Dick Smith, legendary Australian businessman, entrepreneur, philanthropist and political agitator, once said: “AN ORGANISATION WITHOUT A SPIRIT OF ADVENTURE WILL DIE.” He could have been referring to any of the campaigns he had taken on throughout his life, because no matter how challenging they were and however risky they could have been, he always led from the front and showed no sign of hesitancy or of losing faith. He had spirit and it was infectious. Others followed because they believed in him.

“An organisation without a spirit of adventure will die.” – Dick Smith

I’m reminded of this quote as we move deeply into the AFL Finals Series for 2018. It seems to be taking the course of 2016 and 2017 as a genuinely exciting young team has wandered onto centre stage and captured our imaginations. Bulldogs, Richmond and Melbourne over successive years have played football with a joy which has become infectious. In his excellent book recently released “The Football Solution how Richmond’s Premiership can save Australia” author George Megalogenis told how Bulldogs retired captain and all-round good bloke Bob Murphy “explicitly drew a link between the Bulldogs and Tigers when reflecting on the game’s recent history in a newspaper column previewing the 2018 season…….These teams have displayed a new kind of masculinity, a tenderness, and affection that we haven’t seen before in our game. Words like vulnerability and mindfulness are all of a sudden not just hip, but seemingly important cogs in the quest for victory. This is a radical change.”

I love his use of the word “hip” in this context. In both of these teams I didn’t know the names of at least half a dozen players. They had arrived on the scene unheralded, they had no preconceptions of what to do or how to do it in the big league, they were mainly young, and they just wanted to go out there and play footy with their mates. Forget the seven year plans that had been de rigeur for the past decade or so. If you could get all the ducks in a row off the field and create an environment where the players – and the player kids – could have fun, the sky was the limit. Some of the older teams were becoming over-coached and were patently not in the same mind-set. You could feel the spirit of the Dogs on the big stage in 2016 just as easily as it could be felt with the Tiges a year later.

“Forget the seven year plans that had been de rigeur for the past decade or so.”

I was reminded of a book I had recently read by Tim Leherecht, a German born US author, speaker and consultant. In “The Business Romantic” Leberecht explores the idea of how businesses can inject greater meaning into work by bringing joy and romance into the workplace. Jobs can suddenly transcend the ordinary by inspiring employees to do or be something different. Helping others, seeing new opportunities, working as a team, giving something back.

Imagine the power of this concept. Against the backdrop of eroding trust in capitalism, pervasive technology, big data, and the desire to quantify all of our behaviours, it’s little wonder that we have a crisis in staff wellbeing. Absenteeism, malaise, anger, frustration, feeling lost, poor performance typify the work place today. It’s a nightmare. People become physical and emotional wrecks. It’s a vicious circle.

Sounds like a Football Club going through the motions. Leberecht shows different ways of carving out spaces for the artful and playful at work; for finding meaning in the seemingly mundane; for doing things for no reason and taking part in joyous, aimless activities within the work place.

“Carving out spaces for the artful and playful at work; for finding meaning in the seemingly mundane.”

Adults in business spend most of their lives at work; professional footballers spend most of their lives at their workplace. If there is no fun to be had in either place, the result is the same.

Life Again is all about change. If nothing changes, nothing changes. It’s as simple as that. At least Leberecht shows what can be done in the workplace and I believe that it’s starting to happen. Creating authentic experiences within the workplace and with customer service will lead the new Millenial market. We have already seen how it’s having its affect in the same group of young men on the footy field. It’s exciting. I love “working” in this space. There is still hope!