We were sitting by the fire when the phone call came around midnight. On the other end were my son and a group of 17 and 18-year-old male voices practically shouting in unison saying, “You’re not going to believe this, we got Mr. B to do the worm in the middle of the dance floor!”
It was prom night, the final opportunity for these young men to slay the dance floor with their High School classmates, and they wasted no time making a night they would both remember, and joke about for decades to come.
Mr. B is the unpretentious and well-beloved principal of their High School, and yes, he succumbed to the pressure of a group of fun-loving Seniors and wormed his way into their hearts forever.
A year prior to that night those same young men began developing a written plan for prom, what they would wear, what they would eat, where they would go before and after, and most importantly, the energy and dance moves they would bring to the dance floor.
One of the young men made this statement the next morning, “Like Sherman I came in and left destruction in my path… only mine was on the dance floor.”
The night was capped by the reality that their most unassuming and softest speaking friend would end up being coronated Prom King.
The after-party was a mix of acrobatic stunts still in tuxedo duds, an endless flow of food, long games of manhunt in the woods, crashing on air mattresses in an old shed, and then waking up to the delicious scattered, smothered, and covered delicacies of the always-open invitation to the Waffle House.
What of the Prom King? He decided to make his entrance to the after-party in running shorts, suspenders (no shirt), and his newly received Prom King Crown. Of course, he did.
These young men had fun.
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The type of fun you want to have. Fun that builds a culture. Fun that you want to remember. Fun you want to share with others so they can enjoy a morsel of the fun. Fun that breeds more fun down the road when you’re sitting around your own fireplace reflecting.
You push back saying, “well that’s not my personality”. That is where you are wrong. Fun is not reserved only for those who are considered to be “fun”.
Fun is not a scarce commodity. Fun can spark at any moment. You could even stop and have fun right now.
You could listen to a Jim Gaffigan joke and belly laugh…right now.
You could think about your most embarrassing moment and belly laugh…right now.
You could pull a goofy prank on a family member or teammate and belly laugh…right now.
The English word for fun has its roots in an old French word amuser meaning to stupefy, waste time, gape, wander, loiter, be lost in thought.
Jeff Campbell encouraged me to be “intentionally wasteful” every now and then. That is what fun is.
Of course, fun is not our continual state in life, but it is something we should certainly make more time for.
Here are a few ways you can begin to incorporate more fun into your day to day.
First, schedule fun. Putting an activity on a calendar feels like it cheapens the sincerity of the activity. It’s not true. Think about the National Football League. They schedule their fun every Thursday night at 8 pm, Sundays at 1 pm, 4:25 pm, and 8:20 pm, and Monday nights at 8 pm.
An example of scheduling fun in a business is to start each team meeting with BIG Wins; something fun, interesting, or special that has happened in life or business that is worth sharing. Every time our team shares BIG Wins we always end up laughing along with one of our team members following something they share.
Also, put dates on the business calendar to go do something different…something fun. A make time to plan for those dates. Not just classic team building, but even a one-day training each year where you inject some light-hearted fun in the day.
Shoreline Construction recently had their annual offsite team training that was loaded with learning and laughter.
Coastal Shores Landscaping did the same and the room was filled with smiles!
Those High School Seniors made a plan and they haven’t stopped talking about the results.
Second, give yourself permission to be intentionally wasteful. The intention makes it purposeful, the wastefulness allows you to not be productive for a while.
For a productivity hound like me, the permission to intentional wastefulness is hard. It helps that I am married to a lady who knows that I struggle with intentional wastefulness and will often just nudge me and say, “Hey, enjoy…it’s ok.”
Time is a scarce commodity, but it does not require perfect efficiency.
Third, spend more time with fun people. This is not a call for you to surround yourself with who live life steeped in mindless immaturity. Jim Gaffigan is by far my favorite comedian on what is a very short list, and what to us sounds like goofiness is actually the product of hundreds of hours of thought, script, practice, rewrite, edit, practice again, and deliver.
Comedy is hard and requires mature discipline.
The most ineffective comedians are the ones who lace their comedy with profanity and crass thoughts. Creating comedy with immaturity is easy, but not very funny. Creating comedy with maturity is hard, but ragingly hilarious!
We assume that someone is naturally funny and simply stands on stage and cracks whatever jokes happen to populate their brain the moment.
Jim Gaffigan’s entire stand-up routine is deeply scripted, in fact, his wife is often the writer of the majority of his comedy bits.
Being fun may feel hard to you. Surround yourself with fun people who share your same values and work hard to have fun…and to be funny.
While many students made different, and in some cases, regrettable decisions on prom night, the group of young men who shredded the dance floor decided to surround themselves with fun friends who share the same values…and it led to a fun night they wish to remember.
So here is your challenge. Go throw a frisbee today. Go google a joke and share it with your friends, your family, or your team members. Give yourself permission to laugh, to have joy, to loosen up a bit, and to be lost in some goofy thoughts.
By the way, my favorite Jim Gaffigan bit?
“I like to make people comfortable…that’s why I would like to talk to you about Jesus.”
First time I heard it I cried…and smiled. Maybe you will too. Here is the bit starting at 00:17.
Scott Beebe is the founder of Business On Purpose, author of Let Your Business Burn: Stop Putting Out Fires, Discover Purpose, And Build A Business That Matters. Scott also hosts The Business On Purpose Podcast and can be found at mybusinessonpurpose.com.