well as a leader by becoming more resourceful, resilient and real in these unprecedented and transformative times.

Workshop Takeaways:

  • Play Theory: Play Personalities from Dr. Stuart Brown, Play Learning Cycle by Scott Eberle and the latest play change theory Bobul Mechanics by Portia Tung
  • Systemic principles for enabling healthy relationships from start to finish
  • Increased self-awareness of your relationship with beginnings, belonging and endings
  • A powerful set of additional or renewed resources to create happier endings and beginnings
  • Increased resilience when dealing with professional and personal change.

This workshop is limited to a maximum of 8 participants.

Who would benefit from taking part in this workshop?

The Four Seasons of Play workshops focus on enabling individuals to develop the systemic mindset and skills necessary for an individual to lead effectively – be it yourself, your team, your family or your life. At each workshop, you’ll experience a range of eclectic tools and techniques you are unlikely to have come across before which you could then apply at work and at home.

Where do you sign up?

Join us for a taste of summer and delight your colleagues, family and friends with playful leadership by the seaside. Sign up for the workshop here!

“I Do Like to Be By the Seaside!”

The Most Playful Place in the World

Does the arrival of spring leave you heady with the prospect of the promise of the sun, sea and sand? That’s because according to the play experts, the most playful place in the world is the beach. Why leave the weather to chance when you can book yourself on an energising and restorative virtual half-day out by the sea while cultivating your creativity and leadership skills in the most playful place in the world?

Upcoming Workshop: Amidst the Sun, Sea and Sand – An Exploration of Your Relationship with Play

Whether you prefer quiet contemplation under a parasol lying on the warm sand or perhaps making the most opulent of sandcastles or taking a plunge in search of sea monsters, join us in this playful exploration of your relationship with play. You’ll have the option to work on your own, in small groups as well as the whole group as we go on a play adventure that will leave you feeling resourced, re-energised and refreshed inside and out along. You’ll take home with you your personalised play profile to keep you playing long after the metaphorical sand has been washed off your toes.

This workshop is part of the Four Seasons of Play 2021 programme. Each workshop can be enjoyed independently or as a combination of modules in a year-long programme where you’ll learn about true play, how to cultivate your play intelligence and shift towards a play mindset as the seasons change. Play your cards right and you’ll grow as a person as well as a leader by becoming more resourceful, resilient and real in these unprecedented and transformative times.

Workshop Takeaways:

  • Play Theory: Play Types, Change Theory and Attachment Theory
  • Increased understanding of your relationship with change
  • A personalised and more detailed play profile of how you like to play
  • Ideas for enabling change in yourself and others, at work and at home
  • Increased play intelligence in yourself and when working with others.

This workshop is limited to a maximum of 8 participants.

Who would benefit from taking part in this workshop?

The Four Seasons of Play workshops focus on enabling individuals to develop the systemic mindset and skills necessary for an individual to lead effectively – be it yourself, your team, your family or your life. At each workshop, you’ll experience a range of eclectic tools and techniques you are unlikely to have come across before which you could then apply at work and at home.

Where do you sign up?

Join us for a taste of summer and delight your colleagues, family and friends with playful leadership by the seaside. Sign up for the workshop here!

Talk on Playful Leadership: The Art & Science of Emotions

Riddle me this: What am I? The more you have of me, the less you can see. It’s darkness of course. One of the biggest taboos we face as individuals and in groups are emotions. When it comes to feelings, we are encouraged to “go dark” or in the words of Elsa, the Snow Queen, “Never let them show”. Yet it is our awareness and ability to listen and respond to our emotions that enable us to lead, live and love authentically.

Want to Play Some More?

Join me in an interactive and playful talk “Playful Leadership: The Art & Science of Emotions” on Wednesday, 21 April 2021 from 6.30 – 8 pm BST, to learn to “let it go” by exploring the role of emotions, how they are made and get the chance to play your way towards authentic leadership through greater emotional intelligence. Thanks to Lean Agile Brighton for hosting this talk!

Growing Children Through Creativity and Yoga

THE START OF SOMETHING MAGICAL

Welcome. All children are born creative. At Studio Tara we believe in growing happy children through creativity and yoga. Children’s yoga enables you to nurture your creativity through a whole mind-body-mindset workout that’s healthy, fun and useful for life.

WHY CHILDREN’S YOGA?

At Studio Tara, we combine yoga poses, breathing techniques and mindfulness to promote physical and mental well-being. Each yoga class is grounded in our knowledge and practice of play science to enable children to become who they want to be.

Benefits include:

  • Gets you fitter and more flexible in a fun and gentle way
  • Increases your ability to focus by expanding your attentional space
  • Develops your curiosity as a superpower by opening your heart and mind
  • Enhances your self-confidence to overcome challenges through gentle movement
  • Gives you the chance to discover who you are in a friendly, supportive and non-competitive environment

COME AND PLAY!

Children can bring along their adults for our online classes or invite us to your school if you go to school in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, UK. Contact us if you’d like to find out more. Here’s a sneak peek of what looks and feels like.

You can find out more here about why children’s yoga and why now on my personal journey of transformation.

This Is The Way

Happy International Women’s Day one and all!

Into Silence

Almost exactly a year ago, just before the UK went into lockdown for the first time, I set out on a journey of personal discovery by taking part in my first silence course in the beautiful setting of Gaia House in Newton Abbot, Devon. Given the majority of the course was spent in silence (which could ironically drive many people out of their minds some say), my only hope was to last the distance. That alone would have been enough of a baby step towards Enlightenment for me. I figured that would count as my bit for nudging humanity closer toward world peace, especially in these challenging times.

Going into silence for 5 days re-combobulated my mind. I spent many hours each day sitting in profound silence among 40 adult strangers. It felt daunting yet liberating to be free from electronic devices. Many minutes were spent in mindful walking practice around the tranquil grounds in daylight and at night (which made me chuckle inwardly because of the parallels between a brain-dead zombie-shuffle and a mindful shuffle for onlookers). Then one afternoon, when I least expected it, I saw Mara, my inner critic according to Buddhist tradition, appear as a small girl in my mind’s eye squatting down playing with the stones in the garden. She seemed really sad. When I saw her as she really was, I just wanted to give her a hug. Seeing Mara without feeling afraid of her opened my heart. I eventually completed the course in time to go home as the country went into lockdown.

Living Your Dreams Requires Self-Compassion

Fast forward a year on. To my surprise and delight, I’ve managed to cultivate a regular daily meditation and yoga practice. Two things that I never thought possible. And since I like to think impossible and lucky things come in threes, during COVID, The School of Play has had a extension put in (both virtually and metaphorically) to celebrate life through creativity and yoga called Studio Tara! Studio Tara is dedicated to children and family yoga where children and families can explore play through yoga and creativity, online and in-person (when we’re able to again!).

The training to become a children’s yoga teacher is one of the most challenging, fulfilling, daunting and enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had. That’s because for me, it’s one of the true tests in showing up as yourself in service of others by being your whole self. Think proper Jedi training, complete with meditation “Baby Yoda” Grogu style.

In pursuing my life’s purpose to promote happier adulthood through lifelong play, I’ve made friends with 15 of the most compassionate and loving adults I’ve ever come across. Who would have thought children’s yoga teachers make up one of the play tribes I’ve been looking for? All this is thanks to Ayala Homossany, an inspirational and awe-inspiring yoga teacher because of her humanity whose life purpose is to empower children through creativity and yoga. Happy International Women’s Day for life!

From Winter Chill to Daffodil Blooms

Spring Online Workshop on Friday, 30 April 2021 – 13.00 – 17.00 BSTBook your place here.

Riddle me this: What am I? The more you have of me, the less you see. It’s darkness, of course. One of the biggest taboos we face as individuals and in groups are emotions. When it comes to feelings, we are encouraged to “go dark” or in the words of Elsa the Snow Queen, “Never let your feelings show.” Yet it’s our awareness and ability to listen and respond to our emotions that enable us to lead, live and love authentically. In this workshop, we’ll visit the latest discoveries on emotions, from the role of emotions to how they’re made.

You’ll have the option to work on your own, in small groups as well as the whole group as we explore our individual relationship with emotions and how we can play with our emotions towards better self-management and personal leadership through greater emotional intelligence.

This workshop is part of the Four Seasons of Play 2021 programme. Each workshop can be enjoyed independently or as a combination of modules in a year-long programme where you’ll learn about true play, how to cultivate your play intelligence and shift towards a play mindset as the seasons change. Play your cards right and you’ll grow as a person as well as a leader by becoming more resourceful, resilient and real in these unprecedented and transformative times.

Workshop Takeaways:

  • Play Theory: Emotional Intelligence, Play Personalities and Felt Sense
  • A body scan of your inner coherence
  • Deeper understanding of your relationship with play
  • Ideas for increasing your internal alignment and resourcefulness
  • Increased emotional intelligence in yourself and when working others.

This workshop is limited to a maximum of 8 participants.

Who would benefit from taking part in this workshop?

The Four Seasons of Play workshops focus on enabling individuals to develop the systemic mindset and skills necessary for an individual to lead effectively – be it yourself, your team, your family or your life. At each workshop, you’ll experience a range of eclectic tools and techniques you are unlikely to have come across before which you could then apply at work and at home.

Book your place here. We look forward to exploring the inner life of play together with you!

From Nay to Yay to Play

Hip! Hip! Hooray! We’re delighted to announce the first ever online play workshop, From Carpe Diem to Carpe Annum 2021, created by The School of Play is full up and ready to rock.

Thank you to those of you who’ve written to me since the launch of Four Seasons of Play, an online play programme designed to mark, explore and celebrate each season of your life’s play adventure in 2021 in these challenging and interesting times.

Never Say Never

Some of you said: “Thanks, not this time… No, thanks. t’s not really for me… No, thanks but I’ll pass it on for sure.” Never say never, so perhaps tomorrow will be the day to play. Or may be next time. Or the time after that. Play works like a muscle so we never really forget so long as we’ve played in our childhood. It’s like riding a bike, or bowling a ball or skating on ice. The most important step is the first one. In any case, it’s never too late to start. And it’s always a good time to learn.

Learn to Look Beyond Optical Illusions

Then out of the blue, one of you wrote to say, “There’s something about this whole play thing that most people seem to have missed – myself included I’m sorry to say. Yet it attracts me as the missing ingredient to just making all of life wonderful – besides I appreciate it’s less serious than other forms of spiritual enlightenment.” This is what makes my heart sing. And may be it will make yours sing, too – if you allow it.

 Calling All Playmakers and Playmaker-Wannabees

Class of Playful Leadership Foundation I: Summer 2019

If you’re wondering what play pioneers (aka playmakers) look like, take a tour around The School of Play website. I’m hoping it’ll give you a sense of the kind of unadulterated joy that comes from having fun with complete strangers who become seasonal friends. Just imagine what you could do with this kind of energy (and it doesn’t come with any nasty side effects as far I’m aware).

With the weekend just around the corner, how will you choose to play?

From Carpe Diem to Carpe Annum

Winter Online Workshop on Friday, 29 January 2021 – 13.00 – 17.00 GMT

The hustle and bustle of modern life means that for many of us, play has become a luxury we just don’t have the time, energy nor ideas to do anymore. Without enough true play in our daily lives, we become trapped in a vicious cycle of low energy, low creativity, low resilience, low hope and low growth.

Here’s your chance to re-invigorate your new year’s resolutions (or throw away the already old ones and replace them with even newer ones!) in an unexpectedly fun, friendly and productive way. You’ll have the option to work on your own, in small groups as well as the whole group on a range of playful and thought-provoking activities and learn a smattering of fundamental play theories such as the Play Cycle and the theory of Multiple Intelligences to enable you to translate your dreams and wishes into tangible goals. Then you’ll create a master plan you can start to action right away to make 2021 a year to remember. 

Workshop Takeaways:

  • Play Theory: The Play Cycle and Multiple Intelligences
  • A personalised basic play profile of how you like to play
  • Fresh thinking and insights on yourself and your dreams, wishes and goals
  • Your personalised plan for 2021
  • A personalised and robust strategy on how to achieve your chosen goals for 2021.

This workshop is limited to a maximum of 8 participants.

Who would benefit from taking part in this workshop?

The Four Seasons of Play workshops focus on enabling individuals to develop the systemic mindset and skills necessary for an individual to lead effectively – be it yourself, your team, your family or your life. At each workshop, you’ll experience a range of eclectic tools and techniques you are unlikely to have come across before which you could then apply at work and at home.

What past participants say about this workshop:

  • “Probably the most fun I’ve ever had in planning for a new year!”
  • “It didn’t feel like the usual drudgery that comes with planning… I had so much fun planning it felt like cheating!”
  • “It brought me so much joy just looking at the plan… And I really enjoyed working through the plan over the course of the year!”
  • “The planning approach is so useful, I’ll be using it to plan for the next new year!”

Find out more abou the workshop here. We look forward to learning and growing together through the power of play!

Play for Your Life

“We make reality with our minds. And if this is true, then we can also break it with our minds. We can change the way things are by changing our minds about them.”

Lyall Watson, Scientist & Zoologist

With the arrival of the new year comes the announcement of our second national lockdown in the UK for at least the next 6 weeks. The announcement reminds me of a lesson I learned some years ago and it is this: “There’s neither good news nor bad news, only how we receive the news determines it so”.

Four Seasons of Play 2021

And since the show must go on, I’m delighted to announce the Four Seasons of Play, a brand new online play programme to mark, explore and celebrate each season of your life’s play adventure in 2021. Like the Playful Leadership programme, this new programme of workshops are inspired by everything I’ve learned over the past twenty years about how to enable transformational change that is effective, efficient and, most vital of all, enjoyable. Especially in these challenging and interesting times.

Each workshop can be enjoyed independently or as a combination of modules in a year-long programme where you’ll learn about true play, how to cultivate your play intelligence and shift towards a play mindset as the seasons change. Play your cards right and you’ll grow as a person as well as a leader by becoming more resourceful, resilient and real in these unprecedented and transformative times.

Consider this your invitation to play, be it at one of the Four Seasons of Play workshops, or on your own or with your family or your pet. The most important thing now is to keep playing because play prevents our hearts from growing hard towards one another and reminds us of what it means to be truly alive. Play on!

The Tick Tock Tree

Over the past 20 years I have played with change in a range of financial institutions with variable success. Then a year ago, I was invited to join a bank-wide transformation like nothing I had ever experienced before. If I had only three words to describe my first impressions a month after my arrival about the bank’s culture, they would be: Friendly, capable and open.

A year on and those words still hold true. What’s more, for many of us these may also be the same three words we wished we could use to describe not just the institutions we entrust our life savings to, but also the places where we do our life’s work.

For the past year I have provided individual and group coaching to senior managers and their teams, as well as individual leadership coaching to organisational change agents such as Scrum Master and Agile Coaches. I have co-designed and co-delivered Agile and leadership training, facilitated numerous programme increment planning for groups in person and remotely as well as accompanied a number of programme teams on their Agile journey.

A Different Kind of Agile Adventure

“So what?” I hear you say. What has made my latest Agile Adventure different to those in the past, is this. By taking a more systemic stance, seeing, thinking and taking action with the whole system in mind, I have enabled more positive and enduring change… Sooner with less effort. Repeatably. Continuously. And have more fun. As many of my colleagues will agree.

So what’s my key learning? In order to do my life’s work, I need to continuously transform myself. Sounds simple and is anything but easy.

My Three Lifesavers

As a wise Agile coach once said to me, “A dead Agile coach is no good to anyone.” Here are my three latest lifesaving principles as I learn to sail my ship:

  • Keep my own drama out of my work
  • Do I what I do best
  • Remember what my work is in service of – not only the individual but the system as a whole.

Symbiosis of Change and Change Agent

Thank you to everyone with whom I’ve had a chance to work with and learn from in the past 12 months. It’s been jampacked with challenge and delight. A year on from an auspicious beginning, as this particular chapter now comes to an end, I am physically and mentally fitter and healthier than when I started. And if my body could still grow vertically, I’d be at least an inch taller now 12 months later.

Here’s one way I’ve found to enable transformational change and have lots of fun doing it. With love. Au revoir! Auf Wiedersehen! Play on!