When I was a kid my parents used to tell me two things quite often.
The first was, “Work hard!”
The second was, “Go play.”
I remember at various times resenting both those commands but with the benefit of hindsight, I realize just how important they both are.
I’ve had jobs where the singular mandate was to work hard. Ironically, the people who I have seen doing those jobs struggle to maintain their energy day in and day out, and as we all know, energy is required to work hard.
I’ve had other jobs where hard work was expected, but playfulness was allowed if not encouraged. My first job in the arts was at an animation studio. I was hired as a location designer for an animated TV series and was expected to work whatever hours were necessary to meet the weekly deadlines. I worked several all-nighters each week for a year and I wasn’t alone.
That was the “work hard” part.
The studio owners, however, were quite open to their staff “playing” on the job. Between crunching deadlines we somehow found time to pull practical jokes on each other, draw subversive cartoons – often at the expense of the characters we were getting paid to draw – joke, laugh,play chess, kick the hackey-sack and generally, horse around .
As long as the work got done, management didn’t seem to mind what we did to let off steam. As a result, people worked insanely hard. Had the job been devoid of play, I doubt most of us would have been capable of putting in the same hours or effort.
Play time recharges the batteries and without it, fatigue sets in.
My parents were on to something. I now believe that the jobs that become fulfilling careers are the ones where work and play are part of it. I am fortunate to have lucked into a career where work and play are not mutually exclusive.
So, work hard, but remember to play, too.