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Purpose-Driven Fun

200809_police_fire_flag_football_97The other night, I had the honor of photographing the annual Red Vs. Blue Bowl.  Simply put, the Urbandale Police Department challenges the Urbandale Fire Department every year at a rousing game of flag football.  This year, they raised over $13,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  (And for those who care about these fiercely fought contests, Police beat Fire 18-14 to win back the trophy after last year's defeat.)

While everybody had a great time, and a very deserving charity received a boost to their budget, I found myself thinking about the concepts of "doing good" and "having fun" while photographing the game.  At our jobs, do we think about serving the customers AND making it a blast for ourselves (and for them)?  Helping the community is an obligation we all have as citizens.  Having fun is a choice each of us must make internally.  I always think about the World Famous Pike Place Fish Market, who capitalized on the idea of infusing fun into otherwise hard and somewhat disgusting work.

I've found one fundamental truth as I've developed my speaking career:  people love to laugh.  Allow them to laugh at themselves, at their jobs, at their bosses and coworkers, at (with) their customers, at the absurdity of the world around them.  If you can harness the laughter into making someone else's life a little better and their load a little lighter, then you have achieved one of the biggest win-win accomplishments ever.


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Eric Peterson

What a great post! People do love to laugh. I think there are many people out there that succomb to the stresses of "the job". Like you have always said....If you're not having fun doing it, why even do it.

I've made it my goal to be "the mood lightener" in my office. I socialize...I make jokes...I try to make people feel good and have fun. Of course, there are those that I annoy (those that don't care for my "antics"), but I know that not everyone is going to be having a good time. So, if I can just make a couple people in the office have some fun while working, then I consider myself a success!

The challenge now is how to take that beyond my coworkers, and implement it among my customers!

Great post Tim, as always!


At the end of every school year, I tell my students that I hope that whatever they choose to do with their lives, I hope it's something that they can enjoy doing.

I really look forward to getting out of bed every morning and spending most of my day doing things and working with people that make me happy and fulfilled. I also look forward to Saturday mornings when I can sleep in!

Thankfully, teaching is one of those professions that allows to you to do something for someone else and still enjoy what you do. It's not all a bed of roses by any means, but I get to tell bad jokes, inspire my students to do better, and try to have as much fun as possible that it doesn't seem like it's work.

My poor students...


Wendy D.

25 years ago while spending my summer break working in the factory at Pella Corporation, I learned a valuable lesson.

Working on a factory line was good money for a college student and I was pleased to be working in the Slimshade Department. We were able to sit, stand or take a bathroom break when ever we needed to, as long as we produced our given quota by the end of the day. I enjoyed my time at Pella Corp. as I did not have to do heavy lifting and I made a lot of friends.

That particular summer was extremely hot and the Slimshade Department was located on the top floor without air-conditioning. Temperatures often reached over 120 inside as sawdust from the neighboring department covered my damp, sticky body. Even so, I enjoyed my co-workers as we laughed and talked about our families and activities (I also learned the art of daydreaming to make the time pass).

One particularly uncomfortable hot, humid day, a different coworker was placed next to me on the line. She spent the whole day complaining about the temperature, how awful the company was and informed me of all the ill qualities in her coworkers.

It was the longest day of my short life as I kept checking the clock. As the day went on, I felt hotter and more hot and uncomfortable than I ever had that summer. I even began to feel a little sick to my stomach by the end of the day.

What I learned from that experience was that my work environment was(is) more important to me than the work I did or the money I was paid.

That summer I learned a lot of life lessons, but to this day, I attribute that one long day in July to my decision to surround myself with a positive and “fun” work environment.

PS: I have never laughed nor enjoyed myself as much as I do now in my current position. I love my job!

Timothy Johnson

See? You guys get it! Not such a hard concept. Why not make our organizations ENJOYABLE for the people who work there.

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