By Scott Pansky
Do you remember how excited you might have been when you had the chance to go out in the yard for recess at school? That is something that kept popping up in my head when I wrote the book, “Playing Together in the Sandbox.” There was something special about being a little kid, with no one telling you what you could or couldn’t do. You could be as creative as you wanted, and you felt you could do anything you put your mind to.
As we get older, we lose some of this magic. We learn through others that not all our ideas are going to be great; it may take too much time or money to do something we always dreamt of doing. We can become our own worst enemy and not even attempt things we feel others would say are impossible.
Well, what if we could change that mindset? What if we could be 5 years old again and take a fresh look at things anew? I recently read a story about someone who was writing his own book and they asked if he could write about anything what would it be. He said, “Time travel.” As a Star Trek fan and many other science fictions shows and movies like “Somewhere in Time,” this resonated with me.
I took this mindset when I wrote my own book. I know time travel is not possible. What if I wrote a book that not only helped children learn to play nice in the sandbox, but also helped bring adults back in time to remember what it meant to play nice in the sandbox, so they might treat the people they work with today nicer in their new sandbox — work.
After finishing the book, my first presentation was with more than 300 college students at the national PRSA ICON conference in Nashville, Tennessee. Having never written a children’s book, I wasn’t sure how using it for a college student presentation would be perceived. I did not want to insult an audience of incoming professionals ready to start their careers. The workshop, “Lessons Learned from Playing the Sandbox,” was designed to help teach resume writing, informational interviewing and networking.
I used the opportunity to talk about fears and roadblocks that many create as they get older. Yet, throughout the presentation, the focus was about remembering what it was like when they were kids. We role-played, we played catch and two-square, drew houses, and found common ground. The feedback to the book was so generous, from someone saying, “Every college student should get a copy of the book when they graduate,” to another who said, “It should be part of a school’s orientation welcome kit for new students.”
Since then, I have done similar exercises with corporate representatives and nonprofit development officers. We talked about being creative and about the instinct of people wanting to help people. These workshops have turned out better than I could have imagined, and the feedback has inspired me to develop a formal training program to help build teams and leaders through play and inspiration. Keep an eye out for a future blog providing more details on the program.
Get your copy now: Playing Together In the Sandbox