How Play Is the Ultimate Motivator to Take Initiative

June 27, 2016 / EVERYTHING A BRAND DOES MATTERS

How Play Is the Ultimate Motivator to Take Initiative

June 27, 2016

Akshay Sateesh Founder, Ziksana Consulting

Akshay Sateesh is the founder and playful learning enthusiast for Ziksana consulting. Ziksana Consulting is a leadership development firm dedicated to combining experiential learning with the science of play. Akshay has facilitated programs in leadership development, innovation, and team dynamics for adults and children in the U.S., Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, India and South Africa. His programs include a wide variety of industries such as health care, hi-tech organizations, hospital systems, consulting firms, universities and non-profit organizations.

I founded Ziksana Consulting based on a simple question I wrote up on my whiteboard during my corporate days:

 

How can work be fun and productive?

 

This fundamental question was the result of my seven years in a traditional corporate culture. My job had stability and was somewhat productive, but nowhere near as fun as I personally would like. Many of my battles in the trenches were focused on activities that were a means to an end and although the end result was sometimes satisfying, the journey was seldom fun. I realized quickly that each day could be filled with more intention. I could pause and ask myself, 'is this really how you want to spend your time or is there another way to achieve the goal to find the task enjoyable?'

When I started to ask myself this question, I was able to align every action that I took with my personal motivations. Very simply, my work became play because every task was aligned with what I care about and enjoy doing.

Over the next few years I became happier, but my teams did not. It was then that I realized my new company, sitting on a whiteboard, could be the vessel through which I could spread my experience to impact others. Ziksana Consulting was completely aligned with my values and motivations. I cared about it. I loved the work. I wanted to do it everyday. I was even willing to put up with the un-fun tasks so I could spend time doing the fun ones.

So often people talk about what they want to be doing with their time, and yet, they don’t get around to actually doing it.  

What are the barriers we put between us and the work we want to be doing? And how do we break past those barriers and get motivated to take the initiative to start?

Some of these barriers might sound familiar: 

I DON’T HAVE TIME.

With everything we have on our plates, every minute feels jam-packed with tasks to accomplish. It can feel overwhelming to take on even more responsibility. So many of us are burning the candle at both ends, and when we want to do more with our time that can seem, well, impossible. Try to align your values to the tasks at hand and you’ll feel energized by the work you’re doing each day. This isn’t a quick and easy fix, however. It takes practice, time and making your values a priority.

I FEAR FAILING

You may find your inner critic saying “Is my idea even worthy?” Challenge yourself to respond with, “Whatever I have right now is worthy enough.” Find the courage to share your idea so that you and others have the opportunity to build on it. Not sharing your dream is closing the door to what could be for the future.  

MY IDEA ISN’T PERFECT YET

Truth be told, your idea will probably never be perfect. There is always room for new iterations, changes and improvements. Letting your idea stay in the analysis paralysis zone isn’t doing yourself any favors. Take action. Test. Prototype. And put your idea into the world. It can be as small as simply writing it down somewhere on paper. When I initially imagined Ziksana my first action step was to write it on my whiteboard. By taking that small step it was enough to get me to take action on the next step, and then the next. And although my idea was far from perfect, getting started allowed me to get a little bit closer to my end goal.

SOMEONE ELSE HAS PROBABLY ALREADY DONE THIS

Yes, perhaps someone else has done it. So what?! If someone else has done it, try to see it as a positive motivator. Now you have the opportunity to build on it. Not all ideas have to be new and disruptive. The most important thing is to take action and build on what’s out there so you can impact others in more and better ways.

I’M NOT THE EXPERT

You may not be an actual expert, but you certainly can be informed. Someone once told me if you know only 10% more than anyone else in the room, then you for that moment are the expert. And if 70% of learning comes on the job, then you should be testing your expertise, your assumptions and your ideas with others. Understand what you know and don’t know, and above all, have the courage to try.

Now, let’s say you’ve gotten past these barriers and you’re working hard on your idea. How do you stay self-motivated to get your idea done?

According to the motive spectrum there are specific reasons why people work. Learning to identify the motivations may help keep you on target. Who you are at your core may help answer the question of what’s important to you, what you value, and what may not feel like work to you. In the book, Primed to Perform by Neel Doshi and Lindsay McGregor, they prompt the reader to ask specific questions about how the motive spectrum affects their life as a leader, parent, teacher or coach. They ask:

“Where do you find play, purpose, and potential in your daily activities?”

The short answer: You are motivated to take action when the activity itself is something you enjoy (play). There is a reason greater than your own for the work (purpose), and there are reasons to progress your career and learning (potential). 

Here are some uncommon tips for initiating your motivations:

 

  1. Answer this question: If I had ultimate freedom to choose how I spend my time helping others, what would I do?
  1. Less thinking, more trying. Once you have the answer to question 1, then go! Prototyping is the ultimate way to learn and understand how to make your idea more of a reality.
  1. Try now, fail lots. Don't wait for the right research or the right people. Put your concept out there and see what comes. Be ready to fail and be wrong about what you assumed your customers actually want.
  1. Listen & adjust. Change your offering to meet your customers’ needs. Before you initiate another prototype, check to see if this one still aligns with your answer to question 1. If yes, initiate prototype again! If no, then reflect and go back to #1.

 

It’s time we ignite our motivation to take initiative and begin doing the things we love. Reflect on what you enjoy and how you can turn your values into your life’s work. Stop making excuses. Break through the barriers that hold you back from doing what you love. Make an impact on the world.

Akshay Sateesh Founder, Ziksana Consulting

Akshay Sateesh is the founder and playful learning enthusiast for Ziksana consulting. Ziksana Consulting is a leadership development firm dedicated to combining experiential learning with the science of play. Akshay has facilitated programs in leadership development, innovation, and team dynamics for adults and children in the U.S., Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, India and South Africa. His programs include a wide variety of industries such as health care, hi-tech organizations, hospital systems, consulting firms, universities and non-profit organizations.

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