What every leader can learn from playing with Play-Doh


Did you play with Play-Doh as a child? I did. I remember opening up a plastic tub to reveal a colorful blob of moldable clay. It held the potential for an unlimited number of things. The only limitations? Your imagination and willingness to get your hands dirty.

There were plenty of times my Play-Doh creations didn’t even come close to resembling what I intended them to be. Yet that didn’t discourage me, and it doesn’t discourage any other kid either. In fact, it makes most kids even more persuasive in helping you see what they see. And we smile at their energy and enthusiasm, because deep within, we know the child is right.

Our lives are Play-Doh.

It’s true. Life comes to us as a blob. It is our responsibility to make something out of it. As we get our hands dirty and make a thousand different decisions, we begin to see what others can’t see—just yet, anyway.

Over time, we gain a sense of the divine design that has been given to us. We recognize that “something special” the world has yet to recognize. And by continuing to experiment, play, and create, we become even more convinced of the purpose, meaning, and significance that is ours for the taking—if we treat our lives like a blob of clay.

Stop worrying and start creating.

Children don’t stress because the directions have not been included with the blob of clay. Children don’t tend to ask for input on what they should create. That’s because children don’t yet know to fear that they may not be able to produce what they see in their minds and dream in their hearts.

In creating, every child plays out the truth that the process is greater than the outcome. At some point in life our brains switch, and we forget the truth as it becomes overshadowed by the fear.

We stress because we can’t find the directions. Without the directions, we might get it wrong. We ask for everyone’s input because we desire clarity. As a result, we live a combination of everyone else’s expectations instead of becoming the unique masterpiece we are to the world. And we allow fear to prevent us from accepting the call to adventure in the first place. So we become good at saying no instead of yes.

However, we could learn a lesson or two from the way children play with Play-Doh. Maybe we should take our cue from them on this one. Instead of stressing for directions, what if we just started to create something? Instead of worrying about how we’re going to get the dough out of our fingernails, what if we dug in with childlike zeal?

What are you waiting to create?