Bill Harris on Work, Fun and Freedom

I received the following email from fellow facilitator and brother-in-fun Bill Harris, in response to my posting on "Of Fun and Work:"
I think many people likely don't think work can be fun. Some of those might benefit from seeing Richard Feynman's video interview and the way a focus on fun helped him do great work (beginning with the segment on his turning down an opportunity to join Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study, at 20:14).

Others might benefit from changing jobs -- or at least changing their attitude towards their current job. (I think I've seen people who think that work shouldn't be fun; you weren't being earnest if you were having fun.)

One of the big deals for me, though, is freedom. If you "make" me do something I don't want to do, you run a risk of me reacting inappropriately, and that could include suing later (see this). You also might find that I discover the thing you're suggesting really is fun, but that's a gamble. For example, I think I'd find a ropes course very un-fun, and I've been at a fun evening event with a comedian in a workplace that turned out to be painful more than funny. On the other hand, I recall Halloween costumes at work, juggling fruit at work or watching people bowl with oranges down the hall -- and the pleasure / fun from seeing a group make great progress or finally catching on to the answer to a tough problem.

The challenge is that people in many (most?) organizations don't feel able to speak up clearly, openly, and honestly, so it's hard to tell whether you're forcing someone to do something, I guess. That's one of the things I focus on, but it's not always easy; in fact, it can demand quite a bit of courage and personal insight on people's parts, even if management says they favor
Yeah. So somehow, the fun of work, the inherent fun, has to do with the experience of freedom. Oh, yeah and again yeah!

So here's my take on the fun-freedom connection.


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