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All Work And No Play Makes Your Brain Dull

August 08, 2017 Silvia Damiano

When you think back to your school days, what memory makes you smile? Was it sitting in a row at a desk, working silently? Or was it playing outside, painting in art class, or doing group experiments in science? When did your mind feel agile and inspired?


Developing your agility through play will help you develop intuition, which is critical in this increasingly complex and rapidly changing world. As adults, playtime is often shunned. You are supposed to be serious with no distractions. But having a sense of fun and wonder is important--even for grownups.

Children who engage in play are healthier physically and mentally

Fortunately, a new way of thinking is emerging in education. Scientists are beginning to understand what play does for our brains. And the results are promising. Playing and having time to run and enjoy the outdoors is crucial for developing minds and it is also important to keep older minds agile and ready to adapt.

Researchers gathered in Denmark in 2016 to form a consensus statement about physical activity for school-aged children. Physical activity is beneficial for brain function and cognition, and time taken to play instead of sitting at lessons has not shown a decrease in performance academically.

Playing also gives children the opportunity to form social relationships and helps promote social inclusion. Allowing time for children to play is essential for healthy physical and mental development (Bangsbo, 2016).

You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.


This is the Imagination Age, and the old paradigms of the past no longer have a place. Agility and intuition are necessary, and you must be able to adapt to rapidly changing conditions. Play gives you the opportunity to make a trial run of situations. While you certainly won’t face the same decisions, play time lets you make decisions rapidly in preparation for when it really counts.

Expand your agility and embrace time to play

At the About my Brain Institute, we specialise in teaching how to develop your agility, allowing you to sense the constant changes around you and adapt to the needs of consumers and their people. Including time to play and enjoy the outdoors is important. Play can also mean having a sense of humour about things around you, and recognising that everything isn’t always a dire situation.

How a person spends his or her time says a lot about the individual. Plato understood this, thousands of years ago. Think back to those school days, just for a second. Were you happiest at the desk, or happiest doing hands-on activities and playing kickball?

While time for work is important, time for play is also necessary to become an agile and intuitive leader.

Delve deeper into your Intuition  Ever wondered how to use intuition in your life? New advances from different  scientific fields are helping us better understand how our brains and bodies  function and the incredible impact they have on the way we lead.  Learn how our i4 Neuroleader Program can help develop your personal leadership. Download Program Guide

Bangsbo, J., Krustrup, P., Duda, J., Hillman, C., Andersen, L. B., Weiss, M., … Elbe, A.-M. (2016). The Copenhagen Consensus Conference 2016: children, youth, and physical activity in schools and during leisure time. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 50(19), 1177–1178.

Silvia Damiano

Silvia Damiano

Scientist, educator, author, speaker, coach, award-winning leadership specialist and filmmaker. Silvia is the Founder & CEO of the About my Brain Institute, creator of the i4 Neuroleader Model & Methodology, author of ‘Leadership is Upside Down’ and director of the 2018 documentary ‘Make Me A Leader’.

Silvia is passionate about leaving a legacy of well-rounded leaders who can act and decide in a way that better serves humanity. Her clients include Microsoft, Australian Stock Exchange, NSW Government, VISA, Fuji Xerox and Manpower amongst many other global companies.

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