Always look on the bright side of life…

Monty Python’s Spamalot was in Kansas City’s Music Hall this past week and I was fortunate to see it last night.  For those that don’t know, Spamalot is “lovingly ripped off” from Monty Python and The Holy Grail.  (their description, not mine).

“Always look on the Bright Side of Life” is one of the big numbers in the show (although it’s actually from the Life of Brian).

Anyway, the point is that the show was very good, lots of spoofs on Broadway in general and they managed to keep almost all of the best parts of the movie intact.  There were some extremely funny moments, definitely two thumbs up!

But probably the biggest reason for their success last night at least was because of how much fun the cast was having.  I have never  been in a major off-Broadway production, but I’ve seen a lot of them and this cast just appeared to be having more fun than others I’ve seen.  And it made the audience enjoy the whole thing even more…

FUN…

Children laugh an average of 400 times a day and that number drops to only 15 times a day by the time people reach age 35. Preschoolers must know something we don?t. Laughter releases endorphins (a chemical 10 times more powerful than the pain-relieving drug morphine) into the body with the same exhilarating effect as doing strenuous exercise. Laughing increases oxygen intake, thereby replenishing and invigorating cells. It also increases the pain threshold, boosts immunity, and relieves stress.

For those that have been corporate cube dwellers, the word fun is almost forbidden (at least in 95% of the corporate environments that I’ve seen).

Which by the way is one of the reasons that most corporate environments are broken.

 

There’s a great ad running on CNBC for CNBC in the “I am American Business” series.  (See writeup and video clip here)

Herb Kelleher, the former CEO for Southwest Airlines is explaining his philosophy on business as (I’m paraphrasing here):  Employees first, Customers second and Shareholders third.  If the employees are relaxed, having fun while they do their jobs, the customers will enjoy themselves and come back, which makes the shareholders happy.

Herb Kelleher and Southwest Airlines are a legendary success story, especially in a difficult and competitive industry.

And the focus at Southwest is on having fun…

 

In 1998, a film was created by John Christensen at the Seattle Pike Place Market entitled FISH!

What John captured and translated into film was that even in a workplace where fishmongers spent stinky, grueling 12-hour shifts stocking, selling and packing fish, remarkable results can occur when people accept the invitation to: 1) Be There for their coworkers and customers; 2) Play; 3) Make someone’s day, and; 4) Choose their attitude about how they show up for work.

The success of this story has gone on to create a thriving educational and training company centered around the philosophy that not only is it okay to have fun at work, it’s required if you want to get the best out of your people.

 

Here are a few reasons why this idea works and is so important:

  1. More Productive:  Your employees (and you…) will do their best work in a relaxed, supportive environment.
  2. Better Customer Experience:  Your customers will notice and appreciate the festive atmosphere.  *Note – this must be in addition to professionally providing good service, it can’t be just about having a good time.
  3. Improved Employee Retention:  Your employee retention rate will be much higher than average.  There’s another post I could write on this, but suffice it to say that employees in 2007, especially the younger generation are not willing to put up with a bad environment just to keep a job.
  4. Improved Hiring response:  If you’ve got a positive workplace, people will be clamoring to work for you even if the pay is just average.  Having fun could save you money!

So how does your business stack up on the fun meter?  And I’m not talking about forced fun like awkward team-building exercises or the occasional Pot Luck lunch.

What do you do to genuinely generate fun for and with your employees?

If you’re not sure, perhaps it’s time to schedule an all hands with your staff and ask them what would be fun…and productive.

 

Always look on the Bright Side of Life

words and music by Eric Idle

Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse.
When you’re chewing on life’s gristle
Don’t grumble, give a whistle
And this’ll help things turn out for the best…

And…always look on the bright side of life…
Always look on the light side of life…

If life seems jolly rotten
There’s something you’ve forgotten
And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing.
When you’re feeling in the dumps
Don’t be silly chumps
Just purse your lips and whistle – that’s the thing.

And…always look on the bright side of life…
Always look on the light side of life…

Share any fun ideas you might have here – I’d love to hear them!

Shawn Kinkade www.aspirekc.com

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