You know that time when you were:
- building some horrifying excuse for a mission statement
- fighting…er…talking about team values
- slogging through some corpse of a meeting agenda
- feeling that sense of doom before an impending project meeting
And somebody, usually at the very end, says, “Hey, let’s make sure we add ‘Fun’ to the list.” I swear it happens every time. I usually give them my patented, “Are you completely high?” questioning eyebrow.
I mean can we seriously just stop this right now? Most of the places I’ve worked at had absolutely no clue whatsoever about how to have fun. Any concept of the word ‘fun’ had been kicked, beaten, stabbed, smothered or otherwise completely atrophied out of the system long ago. Fun is so badly overused that you can actually use it to identify oxymorons. How about a fun meeting? Impossible! Maybe a fun project? Inconceivable!
You see: I don’t think that word means what you think it does.
Just stop it. Right now. I mean it. Most people in a business context wouldn’t know fun if it kissed them on the nose. I’m not saying anything that everyone in the room doesn’t already know. Fun is just too vague. So just stop trying to make things fun by slapping the ‘fun’ label on it. It doesn’t work anyway. In fact, it really kind of puts the kiss of doom on whatever endeavor you are working on.
I have a confession to make: I’m not sure I really know what ‘fun’ is either. Maybe I’m so jaded I’ve forgotten what it’s like. I know what fun is not. Fun is not a roller coaster. There is a great photo of my brother and I sitting side by side on a roller coaster. It’s that shot the automatic camera takes just before the coaster peaks and you are staring into the infinite abyss before you. The look in my brother’s eyes? Pure, unadulterated glee and anticipation. The look in my eyes? Raw Jamie-Lee-Curtis-in-a-slasher-flick style horror.
All right, enough fun slamming fun. Here’s what I’d rather see: something that matches my drive or meets an essential need. When I talk about drive I’m thinking of Daniel Pink’s definition that includes: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. If you whack all three of those buttons, I’m probably having fun.
So the next time you are tempted to slap the label on your next endeavor, stop for a second and consider asking the following: How can we create autonomy? What can we do to achieve mastery? What is our purpose? Answer those questions and you are well on your way to having a little fun. Start with appetites – the things that energize you.