Laughter, Lightness, and Leadership

Early on in my corporate career, colleagues advised me to learn golf, which they claimed as a great way to network, bond with clients, and create deals. I learned the sport, but I didn’t enjoy the game as much as other people did. At one of our corporate retreats, my boss and colleagues couldn’t wait to get out on the course with some of the top executive staff. I was a bit confused by this because I knew my boss didn’t really like or get along with this group of people. I asked him about it and he said that on the golf course, unless you are a pro, there is no pretense; all are on equal footing and all are hitting poorly. The golf experience allowed them to bring down their guards and share the misery of their poor shots. Like golf, laughter allows us to connect with one another, letting our guards down, sans the misery of poor golf shots.

Laughter enhances communication by letting our shields down and showing that we are human. The model of professionalism for too long has instructed us to be super-human. We learned how to work beyond what is humanly possible, denying our natural rhythm for balance. We also learned to check our emotions at the door. While I ascribe to the concepts of emotional intelligence (EI), we are still human; we have emotions. To deny that fact is insanity. EI purports that we understand and acknowledge our emotions, recognize them, and with conscious awareness not let the emotions rule us. This is certainly a healthy approach to emotions, which is very different from the professional corporate model we learned.

Here are seven strategies for infusing laughter and lightness in your leadership and life: 

  • Start developing your practice of laughter with consciously smiling today. See how many people you can touch and shift their energy with your smile.
  • Begin your meetings on a light note. I have the E*Trade babies’ videos on my favorites list and would start meetings with one or two of those commercials. The more I watch them, the funnier they are. 
  •  Watch a funny movie, making note of the elements that tickle your funny bone.
  • Listen to a funny tape on the way to work, setting the tone for the day.
  • Laugh for 3–5 minutes every day. Fake it ‘til you make it! 
  •  Commit to do one silly thing a day to cultivate your playfulness.
  • Start collecting stories from work that are funny; invite everyone to participate and present these stories at the annual holiday party.
What do you do to infuse laughter into your life?

With love and laugher,

BTW - This is an excerpt from my new book!