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Let’s Play!

Charlotte Butler

We have lost the ability to play

As children we happily dressed up and became somebody else. Either the hero or the bad guy. A mop became a horse, a doll wrapped up in a towel became a crying baby, a stick a gun. Moms high heels and necklace turned us into a very important business woman. A blackboard, chalk and cane made us a strict teacher, shouting at our imaginary class.


And then we started growing up, being cool. We quickly learnt to play “dress up” of a different kind. Our “look” became our amour, we slowly began showing less and less of our authentic self. All with good reason – if you stepped out of line or were a little different to what was considered to be the norm – wham! An avalanche of criticism would come pouring down on you and you would suffer the unimaginable – rejection! So we tow the line, all the while stifling our precious imagination. We stop engaging the creative side of our brains. Our inner editor, that psychological barrier that censors our thoughts and ideas, runs riot.


No sooner have we built a safe, comfortable place from which we engage with the world when HR arranges the dreaded Team Build! Why do they do that you scream, quietly to yourself of course. Quite simply, you need to awaken your inner child, you need to learn to play all over again. Is that really necessary?! Well, yes, sorry. 

Through play we are able to stir that dormant muscle – IMAGINATION. Play fuels our imagination, kick starts it if you like. Play allows us to be creative again, it assists with our problem-solving abilities. You’ve probably been told a hundred times to “use your initiative”. How do you do that? Well, just use your imagination! Developing a playful nature will help you loosen up in stressful situations, make new friends and form new business relationships. And yes, you’ll work much better within the team.

In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”


How many times have you heard Grandparents say that their grandchildren keep them young – it’s because they PLAY with them. How can you have empathy for a complete stranger if you do not have the ability to IMAGINE what they must be feeling. 

Say what you like about actors but the one thing they have held onto is that basic human ability to play, only now they get paid for it, not much granted, but hey, it’s FUN!