Year 2022: Play – Make – Do You

What better way to celebrate what some are calling the “year of the new abnormal” by saying “Yay!” to play? You’re cordially invited to Four Seasons of Play, the School of Play’s freshest year-long programme where you’re invited to play, make and, most vitally, do you.

Through the unique practical mashup of the latest play science, psychology, neuroscience and coaching techniques, you’ll feast on fun and purpose towards transformative change, leaving each workshop feeling inspired and resourced to embrace all that 2022 has to offer. For you and those to whom you matter.

Enjoy each workshop as a standalone experience or as a combination of 4 modules in a year-long programme where you’ll learn about true play, innovative ways to cultivate your play intelligence and shift towards a play mindset as the seasons change. Play your cards right and you’ll grow as an individual and as a leader so you can thrive instead of just survive in what some folks are describing as “new abnormal” times.

Celebrate Each Season with Play

There’s no need to go it alone when it comes to creating the change you want to see or turning your dreams into reality. Experience the transformative power of play in the company of true leaders, adults who dare to play.

As American director and actor Orson Welles once said, “If you want a happy ending, that depends on, of course, where you stop your story.” Where will you choose to take your story?

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!

What a Wonderful World

New-Year-CourageEver since I can remember, I have approached each new year like Indiana Jones the Temple of Doom. For me, a new year is a paradoxical praline, a seductive chocolatey shell of adventure and challenge filled with a soft centre of unease flavoured with dread. And the only way to deal with dodgy chocolate? Run it off of course.

What I think about when I am running

As I set out from my doorstep, one foot pounding in front of the other, I thought about the gratitude I feel for my family. Of the freedom to do what will hopefully enable me to do my life’s work for long enough to make a difference.

And that’s when I remember one of the most useful lessons I learned in 2018: to welcome my Fear whenever, wherever and however it shows up. Then give it a hug.

And then I remember a curious riddle and answer I once saw while splashing about in a hotel swimming pool far away from home, spelt out in mini turquoise and white tiles: “What is the shortest distance between two people? A smile.”

Three Magical Words

And before you know it, instead of my usual greeting of “Good Morning!”, I find myself uttering a heart-felt wish out loud to each and every passerby: “Happy New Year!” First to a young couple out jogging together. Then to an elderly lady walking her cockapoo. And then to a family of father, mother and their grownup son. And then to an elderly man who seemed deep in thought.

In reply to my gift of a wish of “Happy New Year!”, that elderly gentleman said with deep sincerity, “I hope you make lots of money!” To which I reply with a challenge and a smile, “May be happiness!”

And that’s all it took, a simple wish of “Happy New Year!” from one human being to another to light up our faces and keep our hearts warm.

That’s when I remember what is probably the most beautiful song in the world: “What a Wonderful World” performed by Louis Armstrong. And my running adventure this morning was just like he sang, “I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do / They’re really saying I love you.”

And I’m reminded, “I hear babies crying, I watch them grow / They’ll learn much more than I’ll never know.”

What a wonderful world indeed. Happy New Year!

To Play or Not to Play


The most common question I get asked whenever I mention the School of Play is this: “The School of Play… what’s your demographic?”

What people really want to know is: “What kinds of adults want to play?” And, more importantly, “Are these adults like me?”

Based on my observations:

1. Adults who come to play at the school usually have a healthy sense of curiosity and some memory of play associated with past happiness.

2. The adults come from a diverse background with a shared desire to play more in order to achieve more of what they want in life. There is no stereotype of a typical player (or playmaker as I like to call us). This is evidence that play satisfies a fundamental drive and supports the ongoing development and maintenance of adults, not just for children.

The Risk of Play

It’s a well-known phenomenon that play isn’t all laughter and lightness. True play also comes with a degree of risk, stretching us beyond our comfort zone so that we can grow to become the person we want to be.

The Reward of Play

The reward of this risk-taking is a sense of freedom that many of us rarely get to experience as adults in our everyday life. And rarely at work. Engaging with more play outside of work is one way to begin to address this imbalance.

Do you dare to play?

Play means different things to different people but the benefits of play remain the same for those who have fun and let themselves enjoy life as it comes. When we play, we feel a sense of connectedness, to others and to ourselves. We feel a sense of belonging and play gives us hope so long as we keep going in pursuit of our life’s purpose (including figuring what it actually is).

What more can we ask of something seemingly simple and modest as pure play?

Yay or Nay to Play?

When we play, we become present as our whole selves and with this comes a great joy, relief and reassurance that we actually have what we need to overcome the challenges we face – at times, with a little help from our friends, of course!

So what will you choose to say the next time you’re invited to play?

A Play Confession


When I listen to people talk about play for long enough, they eventually tell me this: “Come to think about it, I don’t really play. I spend most of my time working and I’m too tired to do anything else when I get home. And if I happen to have any spare energy, I feel that I ought to spend it on something worthwhile instead of squandering it on play!”

It’s uncanny because this has always been my default response ever since becoming an adult. In spite of the compulsion to achieve all the time, I’ve come to recognise there is a direct correlation between how much I play and the amount of energy and happiness I feel. In fact, the more I play, the more energy I have, the happier I feel and the more I grow, the more I achieve.

And that’s why I make sure I play at least once a day for at least 15 minutes. Why? Because research shows that getting your daily amount of play is at least as important as taking your vitamins or ensuring you have a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. It’s not always easy to find the time to play, but I know I’ll feel better for it when I’ve played.

Playing to Survive or Thrive?

Judging by the large number of people doing the zombie shuffle during the daily commute, the majority of adults aren’t getting their daily recommended amount of play (15 minutes of play a day should help you overcome most of the ennui or challenges you face according to Dr Stuart Brown, a world-renowned expert on play).

What’s more, I’m seeing a recurring pattern. The more ambitious, hardworking and successful you are, the more likely you are to neglect play. Over a prolonged period of time, this could result in chronic play deficiency. And if we continue to live a life of all work and no true play, we may well end up coming face-to-face with our own Terrible Yoot (in the form of Depression and Despair).

So why not treat yourself to plenty of fun this summer and welcome the autumn with a night at the Curiosity Carousel held in the ultimate fun and crafty venue of Drink Shop Do?

The Meaning of Play


Imagine. We’re sat in a field together on a fine summer’s day among friends and I ask you, “How do you play?”

If you find yourself bubbling with a myriad of answers and become increasingly excited just thinking and talking about play, then it’s likely you can play and want to play.

If you start reminiscing how much fun you used to have playing and wish for more play in your life now, then it’s likely you don’t currently play enough but definitely still want to play.

If, on the other hand, you become blocked and need a definitive definition of play before answering the question of “How do you play?”, then it’s possible that…

… You can play but some reason(s) you won’t play (otherwise you would have just started playing by making up answers in order to figure out the meaning of the word “play”).

… Or perhaps you can’t play and won’t play. “Can’t play” in this instance refers to the possibility that you’ve forgotten how to play or may be you never learned how to play in the first place. “Won’t play” means you are unwilling to play even if you knew how.

Play-QuadrantWhat’s do we mean by “play”?

Just as there are more than 70 definitions of intelligence, there are many definitions of play.

Dr Stuart Brown, play researcher and founder of the National Institute of Play defines play as:

  • Seemingly purposeless
  • Voluntary
  • Inherent attraction
  • Time flies by
  • Reduces sense of self-consciousness
  • Potential for improvisation
  • Desire to keep going

I’ve been testing Dr Brown’s definition and have discovered it resonates strongly with a key finding from my own play research: There is no one-size-fits-all definition of play.

After all, we’re individuals. That’s why it’s important we explore what play means to us. For ourselves. And in that exploration, we gain insights into our understanding of play and our relationship with play.

And if we play with our ideas of play for long enough, somewhere along the way, life-challenging and life-changing questions start to crop up such as “Who am I?”, “Where do I come from?” and “What kind of person do I want to become?”

Over to you, My Friend. How do you play? Be you a Play Seeker or Play Skeptic, come along and join us to learn more about play!

Life Without Play

Pop quiz

What’s the opposite of play? Many of us would say work. Now imagine a world where there no movies, no music, no jokes, no fantasy… What’s the opposite of play?

According to Dr Stuart Brown, an expert on play, it’s DEPRESSION.

Watch this interactive presentation (preferably with friends and colleagues to maximise the chances of more play together), inspired by the theory and experience of play where we’ll demonstrate why play isn’t just essential for creativity and innovation, but crucial to our survival and overall well-being.

We’ll begin with the definition of play and then investigate the relationship of work and play and demonstrate how, instead of being mutually exclusive, both are necessary for personal and group creativity and achievement. We’ll finish off with useful guidelines for bringing more play into your life. And if you play your cards right, you’ll get plenty of ideas to achieve your recommended daily amount of play!