The Power of Having Fun

How Meaningful Breaks Help You Get More Done

Dave Crenshaw (Author)

Publication date: 08/21/2017

The Power of Having Fun
Fun is something you have to earn, right? You work hard, and then maybe once a year you get to enjoy yourself on a vacation. And after a lifetime of this, you retire and finally do what you want. Dynamic speaker and consultant Dave Crenshaw calls this the culture of WISH: you slave away and hope it will be Worth It Someday, Hopefully. And it's all wrong.

Crenshaw shows that by putting fun first—carefully scheduling enjoyable, meaningful, and refreshing breaks throughout your day, week, month, and year—not only will you be happier, you'll be a lot more productive too. Fun has the power to turn your life into a WIN—what you do will feel like it's Worth It Now. Using real-world examples, thought-provoking exercises, and a healthy dose of wit, Crenshaw details a five-stage process that has helped thousands of people discover their personal “oases”—specific actions and activities that they find renewing and energizing—and make them a priority. Readers will be delighted to find a book that lowers their stress, raises their results, and restores recess to their routine.

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Overview

Fun is something you have to earn, right? You work hard, and then maybe once a year you get to enjoy yourself on a vacation. And after a lifetime of this, you retire and finally do what you want. Dynamic speaker and consultant Dave Crenshaw calls this the culture of WISH: you slave away and hope it will be Worth It Someday, Hopefully. And it's all wrong.

Crenshaw shows that by putting fun first—carefully scheduling enjoyable, meaningful, and refreshing breaks throughout your day, week, month, and year—not only will you be happier, you'll be a lot more productive too. Fun has the power to turn your life into a WIN—what you do will feel like it's Worth It Now. Using real-world examples, thought-provoking exercises, and a healthy dose of wit, Crenshaw details a five-stage process that has helped thousands of people discover their personal “oases”—specific actions and activities that they find renewing and energizing—and make them a priority. Readers will be delighted to find a book that lowers their stress, raises their results, and restores recess to their routine.

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Meet the Author


Visit Author Page - Dave Crenshaw

Dave Crenshaw is a happily married father of three who lives in the shadow of Utah’s Rocky Mountains. An admitted geek, he enjoys all things sci-fi  and superhero and has an Xbox gamer score of over 75,000. He enjoys watching sports, dabbles in archery, and embarrasses himself at golf.

In addition to having fun, Dave has written several business books and is a keynote speaker at events around the world. He continually develops new courses for LinkedIn Learning, where his videos have received millions of views. His writing has appeared in numerous publications, including Time magazine, USA Today, FastCompany, and the BBC News. As an author, speaker, and online instructor, Dave has helped build tens of thousands of productive leaders worldwide.

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Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Lost in the Desert

ImagesConsider the tales of two executives . . . well, three.

Image 1

Story One: Businesscraft

There was once a business owner. He was a young man growing a moderately successful business. He hired employees. He made the sales. He managed the managers. He processed the profits. And most of all, he hustled . . . hard.

So hard, in fact, that when he invited me to provide some productivity coaching, it was clear that he was on his last leg. He was dragging himself through roughly eighty work hours per week. When I first heard that number, my CEO-coach-Spidey-sense began tingling. Putting it bluntly, I’m of the belief that any person who works more than sixty hours per week just simply does not know how to manage time — regardless of how productive they believe they are.

We did a deep dive. We accounted for every lunch break, meeting, phone call, nook, and cranny. Was time management a problem? Of course. But deep within the recesses of this man’s schedule was a secret I was not expecting.

He was a paragon of the community. People flocked to him seeking guidance. He was well liked and had many important friends. His employees respected him. His competition feared him.

Yet he felt guilty, unproductive, and just a touch hypocritical — because a full twenty hours per week were lost to a secret habit he worked hard to hide. His wife and children had no idea. He would become the subject of scorn and ridicule among his peers were they to find out. You see, roughly twenty of those eighty “working” hours were spent in another world . . .

. . . the World of Warcraft.

Each day, he spent hours on end wandering the cyber wilderness as a level 47 Shaman because, in the real world, he was emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted. He felt that he continually had to keep up appearances for his family and employees. Yet his desire to play caused him to jump in and out of the mists of Azeroth throughout the day to do battle with humans and orcs — then jump back into his business to haggle with suppliers.

When he made his confession to me, he hung his head. He knew he’d been caught. He expected me to tell him it was time to grow up, get focused, and behave as a good business owner should.

Story Two: Power Couple

Next is the story of two executives. They were a married power couple who worked in the same company. They were highly successful in their respective careers.

Together, they were a force to be reckoned with. She excelled in management and marketing. He was a wizard at the technical and financial details. They were a match made for the cover of Fortune magazine. They completed each other, professionally speaking, and they had me at “Hello, will you help us?”

Their relationship outside of work was going stale. Technically speaking, this couple worked a reasonable number of hours each week, meaning they left the office at a reasonable time. The problem was that they never really clocked out because when they got home, every conversation was about work.

Tuna casserole for dinner? Let’s talk sales strategy.

Date night? Action items for the upcoming marketing campaign.

Changing the baby’s diaper? Reevaluate current employee output.

While I helped them on the productivity side, we uncovered a deeper issue that needed resolution. Because a company is a reflection of its leadership, the couple’s lack of balance in their personal lives had begun to be reflected in the lives of their employees. Like their fearless, well-qualified leaders, employees had become drained and were losing enthusiasm for the company.

Because this couple was unable to connect with each other outside of work, not only was their marriage at risk but the business as well.

Defining the Desert

What do these stories have in common?

Both occurred in a metaphorical desert.

If you’ve ever seen a desert epic, such as Lawrence of Arabia, you’ll recognize that, sooner or later, someone’s going to have to walk a very, very long way to get from one side of the desert to the other.

Man, I hate those scenes. If you’re like me, you just can’t wait for them to end. Look, I get it, Peter O’Toole is thirsty. Give him a Vitaminwater or cut to the next scene.

This perhaps overused desert trope is symbolic of many struggles in our lives, isn’t it? Nothing comes easy. In spite of adversity, we need to keep pressing forward for what we desire because, despite the obstacles, we can make it! Hard work and perseverance are rewarded! Play a fanfare! Start the parade! Hail the conquering hero!

So, what’s your desert today?

When I say desert, I have a specific definition in mind. A desert is how I’ll refer to an extended period of deprivation and/ or chaos in your life.

What is something that you’re pushing yourself through? What’s a situation for you that’s slow and painful, where you’re ignoring the signs that life is giving you to slow down or stop? Where are you putting up with extended periods of chaos because you’re in such a hurry to get to the other side?

Before you attempt to answer these questions, it might be helpful to explore some possible deserts. Often, we carry our own deserts with us. What do I mean? In coaching executives and managers around the world, I’ve come across several deserts people carry on their backs as they live life.

THE RETIREMENT DESERT

Many people relentlessly push themselves in careers they hate just to reach the glorious shores of retirement. All the years and stress they put in will finally pay off. Someday, maybe, everything will be great, right? You can finally buy that RV you’ve always wanted and drive across the country. Or maybe you’ll just live on a cruise ship in perpetuity — just one more slice of cheesecake . . . I don’t want to be too full for shuffleboard this afternoon!

In the meantime, there’s a lot of misery for a lot of folks. A study conducted by Harris and the University of Phoenix found that 59 percent of American workers wish they were in a different career. For those in their thirties, the number of disenchanted employees bumps up to 73 percent.

This news wouldn’t be so bad if most people were truly building toward a healthy end-of-desert retirement plan. Yet they aren’t. Per a GOBankingRates study, one-third of all Americans have absolutely zero in retirement savings, and 56 percent have less than $10,000 saved. How long of a postcareer retirement will that afford you? Which brings up our pal inflation, humming along on average at just over 3 percent. Not too bad, right? Until you consider that a paltry 3 percent increase means prices more or less double every twenty years.

THE ENTREPRENEURIAL DESERT

For some, such as entrepreneurs and corporate executives, reaching the other side of the desert may be cashing out. You sacrifice your time, health, sleep, and occasionally a relationship or two so that a glorious harvest will occur when Microsoft or Google or some other large company comes in and buys you out. With a small percentage of the proceeds, you could buy your own private island, a sports car, and a football franchise. Perhaps Shark Tank will cast you as one of the new “sharks.” You’ll be on TV and the cover of Inc. magazine. Your name will be synonymous with luxury and opulence, like a boss.

Unfortunately, exit rarely happens the way you might think. Most business owners admit to me that they don’t reach the exit they intended in the beginning, and — if they created a vision several years ago — they are currently nowhere close to realizing it. Yet they continue to sacrifice health, credit, and relationships on the altar of their businesses, hoping to appease the tribal deities of Musk, Zuckerberg, and Bezos, who may smile upon them and bestow a bounty of wealth.

THE PERSONAL DESERT

Others carry a much more personal desert with them. For some, reaching the other side may be when their children move out. I’m a father, and I love my kids dearly. However, I also know the sweet morsels of freedom that my wife and I enjoy when the little monsters are out of the house for an hour or two. Heck, just keeping the house clean for more than twelve minutes at a time would be a blessed occurrence. Am I right? If that’s your idea of a good time, then you might be a parent.

Kids are certainly not the only personal challenge. Others might feel the other side of the desert is when they get married, or when they get divorced, or when they graduate from college, or when they can finally quit physical therapy, or when they work up the courage to ask someone on a date. Your desert might be just making it through the workweek so that you can party on Friday! The list is endless.

WHAT THE DESERT IS NOT

To clarify, hard work is a good thing. We should not be afraid of effort but embrace it. Effort helps us grow and makes us stronger for the coming years. There’s even some joy and happiness to be found in an honest day’s work.

One of my favorite quotes about work comes from an unlikely source. Former US president Richard Nixon isn’t remembered fondly for many things — perhaps rightly so — yet I respect him for saying, “To write a novel, you need an iron butt.” Brilliant. Nothing crooked about that statement.*

In other words, if you’re going to write a book, you need to put your butt in the chair and stay there until it gets done. I quite literally schedule “iron butt” time in my calendar when I set aside time to write. In addition to the mental demand, writing is also a test of maximal gluteal fortitude.

To do whatever it is you do, you need an iron something. Need to do those taxes? You also need an iron butt. Need to go out and make sales door to door? Iron legs. Creating a new proposal? Iron fingers and an iron mind. Kissing booth for charity? . . . You get the idea.

Hard work by itself is not a desert, yet it can quickly become so if we aren’t vigilant. When we work as long as it takes to get the job done, when we keep pushing past the emotional and mental dehydration and deprive ourselves of necessary replenishment, we are building a life and career that are less likely to be successful.

Continual deprivation creates deficiency. Enduring chaos engenders fatigue. And, as the great coach Vince Lombardi said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” This is the desert we’re targeting in this chapter.

Taking Your First Actions

Let’s pause for a moment. After all, this book is a private coaching session, with me acting as your coach. Every once in a while, you’re going to see an image like this:

Common

This icon is called an Oasis Action, and it means your coach wants you to do something with what you just read. Stop, take a moment, and do something quick, such as answer a brief question. By doing this, you’ll not only gain knowledge from this book but also make positive changes starting today.

Here’s your first action. Ready?

Common

List any desert(s) you’re currently experiencing. If you have a hard time thinking of any, list deserts you’ve experienced in the last year or two:

1. __________________________________________________________________

2. __________________________________________________________________

3. __________________________________________________________________

4. __________________________________________________________________

5. __________________________________________________________________

Next, write down the other side of each of these deserts. In other words, what is the end condition at which you’ll know the desert is over?

1. __________________________________________________________________

2. __________________________________________________________________

3. __________________________________________________________________

4. __________________________________________________________________

5. __________________________________________________________________

Did you do it? If you didn’t do it, did you at least think deeply about your answers? Remember, this book is about the experiment of you, so the more involved you get in this process, the more valuable the book will become.

Let’s continue. Whatever the other side of the desert means for you, the happiness that comes from reaching that glorious moment hides the dark and ugly reality that — between now and the other side — there’s only:

Barren, dry land.

Buzzards.

Sun-bleached skulls.

Oh, sure, there are glimpses of hope here and there — a watery hunk of cactus or a Burning Man attendee, if you will. And that hope of reaching the end keeps you moving forward.

This desert mindset can be summed up in what I call the Culture of WISH:

WORTH

IT

SOMEDAY,

HOPEFULLY

Someday, all this effort will pay off. Someday, I’ll feel better. Someday, I’ll be happy. Someday, I’ll have the success I deserve. Someday, we’ll be able to be close as a couple again. Someday, I’ll be able to focus on my children. Someday, I’ll take that trip with my friends. Someday, I’ll get a raise. Someday, I’ll learn how to use chopsticks. Someday, I’ll go for a Sunday drive. Someday, I’ll take kickboxing lessons. Someday, bloody someday.

But in the meantime? Thirst. Frustration. Work. Stress. Lack of sleep. Anxiety. Being bombarded by a hundred demands simultaneously. Constantly putting out fires. Feeling the continuous pressure to stay ahead of the curve. After all, you never know who’s going to come along and kick you out. Then, before you can shout “Time-out,” there goes your hard-earned nest egg.

Sounds fun, right? Who wants to sign up for that ride?

Apparently, most of us. It’s the way the system was set up, wasn’t it? Dig in, endure, and push past the pain — that’s the way we get the best results, right?

What if I told you that wasn’t true? What if the Culture of WISH is, in fact, the pathway to less success? What if enjoying life now — today — in reality increased the likelihood of achieving success someday in the future? What if, by putting fun first, everything you do would be more productive?

That is the great experiment we’re about to test together. Your work — no matter what it is — can and should pay off now. This month. This week. Today.

It’s time for us to make the desert bloom — from the first step until your triumphant arrival at the other side.

* Maybe Nixon would’ve stayed out of trouble if he’d spent more time playing with the family dogs. Just sayin’.

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Endorsements

“The simple wisdom in Dave's book might just change your life.”
—Seth Godin, author of What to Do When It's Your Turn

“Let's face it, the nine-to-five workday is a thing of the past. Dave really gets that the companies that will ultimately succeed are those that embrace the flexible workday and empower their employees.” 

—Brian Halligan, cofounder and CEO, HubSpot

“My name is Sean and I am a fun addict. If it's not fun, I'm not doing it. That's why I love this book. My buddy Dave teaches you why having fun can actually make you more productive. You need to have more fun—read this book to find out how.”
—Dr. Sean Stephenson, author of Get Off Your “But”

“Crenshaw provides a powerful system for making fun a vital part of your business strategy. Highly recommended.”
—Asher Raphael, Co-CEO and Partner, Power Home Remodeling

“A masterful guide to freedom of time and creation of true joy. This book keeps its promise to make you richer—financially, yes, but also to find wealth money can't buy: time with loved ones. Dave Crenshaw helped me achieve new levels of financial success, all the while cutting my workweek in half. I've never been happier. Business has never been better.”
—Jason Hewlett, CPAE Hall of Fame Speaker

“Can you be more productive by having more fun? Dave Crenshaw's book made me a believer. His Oasis Breaks should be an essential part of your time management strategy.”
—Laura Stack, CPAE Hall of Fame Speaker and author of Doing the Right Things Right

“Dave Crenshaw's The Power of Having Fun is a serious book for jump-starting your life's ambitions and your career goals. ‘Having fun' finally gets the attention it deserves as an important technology for successfully getting things done. So many people need this book!”
—“Famous Dave” Anderson, America's Rib King, founder of Famous Dave's and Jimmie's Old Southern BBQ Smokehouse

“Don't let the apparent lightness of this fun book about having fun deceive you. There is some serious science and old-fashioned good sense in this book/workbook. It's a call to disrupt our constant action with simple activities—oases in the desert—that rest and refresh us for not just greater productivity but greater happiness and satisfaction in our work and life.”
—Whitney Johnson, 2015 Thinkers 50 winner and critically acclaimed author of Disrupt Yourself

“The principles Dave teaches in this book have helped me be not only a more productive leader but a more grounded human being. Dave's influence in my life and career has been invaluable.”
—Catherine Hoke, founder and CEO, Defy Ventures

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