"Creativity is the ability to play," says comedian Ricky Gervais.
Anyone that's ever seen comedian Ricky Gervais perform stand up or appear on television can attest to his penitent for play. Rarely does the British humorist take himself—or anything else for that matter—seriously. But this is more than just a part of his schtick; Gervais recently talked on his personal blog about the need for play in order to remain creative. "Scientific studies of creativity have basically concluded that it can't be taught, as it is a 'facility' rather than a learned skill," he writes. "Putting it very crudely, creativity is the ability to play. And, to be able to turn that facility on and off when necessary. This makes perfect sense to me. Everything I've ever written, created or discovered artistically has come out of playing."
This advice might sound simple, but as children grow into adults, the idea of "mucking about" (as he'd put it) is discouraged, especially in the workplace. Many people see play as being unprofessional, while Gervais argues it's one thing that will really foster creativity. He goes on, "You have to let yourself go to be creative. Children possess this quality but then seem to lose it as they are told, 'it's not the done thing.' Pablo Picasso summed it up well; 'Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.' The answer is simple. Never grow up."
While I typically don't take much of what The Office pioneer says seriously (in a good way), this time his suggestion seems pretty spot on. If we risk being looked at as unprofessional for playing around, at least we can have a lot of fun in the process.