Jeff Harry, How to Unleash Your Inner Genius Through the Power of Play – InnovaBuzz 428

Jeff Harry

Jeff Harry, Rediscover Your Play

In this episode, I’m really excited to have as my guest, Jeff Harry of Rediscover Your Play. Jeff combines positive psychology and play to help teams/organizations navigate difficult conversations and assist individuals in addressing their biggest challenges through embracing a play-oriented approach to work. Some of the topics he covers include how to deal with toxicity in the workplace, how to address office politics, how to play with your inner critic, how to help your staff rediscover their flow, and how to navigate these uncertain times through play.

For his work, Jeff was selected by BambooHR & Engagedly as one of the Top 100 HR Influencers of 2020. His work has most recently been featured in the NY Times, Mashable, & Upworthy.

In our discussion, Jeff talked to me about:

  • Learning how to play with our inner critic to unleash our creativity
  • Why letting go of expectations will help us actually achieve more
  • Savouring our wins

Aden Nepom in episode 400 introduced us to Jeff. 

Listen to the podcast to find out more.

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Innovation comes from giving your staff the ability to play and experiment. @JeffHarryPlays on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

Show Notes from this episode with Jeff Harry of Rediscover Your Play

Key points and takeaways from this episode include:

  • “The future is where people are having the most fun.” – Steven Johnson 
  • Organisations that thrive are those that are having the most fun, that are taking huge risks and are willing to play, experiment, and fail; whilst organisations that are struggling are those that are still trying to go back to normal.
  • There is no normal. You have to make a new way of marketing, recruiting, and encouraging your staff to go back to the office. You can force them to come back but you won’t get the most of out them that way.
  • The majority of innovative ideas come from a play mindset. They don’t come from a scarcity mindset.
  • Innovation comes from giving your staff the ability to play and experiment.
  • The next time you’re doing a brainstorming meeting, don’t do it in a boxed room around a boxed table. Change the dynamics of the meeting to get people out of that fixed mindset into a growth mindset where play exists.
  • Think about how you are driving yourself and your staff. Are you driving from a scarcity mindset or fear, or are you driving yourself from a playful, curious, and experimental mindset?
  • You are more likely to be productive when you are in your flow work. Identify your flow work and start thinking about how you can spend more time in that space.
  • Start talking to your staff about what was it about before that you actually enjoyed, what you did really well, and what can you do better as an organisation.
  • Part of embracing the new normal is embracing uncertainty. We’ve never been in control and will never be. We are always adapting.
  • Think about how you want to show up as a leader that is going to be best for your staff and will help them do their best work. Find the balance and lead with both the masculine and feminine forms of leadership.
  • Ask your staff what their zone of genius is and how much time are they doing that work. 
  • You become 5x more productive when you allow your staff to do their flow work. It reduces turnover and your staff will want to stay longer because they feel seen. They want to work harder because they believe that you care about them as an individual.
  • Culture is usually defined by the worst behaviour that’s being tolerated.
  • Start thinking about the level of psychological safety that you have in your current job. Ask your staff if they are comfortable having hard conversations, when was the last time they had a hard conversation with you, and what’s something that they have been avoiding telling you or their colleagues. Ask them about the one thing they would want to change in the company. Start building that relationship of asking for feedback so that they will believe you. 
  • It’s not about your staff doing more work. It’s more about how they approach a certain project and giving them the freedom to experiment and have a certain level of self-efficacy and autonomy to feel that they have a choice in how they want to do their work.
  • Understand where your inner critic comes from. The inner critic is part of the rational mind, and the rational mind’s only answers are fight, flight, and freeze. Be aware of which part of it are you asking a really hard question.
  • “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten gift.” – Albert Einstein.
  • The way to approach your inner critic is to first make yourself aware of when it shows up. 
  • You get more stuff done when you’re focused on your mental health and mindset the majority of the time.
  • Whenever you’re feeling crappy about yourself…
    1. Write down what your inner critic whispering to you at that very moment. Write all of the bad things that you feel are showing up.
    2. Ask yourself what does your inner critic sound like. Where is it coming from? It is usually a voice from the past.
    3. Name your inner critic. By naming it, you are identifying it as separate from you.
    4. Go back to your list of all those mean things that you say to yourself and start to flip them.
  • By flipping all the negative things that you say to yourself and making them positive, you create your mantra. It can be something that you start saying to yourself. You create new patterns in your mind to lay on top of old ones by practicing either a mantra or saying positive things to yourself. 
  • You can’t get rid of the patterns from your past but you can lay new neuro-pathways by giving more energy to your intuition.
  • Take that risk that you have been thinking about forever and do it! It doesn’t matter what the outcome is. It’s the idea that you are now confronting uncertainty that matters.
  • Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. When you can confront it, you’ll realise it’s not that bad.
  • You expand what is possible in your life each time you take a risk.
  • Stop asking people what do they do because it doesn’t really capture who they are
  • The most effective and most powerful virtual meetings are all about asking really interesting and unique questions.
  • Play is the opposite of perfection. Perfection is rooted in ego, shame, and constantly trying to be right. It is constantly being afraid of making mistakes. Play is curiosity, experimentation, wonder, and all those things.
  • You can only either have a transactional or a transformational conversation. Think about the questions that are most interesting to you and would love someone to ask you, and ask those questions. See where it evolves from there and be OK with it going wherever it’s supposed to go instead of trying to control it.
  • Expectations are a thief of joy. 
  • Spend more time trying to explore your most playful and joyful moments. By doing so, you are putting yourself in the possibility of getting more into the flow that helps you answer so many questions that you’ve been struggling with whether at your job or in your life.
  • Celebrate your wins and savour them more. Describe that win in great detail to somebody else. Allow them to describe back to you how they felt upon hearing that. It implants that moment more so that you remember and recall it quicker.
  • Savouring your wins is a good strategy to really solidify that moment in your mind for the rest of your life.
  • When you’re not focused on the result but on just being in love with the process, nothing can knock you off from your pedestal because you’re in it for the sake of being in it. It doesn’t matter whether you are failing or succeeding because you are in it because you love to do that work.
  • “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is for more people to come alive. ” – Howard Thurman. 
  • When you’re doing the work that makes you come most alive, you are untouchable.
Expectations are a thief of joy. @JeffHarryPlays on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

The Buzz – Our Innovation Round

Here are Jeff’s answers to the questions of our innovation round. Listen to the conversation to get the full scoop.

  1. #1 thing to be more innovative – Get bored. Stop being busy and allow yourself to be bored where you’re not inundated by information. That is when your intuition shows up and where innovation comes from. 
  2. Best thing for new ideas – Prime your day through the lens of play. Ask yourself at the beginning of the day – how can I get better than this?. It primes your moments and sets patterns in your mind to look for the things that will get better. Ask yourself this question not with yearning but with curiosity. 
  3. Favourite tool for innovation – Ring light for videos, Tipsy Storms.
  4. Keep project/client on track – Get them out of the mode of perfection and get them to stay in the world of experimentation, curiosity, and play. Fall in love with the process. When you’re constantly looking for the next result and when it is going happen, it is not going happen. But when you are falling in love with the process, not only is sky is the limit, but there is almost no way in which you are going to fail. 
  5. Differentiate – Embrace your inner weirdo. The weird part of ourselves is where all innovation and creativity come from. It’s not about you. It’s about the idea that somebody is waiting for you to do your thing so they can do their thing. Somebody is waiting for you to take your risk so they can take their risk. People are watching what you’re doing, and at any moment, when you are willing to embrace that nerdy self of yours and take that risk, you are giving permission as well as a shot of bravery to everyone else to do their thing. This is your way of changing the world. Cash in on your winning lottery ticket and do the thing that makes you come most alive. By doing so, you are giving permission to everyone else to do the same.

To Be a Leader

No one really knows what they’re doing. We are all just making it up as we go along. Recognise that you are the expert of yourself. You have all the answers you need. You simply have to play enough in order to figure it out. Trust your intuition and don’t listen to your inner critic as much. Allow your inner child to show up and play with it more. All of sudden, you’ll start innovating and be creative in ways that you never thought is possible, and you’ll start to have an adventure that is so much more joyful and fulfilling in life.

Reach Out

You can reach out and thank Jeff through his website.

Suggested Guest

Jeff suggested we have a conversation with Lauren Yee, Cultivator of Curiosity; Angie Cole of Untaming the Wild; Maddy Gabor of This Us Now, and Jennifer Ables of Soldiers Who Salsa. So Lauren, Angie, Maddy, and Jennifer, keep an eye on your inboxes for an invitation from us to the InnovaBuzz Podcast, courtesy of Jeff Harry.


Are you ready to rediscover your play? Click here to book a discovery call with Jeff and start doing the thing that makes you come most alive. 

Cool Things About Jeff

  • His playwork has been featured in the New York Times, AJ+, SoulPancake, the SF Chronicle, and CNN.
  • He helped build one of the largest LEGO-Inspired STEM Educational Organizations in the United States.
  • He holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Tufts University.
Cash in on your winning lottery ticket and do the thing that makes you come most alive. By doing so, you are giving permission to everyone else to do the same. @JeffHarryPlays on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

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Jürgen Strauss

Dr. Jürgen Strauss is The World's Best Human-Centred Podcasting Coach and the only Podcast Innovator with the signature bright yellow headphones, who masterfully crafts human connection for high-impact achievers in a vibrant community. You can find Jürgen on LinkedIn, The InnovaBuzz Podcast, The Flywheel Nation Community as well as on Innovabiz' InstagramTwitter, Facebook pages and his personal Photography website.  

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