Change Proof Podcast | Elaine Chung | Play Type

 

Play expert Elaine Chung is the founder of My Play Type, a company focused on creating safe and highly productive organizations by integrating play into their daily processes. In this episode, she sits down with Adam Markel to discuss how to determine the specific play type of your team members, which allows you to cultivate an environment where everyone can thrive and succeed. They discuss how allotting time for play leads to effective collaboration and meaningful connections among your people. Elaine also talks about the valuable lessons every adult can learn from observing children, particularly their innate perseverance and unyielding attitude toward failure.

Show Notes:

  • Introduction [00:00]
    Okay, Elaine. I love your bio. Actually, I read these pretty regularly for the show.
  • Integrating Play [02:35]
    So let’s dig into what play means to you.
  • Effective Collaboration [14:45]
    Yeah, so easier than you may first think, but I’ll answer the first one first about connection and collaboration.
  • Creating A Safe Environment [16:32]
    What I’m hearing is that to use a term that people are familiar with these days, that in creating psychologically a safe environment.
  • Meaningful Connection [19:14]
    So what’s an example of ways that you can help leaders to play and experience and have this connection, this experience of connection with one another? What’s a good example of something that you’ve done?
  • Understanding Play Types [21:18]
    Well, I want to I want to just circle back and define what a play type is.
  • Handling Failures [23:01]
    Got it. Got it. So when it comes to failure, I just wanna bring that up and talk about this
  • Case Studies [26:28]
    So when you bring this to an organization, because I’m very much involved in organizational culture, design and development as well.
  • Books And Resilience [36:56]
    And finally, I just wanna ask you, is there something you’re reading? I know it’s kind of a little segue here, but I would love to know if there’s a particular business book that you’re, or a book right now that you’re reading.

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Understanding And Embracing Your Play Type With Elaine Chung

In this episode, I have an amazing guest. Her name is Elaine Chung. She’s a play expert and Founder of My Play Type who is on a mission to supercharge how we all embrace and integrate play every day. With her background in team psychology and organizational behavior, combined with her corporate leadership experiences, she helps Fortune 500 companies unlock impact, drive innovation, and nurture deep collaboration. She’s seen how integrating play neuroscience and understanding your play type can empower people to thrive and overcome the most challenging problems with more joy.

Welcome to the show, Elaine Chung. I love your bio. I read these pretty regularly for the show of course. I then get to hear my own bio being read by other people. Yours is interesting. There’s a lot that I want to dig into from that. First, my question to you is, what’s one thing not part of the bio that you would love for people to know about you?

When I am not talking about play, I am fully embracing play and being at play. Every discovery moment I’m trying to discover things and also staying physical. If there’s anybody who happens to be on the Peloton, I’m at Recharge Mom, and I would love to team ride.

That’s so cool. I love that. It’s so interesting. I’m in a very play-filled time of my life. I’ll explain to our audience here for a second. We’ve had the blessing of grandchildren over the last couple of years. Now, we have 2 and 1 more that’s on the way, which is ridiculously exciting. Our oldest grandchild is a little boy. We are playing from 7:00 AM until 7:00 PM. I won’t kid you into thinking that we’re constantly in play because we’re not. We get hours of the day here and there where that’s what’s going on because for a two-year-old though, life is just play. It’s literally one plaything after another.

For me personally, I have gotten very much into tennis after so many years of having not played. I played in high school and then went into a different arena when I was in college and stuff. I’m so embracing of all the fun of running around on a tennis court. I have my moments and whatnot, and I’m competitive to be sure, but it’s so fun to run around on a tennis court and get good hot and sweaty. Let’s dig into what play means to you. I gave a couple of tangible examples.

[00:03:30] Those are fabulous ones. I think, oftentimes, play can be associated with kids or even running outside. If you drill down to it, even from your tennis side of it, you are having the bravery to try, you’re learning new things, you’re improving, and you’re seeing that growth, that is play. That’s what that two-year-old is learning. “When I touch this it does that. If I do this, grandpa reacts this way.” Those are the things they’re also experimenting with and you’re able to replicate that in the play of tennis.

What I’ve seen too in company environments, there are opportunities to play even within that, understanding, and creating those environments too. When kids are little and they have all the parents and grandparents around, we do create a very nurturing environment to invite that low-risk taking, exploration as a type of community together. As we get to be adults and get into the work environment and maybe some societal norms that might start shaping how we may react, some of that close down. I’ve seen that firsthand of how it closes down.

Opening it back up of experimentation and how we’re doing it together, you can solve hard problems in that way and still have much more joy because you’re connected. You’re not just doing it because I have to because that’s not play, doing something you have to from that regard. I think that’s where there are multiple angles in which I can see play that is rooted from the two-year-old. I know we talked a little bit about how they’re able to bring back awe and understanding and that exploration.

For adults too, when we are able to include that in more, just how much more energized we feel. You even described it with tennis. You feel more connected and energized and feel good. Yes, the sweaty part is great, the moving, all the physical endorphins that are going on, but you are also growing in your own mental strength and that is around the neuroscience of play because the more you repeat it, those pathways continue to stay connected.

I want to dig into this. When it comes to the corporate world where you and I both practice, we work a lot, not only in leading companies that we are a part of, but also in acting in a consultative way or an advisory role inside of organizations, large and small. What we see are people who are not having a lot of fun. I want to get a sense of where this integrates and how you present it and how people also receive it. If you ask employees whether they’d like to have fun in their work, they’d say, “Sure, we’d love to. Just change the nature of my work and then I might have some fun doing it.”

It doesn’t work that way.

How does it work?

Multiple layers within it. I think that first connecting with the example of what may tend to happen of like, “If you change everything, it’ll be better.” The fundamental part for that employee is finding out and thinking about where they are at their best. Where are they when they’re thriving? In the kid play zone, it’s called flow. Certain kids, depending on their play type. The root of all of this started with kids, it was understanding how kids play and relating that to their personality because we were ethologists as parents, observing in their natural state in play what they were doing. A Lego player isn’t just a Lego player. There are some Lego players that need the instructions. There are other ones that just build something to crash something. There are other ones that just want the figurines.

Every employee must find out and understand where they are at their best and how they can thrive. Click To Tweet

Tapping into and understanding what that is for you as an adult is critical. You can be in the business sense and you’re like, “I thrive in Excel sheets. This is one for me.” You wouldn’t think that initially, but it’s because of that discovery, that exploration that I can do with the different levers, the research that I have to do behind it to even understand like, “This means this percent would be applicable to the population and not the other percent.” That investigative nature is what I thrive in. Thinking back to yourself, if you’re the employee, where are the areas that you thrive? Who’s around you? What type of work are you doing? Are you inside? Are you outside? Are you sitting? Who are you around?

Those are critical components to bring that joy and to bring that playfulness because you will feel at play when you’re doing those things even though it’s for work, even though it’s for a company. It’s important to tap into those because recently I read an article where the number one regret of life was that they didn’t have the courage to live a life of their own. If you’re roboting through the day, you aren’t living a life of your own. You should try. That’s one of the big things that kids do is they have the bravery to try. If we, as adults, learn to walk now and fall as many times as that 1-year-old did, or even that some 9 to 10 months old do, we would not get up at all.

Tapping into that little kid, it’s so good that you have grandkids around you to help spark that inspiration even more right in front of you. That’s why I think it’s so magical about kids. I have my young kids myself. It’s tapping into that side of it when I’m feeling maybe a little bit down or a little bit lost. I was like, “No. What would they do in this situation? They would try it out, find out what they like and keep that.” That’s one of the main components from that sense.

Another sense though, when we look at the employer and the organization setting, how I describe it in families, we create some of these things that make the kid feel safe. It doesn’t happen once in a while, it’s consistent. It’s consistent that they know that they’re safe, that they can do this, they can try this. That’s why they melt down at the end of the day, only to the parents. They hold it all together at school, but only to the parents or to their family.

This creation, if you want deep collaboration, you’ve got to create that within the organization as well. That is creating that play-nurturing environment and it can be bite-sized. It doesn’t have to be like, “We’re all playing all the time.” Play isn’t all allowed. Play is creating these environments where you’re genuinely curious. The kids ask gazillion questions but they’re not asking to one-up anybody or to prove that they’re smarter. They’re asking to fundamentally understand what are the interconnections and the causes.

If we all approach our conversations from that realm, that’s a start within an organization, genuine curiosity. Creating moments, secondly of trying. In companies, it can be hard to think of it as, “We’re going to try everything and it’s a whimsical attitude, but it’s not.” Develop a low-risk situation to even make it bite-size for your organization or for your team. Especially if it’s an organization where there’s not much trust. They’ll want something really low-risk and bite-size. It can be as simple as, I think one group I had recommended based on their virtual regional standpoint is like, how about you all choose one cafe to meet up once a month to not be virtual anymore, but you’re in the same city. Meet up once a month and rotate who chooses the place.

1) Your bravery is something new, low-risk. 2) Exploring together. I think that’s such a critical component of embedding that togetherness, that it plays naturally. When kids are playing, they don’t even think of it as like, “Yes, I’m including this.” It’s all embedded within it. For adults, we have to craft that a little bit more because as our brains grow the plain neural paths, they disappear. That’s why there’s this test by Dr. Land, he did one for NASA, and it was a creativity test. What it showed was that in essence, five-year-olds are more creative than the astronauts that they hired.

It goes back to the brain because when you look at a kid’s brain, especially go back to the inspiration right now of that two-year-old grandkid , they have so many neural paths growing. As we age, as we get older, the ones that happen the most, they get solidified. The ones that don’t happen the most, they slowly get pruned away.

Change Proof Podcast | Elaine Chung | Play Type

Play Type: Children have so many neuronal paths growing. As we get older, those that are not used much slowly get pruned away.

 

Those roads are gone. As adults though, if we want to try to shape it in a different way, we need to recreate that pathway. You don’t just create it once. You have to keep embedding that in daily practice. It’s the same thing as we think of it as an organization because an organization is made up of people, each individual person. It can’t just be an annual event. I think some clients are like, “We have a team event.” I’m like, “What do your leaders do on a daily basis, on a weekly basis, on each interaction they have with their employee? Does that link up with the type of culture that you want to build? If you don’t have that, it won’t happen.”

It goes back to the whole brain side of it. We want to recreate it where you don’t even think about it and you know, “I’m going to do it this way. I’m going to include it this way. Here’s how I’m going to embed other divergent thinking and make it feel safe for the team because we can’t just say, ‘I’m going to make it safe,’ and make a proclamation. When has that ever worked?

I’ve taken notes. There are some things I want to circle back to. Thank you for doing that. You said kids, they’re willing to try, they bravely try things. Adults generally don’t. I think you answered part of my question, which was you said that those play neural pathways that are very much being used when you’re a five-year-old, when they’re not being used, they over time dissipate or atrophy. Part of your work in the world is to help to get people back to a place where they can play more, connect, and collaborate more effectively.

I want to understand the relationship between connection and collaboration between those things. I also want to understand if somebody hasn’t been playing for many years as part of the bulk of what their experience of living is, how hard is it to create a new neural pathway for something that someone has not been actively engaged in doing? It must be difficult. I’d love to understand a little bit more about what that looks like when you’re working.

Easier than you may first think, but I’ll answer the first one first about connection and collaboration. When we think of collaboration on the surface, it’s like people talking together and solving a problem. When we take another step deeper, it is feeling the urgency of the problem solved, feeling how to think about the ideas more differently to solve a hard problem.

If we take the other side of if we are not in an environment where we feel safe to share a wild idea because we’re trying to figure something out or we’re sharing an idea where we know we don’t have all the facts, but here’s what it could lead to but helping that to be the starting point. If we don’t have a true connection, it won’t feel safe. It won’t feel safe to offer the idea. It won’t feel safe to iterate on the idea. Therefore, you won’t have deep collaboration and consistent collaboration. I think that’s a key component of it.

If we don’t have a true connection with others, we won’t feel safe to offer our ideas. Therefore, we cannot have deep and consistent collaboration. Click To Tweet

I was talking to another executive leader who is trying to connect and trying to change the environment, but as we peel back the layers of what’s in that environment, it is not one person saying, “Let’s play together,” in essence. It doesn’t work that way. We had to unpack all these other components of it. Some of it is even to the point of the other leaders that are within the organization and understanding the political pools that may be there, but you have to be aware of them then to navigate that. What is a lower-risk and safe space to start?

What I’m hearing is that, to use a term that people are familiar with these days, in creating a psychologically safe environment and an environment where people can connect in a fun way, maybe even in a little bit of a competitive way, but ultimately in a way that is more creative, that creates this deeper collaboration or an opportunity for deeper collaboration because now people can fail together.

Experimenting together.

Exploring without fear of judgment.

A lot of that happens as we get older. We have all those societal, cultural, even familial, or even your friends, all these different constraints that can mold what we’re afraid of or not afraid of. To go back to the psychological safety side, I think one big thing to remember that leaders should always remember too, there’s not one box or one flavor of psychological safety that fits everybody.

To understand the gradations of your own team members or being receptive to that is important because you may be crafting a psychological safe place. I’ve seen this happen where a leader will say, “We’re going to brainstorm and we’re going to whiteboard this.” For some, that statement is enough. Others, if all that her other actions or his other actions don’t suffice to support that side of, “It’s safe to brainstorm,” it doesn’t work for them.

There’s still that moment where for me, it brings me back to being in third grade and being in the classroom. At least my memory of that experience was that to raise your hand and have the wrong answer or to ask a question that seemed to give away the fact that you didn’t know. You were less smart than other kids that were pretending to be smarter than they were or whatever. In that environment, I was very unsafe. In that environment, there was judgment from those around as well as even from the teacher, which was the issue in my third-grade experience. That’s curious there too. What’s an example of ways that you can help leaders to play and have this experience of connection with one another? What’s a good example of something that you’ve done?

The starting point is to start within. You, as a leader, are you at your best? Think back to that because that can set the tone of how you’re leading the group and help you understand why some tendencies are this way versus that way. Looking at your own team and understanding in essence their play type at work. You can see that by, “What do they get excited about?” That first question, when you’re doing your one-on-one, be genuinely curious about the work that they’re doing and what they’re achieving and what they and they don’t like. I’ve seen too many times the one-on-ones that go and it’s a checklist. What’s the progress on this? Do you have any blockers?

Change Proof Podcast | Elaine Chung | Play Type

Play Type: When doing one-on-one dialogue with your team, be genuinely curious about their work. Ask them about what they achieved, what they like, and what they don’t like.

 

That happens frequently. That’s more of the consistent thread that gets built over and over again. Versus a pause on the inquiry of, “For this project, what was the part that resonated with you?” Yes, you’re always, as a leader, wanting to marry what your employees are good at and thrive in with what the work has to be done. If you can even pull them into things that they already thrive into other projects, you’ll have a better sense of that by asking that genuine curious question consistently.

I think that’s the thing is we don’t do it consistently enough. We do it redo time. At best, maybe it’s quarterly when you do your quarterly reviews, but for most that I’ve seen, honestly, it’s your end. That will not build a consistent thread. When we talked about the neural pathway, that’s not going to cut it. Keying in on that as a first, but I think I see you have a question.

I want to circle back and define what a play type is. I know that your website is MyPlayType.com, so that’s a pitch for a website. This is perfect here. I would love for people to know how you define a play type because it’s probably a term many folks have not heard before.

It is rooted from kids. In looking at and observing kids when they’re in the zone, even two-year-olds lasting for several hours on one activity is a big deal. Understanding and tapping into that, that we as adults also have that zone. You can think of it as your play type, your thrive zone where you can lose track of time doing what it is, whatever that is. Taking that moment though. Each of us has certain play types. There can be, for me, I’m an extreme explorer, so any work that doesn’t allow me to explore and investigate new situations, I struggle. There are other types too like organizers, if there things around them are not organized, it’s a stressor.

Understanding those aspects can relate to the job that they do. Whether it be project management or why they might feel spiraling when they’re in a more entrepreneurial sense. That helps you fine-tune and also figure out inward and you can see it on a daily basis. Not just a personality test, but you can see it in your own activities and behaviors when you’re exploring and doing those things, you’re able to find out. That’s what that is.

Your play type helps you fine-tune yourself and figure out inward. Click To Tweet

When it comes to failure, I want to bring that up and talk about this because as you said earlier, when kids are learning to walk, they fail all the time. I’ve now been reliving this experience through my grandchildren, which is amazing, because to think back when our four kids were all crawling and then learning to walk, I remember but it’s also a minute ago. Now, I’m seeing it and you’re right. I’ve never seen a kid that is down on themselves or sulking or frustrated that they can’t walk.

It’s not a thing, it’s just fall down, get up, fall down, get up, fall down. No matter how often that happens until they do it. At some point for young people, for kids that become adults or big kids, failing has a very different meaning or very different experience for them. Do you have a thought or a theory about that?

I have middle schoolers, and so one big component is not thinking about failure, but that they have embedded the bravery to try. I have them focus on that because you’re right, the whole failure is another F word that brings in all these other things of judgment and identity crises as well. Treating it at the core of, “You have the bravery to try. Did you try your best? Did you try?” That’s what’s important to get over that focus on the failure side. Instead of, “We don’t have a fear of failure.” We have the bravery to try. It removes the judgment.

That’s our real fear. It’s not so much failure but what it means.

Everything that’s loaded in that word. We change it in like, I keep saying that bravery, but we are brave every time we try because we know we will fall, but we’re focusing on the try part, the momentum, not the downward slope. That can help get out of that mental funk that can happen.

Change Proof Podcast | Elaine Chung | Play Type

Play Type: Every time you fail, focus on the try part. Regain your momentum and do not mind the downward slope.

 

It’s funny, it’s a reference point but it’s going to tie it to a particular time in history when Star Wars was emerging. Yoda’s a figure in Star Wars, and the great wise all-knowing Yoda said something like, “There is no try. You do or do not do.” Something along those lines. When I hear the word try, it’s still embedded in me that there is no try.

You just do or do not. Start every day a little bit. Just try.

When you bring this to an organization because I’m very much involved in organizational culture design and development as well, I’m curious when you say, “We want to help our leaders to develop the bravery to try,” or you’re looking to help your middle managers or the new hires to learn that having bravery to try is something we value around here. I’m curious. I want a good story and I want an ugly story. Meaning, you don’t have to name the company, but I want a culture that completely would not embrace that or actively said, “No, we’re much more Yoda-like around here, we’re not going to go for that,” or a company that wrapped their arms around this concept and went with it. Share a little case study.

The first start is to understand both these scenarios. I’m about to give first, understanding their tolerance and appetite right away because I know I’m not going to be able to. There’s a whole elephant analogy about eating an elephant, but maybe I won’t try that one right now. I won’t try to tackle the entire beast and know where to start from. If their tolerance is just at the project team level, let’s do that for them to get a taste of it. If they’re trying or believing that they want to do it on a bigger level, we’ll aim for that.

I’ll give the example of when they embraced it fully and it was more knowing and understanding, they wanted on the project side, on this main working group, what we wanted to do. The first part was understanding the playground rules. How do we want to operate together? Kids, again, I use that as a root of all this work because it’s easy to tap into as well for employees. Even without kids, they can see kids around them. The playing doesn’t just happen. They’re negotiating how they want to be or what parts they want to play in. Having that upfront of what the lanes are, how you want to operate and the rules of engagement with your playground is so important. This team embraced that aspect of it.

It was “just” a project, but establishing the norms of what those operating guidelines would be was essential. Through that, knowing that some of the team members, 50/50 on who felt comfortable, they clicked together. You then have this other pod that’s less. Being purposeful and mixing in a safe environment. Knowing that even if we’re workshopping through a problem, sitting everybody at a table for two hours and somebody on a whiteboard virtual or physical is not going to engage those other members or help them feel safe.

In order to do that, you need a small micro-moment for pairing them up in different ways. They don’t have to share anything back to the larger group, but they’re more comfortable with smaller play dates and groups just to start. As they built this over the weeks, over the months, then they were able to feel grounded in, “Here were the guidelines we were okay with and cool with. Now, I feel I know you as a person. I know you’re not judging me.” That safety, you can’t build it from one meeting. You have to be consistently performing that and breaking down the groups in order to do that. They were able to not only solve what they were trying to solve with that project, but they felt way closer within that. That’s the good story from that end. I have another one. I came in seeing that there were gaps, a survey within the ranks but the leadership had thought they needed, they wanted a culture shift. They wanted to embed their five pillars in. That was what they wanted to get through.

Not project scope, bigger scope?

Yeah. Their entire company culture.

Let’s do it organizational.

We have these five things that we did two years ago and those we want. There’s always a question mark when you have new people in, they had a lot of change happen like, “Are these the playing guidelines? How is this happening?” With that, it was talking with a lot of the employees and unpacking all of it. It fizzled out in the sense of understanding that those things weren’t what we’re matching up with. I’ve been calling them micro-moments because those are the things that can be repeated. These things that the leaders were doing did not make them feel this way. All the rules that they set aside, so they didn’t even want to participate in sharing these aspects of it.

Right, because it felt phony?

Yeah. Dissonance.

It’s like a total disconnect.

To mend that, you need leadership to understand that there’s dissonance because the employees just want to have a good time at least with what they’re doing. They don’t want to be miserable in what they’re doing. They don’t want work to be draining. That’s a common theme. It may not be Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo every day, but at least not be completely draining all the time. This is where, on a leadership standpoint, it was very hard because they were set in those five things that they said that they wanted to do and they didn’t think they had the time to integrate on a daily basis how to help support that. They were busy with the outcome of things like, “We need revenue.”

There’s a lot of research that tells you some of your hardest problems. If you’re able to activate your employees to solve it quickly, that’s your money made. Certain organizations, though, is hard to break that particular nut because they’re not ready to listen. I equate it to seeing a therapist. When we’re ready to see a therapist, open arms and listening, but when we’re not ready, we’re not ready. That can be hard lately. They’ll need to see more evidence and things like that.

That’s what I’ll continue to work on, but I know on an appetite level that they probably are not mentally ready to do what it takes in order to embed that. It is partly like every one of your meetings you should start off with a different exercise versus a list of, “What’s the progress update? Is it red, green, yellow?” Those things make it very rote and make it signals to the employee to act a certain way as well.

In so many different areas that we’ve worked in, we’ve seen the same thing, the lack of trust in the employee’s ability and capacity to solve complex problems. I think it is at the root of why organizations will revert to what is a fear-based plan when change happens because we work in the change space a lot. Maybe it’s an instantaneous reaction to meet change with resistance or meet it with fear, but to revert, we need to shore up our finances. That’s why even in the environment that we’re in right now, the market we’re in at the moment, which is filled with some uncertainties, you see a lot of organizations that are meeting this moment with the same old fear-based, “Let’s tighten it up the belt. We hired crazy two years ago, but now we’ll trim again.”

Trim again, but then burn out your employees. It’s the cycle that keeps going on. Burnout your employees or have such a poor experience that their mental health is at risk, which I’ve seen more postings and conversations about because of all the trimming. It’s a cycle that I want to help break being that if we are able to find out and help your employees or find out where they thrive, even in the toughest times, you will have this bond with your teammates and solve these types of challenges with a tad more joy. I go through this refusing to believe that we can’t have joy in the work that we do for everybody.

If you can help your employees find out where they thrive, especially in the toughest times, you can create a strong bond with them that can get you through challenges with a tad more joy. Click To Tweet

It’s so interesting. You and I, honestly, couldn’t be any more aligned. I don’t believe so. It’s been an absolute joy. It’s been a pleasure for me to talk to you and get your insights. I’m sure our community, which is made up of a lot of many leaders, senior level, and even people that are getting into the workforce for the first time, have loved this conversation, I would imagine, and are craving to know more about you.

If people have questions for you or for me based on this episode, you can leave a comment or a question here for Elena or myself. It will be us, not a bot, no AI. We will answer that question. All that good stuff. Finally, I want to ask you, I know it’s a little segue here, but I would love to know if there’s a particular book right now that you’re reading or one that you’ve read recently that you feel you would love for people to dig into because it would help them in terms of unlocking this?

I got my list right here. I’ll say this one right now.

As if we planned this, but we didn’t, so that’s great.

I wish I have all these posting notes. Designing Your New Work Life, and this is by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. I think the one part that I like about it was about these levers of knowing, and this is to prevent burnout for people out there. We all have lots of different identities and passions. Let’s admit it. We’re not just work self and personal self. There are so many other facets of it, but they have these levers like a sound mixer of you have agency in your life to express it to another aspect. I can’t remember right now. Even those things simplify it. Through that, there are a lot of other ones within yourself, but starting with those can help you prevent a lot of that burnout.

For us in our language, doing a lot of resilience, keynote speaking, and after work on that topic, how you combat burnout using resilience is something. I’m keyed into. I’ll lastly ask you this, what’s something that you do? Is reading one of those things helping you to be more resilient? What’s something that you do on a daily basis?

I think for me, because my play type is so strong from an explorer standpoint, it was to continue exploring because there’s a lot of risk there. There’s a lot of failure. Seeing how I’m able to pull in the resources to do it and to figure it out is great. Even as simple as trying to drive somewhere without GPS, even that is a form of exploration for me.

I’m going to give you one to do since you totally embrace this. It’s right out of a chapter in our book, Change Proof, which is the toothbrush test or the toothbrush experiment. For the next week, sometimes it’s 30 days, but let’s say for the next week, every time you pick up your toothbrush, whether it’s once or more a day, and you typically would pick it up with which hand? Right or left?

Right hand.

I would typically pick up mine with my left. I want you to switch and take this bit of a toothbrush challenge and see how it feels to brush your teeth with the opposite hand. Continue for one week and see what that’s like.

I will report back. Thank you.

Different dendrites in the brain core pathways are going to fire for you. It’ll be awkward, it’ll feel weird, you’ll feel like not getting the job done. Whatever’s going to come up for you, just explore that, and then let me know how it went.

I love it. I will. Thanks for that.

Elaine, you’ve been a blast. I appreciate your time.

Yeah. Thank you.

I loved playing. I love to play. I love to play in so many environments, and the show is a play thing itself in that it’s always different. It’s organically changing. There are certain things I love to ask repeatedly like that first question, I always love to ask that. Sometimes I settle in on another groove or whatever, get in my flow state in a similar way. It’s also always unknown. We don’t map it out as some shows I know are rehearsed or pre-planned or even scripted is the case, in some respects, I won’t call anybody out for that. Ours is always fresh. It’s fresh for me. If it’s fresh for me, I imagine it’s fresh for anybody who’s tuning in as well.

Hopefully not just fresh, but also fresh, dope, interesting, rad, fun, and all those good things. If it’s not, then I totally want to hear from you to say, “No.” The last thing in the world that it would ever be by intention is calculating and predictable. In speaking terms anyway, I can say that the only thing we ever have to be wary of as people who communicate for a living, any public speakers out there or podcasters or those of you that present even in work settings. The only thing you have to be concerned about is being predictable because predictable is boring.

We have to use variance and you have to do things that take you out of your comfort zone so that you are not predictable even to yourself. Of course that’s scary, and that’s why it’s a skillset that, like a lot of things, requires practice and patience and willingness to fail, willingness to try bravely. That’s something we talked about. Elaine shared with us about bravery, the bravery to try, and embedding the bravery to try in adults and in leaders and organizations.

It’s funny when you think about it since we were all born with this skill when we were kids, when we were one year old, when learning to walk or whenever we learned to walk. This bravery to try was embedded in us. We were that way when we were 2, 3, or 5 likely, and then at some point later on, whether it was 8 years old or 14 or whenever it was, the bravery to try dissipated. It was a sounder advice or sounder strategy to be safe and to not attempt and end up flat on your face because if that happened, then there was embarrassment, there was judgment, there were consequences, etc.

Where do we find ourselves later on in life having to solve complex problems the world has almost never seen before and business has never seen in this way before. Yet we are coming to that endeavor, to that requirement even with an incapacity. Incapable. So many people are being creative and applying an outside-the-box way of thinking of a mindset that is exploratory and also lacking in the capacity in many ways to collaborate effectively with others. To play nicely in the sandbox is probably what Elaine Chung would’ve said since she is so immersed in how it is that we as adults learn how to integrate play into our work lives and into the cultures at work.

I thoroughly love this conversation and learning about the neural pathways of play and what a play type is. In fact, I loved it. If you did too, if this was something that inspired you or made you think in different ways and had you expanding your consciousness, it was interesting, share this episode please with a friend, a family member, a colleague at work, or somebody else that you think would benefit from it.

Thank you for doing that by the way. That helps us, it helps that other person hopefully, but it also helps us. Thank you for doing that. Also, if you take the time to provide a rating for the show, hopefully it’s a five-star on the platform that you consume this content. That is also super helpful to us. I can only say thank you for that, and I’m so grateful for the people that take the time to do that because it helps us. By helping us, hopefully, it means we’re also helping more people. It’s a ripple effect. We appreciate you very much for that.

 With that, I want to recommend that you take your own resilience assessment. Go to ResilienceRank.com or RankMyResilience.com anytime you like. It remains open to you, it is free, it takes three minutes, and it helps you to find out creatively speaking where are you succeeding, where are things, where are you exhibiting resilience traits, and where is the gap, where’s the delta where that creative space could be filled with maybe some new ritual, some new practice that eventually becomes habitual that helps you to be more resilient mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually speaking. With that, I want to thank you again as always for your time and for being a part of this growing community. Thank you so much, and have a blessed, beautiful day. I’ll say ciao for now.

 

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About Elaine Chung

Change Proof Podcast | Elaine Chung | Play TypeElaine Chung is a play expert and founder of My Play Type, who is on a mission to supercharge how we all embrace and integrate play, every day. With her background in team psychology and organizational behavior, combined with her corporate leadership experiences, she helps Fortune 500 companies unlock impact, drive innovation and nurture deep collaboration. She’s seen how integrating play neuroscience and understanding your Play Type can empower people to thrive and overcome the most challenging problems with more joy.